Friday, February 15, 2013

Wounded Souls

When I went to the jail on Wednesday, one of the correctional officers came in the room to scold the ladies for trying to take a pen into the "pod area."  The ladies in this program have homework and the Homeward Bound coordinator had given them pens to use.  The rule, for them, was unclear.  This officer was clearly strutting his power in front of me. 

This show of power rattled them so much that we started our meeting talking about that.  I challenged them to pray for him for one week.  You might wonder if I think that prayer will change him in one week and the answer is, I don't know.  Perhaps, that week of prayer for my enemy will change me.   Maybe I will be able to see that he too is a victim.  Maybe I will simply recognize that I need the serenity to accept this thing as it is. 

The ladies ran the meeting this week.  They had chosen a leader who is a small very intelligent little gal who appears to be about 6-7 months pregnant.  She and her husband are both addicts.  She asked me so many questions about whether or not I would bail my son out if he went to jail.

My answer was no.  I told her that each parent had decide for themselves what their boundaries were.  She felt that her mother no longer loved her because of her decision.  She broke down while talking about it.  I told her that love sometimes looked harsh.  I told her that I loved my son enough to leave him in jail because it was the one thing that might keep him from using again.  I told her I didn't like it.  It made me uncomfortable and that if he chose recovery I would be there always every time to support him.  She could not believe that I wouldn't give him one more chance.  But, I will.  I will give him as many chances at recovery as he needs.  I just won't give him more chances to hurt himself.  In other words he has a choice.

One thing is clear in this classroom.  These ladies have been hurt and were looking for love in all the wrong places.  Another young lady has long outbursts of the giggles.  They are usually at an inappropriate time.  In the beginning it irritated me, but I ignored her.  Then I would ask if she was laughing at a teasing way.  But, her recurring statement throughout the meeting was that her mom died when she was very young.

This meeting haunted me a little.  I dreamed about it the night after.  I'm not really sure why.  I am praying for the vision to learn what lesson I have to learn in all of this.  One thing is clear.  We are all wounded.  Maybe we are wounded from some terrible life event.  Maybe we are wounded because our families don't know how to show our loved ones just how much we love them in the midst of our fears.

Today I say a prayer for a clear vision for how to put on love.  I pray for the correctional officer, each lady there, their families, our families and Henry.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Prayer For You....

Happy Valentines Day!  There is a Novena (9 days of prayer) called  the Novena to Mary Undoer of Knots.  I stumbled upon it when I googled a novena for addiction.  I must say that it takes a little discipline to do as it is includes praying a rosary in the midst of this novena.  But, it has brought me such great peace.

It has been a hard day.  There are all sorts of knots created by the chaos of addiction.  The knots of unpaid bills, knots of probation, knots from failing to deal with life for a very long time, knots of being without a car, knots of starting from behind, knots of fear, knots of shame, knots of anxiety, knots, knot, knots....

So today in this second day of lent, I will put on the armor of prayer.  If you find yourself in need of said armor, please feel free to follow this link

Today, I pray for all of our addicted and non addicted loved ones, whose knots are stealing the joy from their lives.  I pray to Him who is Love to heal us and guide us.  And, I say a prayer for Henry.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

That's What Love Really Looks Like

As many of you know, I volunteer at the local county jail.  It started out as a as a substitute position for the ladies who took an Al Anon meeting to the inmates.   The ladies who are selected to participate in the program are lucky to actually benefit from rehabilitation unlike the general population of the jail.  It is an honor for an inmate to be selected.  They are offered classes where they can receive their GED, parenting classes, personal finance classes, various churches take their programs there and there is celebrate recovery, AA, NA, etc. Now, I go every week with the hope of possibly offering a writing class in the future.

I cannot tell you what an education this experience has been for me.  I will say that they feed me when I go.  And I will give you an example.  Last Wednesday was our first class for the new "semester".  It was an entirely new group of girls/ladies.  One thing that you can count on in a new class is that a fair number of the participants will be unable to make eye contact.  The other things that you routinely see is either a lot of self degrading talk or a refusal to accept "what is".

