Sunday, June 23, 2013

We are Family!

There were almost eighty people at our family reunion.  It was so good to see my family again.  I had forgotten just how great they are.  There was so much food that I got up at 5am to go for a walk to counterbalance yesterdays overindulgence!
Our family has had a tough few years.  We have gone through a lot more than just our struggles with addiction.  And, we've worked very hard to put things right.  It has required massive change on every one's part.  When you change, it is painful and long.  It feels as if you will never escape the consequences of your bad decisions.  You find that you begin to expect things to be hard.  Until one day when one little thing changes.  One little thing that perhaps you never expected to happen.....happens and it gives you hope!  Maybe you can begin to hope for more.

And so, this is how things have been around our house.  We've accepted (finally) the bad and are now summoning the courage to hope again.  Yesterday, we went to our big family reunion.  I have five brothers and sisters.  We took a picture together and as I was telling my older brothers (I'm the baby!) where to stand, and my daughter heard them say that I was so bossy.  It occurred to me that I am bossy.  I'm bossy because they let me be.  They made me think I was "all that".  They made me feel invincible.  So, just as you go home and slide right back into that brother/sister role so easily.  I was also able to slide right back into that spot of being loved so much.

My kids felt it too.  For heavens sakes I will even go so far as to say that the dogs did too.  I kid you not, they didn't want to leave and they always want to go home!  The Son could not stop commenting on what a great time he had.  Both Little and Big Sister loved hanging with all of their "big" cousins who now have a lot in common with them.  We're all getting older.  We are starting to appreciate the value in a families love.....more than ever before.  We have learned to accept each other warts and all.

My sister rented one of those big blow up water slides.  The kids (big and small) loved it.  But, as the day wore on, many of the "littles" came off of it crying that a sibling or cousin hit, kicked or bumped into them.  My favorite quote from the day was, "you're not at school, we're family just hit them back." 

And, that is what we do as a family.  We love back.  We hit back.  We stick up for each other but at the end of the day, we work it out and can't wait to see each other next time. 

I'm so thankful for family.  They were just the thing we needed to remind us of the good things.  And, I'm still praying for all of our addicted loved ones!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Family Reunion

Tomorrow the family heads two hours away to a family reunion.  We used to gather together often before my parents died, but now it is rare.  I'm so excited to be with all of these folks again, even the ones that drive me a little crazy.  We are a family.  We are linked by the good and the bad.

I've been gone from my home for about thirty years but when I find myself there amongst my siblings my girls say that my accent suddenly reappears.  I guess they are right.  It is so easy to settle into old habits there. 

My sister bought my parents home and she has kept it much the same as it was all those years ago.  I still know which cabinet the plates are in!  But, more than that, I know that one of my aunts will bring her cole slaw and it is the best I've ever had.  I know that all the kids will find themselves in the creek even though there is a water slide there.  I know that I can look into many relatives faces and see the familiar characteristics and mannerisms of "our tribe" and I understand it on a very deep level.

There is comfort in all of these things.  The Son is planning to go with us.  So are the Sisters.  I am happy about this.  Being the youngest of six and losing my parents at a fairly young age makes me feel as if a valuable asset was lost to my children.  I am so happy for them to have this experience.

If all goes as planned the Dad and I, the Son, Big and Little Sister and two pooches will head to a lovely small town in western Kentucky and eat way too much food, watch the dogs and kids play, tell lots of stories and listen to the whispers of generations past. 

I am thankful for this opportunity.  I am thankful for what I've learned from my blogging family as well.  I pray for our loved ones and for Henry.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Prayers

The Dad, Little Sister and I went to Starbucks before mass this morning.  We were going to meet the Son and Big Sister but we were a little early so we went for coffee first.

Outside of the Starbucks, a double amputee sat in a wheelchair and asked for a little money for a Father's day dinner.  The Dad said he'd catch him on the way out.  Little Sister and I sweetened the coffee while the Dad went back out.  We saw them chatting as we got in the car.

