Monday, May 30, 2011


When we started dealing with addiction, we started to really learn about authenticity.....truth.  Truth mattered like never before.  Truth about who my son is, who I am, why I'm here, what God expects of us, why we find ourselves in this place, what we've done wrong etc.  Truth isn't just about if I answer someone honestly.  Truth isn't just about telling my son the hard things.  Truth is layered and layered in our lives.  If I don't know who I really am....who God created me to be; how can I possibly know how I feel about things, what things matter to me? 

One element of truth that I struggle with now is when I have a concern that comes from a feeling and not evidence, I am afraid of bringing up my concern because I don't want to constantly doubt my son and I want so desperately to trust him again, but the truth is....I'm still afraid.

My son has made me so proud lately.  I should be shouting it to the rooftops and I won't yet....because of fear.  Because addiction takes a long time to heal from. 

Then, there's my son.  Addicts lie.  I've heard it over and over and over again.  Even recovering addicts are so programmed to lie from their previous need to use, that it is a hard habit to break.  Sometimes, now I can see him, visibly catch himself and tell me the truth...something usually that he thinks I might not like to hear.  This is a baby step.  But, a counselor told my husband that it takes about two years for the lying to stop.  So, for another year and two months, I am afraid. 

Honestly, I will probably always carry some level of fear around.  Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life."  In my endeavor to learn who Jesus is and how he chose to live while on this earth, maybe I will be given insight into all matters of truth.  I have so much to learn. 

I love a good mystery and sometimes the parables are great mysteries to me.  Let's face it, I don't remember a parable about dealing with an addict in the Bible.  I'm sure a better scholar then myself will point it out for me.  But, today, I am struggling with truth.  Because when I am afraid, my need to know is based on MY fear and not because I am the truth police and it is my noble job to enforce. 

So, advice, anyone?  I need help and insight.  I need a reminder of what and how to be.  I need a rule of thumb, a guide.  I need help.  And, I pray for it daily.  Today, I am thankful for the progress my son has made so far.  I am thankful for our new painful changes.  I also pray for the patience to deal with those new painful changes.  I pray for wisdom and truthful understanding.  I pray for this country to wake up and sense the need to pay closer attention to this disease.  I pray for God's will and as always, a prayer for Henry.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Metamorphosis sounds better than change.....

Metamorphosis is defined as a complete change in character or appearance.  I wonder if it's painful to go from caterpillar to pupa to butterfly?  I think that going from caterpillar to pupa would be so frightening, but if you made it to butterfly, spreading those wings into flight would not only be a vision of beauty but also amazingly freeing.

My family is changing so much.  It seems like there is just one change after the next with little to no time for breathing.  And, I feel like it is all necessary change.  But, it hurts and is so exhausting. 

If I am honest with myself, I can sit back (as mom) and say, "you've earned this missy".  So many things I didn't want to deal with (like the addict) I now know that I must deal with.  So, I do, but it's hard.  I've put off so much and now I have this avalanche of unfinished business. 

The twelve steps have taught me to take care of myself.  Who knew I could be so much trouble to take care of?  Don't ask my husband....anyway, it's hard to buck the system, fight the man, stand up for yourself, deal with those who don't really like you to start with, but to become a healthy teach my children to be healthy, I must model these hard lessons for them. 

Here is the message I'm going to have painted on my bathroom mirror.....It's all out of YOUR control....give it to God!!!!!  Every single little tiny care is important to God.  What if we always remembered that?  If I really remembered that, I'd probably feel a lot less like a bucket with a hole in it...always needing refilled, never making it to full. 

This post is such a rant.  I'm sorry but today, I just needed to take to the couch and try to sort out these nagging feelings that are overwhelming me.  So, today I say a prayer of Thanksgiving for the freedom to take to my couch and you and God.  I pray for an organized brain that will help me remember the proper channels to use to get to where God needs me to go.  I pray for courage during change.  I pray for wisdom for the journey.  I pray for our loved ones who fight addiction, that they may never let it fool them into thinking it's not the bad guy.  And, I pray for you, Henry.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Roller Coaster Ride of Emotion

This has been a week of emotional ups and downs.  Living with addiction makes me guarded. I am so afraid to hope sometimes.  I know that this journey is full  of forward motion and slips backwards and it makes me weary. 

