Tuesday, October 21, 2014


"Well Mama, I think we have finally become numb."  The Dad said over our lunch, last Friday.
We were traveling to Columbus Ohio to the Dad's thirty year veterinary school reunion when I received a call from a bail bondsman letting me know that the son had been arrested for a DUI, his second in a month.

The Son has worked very hard to stay off of drugs.  But, he hasn't yet accepted his powerlessness over alcohol.  We did not bail him out, this time.  We did not try to manage his consequences.  This time, we tried to manage our lives, instead.

As I sat over lunch I thought about it, numb was the perfect adjective.  I didn't feel anything.  I didn't feel the panic, that I might have felt early on.  I didn't feel all that surprised.  Parents/loved ones know when the distance of addiction is present.  And, we know that something is probably brewing just over the horizon.

Instead of changing our plans to hover over the latest crisis, we went on our trip, taking in each activity with gratitude.  We stopped for lunch at a Jerry's restaurant, one that we had eaten at many times while growing up because it was the only restaurant in Elizabethtown KY.  I'd like to say that we didn't worry at all, but you would all know how impossibly untrue that can be. 

We stopped in Lexington Kentucky at the historic Keeneland Race Course and watched a few races while enjoying the beautiful sunshine that blanketed the still green pastures of central Kentucky.  From there we headed north and once we crossed the Ohio river we took in a little Cincinnati style chili at Skyline Chili.  Finally we finished our journey north by arriving at our hotel in Columbus.

The next morning after breakfast, we went to the All American Quarter Horse Congress, a show that is the culmination of all of the American Quarter Horse show season where the best of the best compete.  When my mind tried to return to the illusion of what I'd like to control, I would try to steer it in the direction of  'what am I to learn from today for my life.'  Then we had a little Rotola's pizza, the Dad's favorite from vet school and a trip to Barnes and Noble--what trip is complete without a new book or two?

We went back to the room and I read while he watched THE Ohio State cream Rutgers.  Then we headed to the reunion.  We visited and chatted.  Most were strangers to me.  At one point the Dad whispered in my ear, " Are you okay?"

Quite automatically I responded, "Yes, I am, now that I know who I am."

I'm not sure why that came out.  But, if I think about it, knowing who you really are instead of being the extension of others releases any fear that I might have had before. 

Post addiction, I can go to the reunion and see those who are posturing and think, "Bless their hearts" and enjoy those who are just want to touch base with old classmates.  Knowing who I am is a perpetual exercise in understanding intention.

That exercise allowed me to come to a place where I can let this place that we find ourselves in be about recognizing that this is his disease to figure out.  I will love him....enough to stop offering advice.  I will trust enough that I will allow him the space to feel God's presence and help. 

Numb, yes to the old fears and worries but yet hopeful.  Hopeful that like me, he will start to know who and whose he is and finally to know that that is all that really matters.

Praying for us all.  Praying for Henry.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Why don't they just Pull themselves up by their Bootstraps?

I'm back!!!!!  My computer had been sputtering for sometime, but I was determined to get every last breath out of it, but when only a white screen appeared, I knew it was time. Now with a new computer after six to eight years on my old one, there is a tremendous learning curve.

I went to the Southern Festival of Books this weekend.  I absolutely love this event.  I clear my October weekends in preparation for it.  There were over one hundred authors present.  Many of then have a session where they talk about their latest project and answer questions.  And, of course they sell books!  What's not to like?

One of my favorite southern authors is Rick Bragg.  If you have not read "All Over But the Shoutin'", you should.  I bought his new book about the life of Jerry Lee Lewis.  I'm not really crazy to read about his life but Rick Bragg's prose is almost poetic and so I will read anything that he writes. 

I stood in line to have it autographed.  And, what I thought would be a long boring wait, turned into a very interesting turn of events.  Strangers in line began to talk.  We began to share our hero worship of Rick Bragg but somehow the conversation took a turn when one lady that I'll call the church lady, started complaining about minimum wage employees like baggers at the grocery or store clerks.

She went on a rant, "There is just no work ethic anymore.  They ignore you and have those ear buds in while they are working.  I was taught better than that."
Another lady in line whom I'll call Compassionate Lady, tried to explain, "well things are different,  many of the minimum wage jobs are people who might not have been blessed to come from a family who taught them some basic skills."

The Church Lady went on to say, "well I just don't understand when you come from the richest nation in the world, that those poor people (she said with air quotes) don't just pull themselves up by the bootstraps like my grandparents did."

Almost in unison, me, Compassionate Lady, a man who had been talking with her said, "it doesn't have anything to do with money." 

Bam!  I couldn't believe it.  With my new post addiction heart, I am rarely in a majority.  The three of us began chatting away.  The man turned out to be a health reporter who also volunteers at a women's prison in Oregon where he is from.

Reporter began talking about a study done that speaks to how hard this new poverty that we face in this country is to overcome.  Mother Teresa herself said that it is easy to feed the hungry but the poverty in America is quite different and much more difficult to overcome. 

