Thursday, January 26, 2012

If I Had Only Known Then....

Dear older self,

There is so much that I wish you had known.  There are things that could have possibly changed the course of your families journey.  But, it is not to be known.  We did travel this path and even though we took the really scary fork we learned so much. 

I am guessing that your fear kept you from living your life to the fullest.  I don't think you wanted to do things the hard way, it was just so difficult to believe that letting go could ever have saved you and your son's very life....but it did. 

I'd like for you to know that I think that control is your defense against fear.  I'd like for you to know that AlAnon says that fear is "false evidence appearing real."  and that AA says that fear stands for "F*!!* everything and run"  I agree with both of them.  Don't buy into what HASN'T happened.  I'd ask you to be on guard as control is hidden in so many of our actions and it can be difficult to spot.

Please know that faith and giving control to God is the ONLY, I repeat, ONLY way to gain sanity.  When you give control over to God, he will teach you so much, surprise you in amazing ways and make you realize just how silly your lack of faith has been.

I'd tell you that Love is really the most important thing.  You can love someone by listening to them....really listening and when they say the things that make you cringe, you let it be ignoring any desire to correct a behavior in favor of remaining present and just continue to love....not so much with words but with your presence, your ears, your interest and your touch.  Love heals all. 

I'd tell you that it isn't selfish to have a life outside of being a mom.  I'd tell you that having a life is good for your family too.  It brought me and my son even closer.  It brought my girls closer to me also.  It brought me closer to the work that God would have me do. 

I would tell you that maybe even though you did all of these things, perhaps we'd still be where we are....but I suspect not.  I'd tell you to cut yourself some slack.  I'd tell you to do better when you learned better. 

There are no successes or failures only lessons learned along life's path.  Things aren't good or bad...they just are...what is bad now in your limited view might just be a good lesson in the long run.  You not want to be where you are but if you "let go" of the notion of what YOU want, you might just find the blessings of where God has placed you.  You'll get to meet a lot of amazing people when you accept where God has placed you.

Hang in there, don't lose faith and pray because our life really does depend on it.

With great care and compassion,
Older Self

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Kids on the Block

We have a couple of relatively new kids working at hubby's office.  And, it is a delight.  They are so excited about learning new things.  They are appreciative of the opportunity.  Their youthful exuberance is so refreshing. 

Before we might have wanted someone who had more experience right off the bat.  Now, I realize that it is character that I am looking for instead of experience.  I can train for skill but strength of character is what it is. 

I look at these guys and see my son or daughter.  I see a lot of life yet to experience.  I see their shock at how nasty the public can be or their delight at those wonderful clients that make up for the others. 

Hubby and I are gaining so much from our counseling.  It is wonderful to understand why we do what we do.  I recommend it for every married couple.  It has taught us to be more cohesive at work as well as at home.  It helps to heal this family in so many ways.

Today I am thankful for the new kids, new insight, counseling, AlAnon and all those who proudly rise from what society writes off.  I pray for continued learning and the health and healing for all of our addicted loved ones and their families and as always I say a prayer for Henry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Looking Towards Warmer Days....

Today is one filled with beautiful, glorious sunlight.  It literally changes my view of my life and the world.  The light helps me to hope for sunny, warm days by a pool or on a southern California beach.  It gives me hope for days of respite. 

Today I had a counseling session and the counselor kept asking me how I felt about certain things.  It was astounding to me how the twelve step program gave me a new view.  I was shocked at how I used to view things such a short time ago.  And, I was so grateful at how I have such a calmer, clearer view of things now. 

Funny, how something that turns your world upside down shakes it into focus.  Today I am grateful for this new world view.  I am thankful for the calm that a twelve step program gives.  I pray for each of you as you work your programs.  I pray for the beaches in all of our futures and I say a prayer for Henry. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Enable or Contribute?????

One of the things that my son still fussed about was our decision to kick him out while he was using.  The other day, we found out about someone we knew who had a history of drug use.  Me, hubby and son were lamenting his situation.  Both hubby and I were questioning why they would allow him to live there without a job knowing that he was still using.

I said, "as hard as it is, kicking him out might be the only way to get him back."  Son asked, "why?"  I said, " because allowing him to live there gives him the freedom to use any money towards using instead of living."  "By contributing food and lodging, he can use his money to use."  "They are contributing to his ability to use."  "I get it,"  he said.  I agree with that.  Wow.  As Oprah would Ah Ha moment for sure. 