I asked about their conversation.  The Dad said that he had asked if he could spare a little money for a Father's day dinner. The Dad gave him a little money and asked if he was clean and sober.  He told him quite cheerfully that he was.  Then the Dad asked if he prayed.  Yes, he said that he did.  Then could you please say a prayer for my son while he fights to get clean and sober?  Yes was his very serious and thoughtful response.

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about giving money to the homeless.  But, what the Dad did today touched me very deeply.  Mother Teresa always felt that when she looked at the poorest of the poor, she saw Jesus.  And, scripture backs her up in Matthew 25:35-40 when the passage concludes with what you have done to the least of these my brothers you have done unto me.

But, even beyond that I thought of the scripture that states  But many who are first will be last and the last, first., also found in Matthew 19:30.  This disease has taught us many things but one of the most important was that we are blessed to be in the presence of many who are marginalized.  Asking for prayers from the man in the chair was a moment that I will always hold dear.  I am so proud of the Dad and the man he is coming to be. 
Happy Father's Day to all of you.  Saying prayers for our addicted loved ones, those not with us anymore including Henry.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paradigm Shift

I've been reading a lot of really good posts lately.  I especially liked Annette's post titled While I'm Away.  It really touched me.  It was a portrait with many layers.  The words demonstrated a beautiful progression of a family who all worked independently yet together to love each other.  I kept thinking about how each person contributed their part without judgement and with acceptance and how those gifts of love made everything just seem to click in perfect order.  It was a great story, beautifully told.

My son has had his ups and his downs.  He is on his journey.  I have accepted the not knowing.  I have accepted him no matter what.  I have accepted that God loves him more than I do.  Those are some big steps to take, for me anyway.  With all of those things in mind, I have noticed a shift in the way I view this journey.

I wonder if any of you have considered this journey a gift?  I know that we all hate what it does to our loved ones.  We hate the fear and the consequences of the disease.  But, so many of us have changed in ways too deeply for most people to understand.  I read in these circles a deep understanding of unconditional love.  And, those who have broken our hearts and made us worry are also the very same individuals who were the impetus for us to seek out real love. 

I am not happy that the Son is an addict.  But, his addiction has made me become a better person.  It has pushed me to lose a lot of baggage that blocked my view of what was really important.  It has taught me to accept.

In AlAnon last night, we talked about shifting the focus from the addict or alcoholic onto ourselves.  We talked about how they drink or use so that they don't have to deal with things.  We focused on them so that we don't have to deal with our stuff.  Addiction is my crash course.  My son has been the reason that I am closer to God's love than ever before.  It is a great paradox indeed. 

I guess I am starting to shift my thinking from "why does he use?" to "what am I to learn from this?"  I'd love to hear your ideas on this subject.

In feverent prayer

Saturday, June 1, 2013


I was quite surprised at the number of comments from my last post.  My blog felt tired and I really didn't think that anyone read it.  I know that I was tired of it myself.  The comments were all so kind and caring and I am so thankful for all of you who take time to try and support me during a low point. 

Addiction is a long slog.  And, I'm not particularly good at long slogs.  It can also end tragically and  I have been so fearful of a tragic ending lately.  I think that it is because the Son has had a good experience at a 12 step immersion program and then lived in a recovery community. This last time around, we did things right for a change and so if he relapsed again, what did that mean?

I'll tell you what I think it means.  I think that it probably means that I don't have any control over his outcome.  Not even if I stand on my head, whistle dixie and bargain with God, do I have even a smidgen of control. 

Control is fear.  I know this.  But what is fear?  I asked a young man who is studying to be a priest that very question.  He says that fear is a lack of faith and a lack of faith is imperfect love.  The Dad and I talked about it today.  We both know that we can't make him want to get better.  We can't will him into a spiritual awakening.  And if the worst were to happen.....there is one thing that we know for sure.  God loves him more than we do. 

And that, is what I have to keep saying to myself to accept what is.