Thursday, December 22, 2011

Running a Marathon When I Prefer a Sprint.

Recovery is a marathon.  It's a long term goal; it's like ordering slow foods.  I am a fast food girl.  I like using a microwave and having short term goals.  Long term is very hard for this ADD brain to understand.  But, like it or not, it is a long and arduous process. 

It seems that addiction is this whole problem unto itself but then it leaves in it's wake this snowball effect of problems in it's periphery.  I've read that emotional maturity stops at the point that the addict started using.  So, there is all of this lacking maturity. 

Also I've read more and more about that underlying anxiety that all addicts have and how an inability to attach properly to family is a big factor in whether or not that they start using.  There is no quick fix to this problem.  This requires a day in and day out building of trust and safety to those sensitive people who have chosen to deal with life by using. 

Maybe I know just enough to be dangerous.  But, I sure do notice a difference when I practice love without condition.  Love doesn't have enabling listed anywhere in it's definition.  Love says all the hard things and hears all the hard things without pulling away or using judgement.  I sure wish I'd learned all of this long ago. 

I am thankful this Christmas season.  I will have my son home.  But, things aren't perfect.  I think we all have these crazy expectations.  I think that life may just be this long journey of loving and learning.  I've learned a lot in the past year.  I'm sure I have so much more to learn.  While love to learn, this one has been a little painful. 

Sometimes in the thick of things I get so tired and feel as if we have so far to go.  Then sometimes I look back and see how far we've come.  Today I pray for a positive perspective for all of us.  I pray for continued recovery and strength for our journies.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Good Story

When we came home to the south after an 8 1/2 year job  just a few miles from Lake Erie, we rented a home on our local marina.  It was great.  The marina pool was just beyond our back yard and the lake just a stones throw from there.  My kids were all toddlers at that time and we lived on a wonderful playground.

Later my son became a lifeguard at that marina and eventually worked at the docks fueling the boats.  He thrived there.  Now, they have dug up the pool and in it's place is a very large dry dock structure.  A week or two back, my son said, "I want the sign with the pool rules on it, I'm gonna go one night and get it." 

While I don't condone stealing, I too thought that it would be very cool to have that sign.  I decided to scope out the scene.  I went and snapped a photo thinking I might enlist some young employees in an effort to snag that sign.  I drove home thinking with the good wrestling with the bad. 

Finally I decided that I couldn't get those kids sent to the pokey over that sign so I went home, got two phillips screwdrivers and drove back. I could go a be the middle aged crazy lady and beg until they gave it to me to be rid of me.  I could offer to pay for it ( but I don't really want to because they might start thinking antique prices). 

I pull back in to the parking lot as iron workers are in those crane baskets and I walk towards the jobsite looking for someone low enough to the ground to speak to.  I finally see this foreman (I'm guessing) he is a tall fellow, with strawberry blonde curly hair, missing a few front teeth and tool belt weighing things down if you know what I mean.  And, in true nervous fashion, I started becoming a blithering idiot.  I give him my whole long family history, talking too fast and too much until he politely says, "Little lady, that is not mine to give away.  Go see Buddy, he owns the place."

I catch my breath while quietly scolding myself for rambling on and on.  I didn't find Buddy but I did find an employee.  I tell him what I want and he thinks for a moment.  In my mind I am thinking, oh crap, if I have to come back to lift the sign, I'll be the first suspect as I've gone begging to everyone on the place.  "Sure, he says, we've dug the pool up, I can't see why we'd need it." 

I wanted to do a happy dance on the spot.  But, instead I rushed up to unscrew it from the wall in case he changed his mind or someone else thought better of giving it away.  He ended up meeting me up there and helping me get it down.  This is gonna be the coolest gift under the tree.  Both of my girls were so excited. 

The Dad and I got to talking about it and have decided that we need a better story to tell him as to how we got the sign.  Something that he would totally be shocked at Mom for doing.  The memory and the story are half the fun.  It is that connection that we make that is one of the true gifts of Christmas. 

I must admit that it was a lot more fun and nerve racking than going to the mall.  I am thankful for this memory.  I am thankful that my son is home this year.  I pray for all of the obstacles that addiction place in our way.  I pray for all our sons and daughters, husbands and wives and I pray for the soul of Henry.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas List

When my son was a small boy, he wrote a letter to Santa with his Christmas list on it.  He took that letter and put it in the mailbox put the flag up and announced to his Dad and I that his list was done and now he just had to wait for Christmas.  When I asked what he had asked for he said that I didn't really need to know because Santa would take care of it and I could just wait and be surprised.  He would not budge.  It took some fast work to get to the mailbox before the mailman, without him seeing to get that list!!

I still have that list.  It was so sweet and hopeful for the season.  It was grateful and yet a little boy who couldn't contain a desire for so many little boy things.  It was a magical time. 

Addiction took away all of that.  During his using years, I would ask my son what he wanted and it was always the  I didn't/couldn't/wouldn't see what was going on.  But, deep down I knew that things weren't right.  Anyway, the excitement was gone. 

Last year, we spent Christmas with my son but not until Christmas Eve did we even see him.  We had shut him out unless he chose rehab.  We hadn't seen him in quite some time and the Dad was starting to really lose it so we decided to just show up and see how he was.  He was sober.  It was our best gift.

This year one of the best gifts I'm already receiving is his ever growing list.  He's 22 years old but I'm receiving reminders, notes, and sizes on the dry erase board.  Last night he told me the two items he wanted....again and then named two more.  I said, "hey you said if you got those two you'd be happy."  He responded, "  the other two went so well I thought I'd see how far I could go." 

This gift I'm really getting is my son feels like part of the family again.  He feels comfortable enough to be that little boy again.  Addiction isn't controlling his every thought.  It's been so long since I've seen this young man with glimpses of that little boy still in there.  That is so wonderful. 

I'm so thankful today for the progress we've made.  I'm thankful for the gift of my son.  I pray for those of you still in the fight for your sons and daughters...may you get them back too.  I pray for the perseverance of those in recovery and I pray for Henry.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

New Delivery....

Okay,  so I delivered my first dog bed today and I was a little nervous but he ended up really liking it.  I was so relieved.  Then I met a man who does a little upholstery on the side.  He is going to help me upholster a canopy bed I'm working to follow.  When I showed him the fabric I had picked out he got so excited.  This new hobby/job...who knows what it is or will be, brings such joy and fun.  I am so thankful and I just wanted to share it with you guy,  my "in the trenches" friends.  It is so odd how I know so little and yet so much about you all. 

My prayers today are of thanksgiving for sobriety, my new friends, my new joy and the ability to hope for much better times.  I pray for your sons and daughters and Henry, as always.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Dog Bed Lady?

I've been trying to figure out who I really am minus being the Doc's wife, the kids mom, the office manager, the laundry girl, chef ( and I use that term loosely), the maid, lawn care service, stall mucker, dog feeder, etc.  One of the things I started doing was using my maiden name as my middle nameThis helps to remind me of who I was before.  Not that I knew myself all that well then but I only had to care for myself at that time. 

I've had a lot of fun writing.  I have even published a couple of pieces in little known magazines that you've probably never heard of.  I will proudly say that my first published piece was in a magazine called, "Miniature Donkey Talk."  It was titled, Life Lessons I Learned From an Ass.  I made a whopping $50.00.  It was a proud moment.  : )  Seriously, I have really enjoyed doing it and hope to have more time to devote to it in the future.

Then I saw a dog crate online, made from old ugly furniture, repurposed and given a little TLC and it ended up looking really neat.  So, I started making dog beds.  It has been so much fun.  I get to dig through flea markets, trash laid on the side of the road, Goodwill and the like.  I shop at fabric stores and craft stores, paint and hardware stores.  I've met a great group of little old men, semi retired who are willing to help me with my unusual projects. 

I've decided that dogs are like grandchildren.  People get totally silly and lose all common sense when it comes to their pets.  My first two beds were donations.  My third was a person at the auction who wanted me to make one for his wife for Christmas.  I was so flattered that I went a little wild. 