Today I say a prayer of thanksgiving for connections, second, third, and fourth chances (mine too), and strength for the day.  I pray for this young man in this story and all those known and unknown who walk this terrible path with him.  I pray for direction for their parents and as always a prayer for Henry.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How I Met the Good Samaritans

I've heard that God will whisper to you to make you pay attention.  If you don't listen, he'll tap you on the shoulder and if you still don't listen then perhaps a brick to the head!  I think I've just received the third, loud thud.  I love to eat SUGAR!!!!  I think dessert should be a food group or the bottom of the pyramid, depending on how old you are.  But, I have diabetes and now high blood pressure and the third whack is that my heart is in a really big hurry.  It is in such a hurry that it often runs away with me until I become sick at my stomach and vomit.

So, I have begun this round of tests.  First, I had to wear a Holter monitor for 2 long, unable to bathe, days.  Yuck!!  I felt pretty good while wearing it and thought, heck I aced that one.  But, apparently, my heart rate ranged from 140-160 beats per minute at rest., I had an ultrasound of my heart.  The young man who did it, sensed my concern and even though they aren't allowed to tell you much, made me feel as if there weren't any big blaring monsters on the screen (God bless him).

Then yesterday, I had the mother of all tests.  I was told that I would have a stress test.  I googled it and read about how you get on the treadmill and spend about 9 minutes at various speeds and inclines, while hooked up to blood pressure cuff and EKG.  Seemed like no problem, so when hubby offered to go I said," nah, I'll be in, I'll be out in 45 minutes to an hour, tops." 

Guess what, I was scheduled for a nuclear stress test.  This is a whole different ball game.  I was told no caffeine for 24 hrs.  This is a BIG, B-I-G, problem.  I love caffeine.  I love it hot, cold and in chocolate.  I take a big sip of Diet Pepsi in the morning and let the fizz burn down my throat and give a big ahhhh knowing that it will soon open my very sleepy eyes.  Can you say addict?  Well I know it, own it, accept it, but thus far have been unwilling to do a darn thing about it. 

Also, no drink after midnight and no food.  My appointment was scheduled for 11 am.  I have diabetes.  If you don't eat, you become very sick.  After waiting for almost an hour, they call me back.  I am beginning to get a very big caffeine withdraw headache.  They had me change into 2 gowns and put an iv in.  Then they pull out this very heavy metal tube of radioactive medicine that looks like something James Bond might carry around and inject me with it so that my heart will show up on a gamma camera.  Next, I must drink 3 cups of water on my empty, nauseated stomach and go to a separate radioactive waiting room and only use the radioactive bathroom.  No, I'm not kidding or exaggerating.

It is time to wait for the next camera.  There is an older gentleman in there who wants to talk.  My head is pounding, stomach churning but he is so sweet.  He tells me about running a feed store for 25 years after his father did it before him.  He tells me how 7 of his old employees passed away just last year and his voice begins to crack.  "Life is hard when you start to lose everyone " he said. 

After chatting for a while, I know that the inevitable is coming so I excuse myself to go to my "special" bathroom to hang with the porcelain goddess.  The 3 cups of water comes up first.  I cannot seem to stop retching.  And, all the while I hear my nurses and techs in the hallway, having a big time.  Finally, I get out and my old friend comes and gets them and tells them that they need to take care of "His girl".  How sweet is that?

The nurses get me wet towels and oj in case my sugar is low.  They put me on the bed with the camera and attempt to get this phase done.  Midway through, I yell for them to get me out and get me a trash can.  I am sick again.  They urge me to finish this portion and come back tomorrow for the next phase.  I make it through but am sick as soon as I get out. 

As I lay on this cold tiled bathroom floor in 2 hospital gowns and big baggy sweatpants, I listen to the tech laughing and having fun in the hallway.  I see all sorts of radioactive debris lying on the floor from those who have used this room before me but I no longer care.  I asked God to help me or take me, really I didn't care which. 

I had asked for phenagran.  That's all I need.  "No," they say.  A doctor would have to prescribe that.  I am in one of middle Tennessee's largest hospitals and I can't get phenegran or a doctor to give me some.  "The only option", they tell me "is to go to the ER".  Finally I decide that I cannot make it anywhere.  So, I stagger out into the hall and tell them to take the iv out and take me to the ER.

A nurse gets me in a plus sized wheel chair so that I can stuff all my belongings around me.  She wheels me through the bowels of this large hospital in order to get me and my radioactive vomit the heck out of Dodge.  She parks me in the ER waiting room, checks me in and leaves. 

I must look like some indigent person off the streets with my gowns on, puke bucket in my lap an wet towels all over me.  Then it happened.  What would normally be mortifying, no longer mattered.  I began retching again.  Right there in the middle of the waiting room.  I would have been embarrassed if I still wanted to live but I just wanted to die.  Two lovely strangers sprang into action.  One man ran to his bathroom and got wet paper towels for me while a woman picked up a magazine and fanned me until someone finally came to get me.