My youngest daughter graduated from high school this weekend.  It was a bittersweet weekend, but one we looked forward to celebrating.  My son had just been hired on a job that can be a career.  It is actually an apprenticeship.  My son has hope and pride for the first time in such a long time.  This warms my heart.  So we were looking forward to this celebration with lighter hearts than we've had in a long time.  Saturday was the baccalaureate mass and my son had to work.  I was upset that he would miss this event. 

My daughter has had a series of health problems which have given her wisdom beyond her years.  She is now healthy and so this was truly a celebration.  This would be a time for us to forget the worry we've been carrying around for the last year, actually years, and savor this day.  Deacon got up to give the homily and when he began by asking the graduates to consider their every decision and gave an example of where a series of bad decisions can take someone with a bright future, I knew where this was going.  There it was....the wet blanket of addiction, dropped on our shoulders on this day we had looked so forward to.  Deacons younger brother died from a cocaine overdose.  He talked about how this affected every family member in such an enormous way, and he is right.  But, today, selfishly, I didn't want to be reminded.

My husband was very upset.  My daughter was angry.  I felt like waving a white flag.  Addictions tentacles are always reaching far and wide stealing so much from families.  Deacons message was a good one.  And, if even one student really heard what he had to say, it will have been worth it.  But, for us, it was just a reminder that we're not home free.  My son is doing great right now, but he has to get more time under his belt. 

I wish that every person understood what families that deal with addiction endure.  From those casual comments about "stoners" or "dope heads" to watching those who seem to succeed so easily not understand that the addict has lost his ability to choose.  From those who are so quick to bad mouth to those who smile and say they understand but really don't.  In the day in and day out, on top of dealing with life's hardships we still carry that worry.  And, from what I've heard from others who are farther along this journey, we will always worry. 

I am tired.  I am beyond tired.  I know I should be grateful but today I am a little short on strength.  So, I will say a prayer of Thanksgiving for my son's new job and the light I find in his eye that I haven't seen in a really long time.  I pray for strength and endurance and vision.  And, a prayer for you, Henry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Coexist is defined as the the ability to live at the same time and at the same place; to live in peace with others. 

Lately, one of my greatest challanges has been trying to take all of the ideas I've learned and LIVE them.  But, because I tend to be an "all or nothing" kind of girl, I've had a lot of problems balancing this new information.

There are so many good sources of information out there for addicts/alcoholics as well as for the family member.  AA and Al Anon meetings are everywhere. 

Melody Beatty is a great writer on the subject of recovery.  Not only is she a recovering addict, she began counseling those"whiney" family members and in the process began to explain what codependancy looks like in everyday actions.  She began to understand family memebers behaviors while becoming  personally involved in those she counseled.  She became codependent.
She has seen both sides of that coin.  That kind of insight is valuable. 

The twelve step program is  proabably the greatest tool at the addict/alcoholic's disposal.    I began researching the Catholic connection to the twelve step program which  led me to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.  Then, I look at the "why" of a person's need to medicate.  And, I find at the heart of it all a need for love and a need to belong. 

This is where my ADD mind is struggling.  How do these ideas coexist in my life?  How do I focus on my own life, remain tough regarding my boundaries and still show love?  It is like I am able to be tough when I need to be tough.  I know how to show love,  when I show love, but how do I show love while being tough? 

This is such a balancing act.  My fear of relapse (disguised most of the time as anger) is always just below the surface  waiting to boil over and erupt in an angry less than loving kind of feeling at most any moment. I know this is where I must detach and find my own happiness, but, hopes get raised and having moments without fear are such a gift that the idea of going back down that ugly place just pisses me off.