When I make calls to my carpenters, seamstress or customer I tend to tell them my name and after an awkward pause I say, "you know the dog bed lady" where I get a "Oh okay".  I guess it could be worse.  My daughter says it's better than being the cat lady. 

The neat thing about this is that it has taken me out of my usual paths.  It has introduced me to this whole new group of interesting characters.  It never fails that when someone sees my beds they instantly start giving me ideas of what a really neat one would be like.  Dogs just make everyone happy.  I think it's a great gig to work with them, if you can get it. 

Today I am thankful for this fun new adventure.  I am thankful for God's sense of keeps me guessing.  I am thankful that finding myself in this journey has given my son a sense that I don't have to sit and worry over him anymore.  I pray for all our sons and daughters and I pray for the soul of Henry, my grandfather.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stark Raving Mad....

"Anyone can become angry.  That is easy.  But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose and in the right way......that is not easy."  Aristotle

I've been reading a few of my fellow blogger friend's recent posts and there seems to be a common theme....anger.  I was reading this post because the title caught my eye.  "It's so much easier when your pissed."  I totally got it.  Being a parent and knowing that loving that child (even adult child) means you have to separate the addiction from the addict and have the courage to tell the addicted part of that child to go take a flying leap in the hopes of recovering your child can be most frightening.  It is a very scary endeavor.  Sometimes,  it does take a little anger to give you the courage to do what you need to do.

I decided to look up the definition of anger.  It is "a normal emotion with wide ranges of intensity.  A reaction to a perceived threat to ourselves, our loved ones, our property, our self image or some part of our identity.  Anger is a warning bell that tells us that something is wrong."

Colin Powell wisely said "Get mad, then get over it."  Anger is our bodies way of saying prepare for danger.   It causes  heart rate, blood pressure and energy and adrenal hormones to rise.  A gift when in a tough spot but long term these things can cause a host of problems. 

Children who are not allowed to express their anger and who aren't taught healthy ways of expressing emotion tend to learn to suppress anger.  This can lead to pathological expressions of anger such as passive aggressive behavior or getting back at others without telling them why or can lead to a cynical or hostile personality.  This inability to constructively express anger makes it difficult for those folks to have many successful relationships.

With all of that said, I then went to read this post and read the post titled "Mad."  This post seems so appropriate too.  She writes about the frustration and anger felt when you aren't the addict or one with mental illness.  Both situations are so draining on the caregiver.  This author doesn't dismiss the difficulty that the addict feels nor does she love him any less because of his problems.  But, sometimes when we are out of the immediate danger and fear for the safety of a loved one, we feel the fatigue associated with living with constant fear, panic, frustration and worry.  Our heart rates, blood pressures and fight or flight hormones have worked overtime, leaving us totally spent.

We are ALL broken.  Every last one of us (at least in my humble opinion).  And, it is important to try to understand one another.  It is important to remember that the addict isn't just a big party animal but a person wanting to escape pain.  The scared parent that takes some time to warm up to getting pissed off in order to do what she needs to do because it's so scary, isn't just a weak enabler, but just so frightened.  The parent pissed off because she is tired of dealing with the fallout associated with addiction and mental illness isn't dismissing what they go through she is just expressing her frustration and fatigue of this long fight we're all fighting. 

I get angry too.  I get mad at doctors who loosely write prescriptions for pain killers.  I get mad at convenience stores that sell bongs.  I get mad at tv, movies and music that glorify drinking and drugs.  I get mad at generations past for the pain they caused that make things hard for me.  I get mad at my own inability to properly love my kids so that they didn't feel that they could come to me.  I get mad at people who portray addicts as morally decrepit individuals. 

My husband had an employee who knew that we were going to counseling because she read this blog.  She started talking about it with others.  I don't know exactly what she said but what came back around was that we were having marital problems.  It resulted in clients calling his clinic asking about us.  It resulted in clients treating me differently.  She knew that I write this blog under a pen name.  She knew that what I talk about here is private and for those I trust.  She knew how hard the previous year had been for us.  She had seen the fear and worry that we carried day in and day out.  She had seen pools of tears shed but I guess that didn't matter,  because she did it anyway.  This sent me stark raving mad, which by definition means that I was so disordered in mind that I was carried away by intense anger. 

"Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be."  Thomas A Kempis

What I try to remember is that this individual is broken too.  That doesn't mean that I will ever trust them again.  It doesn't mean that I won't get mad at addiction.  It doesn't mean that I won't quit getting mad at unhealthy behaviors or ignorance.  It just means that I might have a little more compassion and will have my time with anger.  I will dissect it and try to learn from it and pray that I can then let it go. 

One of the little gems that I am gleaning from my counseling ( which by the way is one of the healthiest things I've ever done and  we all have marital problems if we're married) is that I am entitled to MY feelings.  They aren't right or wrong.  They just are.  What I do with them is what's important.  Maybe anger is good if it gives us necessary courage or allows us to blow off some steam before our heads blow off. 

Today, I am thankful for this blogging community of addicts and families of addicts.  I am thankful for the knowledge and insight that they give that a lot of "normal" folks could really learn from.  I am thankful for the knowledge that the hard places have provided for me.  I pray for perseverance for us all and as always a prayer for the soul of my grandfather, Henry.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Much to be Thankful For....

My, how things have changed in a years time. This time last year we held our Thanksgiving meal minus our son.  We weren't quite sure where he was or what he was doing.  We had told him not to call unless he wanted to go to rehab. He called late at night obviously drunk and swearing.  It was a tough day to go thru the motions and feeling so out of sorts.  Then when he called at night we felt such a sinking feeling of how the disease of addiction had such a profound hold on our son.

Here we are today, with my beautiful boy home, sober, safe and sound.  I am so thankful for a second chance to convey the love needed for him to heal.  Prayer and love are the best weapons I have against the disease of addiction. 

Today was so wonderful.  We enjoyed ourselves so much.  I watched my whole family sit at the table eating, laughing, sitting quietly together, content to just bask in our being together.  My son didn't isolate.  He joined in.  He is Christmas shopping for his Dad.  I don't remember him thinking of anyone else in such a long time.  He wanted to bring a friend over.  He sat and hung out with his sisters and friend.  To many this may not be such a big deal but to us, this is huge because it means that he is "joining up." 

In the horse world when you start working with a horse you want to establish your place in the herd and when a horse begins to trust you and starts following you, he is joining up.  To me this is a great gift to have my son want to join back up with his family after addiction took him away for so long.

I am so thankful for this gift of a second chance.  I am thankful for the process of healing.  I am thankful for understanding what is really important.  I'm thankful for all of you guys and your wise and encouraging words.  I pray for our continued perseverance and I pray for the soul of Henry.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Aye, Aye,Aye Aye......

I am sitting in a lovely hotel room in San Antonio, Texas, with blisters on my feet from all of the walking  yesterday.  I laid my tennies out to wrap in newspaper so I wouldn't get my clothes dirty when I packed them only to forget to pack them.  This annual meeting for continuing education takes us to a different city every year.  I have learned to trek a Little farther out away from the Gap and the usual homogenized part of the city.  Otherwise, they all begin to look the same.

Yesterday, I went to Goodwill and flea markets and antique malls.  It was great fun.  I also took a cab to the Basilica of the Little Flower where I said prayers for all of you guys.  The cab ride cost me $40.00 which I have to say started to bug me but then I thought, I need to realize that I am paying for an experience and that, I can always carry with me and it doesn't gather dust and clutter my home.

AlAnon and this experience of addiction have taught me a lot about riding the waves.  Just ride it....don't think about every instance in terms of successes or failures, but paths which continue on. 
So, when the mariachi band came over and asked if I'd like a song, I said sure, how nice......until they said that will be $6.00 please.  So, I dug out six bucks and made myself quit growling and I just sang along. 

Today I have great prayers of thanksgiving for this time away, the sunshine and warm temps, for healing of others and a new perspective on life.  I pray for all of our addicted loved ones (active and recovery) and I say a pray for Henry.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

History Revisited

I am turning into my mother.  All through my life, I've gone to the doctor and filled out those medical history forms and been checked for all sorts of problems common to my family history.  Just like an addict who feels invincible, I too feel like yes,  maybe later in life I would experience some common health problems that other family members have had, but for now, I can do what I want.