When he learned that I also volunteer in a county jail our conversation turned to our experiences there.   He was sickened by the number of women who are incarcerated that were sexually abused and don't know it.  Reporter explained how the definition of sexual abuse needs to widen.  I told him about one lady who said that when she was twelve years old "she let" a seventeen year old have sex with her so she guesses it's her fault.  He told me about an inmate who at fourteen years old "seduced" her stepfather.  They both wonder what is wrong with them that they would do such a thing.

We've separated and segregated ourselves so much that we as a people don't know or want to know what is going on in our own backyards.   I call the lady who initiated our conversation by complaining,  Church Lady because she first told us about all of the "good things" she does for her church.  But, then, is quick to judge and wring her hands over the way the poor bags her groceries.

I was the Church Lady before.  I don't have a right to stand in judgment of her. But, like any addict who goes into recovery, I too, had a conversion.  I like to follow the tradition of St. Ignatius of Loyola who lives by the simple idea of "Seeing God in All Things". 

There is beauty in going to the hard places and seeing hard things.  It is a paradox that is taught by St. Ignatius, St. Francis, twelve step recovery groups and most religions.  But, oddly enough you see it in practice in a twelve step group in a beautiful way that our churches could take a lesson from.

Seeing what I have always seen but with new eyes still shocks me sometimes.  But, it gives me a purpose.  I can be one changed voice.  That's all that I have to do.  Perhaps it will ripple.....I can only pray.

Praying for Henry and many, many others.


Friday, September 19, 2014


As many of you know, I work with the women at the county jail.  I do a couple of things.  I facilitate a writing class and I work with those who are within six months of release to help prepare them for re-entry. The writing class is a very loose exploration into awareness and communication.  But, everyone seems interested in looking in.

One of the young ladies was very closed off; private.  It was like pulling teeth to get her to write anything.  One class, I read a chapter from "Tattoos on the Heart" a book written by Jesuit priest, Greg Boyle.  Father G ( as the homies call him) started the largest gang rehabilitation program in the country.  His first chapter is called God I Guess. 

In that chapter he tries to challenge the perception that God is a God of anger, disgust and punishment.  Instead he uses a number of stories to explore the depth of love that he has for each of us in spite of our short comings.  He tries to express a love that most of us cannot fathom in clear understandable terms.

After reading that chapter, I gave them this assignment.  In light of Father Greg's words, how do you think that God sees you?

The next week, they went around the room reading their essays.  When I got to J.W. she simply said, "Mine is short."
"That's okay."  I said.
"Blind".  She replied.
"Blind?  Do you mean that you are blind to God or a Higher Power or do you mean that he is blind to you?"  I asked.
"I don't even know.  Both."

For a while, these were the simple utterances that I got from her until last week.  Last week I gave them each a story starter.  A story starter is just a sentence that they must expand upon and they have total freedom with how they will take it. 

J.W.'s sentence was this:  'Since the wind was howling, she was even more afraid.'

And this is what she what she wrote.  She has given me her permission to share it with you.

Since the wind was howling, she was even more afraid.  Other than the tiny candle burning, it was pitch dark in the desolate house.  How long she had been in hiding, only making an appearance long enough to keep up her front, she wasn't sure.

Monsters with razor sharp teeth, reaching out for her, danced across the walls.  Suffocating, she sank down lower into the corner.  She took another deep drink from the bottle and closed her eyes.  Warmth spread throughout her body, once again fighting off the bone numbing cold that had settled upon her years ago.

Time after time, year after year, this continued.  She dug herself deeper into despair, wearing a mask to cover up her pain.  She hid from the monsters and from herself.  Eventually, no mask could hide the misery she felt inside.  All the monsters that she was running from caught up to her, swallowing her whole.

Scared, angry, alone, lost and weary with no way out in sight.  Rock bottom.  She had a problem and was forced to face it.

One day she was in her dark place, with barely even a flicker of light left of the candle, when instead of taking another drink, she decided to pour out the bottle. 

The flame started to grow.  Day after day, the larger the flame became.  It grew and grew until the whole abandoned house was engulfed in flames.  The monsters were being faced and they ignited in the fire and died away.  She climbed out of the pit.

She opened her eyes and was able to breathe again.  Stepping up to the window, she looked to her future.  The bright sunshine filled her heart and she was no longer cold. 

I realize the wind will always continue to howl.  Sometimes it will be louder than others, but I am no longer afraid to face it.

Okay, as she was reading, I looked like Simon Cowell whose mouth hung open when Susan Boyle belted out that first big note.  I was so amazed at not only the thought and writing but the bravery that it must have taken for her to write this piece. 

This is a first draft!  She's working on it a bit and we are going to try to submit it to AA's  Grapevine magazine. 

I just had to share.  Do you see why I'm blessed when I go there?