I am lucky.  I have ADD.  In the words of Adrian Monk, "it is both a blessing and a curse."  But, here at the jail, it is a blessing.  Because my brain doesn't always slow down to edit, they get the real honest me.  And, the real blunt, honest me, loves them.  I love them because, I am loved.  I love them because I have always wanted to fight for the underdog.  I love them because of my  Dad used to tell me stories about all of the adults who stood up for him when he was the son of a broke alcoholic.  I know the power of just one person who will care.

I am not naive about it either.  Some will continue on doing business the way they always have.  Others, like my Dad, will become great as God intended.  So going to that jail and being "God's pencil" as Mother Teresa used to say is the greatest high ever.

Last week as one inmate was trying to understand what exactly Al Anon is,  she told me that she really didn't like it that her mom could go there and talk about her, I responded, "well, that's not really my problem."  I went on to say that my answer was not intended to be mean or sassy.  I went on to say that I/her mom, needed to take care of ourselves and allow her/my son the freedom to learn to take care of themselves. 

"It's not my problem" came out before I had the chance to think.  But, when it did, I had every one's attention.  I was able to say things that they needed to hear, like:  "I could not participate one more minute in enabling him because he was killing himself.  I will not be a party to that anymore.  If Al Anon helps your mom to do the hard things to help save your life, it is her right to go there and do what she needs to do.  You make your choices.  She makes hers.  You are worth it.  That's what love really looks like. "

At the end of the class, I had every ones eyes.  Happy Happy Dance!  And, the girl who was mad said, " this is my favorite class" and others chimed in with similar comments.  As they started to leave I told them to wait.  "We give hugs here before we go."  And that is true of every Al Anon meeting I have ever been to but here, like no other place they are given more robustly and received with thankfulness.

Today I say a prayer of thanksgiving for this life and this experience.  I pray for those walking this journey with me.  I pray for my son to stay strong and keep fighting.  I pray for programs like this one to thrive.  And, I say a prayer for Henry who has certainly added to my story even though I never met him.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Holy Thursday

Recently, hubby and I were concerned that a person that we knew might be struggling with addiction.  Even though this was not our son or even a relative, those old fearful, wet blanket of heavy hearted feelings appeared.  Addiction is such an evil and pervasive disease.  I found myself going back to the cycle of fearful paralysis to anger and finally to acceptance if this is God's will for me to walk along this path again.   Even though it is not my own journey and is less personal, it is a reminder of where I've been, what we can return to and how far reaching this disease really is.

It took me a really long time to accept the crosses that were mine to carry.  Somehow, I felt if I carried those, then I should be done.  Mission accomplished.  Right? 

I mentioned earlier that I had gone on a silent 2 day retreat based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius.  One of the things that we discussed was that we are all on our very own Paschal path. At any given moment, we can look at our lives and venture a guess at where we are on our paschal path.

 Last Friday, I was having a holy Thursday.  And Holy Thursdays and Good Fridays are very much a part of our lives as Christians.   The good news is that while we are living through  those kinds of days, there is the hope of Easter ahead. 

If you've done the stations of the cross recently, you will remember that three of the fourteen are the same.  They are when Jesus would fall under the weight of His cross.  Certainly these stations are wonderful reminders to us that even Jesus fell under their weight.  More importantly, he got right back up again.  There was help along his way.  Veronica, in her simple gesture of wiping the brow of Jesus showed us how we can be of service to others along the path.  Simon agreed to share it's weight.

Today is not my time of walking the path.  But, it is a time to step forward and lend a hand or a prayer.  It is time to remember kinship.  It is a time to know that we do to Jesus what we are doing to those whose path is in the dark places right now. 

I have certainly met my fair share of Veronica's and Simon's.  I am blessed.  My son is nothing short of a miracle right today is all that I have.  He could be right back in Holy Thursday again in a heartbeat.  I know that.  The one thing that is for sure is that  this disease has taught me to appreciate the good days. 

Maybe I am just about to enter an empty tomb.  Maybe.  Son maybe entering the church this Easter.  He is working one on one with the Bishop another priest and one seminarian.  He went to mass today.  He is working again.  He only asks for books and prayers.  He is grateful.  And, so am I.

Today I say a prayer of thanksgiving for the bounty that is mine.  I pray for those just beginning this fearful journey.  I pray that you will have the fortitude and strength needed to fight for your self or your child or both.    I pray that you will be able to receive the help of those who offer to bear the weight or wipe your brow.  And, as always, I say a prayer for the soul of Henry.