So, here I am with swirling disorganized, out of control thoughts jumbling around in my brain.  I feel so out of sorts.  This is where I need to slow down and pray for direction.  Today, a prayer of Thanksgiving(always give thanks first) for all of the tools readily available to us.  Then a prayer for clairty and guidance.  And a prayer for your addict and mine and as always for Henry.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Keep Fighting....

My mother had 19 grandchildren.  And, out of those 19, at least 5 of them have been affected by the disease of addiction.  It is not a simple disease; it's reaches are far and wide.  Yesterday, one of my family members had surgery (back surgery) and will obviously need pain killers.

 I went to see him and his behaviour was just like my son's behaviour when he had surgery last summer (before we knew of his addiction).  They both had almost a panicked reaction to the idea of pain.  It was their singular thought.  For the family members around, it was our singular out for those pain killers. 

I went out into the hall and his nurse was there.  I said, "do you know that he is a recovering addict?"  "Yes, she said."  "My son has the same issue and it seems that they are so afraid of pain."  "Yes", she said, "but not the pain you think, they are afraid of the pain from withdraw."  "It is the most awful form of pain."  I hate addiction.  I hate what it does to our kids.  I hate that pharmaceuticals profit so handsomely from them.  I hate that there is always a doctor willing to write those scripts.  And, I hate that regulation could occur and probably never will.....because of money.

I'm proud of my family member.  He let me give him the stern talk.  He knew I was fighting for him.  But, his is a minute by minute struggle right now.  I left feeling the weight of the fight addiction places upon us.  So, I began to pray.  I was reminded of a time when I said confession to a Father of Mercy priest.  He told me that his mother told his brother that she never offered to drag him out of the bars, because that was a fight she couldn't fight.  She fought for him on her knees. 

So today, I ask you to join me in prayer to fight for my family member and yours.  Venerable Matt Talbot (my profile picture) fought his addiction cold turkey and by going to mass everyday.  He is a patron of alcoholics and addicts.  So, I ask for him to join us in praying for our loved ones.

"God of mercy, give your strength to (name) who is bound by the chains of addiction.  Enfold him in Your love and restore him 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"

Our best hope....prayer....always.  Today, I will pray for my family and yours to never give up and I will always pray for Henry.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Conquer Self

There are so many changes going on that I can't seem to catch my breath.  My youngest is going to graduate high school soon.  My son is anxiously awaiting a new job/apprenticeship with the iron workers union.  My house is for sale.  I've changed jobs.  But, the most profound change is the way that I look at life. 

On Friday the 13th (appropriate right?), I will turn 47 years old.  And, I feel this since of urgency in "getting it all in".  There is so much that I want to do that I don't know where to start.  I feel impatient and want it all now!!  I can't  create any sense of order out of my swirling ideas...

So, I must learn to plan under God's direction.  As I study the Spiritual Exercises, I get little nuggets to guide this phase of limbo that is my life.   I am learning that planning means looking back at mistakes and confessing them and making penance for them.  It means apologizing, if necessary.  This takes away distractions so that I can honestly focus and it helps me to learn to avoid future stumbles of the same sort. 

Next, I must allow for "quiet time" each day with God both in meditation and prayer.  For me, this "talk less/listen more" tactic has been long overdue.  When I listen, a lot of useless "self talk" seems to evaporate and I am supplied with the ideas that really need my attention.

I also must look at the parables and imagine myself there and use my senses while doing this.  This has been so good because it teaches me in a practical sense how Jesus handled situations.  This exercise begins to help you see the parables that are present in your life everyday. 

Conquering self is the goal of the Spiritual Exercises so that you live in accordance to God's will.  I think conquering self is the most efficacious vaccine available to combat drugs/alcohol and a host of other problems we create when we see things as the world does instead of how God does.

My life has been hard this year.  I think I could have easily given up on many occasions.  But, God in his goodness has given me the kick that I needed to get up and fight.    I am so thankful.

Today, I am thankful for the progress made.  I pray for wisdom and guidance for the days ahead.  I pray for my son and your loved one to find the fire inside that God has given them.  I pray for all those who are just beginning the journey into sobriety....may the hold strong and keep fighting.  And I pray for Henry.