But, here I am at 47 years old, diabetes, high blood pressure and rapid heart rate and my  gall bladder came out this summer. It feels a little like those awkward teenage years where your body starts making these crazy changes taking you into adulthood, out of your control and a little scary.  I know I have control over diet and exercise but not my genetic makeup. 

I guess I got a wake up call.  Maybe this is my personal bottom.  Maybe this will be the time that I take my health seriously.  Maybe not.  Maybe it will take something more serious.  I can relate to the addict in many ways. 

What I do know is that food is my drug of choice.  I do know that when I don't have time to stay connected spiritually, I slip.  I do know that when I try to do things on my own, I slip.  I do know that when life gets so busy and harried and I stop listening to the warning signals that my body gives, I not only slip but trip and tumble, head over heels to the bottom.

My mom died from the complications of diabetes.  She was on dialysis.  We were told how much better she'd feel when she went on dialysis and she did for a week or two but after that it was all down hill.  She died after 8 months.  Dialysis is life support.  But, not much living went on while she was on it.  I don't know that I'd ever choose dialysis.  But, here I am a little scared because high blood pressure and rapid heart rate damage your eyes and your kidneys. 

Will I ever learn?  Will our addicts ever learn?  I guess the common denominator here is the fact that both me and the addict don't deal with our problems.  We just cover them up for the short term instead of dealing with a long term solution.  Knowledge doesn't equal acceptance or the courage or due diligence to use the information. 

Today I pray for the strength to do what I need to do.  I pray for Lou and Andrew and the Dad.  I pray for my son and all of your sons and daughters.  I am thankful for your knowledge and wisdom that I count on reading daily.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just Breathe......

Today I was finding my to do list longer than my memory....and then someone came into the office and started to describe their escalating stress levels and I realized that I too, was feeling the same.  They mentioned the serenity prayer.  I needed that prayer.......

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change
The courage to change the things that I can
And, the wisdom to know the difference.  Amen

Enough Said.

I keep praying for all of you and Henry too. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Day 18 Gratitude

It was a really good weekend.  Friday night we went to a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  We try to at least attend one fundraiser for CF once a year because my cousin and great friend has two children with CF. 

We grew up miles apart but spent many days of vacation on great adventures.  We grew up and live only about 30 minutes apart now,  but life happens and we still find little time together. 

Her oldest son is 22 yrs old and was diagnosed at around age 12.  So, for a long time now, she has lived carrying this tremendous weight on her shoulders.  When she learned of my son's addiction, she knew about living with constant fear and no control. 

Ours wasn't a club that anyone really wanted to join but we each had someone that we could talk to who understood that tremendous fear that never leaves.  She has carried this for so much longer than I have.  And, that fear had taken it's toll.  I cannot recall seeing her relax.....really relax.

My son is doing so much better.  I am so grateful but know that the war isn't won.  I still know that this battle is one day at a time.  But, each day makes me a little more grateful.  This weekend at the fundraiser I learned that a new drug is on the horizon which deals with THE CURE and not the symptoms.  It is so hopeful. 

I feel like my cousin and I are watching that tiny little snowball start to grow.  At that dinner, I saw my cousin light and happy and most importantly hopeful!!!  It was and is a great gift to watch.  I am so thankful.

Today, I am thankful for all those who have held my hand during my tough times even when they had their own.  I am thankful for the ability to hope.  I am thankful for the possibility for a cure. I pray for continued success with that drug.  I pray that each family facing hardship realizes that it does "take a village."  I pray we are there for each other and learn and love and hold each other up in the low times and dance and celebrate in the good times.  And, I say a prayer for Henry.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day 17 The Communion of Saints

I have read in many places that one consequence of spiritual deprivation is addiction.  And, there is a huge spiritual component to most recovery programs.  The ironic part of this information is how little I really knew about being spiritual before addiction knocked at our door.  I thought that I was very spiritual but really didn't know too much about it.

Love is at the root of being whole.  Loving ourselves enough to know that God loves us and that we are capable of being loved is a very important part of the healing process.  I am afraid that I have much to learn on that subject.

Today is the feast of All Saints.  That means we celebrate the everyday saints, not just the biggies.  In the Catholic Church we believe that those who have died may not be with us physically but we can still call on them to offer their prayers for us.

Thirteen years ago today, my sweet mom died.  I was her youngest child.  I was the last child that she brought into this world and I was the only one with her when she left.  I didn't want to be there when she died.  I cried and prayed for God to spare me.  By the time that time came, I was ready and the rest of my family who lived in the same town was exhausted.  Now, I feel blessed to have had such a loving mom.

Today, my prayer is one for the saints to pray for me to learn to love, deeply, profoundly and totally.  I pray for my son as he continues his journey of sobriety.  I pray for my family to continue to learn to love each other as Christ loves us.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day 16 Persons Being Visited By the Lord.....

I've been doing a lot of reading about learning to truly love.  I firmly believe that the gift of love is as healing as anything that I can ever do for my son.  I was reading some quotes from our Blessed Pope John Paul II on the subject of love.  I thought that one quote was so appropriate for all of us who have dealt with or are dealing with addiction. 

"The sickness of a family member, friend or neighbor is a call to Christians to demonstrate true compassion, that gentle and persevering sharing in another's pain.  Likewise, the handicapped and those who are ill must never feel that they are a burden;  they are persons being visited by the Lord."

Mother Teresa always lived and served the poorest of the poor by keeping the idea of serving the "least of these" as serving Jesus himself.  When you imagine looking into the eyes of those suffering whether it be cancer or addiction and see someone so in need, and you imagine that you are peering into the eyes of Jesus, I think that your strength is renewed in the fact that loving those who are sometimes very difficult to love are a way for us to really give love.  It is a challenge worth taking.

I am so blessed to be a part of this addiction/blogging community.  I know that sounds strange but, you who have walked this path....GET IT.  You know what is important.  You have lived or are living in fear and you're still standing.  I learn so much from you.  I feel the depth of your humanness.  I your strength and perseverance.  And, I feel your unconditional love in your giving back.
Today, I am thankful for all of you.  I am thankful for the lessons I learn from each of you on how to love, how to care for myself, how to be grateful, how to appreciate each day.  I pray for our continued growth and the spread of that love for all of the "least of these."  And, I pray for the soul of Henry.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 15

Last night, I spoke with a mom whose son wanted to deal with his addiction.  Today he is detoxing and will enter a rehab facility when the detox period is over.  A few years ago I would have felt so terrible hearing news of a child going through detox but not today.  Today, I feel so happy for this family.  I know about the reality of relapse.  But, I have also come to the realization that relapse may be a part of the learning process and I appreciate every step forward.

Love really does heal.  I believe that learning to love the whole, broken, warts and all package of our loved ones and radiating that love so brightly that they know it just by looking at us goes a really long way towards healing our addicted loved ones. 

My friend's son is going to a rehab facility where everyone patient is given a 6 week old puppy which they will train and care for and take home when they leave.  I think this is brilliant.  What better example of unconditional love than that of a puppy.  And, learning to care for something, be responsible for be told they are capable of caring for something.  I'm so impressed.

In some ways addiction has been a blessing to my family.  It is a horrible thing don't get me wrong however, it did wake us up to deal with a lot of things we really needed to deal with.  It did help us to see what is really important.  It did help us to really learn to love.  And, to learn how to love more completely. 

Today I am thankful for faith, hope and love.  I am thankful for the journey of recovery.  I am thankful for the clarity that this journey gives.  I am thankful to all of my new blogging buddies.  I pray for continued strength and understanding.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

PS  I didn't mean to publish the widget to ask for money.....just copied and pasted the quote and it came with it and then I couldn't get rid of it....I'm sure it is a worthy cause but I didn't intend to fund raise for them....FYI

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 15

 "Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town.

