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.