I got my phenagran...."Thank you Jesus" as a lot of little old southern women might say!  I finished my test today.  Everyone kept saying, "Oh my you look a lot better than yesterday."  You think? 

What is ironic to me about this story is that it was the strangers who showed the most caring and compassion.  Clearly, I'm not gonna die from vomiting, but I wanted too!!!  This only affirms what I said in my previous post.  Those other patients or families of patients cared what I was going through.  They tried to provide comfort.  Hubby was none too happy by the time he got there.  He was upset that we weren't totally prepared for what I was going through.  He was upset that they weren't really paying attention.  I think that after his questions, I became the squeaky wheel because today, I was first in and out!!  Have I said "Thanks be to God?"  Well, just in case I forgot, " Thanks be to God!"

Today I say a prayer of thanksgiving for phenegran, compassionate strangers and completed tests.  I pray for those who battle this "machine" that our hospitals have become.  I pray endlessly for our addicted loved ones, their families and Henry.

Monday, January 16, 2012

On Hallowed Ground...

I have always looked for truth.  It's kind of like organization;  it's something to reach for but hard to find, for me, anyways.  I grew up a southern Baptist.  I moved near Lake Erie and went the non denominational route, moved back to the south, thrilled to have my Baptist church back only to realize that no, I couldn't go home again.  Then I tried the Methodist Church which led me home to the Catholic church.

I love my church.  I love the church because it immerses me in the history of Jesus.  I love the rituals that help me to quiet myself enough to hear the whisper of God.  I love the incense,  symbolic of the prayers I pray, breathing the fragrance in allowing it to permeate me before I release it up to the heavens.  I love following the liturgical year, helping me to connect to a path that Jesus might have taken.

With all of that being said, I have great respect for the journey of others.  I think that we all have to follow our own paths to truth.  What I have begun to notice is the "hallowed ground" in this blogging community.  I have realized that the members of this community are those who have seen some of the most difficult things ever.  And, without shame or pretension, they have learned to look beyond.  The members of this "club" have usually been touched to such a degree that there is little judgement, greater compassion, no superficiality, and greater clarity. 

We have all been broken.  Broken to the point that we have let go of pride, unrealistic and unimportant notions of how things "should be" and with some of the crap out of the way see things with a extreme sense of clarity.  This clarity helps us to see the "least of these" with new eyes,  minus all of the labels and lack of hope that I might have had just a few years back.  I think I've found some hallowed ground here and I walk it with great respect and honor for those who walk it with me.

Today I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the wonderful community that I find myself in.  I pray for our addicted loved ones both active and in recovery and for their families.  And I say a prayer for Henry.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Signs are Everywhere

I love, love, love it when I feel the hand of God.  It's rare when (probably) I recognize it.  I am sure that it happens more often than I notice.  My sister had planted these climbing rose bushes and they had really started to grow.  But, they had yet to bloom.  She was growing frustrated with them and was considering cutting them down.

Our mother had died in November and it was  Mother's day.  Sister was having a tough time grieving.  Mother's day was a big deal.  My mom lived next door to my sister and as she was looking across the way towards my mother's house she was thinking what a hole our mother left when she noticed to her amazement that her rose bushes were LOADED with rose blooms. 

She always felt that our mom was saying,'s okay, I"m here with you.  It was a beautiful gift.  Another blogger friend shared with me this most amazing, beautiful story of the hope God gives in the midst of our heartbreaks.

Going down the dark roads that life takes us, teaches us the most.  I pray that you have the courage to travel to the most fearful places in order to unearth the gifts underneath.  I pray for strength, I pray for hope but mostly I pray for LOVE for you and your family.  And as always a prayer for the soul of Henry, my grandfather.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

All Ya Need is Love....

My best friend is a mom to 8 children.  She has 3 bio kids and 5 adopted ones.  She is always the student and so she has read many, many books about adoption issues.  She continues to school me on attachment issues. 

Attachment has become a big deal in psychological circles.  The Dad and I attend counseling and our therapist uses attachment therapy with us as a couple.  Gabor Mate, MD is a physician in Canada who has written several books ( the ones I have read deal with addiction and ADD).  He looks at attachment as a primary problem for those suffering with addiction.  He also looks at how attachment exacerbates problems with ADD. 

My friend went to a conference on attachment and brought me back CD's from Karen Purvis, the speaker.  While she was specifically referring to children in adopted families and in foster homes, the behavior of those children sounded a lot like the behavior of my son.  I started applying some of her principals to my interactions with him. 