I remember feeling such relief when our son entered rehab.  I imagined him detoxing and coming home all shiny and new and perfect.....(yes I know, I am a fool idealist).  Identifying a problem is huge but addiction is but a symptom of a problem.

Addiction, I have read is merely a method of anesthetizing pain.  The real task is uncovering the source of the pain and dealing with it.  I read more and more the importance of "attachment" in healing those with a host of different mental and emotional problems.

Learning to really love is my new challenge.  Today I pray for understanding to learn to love better.  I pray for healing for all of our addicted loved ones and I say a prayer for Henry.

You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.
~St. Francis De Sales

Monday, October 24, 2011

Finding Me Day 14

This post may sound like a bit of a rant, but the intent is to bring about awareness.  Because the topic has been a frustrating one for me, it may come across as negative.  I am trying to stay aware of how blessed I am.  But, as my youngest says, "it can't always be hearts, sunshine and butterflies". 

My son and I have ADHD.  As Mr. Monk says of his OCD, it is both a blessing and a curse.  One of the hallmarks of ADHD is slower processing.  Many folks will see that since things aren't clicking right off the bat that there is an inability for it to click.  This can't be farther from the truth.  While the speed isn't the same, when connections are made that person might be able to take that new skill and further it like no one else. 

Schools today really frustrate me.  As someone with a teaching degree, I can say with some bit of knowledge that the schools today are set up for one kind of learner.  The powers that be have set up a system that shows more importance in learning for testing than in learning for the sake of learning.

My girls did great in school.  They were easy.  My son picked up his diploma and looked inside in disbelief that he actually made it.  But, my son tests like there's no tomorrow on those standardized tests.  He is so intelligent sometimes that it shocks me.  My girls take a little longer but can organize and get a system of study to fit each class and succeed.

My point is this, they are all three so smart in different ways.  I do not worry about their ability to navigate this life.  But in school, my son was made to feel like a loser for some disabilities which were totally out of his control.  I can tell you the really good teachers because they were the ones who liked my son.  I once had one teacher tell me at a conference that he didn't even know who my son was....Shame on him.  And, he was respected as a great teacher. 

I don't have any complicated answers for how to teach each child individually but I do have some answers that would make a world of difference.  Love your students.  Fight for your students.  Cheer your students on.  Know your students.  Create an atmosphere of cooperation instead of competition with your students.  Show them how to fight for each other.  It's all about love.  It's the greatest gift.  No matter what the disability, home situation, socioeconomic level, academic level or degree of difficulty they are all children of God.

Today I pray that someone far brighter than me will come up with a way to teach all of our children with love and respect.  I pray for our addicted loved ones to heal from wounds that were so painful that addiction was easier than facing the pain.  I pray for all of our children.  I pray for their loved ones and I say a prayer for Henry.

Finding Me Day 13

We are trying to sell our home.  There are a lot of reasons for doing this.  For one, it is a big house with  only me, hubby and two dogs rambling around.  Also, the amount of yard work beats me up.   Downsizing would allow us to get a smaller home on a smaller lot and allow us to pay off some business debt while making life easier at the same time. 

It is something that I want so bad on so many different levels that I tend to only see what I want instead of realizing how much I've been given.  I've written a number of times about failing to see and see the importance of the small things. 

One day when I was feeling particularly frustrated with the progress of selling our home, I decided to start compiling a list of what I have to be grateful for.  The list just kept going.  I thought about just how ungrateful I'd become because I wasn't getting the thing that I wanted. 

I guess you're never too old to feel entitled.  I was really embarrassed at my lack of appreciation. 

Today, I am thankful for so much progress.  I am thankful for the gift of having a home.  I am thankful for my son's progress.  I pray that he continues to learn and never forget to be grateful.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Finding Me Day 12.....

It's been a stressful few weeks.  I've had to train a new employee while we hit a sudden busy spell.  I am thankful for the business but overwhelmed by the lack of rest and most especially the quiet.  I had learned to enjoy  my time of silence.  It was a time to connect to my creator.  It was a time to hear His whisper.

One of my AlAnon lessons came in very handy during this time.  In the midst of chaos, I would just slow down, take deep breaths and pray.  And, then things seemed to work so much better.  I am learning to let go of those moments of chaos just the same as I let go of my son and then like magic....things improve. 

My son is this amazing young man.  He has overcome so much.  He is builder who builds very large buildings.  He just finished his first one and was transferred to a new one.  He told me how wonderful this new job is because they put him with some of the best in his business.

 Last night he told us how he loved his job but so many of the other workers were from another state and they were not nearly as good at their jobs which created a lot of problems.  As an apprentice, he needs good leadership to really learn.  Now, he loves the new crew and feels like he will learn so much better.

He said, "I felt like I'd been in purgatory and was just waiting to see which way it would go!"  He was so funny.  I could never imagine the conversation we had last night just one year ago.  I have so much to be thankful for. 

Today, I am thankful for the gift of learning who to turn to;   who to ask to lead my way in everything.  I am thankful for my son's recovery.  I am thankful for the support of this blogging community.  I continue to pray for all of our children and loved ones affected by the disease of addiction.  And, I pray for Henry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Finding Me Day 11

I'm a little behind on posting but today I took a look back at my blog.  I looked at my very first post,  then a few others.  I was struck by just how lucky I really am.   Because of the journey I've been on, I've had a paradigm shift...... a much needed one. 

I keep thinking of Dr. Martin Luther King's famous quote where his wish for his kids is that they will be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.  If I am honest, I must admit to being judgemental for all kinds of ridiculous things.  While I may not judge for skin color, I have judged for messy rooms, bad grades, the way things "look", and a host of ridiculous things that my kids have about as much control over as MLK's kids had control over their skin color. 

One of the gifts of this journey is fresh eyes.  Today, I see that my kids are so marvelous.  It took my getting out of their way to see who they really are.  My son inspires me.  When I look at the changes he has made, I am so impressed.  He has a serious work ethic.  His sense of humor leaves me in stitches.  And, if he weren't my son and I was his age, I'd want to be his friend because of how great he is.  I know that when I need him, he'll be there for me. 

My oldest daughter has this tough exterior but a soft vulnerable soul.  I think she's the only one who doesn't see how special she is.  She is so gifted at so many things that she could really take her pick of occupations.  But, caring for others is her specialty...sometimes to the detriment of herself. 

My youngest daughter is this little ray of sunshine.  She is quiet but she can pack a punch.  She is very thoughful and detail oriented.  Because of health problems, she has the wisdom of an old soul.

My husband and I are doing something that I am so proud of.  We are going to marriage counseling.  A lot of folks consider those who are in counseling to be those who are in trouble.  I think those who are in counseling to be those who love each other and their kids enough to realize the need to do things right for the rest of their lives. 

Counseling has made me realize that every person just needs to feel loved, needs to belong to others, needs to be appreciated for their unique gifts, needs to be heard.....needs to be loved! 

I am so blessed.  My new eyes don't look at the world anymore.  And, it's amazing because what's inside of my house is far better than anything outside of it.  I have a husband who is working so hard both at work and at home to build our family up.  I've got these three great young adult children.  Watching them find their way in life is like watching the bud of a rose unfold.  The content of their character makes me so proud. 

If I can pass along one thing it is this.....look deeply at what is important and then cherish it, nourish it and be grateful for it.  Today I share my favorite prayer with you and I'll throw in a prayer for Henry.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Finding Me Day 10

"God will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness."

Just one month before addiction came out of the closet, my son had surgery.  He had tonsils and adenoids removed and septum corrected.  The day we brought him home, it was like dealing with a mentally ill patient.   He was in a panic and his Dad was hiding the pain pills.  No one knew what to do.  I decided that he was just afraid so I went to his room and talked him down.  I decided that even as horrible as he was that I would go in there and ignore his ugly words and just "be mom" to my son.  I had my husband bring a lazy boy recliner up there and I stayed there for 3-4 days and nights.  In many ways that decision was a gift. 

