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.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Roads, new ruts....GK Chesterson

Progress is defined as movement toward a goal; development or growth.  Ghandi said" healthy discontent is a prelude to progress." 

I am thankful for those great thinkers who have come before me , who have helped me look at things as they really are.  I'm afraid that growing up watching sitcoms has perverted my way of thinking.  I expect a satisfying conclusion in thirty minutes or less.  And, I expect any progress to look like some idealized version of what's in my head.

But, life doesn't work that way.  I went to my AlAnon meeting  on Monday.  It always amazes me that a topic can be chosen with my feeling so superior....that something else would have been a better choice, when that topic will usually be the very thing that I need to hear.  Progress was our topic.  It was perfect.  It made me stop irrationally thinking that progress was something like a checklist.  Henry David Thoreau said that, "when real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before."  That quote was so profound for me.  Every thing that I thought I knew is challenged, then unlearned then relearned.  That's a three step process for my ever aging brain.

My expectations are off.  A Chinese proverb tells me, "be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid of standing still."  Progress is movement.  Maybe it isn't the movement I'd like, but it is movement. 

It has been one year since my son went to rehab.  He has grown so much.  A lot of his growth has to do with the fact that his Dad and I have gotten out of his way.  Dad and I have been going to meetings and learning to work our twelve step programs.  We also started seeing a counselor.  We realize that in order for our son to heal and our daughters to be healthy and not traumatized from our dysfunction, we need to learn how to do this right.  It's never too late. This is our gift to them and ourselves.

Addiction woke us up.  It challenged our way of thinking and forced us to act in the face of fear.  My son will always live with this.  That is a daunting thought.  Sometimes I read blogs and hear about those who relapse.  It scares me so much.  But, it is another lesson; another test of a boundary.  Maybe it is a reminder of how dangerous this disease can be.  It isn't for me to judge.  I just need to mind my own business and keep trudging forward. 

Today, I am thankful for my AlAnon group.  I am thankful for our progress.  I am thankful for the courage that God has given us during this time.  I pray for all those who fight this disease.  I pray for their strength, courage and tenacity.  I pray that they find that spiritual connection that will sustain and rescue them.  And I say a prayer for the soul of my grandfather, Henry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just Tell the Truth....damn it!

I've just discovered this new blog written by a recovering addict. The author's aim is to bring into focus the seriousness and epidemic nature of this disease.  The post is both informative and beautifully written.  After reading the very first post, I was sold because she addressed  the one part of addiction that frustrates me the most......TRUTH! 

Lying becomes part and parcel of an addicts life.  The odds of getting a straight answer from an addict are worse than hitting the powerball.  The web of lies confuse and distort my thought processes.  It is so refreshing to have naked honesty.  I would rather hear the ugly truth than a pretty little lie any day of the week because truth is truth.  It is what it is.  It will not go away.  It will eventually come out and when it does trust is broken......again. 

I'm fed up with lies.  Nobody is perfect.  I don't expect anyone to be.  But, I do expect truth.  I deserve it.  We all do.  My son deserves it and so I will give it to him.  No lies in my home, anymore.  I won't live with the whirling debris of addiction. 

Please check out  I was so impressed by it.  The first post is so good. 
Today I am thankful for those recovering addicts who light the way for anyone affected by this disease.  I am thankful for their courage and example.  I pray for all those who still struggle.  And I say a prayer for Henry.