It's about unconditional love.  Really that's THE bottom line.  But, do we know how to express love withOUT condition, really?  It's harder than you think.  We're so programmed by our own past, the media, our friends, pride, etc. that it takes some real slowing down our behavior to examine from where it comes.

Recently, my son had to serve 2 days jail time for a DUI.  He was so anxious.  Before, our family would have been angry(fearful) about this consequence that we would have lectured ( to control) him on how really stupid this was.  This time around, I talked him through his fear of this experience.  I never mentioned what he did.  I finally let this consequence be the punishment. 

When he got out, he spent the night with a coworker so I didn't see him until the next day.  He had to take a drug test the day after he got out.  He didn't have a car as his was in the shop.  He called the probation officer to say that he didn't have a ride.  He quickly told him that was too bad and that things didn't work that way and if he didn't get there, he would be in violation of his probation.  Needless to say HE found a way to get his drug test.

That night when I came home with the Dad after speaking to a 4H group, I saw him in the window as I was walking in.  "My boy is home!"  I exclaimed.  He heard me and opened the door and gave me a great big hug!!  This boy rarely wanted me to touch him in the past.  "How was your drug test?"  I asked.  "Fine, I passed."  he said.  "How was jail,"  I continued.  This is where he doubled over in laughter and ran out to tell his father about my greeting, which I never saw as funny.

What was really cool was that when I let go of how he should have behaved in the past (his business) and just loved him this day allowing the natural consequences be the consequence, he came to ME with his concerns and problems....ME, not a substance!!!!

Pretty cool, huh?  Mother Teresa was this simple tough chick.  I love her words because they aren't complicated.  They are honest.  She didn't try to show us her intelligence by complicating things.  No, I'd say she was so secure in her attachment to God that she was able to speak in  simple yet straightforward and not always politically correct terms. 

"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love." Mother Teresa

and when you have an addicted loved one or someone who is in the hell of addiction remember:

"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."  Mother Teresa

Today, I am thankful for having experienced the fruits of unconditional love.  I am thankful for the wise words of those who have walked this path before me.  I'm thankful for friends who help in so many ways.  Love, really is all you need. 

I say a prayer that we all experience and give that great love that heals and sustains.  And I say a prayer for the soul of Henry.

This is me (the baby) as my brothers and sisters called me and my oldest sister.  I was loved by parents and 5 older siblings......I had it all!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Battle Fatigue

I love watching the daylight increase during these cold frigid months.  It gives me hope.  I am a warm weather girl.  Lucy (our doxie) has noticed, as well, as she begins training me to let her out at will.

 I always have this dream of order in my life.  It is a goal that always eludes me.  I think this notion becomes important to me in the winter.  I am not sure why.  I guess it's the fresh start idea that has become ingrained in me even though  I don't really take it too seriously.

Today I go to the doctor, again.  I am a diabetic with high blood pressure who has had bouts of racing heart with nausea.  It is a random thing that scares me when it's happening and makes me question if it's my imagination when it's not. 

These kind of things cause me to pause over what is most important in my life.  We're selling our home and downsizing.  We've been on the market for almost a year.  It feels like living in purgatory and wanting to get the hell out.  I'm weary of showing the house and looking online at possible replacements.  I'm sick of getting my hopes up. 

I want to be in a fresh new smaller home.  I want to sit on a beautiful warm beach and feel the sun kiss my skin.  Sometimes the journey becomes tiring.  I think that time and experience are so important to a family.  That's what I want this year.  Simpler, smaller, less stuff more experiences. 

These ramblings help me to sort out my feelings.  I will continue this journey of prayer for all of our loved ones and always remember to throw in a prayer for Henry.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Another Fresh Start....

I used to think of the new year as a fresh start, which really never brought what I had imagined.  Addiction and AlAnon have taught me that each day is a fresh new start.  Each slip isn't a failure but something to be learned from and be built upon.  Perfection is a myth.  If life is going smoothly, I'm probably not learning a lot.  Hurdles will always be there.  These are all things that took me 47 years to learn and accept. 

This last year was one of sobriety(for the most part) for my son.  It wasn't hearts and butterflies.  But, it was better.  I learned a lot.  So I'd like to share with you the top ten important lessons that 2011 taught me.

10.  Look beyond.  In other words look deeper than the surface.  You usually find something beautiful.

9.  Judging only puts up walls.

8.  My way is not the only way. 

7.  I am thankful to NOT be in control.

6.  I need to look beyond the anger...

5.  Taking care of myself is a gift to my family.

4.  Beauty really is in the simple and small things.

3.  I've missed a lot worrying about the future.

2.  Prayer is the best weapon I have.

1.  As the Beatles said, "All you need is love".  Unconditional love that is.  Unconditional love, not enabling, heals unlike any drug, therapy, or balm.