This decision to just love and care for my son brought back a closeness that I hadn't had in such a long time.  I fed him and told him stories.  We watched tv together.  He actually got me hooked on "Gene Simmons Family Jewels" and "Pickers".  We watched "Intervention" where he told me what a terribly sad show that was.  I found that odd.  I was thinking of it as hopeful but he told me that most of them would never get off the drugs.  And, still I didn't or couldn't see the handwriting on the wall. Anyway, this time together is in part why I believe that he agreed to go to rehab.

The day that my husband told me that our son had to be addicted to drugs, I looked at him like he had three heads and said, "Get Out!!  I mean it Get Out!  You will not tear my boy down."  And, in that moment, I meant it.  You see that time together was something that I never imagined having again.  I could not tell you why.  Subconsciously, I could but I hadn't been willing to look very deep.  I still remember that anger (fear) of those words and the primal need to protect my baby.  I could have taken my husband out.  Four hours later, I agreed with him.

This incident reminded me of a story that my  family has told all of my life.  I am the youngest of six children and my oldest two brothers went to Viet Nam when I was 4 yrs old.  One was in the army and one was a marine.  My mother thought that if a sheriff showed up it was only to notify the family of a death.  So, when the sheriff drove down our driveway, she ran out the front door and started screaming for them to "get off her property!"  and taking off one show and throwing it at them and then the other before bursting into tears, barefoot on the front porch.  Later we learned that my brother was wounded by sniper fire and was being sent back to the states. 

Friday night, I spoke with a family who is just beginning this journey that none of us wanted to take.  She kept asking if she should drug test him to see if he was still using.  When I asked her how much money he made and what bills he had (none) and what he had to show for the money he was making(nothing), then I said unless you want to know what he's on, no what else could he spend that much on.  I kept pointing out obvious things that I too ignored in the beginning that seemed to be so hard to accept for her. 

This primal notion of mothering is so strong.  And, I've had a few ask how I could do the things that I've done.  I think it's about changing your perception of caring.  Caring for an addict requires some counter intuitive thinking.  Caring for an addict requires a dumping of pride.  It requires rolling up your sleeves and fighting with the devil.  You need to separate the addiction from the child and fight against addiction while fighting for the child.  It is a job not for the faint of heart.  It is something that I could not have done without prayer and God's strength. 

Today, I pray for this family to have the courage to let go and let God.  I pray for my new blogger friends in their recovery journey.  I pray for the Mom's and Dads who have lost their loved ones.  I pray for those who still fight for their loved ones.  And, I say a prayer for the soul of Henry, my grandfather. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Finding Me Day 9

"Forty is the old age of youth;  fifty is the youth of old age."  Victor Hugo

I am learning more and more about my age.  At 47 yrs old, some things really surprise me when they don't work.  In my mind's eye, I am still a young person.  Yesterday I cleaned like a mad woman.  I washed windows, laundry, walls and doors.  I spent 2 hours cleaning my son's bathroom.  While I considered the need  for antibiotics after that task, it felt great to get it done.  Today I was going to finish up downstairs with my big deep clean.

While in my cleaning frenzy, I said to hubby," order pizza, I'm not cooking, I'm gonna get this done."  So he did and we had pizza and salad.  It all seemed like such a good plan at the time but at about 1:00am, I found that it wasn't.  You see fats of any sort don't agree with my lack of gall bladder (it is fair to say that they didn't agree with my diseased gall bladder either). 

So today, I've shuffled around feeling older and slower and it has been a bit challenging for me to accept that which I cannot control.  Funny that one....just keeps rearing it's ugly head at me.  I'm trying to be grateful.  I should be grateful.  I am just grouchy...frustrated and all around cranky. I feel cranky over a host of things I can't control.  This desire to curl up in a ball on the sofa and feel sorry for myself isn't something I'm particularly proud of but there it is. 

I've got so much to be thankful for.  I know this.  So today I will say the serenity prayer like a mantra.  I will try to busy myself with other things and I will pray for all of you and your spouses, children and friends.  And, I'll throw in a prayer for Henry.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finding Me Day8

"What we do is just a drop of water in the ocean, but remember, the ocean could have been deprived of that little drop of water."  Mother Teresa

Addiction and recovery are spoken of as a journey.  But, our very lives, even if addiction weren't a part of them are also a journey.  We learn through travel.  Traveling requires movement or action.  We can travel like a lame duck and go in a circle.  This is where it's important to accept and be aware that old ways of doing business are taking us to the same destination....nowhere. 

We can travel to new places trying out new things, to see what brings us growth, joy or peace.  One of the most profound lessons that the disease of addiction has taught me is in the appreciation for the little things.  I used to avoid changing because I thought that it meant there needed to be this huge change.  I didn't do things differently because I couldn't appreciate or probably understand the difference that just one little thing makes. 

Mother Teresa is said to have met a very wealthy woman in India who wanted to contribute to the Missionaries of Charity work.  She wanted to make a large demonstrative gift to the Home for the Dying.  Mother Teresa asked her not to do that but instead to buy less expensive saris and the money that she saved she would appreciate very much as a donation.  This act taught her to live daily small acts of charity.

I've always loved the idea of this but have been unsure of how to go about doing it.  I think that God has been trying to send me a tool kit lately and I am so grateful.  It started out with my best friend, the mom to 8 children, 5 of which are adopted.  We usually talk daily in our effort to solve the worlds problems.  She has often mentioned reactive attachment disorder with regard to some of her kids from hard places.  She went to a conference this weekend about attachment needs and tools for healing attachment issues.  Then when hubby and I started counseling our therapy is attachment based.  Then I read a blogging buddy's post about a book on addiction where attachment issues are studied as a root cause of addiction.  I liked that so much that I looked up the authors other works and he had a book on ADD and attachment. 

I don't think this is a coincidence.  Attachment can be healed with many small acts over time that give safety and security to our loved ones.  Eye contact, listening with both your ears and your heart and so many other little things heal.  I am so excited that I read a chapter for about 3 or 4 different books each day. 

Today I am thankful for all of those messengers pointing me in the direction that I need to take.  I pray for the understanding necessary to use this new information.  I pray that we all learn the value of the small acts of love.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."  Ralph Waldo Emerson


Monday, September 26, 2011

Finding Me Day 7

"Where Jesus is there is joy.  Where Jesus is there is love.  Where Jesus is there is peace."  Mother Teresa

I'm on a mission to learn who I am as a person.  I was reading about the "Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius" written by a priest (Jesuit) who started his career as an attorney with the hopes of eventually entering into politics.  He began to feel dissatisfied with his choice and so he got himself a spiritual director.  He asked her to help him figure out if he should become a Jesuit Priest.  This wise director told him that they would put that question aside for a while and she asked him to tell her who God was for him.  He said that it took almost a year to scratch the surface of answering that question.

Knowing God is a way of getting to know his creation (you and me).  If we are quiet long enough(this is particularly challenging for me) we can start to identify things that excite us.  We might start to realize what our real fears are and why we're afraid of them.  We might get in touch with our feelings. 

I bet like me, many of you don't even know what YOU feel anymore.  As mom, we worry about the feelings of others more than our own feelings.  We might have been told by the alcoholic or addict that our feelings were wrong or invalid so much that we begin questioning them ourselves. 

Today in AlAnon we talked about our feelings.  It is so strange to me that a simple word like "feelings" that we think we can easily define, really we can't.  I've had to look it up.  I've had to look at the list of possible types of emotions that represent my feelings.  Feelings aren't right or wrong.  You don't have to let anyone deny you of what you matter what their perception might be. 

It was a very interesting conversation that we had today.  I hope you will join me in exploring what you feel or perceive.  I think it will lead you and me to a better understanding of who God made you to be.  I think I'm gonna start asking my kids to really tell me about what they feel.  I want them to expect to be heard. 

Today, I say a prayer of thanksgiving for understanding the importance of our human emotions.  I pray that we might all become a little more enlightened with each passing day.  And, I say a prayer for Henry.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finding Me Day 6 Rembering the Golden Rule

"We are precious to him, the man dying in the street--precious to him, that millionaire--precious to him the sinner--precious to him." Mother Teresa

      You did then what you knew how to do, And when you knew better, You did better.”  Maya Anjeleou

We are all children of God.  I can accept this almost all of the time; now more than ever.  One of the places that I have a harder time is when someone  blatantly tries to cause harm to me or my family in an effort of personal gain.  I have prayed for the strength to forgive, but I'm not sure that I'm there and I don't especially know how to get there.  However, while I pray for the ability to forgive, I will recognize that this is not a safe person. 

I think this also applies to remembering that we are precious to God.  So many of us have raked ourselves over the coals to look for what we did wrong with our addicted family member.  I think we all need to get to know what our personal motives are for our behaviors.  Then pray for direction.  Learning to love ourselves and others is a big job.  It is the most important job. 

Today I pray for the wisdom to learn the lessons that I need to learn.  I pray for all of you who love and care for anyone affected by the disease of addiction.  I pray increased awareness and I say a prayer for Henry.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Find Me Day 5...Awareness

"We have to be aware of the poor to love them."

Mother Teresa pointed out that if we knew the poor, then we would have more awareness of them.  To be aware is to give attention to it.  Once we do that it is much harder to walk away.  To know our addicted loved ones, we must first come to know ourselves and our motives by taking an honest moral inventory of ourselves (step 4).  Thomas A Kempis says "We are quick enough at perceiving and weighing what we suffer from others, but we mind not what others suffer from us." 

Before I continue to judge those who stigmatize addiction, I must first be aware of the ideas that I might have that are formed without the proper awareness, attention and understanding.  Before I judge an action that my son might take, I need to be aware of the "whys" that a particular action causes fear and concern in me.  As Socrates said, "Know Thyself." 

I imagine that it will take a lot of practice to learn to be focused.  Today, I am thankful of the need to understand myself.  I am thankful that this self discovery not only aids me in an understanding that helps me to reduce my fear but also to help me extend myself to others.  I pray for daily discoveries, the health of our loved ones and as always a prayer for Henry.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding Me Day 4

"Knowledge can only lead to love and love to service."

I often get upset about the stigma associated with addiction.  I was reading something on Mother Teresa where she said that rich people aren't indifferent to the poor they very often don't know who they are.  She went on to say that when they don't know them by name they remain untouched by their lack of shelter, food, and painful struggles.  "And where there is no knowledge, there is no love."

Maybe that sums it up for the stigma of addiction.  Perhaps that will help me to feel less anger and more compassion towards others.  The question is, how to spread the knowledge???

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finding Me Day 3 Learning From Lucy

"Love has to be put in action and that action is service."  Mother Teresa

In The Road Less Traveled Scott Peck defines love as action, as the willingness to extend oneself in order to nurture another person's spiritual and psychological growth or one's own.  It so happens that this is also the precise meaning of giving attention to another person or to oneself.  The origin of the word attend is the Latin tendere, "to stretch".  Attend means to extend, to stretch toward. 

The best teacher of unconditional love that I know,  is a member of my family.  Her name is Lucy and she "lights up" every time I see her.  She brings such joy to our home.  Today I will try to remember to be more like Lucy. 

Today I am thankful for Lucy and her amazing ability to show love no matter what.  I am thankful for the perspective and awareness of my need to put that kind of love into service.  I pray that our addicted loved ones will also start to enjoy that kind of love and I say a prayer for the soul of Henry.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finding Me Day 2

"Poverty doesn't only consist of being hungry for bread, but rather it is a tremendous hunger for human dignity."

I've done a little research on self discovery.  It seems rather odd that I'd need to research who I am but that just about sums up how my life works.  I tease my friend about what a paradox she is and I find that I too may be living in the same conflicting world.

Anyway, in my research, I am told to use my senses to find what brings me joy.  That is easy for sights, smells and tastes, but touch can involve more than the physical touch and hearing can be layered with more than just the words spoken. 

 I tried to remember the times where I felt like I was doing something needed.  In being needed, not used, I feel called to help.  It is an urging or longing.  Even though I'm not really qualified in any particular field of service, sometimes I think that we all just need someone to tell us we can do it. 

The picture above is of a pony foal named Sassy at 7 months old.  She had botulism.  Botulism can be contracted from any decaying matter, whether animal or vegetation (like rolled hay bales).  What happens is the virus (remember I am the vet's wife and didn't go to vet school and my memory seems to lapse more and more) causes the animal to be unable to stand or swallow.  The virus itself doesn't kill, it is the inability to eat or drink or pneumonia that usually kills. 

Sassy's owner didn't know if he could afford treatment and so I said to my husband, "Can't we try to save her if he chooses euthanasia?"  Long story short, we treated her and I do mean we because when you pass an NG tube to tube feed, it is good for the pony to be sternal so that the chance of aspiration is less.  So, his assistants and I would roll this pony's dead weight  up to a sitting position while he fed her 4 times a day for almost 3 weeks.

More than that I would visit her and brush her and cheer her on.  And when she was first able to nibble on her own, I would pull grass from outside for her to munch on.  It seemed to perk her up.I knew that if she survived, she'd be a fighter, and she is.  And, she's not afraid of anything!! 

Here is Sassy today.  I've got a "little" trainer for her and she entered her first dressage show as a 3 yr old this spring but she will probably be a little hunter/jumper when she's old enough.  Dr. Maya Angelou once said that what children need is for you to "light up" when they entered a room.  I wish I had heard that and understood the importance of that long ago.  I can't go back, but no matter their ages, I want to physically light up when they enter the room....because they do light me up....they just need to know that they matter, that they can do it.  I guess it doesn't take a degree to do that.  So, on day two, I'm gonna make an effort to show others how much dignity they have by making them feel like they matter.

Today, I am thankful for this one thing.  I pray for all of our children that they may know that no matter what their past, that they are so important.  I pray for continued strength and vision in this journey and I say a prayer for Henry.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

In Search of Me Day One

You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself. ~Alan Alda

Things are changing.  My life is in a bit of limbo.  My son is working and my girls have gone to college.  I no longer work for my husband.  My son is the only one living at home but his work takes him away most of the time.  This is good because it  stops me  helps me not to  get into his business. 

In an effort to get to know just who my 47 year old self is, I try to remain faithful to my AlAnon meetings.  Yesterday, our topic was detachment....always a good one.  Detaching is where I have to try to figure out what is mine and what belongs to the person(s) I am detaching from. 

My fearless leader had a really good rule of thumb.  I liked it so much, I wrote it down.  "When you don't know whose responsibility it is, do nothing", she said.  I have to say that some of the things that I held onto for dear life in my effort to control or fix things, I now enjoy letting go of.  I've started to appreciate giving up the tasks that made my head spin.

When we discuss detaching, we learn a lot of "what not to do's".  But, now what do I do since my life has taken such a radical turn?  Al Anon tells us to take care of ourselves.  We do this by getting to know who we are so that we CAN take care of ourselves. 

But, how do we even start?  My fearless leader had a great thought which she said helped her always.  "If I do any one thing, it gives God the opportunity to do something within me."  Being the big fan of baby steps, I decided that perhaps I could include just one thing extra in my day to allow God the opportunity to show me who I am and perhaps where I needed to go.

I poured over all my books, looking for inspiration when I discovered a little book I have called Love Without Measure.  It's one of those 30 day reflections on the spiritual service of Mother Teresa.  She is my favorite!!  I hope you enjoy this 30 day journey with me.

Day One

"The world today is hungry, not only for bread but hungry for love, hungry to be wanted and loved.

There is nothing new about the invisibility of those who have nothing and the blindness of those who have something, who have everything.  There is nothing new about a prayer of the poor(to me this may also mean the poor in our addicted sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers) 

Look at me.
There are millions of us.
But each of us has a name.
See me. 
Know that I exist.
Know that what you feel, I feel. 
Know that I hunger for bread,
but not just for bread.

Know that I am hungry to be wanted,
hungry to be loved.  Know that I am.

For today, my prayer is one of thanksgiving for the opportunity to get to know who I am, today.  I am thankful for my group and fellow bloggers who always have great experiences to share.  I pray that God helps me to increase my love by allowing me to give it away to those most in need.  I pray for all of our addicted loved ones and I say a prayer for the soul of Henry.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Scarlet Letter...

I've saved this from my son's time in treatment.  It has haunted me since I first laid eyes on it.  These words are the antithesis of what I've ever wanted my children to learn or feel about themselves.  But, here it is in black and white. 

Over the year's time, I know that we've gained a lot of ground.  I am thankful for that.  But, last night I was reminded of how far we have to go.  I was telling my son about my girls at the jail.  He was asking why they were there.  I told him I didn't know and that it really didn't matter.  "What is important, is their need for hope and encouragement."  "I don't think that they have been told that they can do anything they set their mind to", I said.  Without missing a beat, my son says, " you shouldn't tell them that, it just sets them up for disappointment." 

Pow! Boom!Bang!  It felt like an old episode of "Batman" where those words popped across the screen and I couldn't see them coming.  "Where I work, they are more accepting of  people like me, but a lot of places aren't that way,"  he casually stated. 

The stigma of addiction. The word stigma is from the Greek and it is the singular form of the word meaning a mark of disgrace on one's reputation.  If you are Catholic, you've heard of a stigmata.  Go here for more info.    People (saints mostly) who bear the physical marks resembling the wounds of the crucified Christ are experiencing a stigmata.  Stigmata is the plural form of the word stigma, meaning many marks or tattoos of sins or suffering.  I find this "goosebump worthy". 

Raise your hand if you've  read The Scarlet Letter in high school.  What did you learn from that?  Have you heard the parable of the Good Samaritan?  What about how foolish the people of biblical times were about the lepers?  Huh, did we associate that lesson to the AIDS epidemic?  We're so evolved.  We can see each lesson in that one tunnel visioned story or lesson, but we can't GET the lesson that is to be applied to other things. 

There is this  wise blogger out there says that folks won't get it until they get their turn in their own barrel.  I guess she's right.  But, I still need to get this rant off my chest.  Are you perfect?  Have you done things you weren't proud of ?  Did you do it of your own free will?  Well, guess what, our addicted loved ones lost their free will.  They didn't want to keep doing these things.  But, the disease of addiction physically forced them to keep feeding the hungry beast. 

All I ask is this, the next time you see a homeless person, an inmate, a drunk or addict, look into their eyes.  Imagine those eyes as an infant in the arms of it's mother.  Remember that that person is someones child.  Imagine that it is your child in that place.  Now, treat them accordingly. 

"The  King will answer and say to them ' Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me."  Matthew 25:40

Today I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of knowledge.  I am thankful that God gave me the vision to see my son's "marks".  I am thankful for the gift experience from all those great bloggers out there.  I pray for the wisdom to continue this journey.  I pray for the continued healing of our addicted loved ones and, a prayer for Henry.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

There but for the Grace of God, Go I

Today, I volunteered for my second meeting at the jail.  These girls/ladies teach me so much.  My fearless leader,  (aka my Al Anon leader) who will never accept that title.....but who lovingly leads....quietly,  soothing each fear and insecurity in her ever so approachable way, asked me to join her because 2 volunteers are needed at the jail and no one else was available.  I went. 

If you had asked me just one year ago if I would ever volunteer at a jail, I would have said, "absolutely not !!"  My perspective one year later, finds this experience to be a great  blessing.  Like most people, a year ago, I might have thought that these people were reaping the fruits of their actions.  I,  most likely would have had any number of judgements swirling around in my mind.   But, since this time 13 months ago, I, like them, have been broken. 

There is beauty in our brokenness.  I would have never understood that before.  But, when something like addiction rocks you to the core, you finally have the courage to let down your guard, lose all those protective barriers, confess all those dark haunting sins and know that only by throwing your arms wide open and walking directly into your personal pain, will you ever have the chance to experience a different life.  Brokenness opens the door to conversion.

Some of these girls are the victims of some pretty awful circumstances and abuses.  Most of them are smart but have been poorly educated.  If they are pulling the wool over my eyes, it is because this behavior has always helped them to survive. 

Today, they opened up a lot more.  I have no reference for how long this takes, but my fearless leader says that they are trusting sooner than usual.  She is I am too.  There were two ladies in particular who talked about how they felt that forgiving those who abused them, let them off the hook.  We tried to tell them that by not forgiving, they allowed their abuser to steal away a piece of them that could be used to explore their gifts.  Letting go is a gift to them not the abuser.  One lady has such tremendous guilt over her actions and how they are affecting her children.  Like most of us, they are stuck.  Feverishly hanging onto our sins as if we don't trust that we can be forgiven while allowing the shame and consequences of our bad choices define us.

The beauty of "the bottom" is that at that place we are ready to let go and start to hope for something different.  We are ready to confess our sins and plead for forgiveness and another chance.  We finally feel worthy of forgiveness. 

Before the meeting I always say a little prayer that God will help me to use only His words and that He will help me to keep my mouth closed when I need to (a recurring problem).

 A couple of the girls had a really hard time articulating the guilt they felt and the worthiness to expect anything different.  It was at that time that I heard myself say, "there but for the grace of God go I."  God's words I am sure, for I didn't plan them....they just popped out.  I went on to say, "that means that if I were born into your circumstances, or yours, or yours.....would I be any better or different?  If you had been born into mine, would you be different?  I had loving parents who didn't drink or do drugs.  I wasn't abused.  Who am I to judge someone who had to endure all of that?"  "We are all children created by God.  I am no better than anyone here.  I got lucky growing up, but I screwed up with my own son by not making sure he felt unconditional love." My eyes moved around the room, making eye contact with every girl who would meet my gaze as I said, "we are no different, in God's eyes, we can only learn and support one another and when you get on your feet, give back."

With tear filled eyes, two people mouthed thank you.  I say thank you to God, for the privilege of being His messenger, for the gift of His words and for the hope He brings.  I am so blessed.  Mother Teresa was right.  Americans are spiritually starving.  At the end of each meeting we form a circle, hold hands and say the "Our Father".  I took this one girl's hand and she winced.  I looked down and her hand was terribly swollen.  "Oh, I'm so sorry" as I let go.  "You can still hold my hand, just don't twist it."  I held her wrist and hugged her when we finished. 

We all crave love without judgement.  These girls crave our touch, acceptance and love.  Today I realized what an unworthy servant I am.  I have frittered away so many opportunities and been given so many advantages. 

Today I am thankful for this vision given with this new opportunity.  I am thankful that I am allowed the privilege of His service.  I pray that the stigma of addiction, alcoholism, those who are in jail and so many other things will be seen as the marks of Christ dying for our sins.  I pray that we can help to feed the spiritual starvation of our world.  And, I say a prayer for all addicts and Henry.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Snowball's Chance in Hell......

I just love a good mystery.  John Grisham (ahem) used to be one of my fav's.  I love the Maisie Dobbs series, but when the mystery of my life unfolds, I typically expect the bad to come tumbling down.  You can imagine my shock when several amazingly wonderful things started tumbling my way.

My husband and I both began Al Anon.  It has been a lifeline. We also entered counseling.  The astounding thing about counseling is not learning who is right and who is wrong, but, what all the arguing means.  Communication is so rarely spoken.  We might not even understand how to verbalize our wants and needs.  But, we are learning that we want and need the very same things, we just don't know how to give and receive our needs.  This new information is so wonderful.  I feel like a kid who has just had a heart to heart with my best friend and now we move on from the crap because we just can't wait to start working on our "fun things to do" list.  I get giddy just thinking of adventures to come that this time last year, I couldn't even imagine.

Financial gurus talk about the "snowball effect" of either good financial practices or bad financial practices.  I think that in recovery we can also experience that "snowball effect".  We accepted the chaos of our life.  We detached from our son's active addiction.  We went to meetings.  We got counseling.  Just like building that snowball, it's hard to find enough snow to get it started. It seems like a lot of work until it starts to really grow before your eyes.  I think that is where we are now. 

My son is starting to amaze me.  When they tell you to allow them to handle their own problems and experience the natural consequences, and to say things like, "oh" and "huh" and "what are YOU going to do about this or that?"  Well, I am now a believer!!  In total exhaustion and exasperation, I let go.  I stopped advising (ok I admit to feeling a little like "he deserves what he gets).  I finally got to the place where I thought that it was just time to let the chips fall where they may.  And, when things happened that normally would make me snoop or ask or think about solutions, I just started chanting, "not my problem, not my problem". 

Guess what?  He's becoming so responsible....dare I say driven?  Oh yeah and I'm starting to see this young man who is gonna do great things.  I'm not just saying that because I'm his mom.  No, he's got this determination and ambition.  He's got good ideas.  He's thinking like a man with plans.  Wow... each day brings something new....a long given up dream brought to fruition.  Things like his coming home and talking to us about his day.  Telling us his dreams and ideas.  Hanging out with the family and looking forward to it.  Starting new hobbies.  He has stopped blaming others for his problems.  He accepts them and deals with them!!!

It's official, I've hit the lottery.  I used to think that I had a snowballs chance in hell at ever having such a wonderful cohesive family.  But today, I'm not naive, I know this is a long journey, but to ever have experienced this kind of healing is a miracle.  I stand amazed.  I'm so grateful.

My girls aren't exempt from this equation.  They are at college and are happier, healthier and starting to grow emotionally as their family begins to heal.  This snowball just keeps growing.  They no longer have so many worries so they can focus on who they are and what they want to do with their lives.

In the last post I asked for comments on the stigma of addiction.  I didn't get any comments.  But, I will say this.  After last year, I bet a lot of folks started talking about me and my family.  I've heard gossip.  It's really quite amusing.  The gossip usually gets back to you.  You start learning who to trust.  I guess that is part of this process....learning about what is real and what isn't and dealing with it.  Those that criticize and judge are sad.  I don't say that with sarcasm (even though the ugly part of me really wants to).  Honestly, they are sad.  Because they don't get it.  Living life to it's fullest means living in total honesty.  And, those who criticize, can't be accepting of their own defects or they wouldn't be trying to tear others down.  They would be understanding of all of our human frailties. 

I think that our addicts of today are the lepers of yesterday.  The label has changed but the ignorance and selfish judgemental nature of some will never change.  Addiction enlightened me.  I would never willingly want to learn from something that was so awful for my son.  But, he went there.  The best I can do is to glean from any situation the gifts of knowledge and act in a way that shows I've learned from that lesson. 

Today, I say many prayers of gratitude for the miracle of this growing snowball of gifts.  I pray for your alcoholic or addict.  I pray for you as you care for them.  I pray for those who judge.  And, I say a prayer for the soul of my grandfather, Henry.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Stigma is a huge problem for addicts and alcoholics, recovering or not.  It is a problem for me because it makes me angry, as mama bear.  I'm working on writing a piece for a magazine on this subject and I thought that getting outside insights would be more objective than just presenting my lone perspective.  So, I'd love to hear your opinions on this subject. 

If you have the time, please my blog as your platform.  I would appreciate all and any help!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Henry's Last Son

This weekend I will travel to the funeral of my uncle.  He was the last remaining child on my father's side.  Although we weren't really close, he was still my family....a connection to my past.  We seem to lose more and more as we get older.  Hopefully with each loss, we will gain some wisdom.

This week I volunteered to take my first AlAnon meeting into the jail.  It was one of those things I always wanted to do but was a little intimidated by.  It ended up being rewarding.   My Dad grew up very poor and his father, Henry, was often abusive.  My Dad told me a lot of stories of people who helped him out along the way by mentoring or giving him a chance he might not have normally had.  He always paid that forward for as long as I can remember.

My experience at the jail confirmed the notion that everybody needs the opportunity of education, understanding and compassion, and another chance without judgement.  My uncle was a good man.  He provided a home for his parents when they could not have afforded it on their own.  My Dad was a good man.  He was always helping those who had less than he did.  At Christmas or Thanksgiving, we always fixed plates for older or lonely folks and delivered them to them. 

My Dad and his brother were the sons of an alcoholic.  The stigma of addiction followed them everywhere as it does to alcoholics and addicts today.  But, they rose above it.  I tip my hat to these men and in appreciation for the good choices they made, I too will give back.  They set the example.  There is nothing nicer than offering hope to those that feel that there is none. 

Today I say a prayer for the soul of my uncle and for Henry.  I pray for those ladies I met who are looking for a better life without really knowing how to get there.  I pray for our addicted loved ones and those who care for them.  I am thankful for the positive examples in my life.  Those examples are the food that feed my soul.  I hope that you to can take your experiences and use them for good.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

At All Hours of the Day

I read a lot of addiction blogs.  I am so curious to learn about the journeys of others.  In the beginning of our journey with addiction, I hated them because they represented a long, complicated trip (no pun intended).  Now, I am interested to learn as much as possible about this disease.  There are a myriad of variables.  And, I may never tamp down all of those questions that I have.  But, I have learned a thing or two and I'd like to share that with you now.

First and foremost, I have learned that when (and I have a lot of trouble with this one) I forget to mind my own business, I sort of go a little nuts.  OK, maybe more than a little.  It might start out innocently enough with just a little concern or "help" that evolves into .............full fledged paranoia that is enough to drive a person to drink.........So, when I catch myself, I try to remember what a rehab counselor once told me.  He said, "he's 21 yrs old, he's been raised, you are done."  So, when I think of it that way, I remind myself of my boundaries and pray for God's help in letting go again.  I cannot open the Pandora's box of snooping,questioning, looking for tell-tale signs, etc. that take me in all the wrong directions.  I cannot think of ways to help him.  It is not my journey.  It is his.  Now, I have to figure out mine.  Figuring out mine will most likely teach him more than my words ever will.

Next, I must remember that he can do it, if I stay out of his way.  God created this young man with every gift and every flaw for a special purpose and I am not privy to that information.  I must in faith, trust the journey that God has given him. If I keep trying to "help", my actions tell him that I don't think he's capable. 

Thinking long-term is a death sentence.  It somehow makes me think that every slip or bump means that he'll never get it.  This leads to despair which is a loss of hope and a dangerous place to be.  Just today I read the parable about the father of a family who hires workers for his vineyard.  He hired some early in the morning, some around noon, some in the afternoon and some in the early evening.  No matter when they were hired they each received the same pay, one denarius.  What does this mean?  I've read that it is an analogy to represent when God calls us to His service.  Some may get it early in their youth, some a little later in life and others maybe not until they are very old.  But, the reward of heaven is the same, no matter when they chose to serve.  To me, this also represents God's eternal hope for recovery for our addicted loved ones.  For some maybe sobriety will take from their first rehab experience while others may not get it until much later.  But, the rewards of sober living will be theirs just the same.

I don't need to worry about it.  It serves no purpose other than to make me nuts and loose out on the wonderful experiences that God has in store for me today.  I believe that every time I do that, it also slows down my son's progress because he is worrying about the trouble with me instead of how to live and survive as an adult, supporting himself in every way. 

Today, I have such hope and so I just wanted to remind those of you who may be having a not so hopeful day that bumps and slips are neither good or bad, just part of the process.  They aren't our problems....don't let them be.  You aren't a bad parent if you refuse to help, you are a strong, loving parent who has the faith to see that this difficult process can get better.  You have the faith, knowing that all of the good things you did in parenting that child are still seeds waiting for a little fertile ground to sprout up and take root. 

A watched pot never boils!  Sappy, maybe, but true.  So today I will quote for you and with you a prayer of the venerable Matt Talbot, an alcoholic who traded in his booze for daily mass for just 30 days, then 90, then 1 year, then a lifetime. 

"God of mercy, give Your strength to our loved ones, who are bound by the chains of addiction.  Enfold them in Your love and restore them to sobriety.  Lord, look with compassion on all those who have lost their health and freedom to alcohol and drugs.  Restore to them the assurance of Your unfailing mercy, and strengthen them in the work of recovery.  To those who care for them, grant patient understanding and a love that perseveres.  Amen"

And, a prayer for the soul of my grandfather, Henry.