Praying...always for all of us.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mercy Works......

Last Thursday,  I arrived at the county jail to a swarm of busy-ness.  I have two classes each Thursday and in the five years that I have been coming and going, I had never seen such activity.  The day before our local drug task force had captured and arrested thirty-three men and women involved in the illegal purchase and sale of narcotics.  There are still seven under investigation.

When I got home later that day, I looked on my Facebook feed ( which I have a love/hate relationship with) to see various posts of celebration from folks in my county on the arrests of all of those "low lives". 

Some of the comments included sentiments such as "proud to be from a county that locks those thugs away" or "justice is served" or even "so happy that that trash is off our streets".

I found myself growing angry with these people who had made the statements.  I had to sit in quiet with God to figure out the source of my anger and this is what I came up with:

I do think that it is good that we stop the illegal sale of drugs.  I think it's good that these folks receive a consequence for their action.  But, the lynch mob mentality towards those arrested was quite disturbing. 

Each person arrested  is a son or daughter.  Each person arrested is a child of God.  I understand that it is a good thing to discover who is selling them and to stop that person but make no mistake, there will probably be another one there in short order to fill his spot or like the bad disease that addiction is, that drug ring will morph in a new way until the authorities have time to catch up to them.

And then there is this:  I have started working on a new mentorship program there at the jail and I have been asked to work with a lady who gets out near the end of September.  I met her last week for the first time. 

We discussed her needs.  She has no home to go back to, no clothing once out, no job, no family support, no education to speak of, her only ID is a revoked drivers license and she is scared to death.  She has written to every recovery house in our area to try to secure housing but inside jail she can only communicate by mail and on occasion by phone.  The recovery houses have asked her to contact them by phone.  On her few opportunities to phone, she gets a voice mailbox.

I'm going to call this lady Maggie.  Maggie filled out our form which assesses need.  She has held a job for as long as seven years at a time.  She has survived the addiction of her first family, physical, emotional and sexual abuse the best way that she knew how.  Even though at one time she was suicidal, she now feels like she is ready to try living again.

Sitting face to face with this woman taught me a lot about myself.  It was hard at first to look beyond the tattoos and missing teeth.  It was hard to look at the un-kept hygiene of someone who was about an inch away from giving up again.  But then I thought of my mentor ( at least in my mind) who is Mother Teresa.  What would she do?

If you follow her, you know.  I looked deeply into Maggie's eyes.  I kept my gaze there.  Jesus was there and as soon as I reminded myself of that fact, I stopped noticing the evidence of a hard life.  Maggie was weak and soft.  She is a heart crying out to find something that she has never had .....love. 

We talked for the two hours that our class lasted.  Towards the end I asked about whether or not she had a felony.  It is a lot more difficult to secure a job if you have a felony. 
"Yes" she said. 
Was it violent?  I asked.  Another hurdle for finding a job.
"Yes, she said.  I was so high on pills that I stabbed my husband." 
"Is he okay"  I asked. 
"Oh yes, it was superficial.  He's in here now."

Here I am sitting with a lady who stabbed her husband.  And, because we sat face to face and I was able to look beyond the label of 'assault with a deadly weapon', I understand very clearly that I have no right to judge. 

Am I naïve about her chances of reoffending?


Do I believe that simply locking people up and getting them off the streets for a certain period of time will work or even make our society better?


But, then I think about my mentor.  Sometimes, when she found the dying in the streets, she only had the time to hold them in her arms and stay with them as they died, gazing into the eyes of Jesus.  She might have taken them back to her Home for the Dying and bathed and fed them knowing that in the end it would not save their life.  But, her goal was only to love and serve. 

And so, for me, that will be my goal.  For whatever period of time that I have with them, I will gaze into the eyes of Jesus....offering the love that is freely given to me in spite of my offenses.  I will leave the final results in the hands of God.

That is the lesson that I wish that I could convey to those who made those comments.  But, then again, you have to be ready to receive the message.

 Funny thing is this:  It took addiction to open my heart to receive enough so that I could give it away.

Praying for us all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Good Grief!

Little Sister just left for a babysitting job that will keep her here in our hometown until Saturday, but away from our house.  Then she will head back to school for the "make or break" semester in nursing school.  We will probably not see too much of her even though she is only an hour away.

Big Sister is settling in at her new home for the next three to four years.  Yesterday, she got to see her office.  Her classes don't begin for another twelve days.  We won't see her until October when she flies in for a wedding.

The Son is living somewhere other than here.  He is probably not making healthy choices.  Finally, I accept that there is nothing that I can do but pray.  I have even stopped trying to manipulate God in prayer.....Yes, I tried doing that. 

Good Grief we are changing.  And, quite frankly, I find nothing good about the grief.  Saturday while in Louisiana we went to the vigil mass.  I could not stop bawling all through the mass.  I came home went straight to Big Sister's room and cried at the empty space. 

I've been waiting for Little Sister to leave.  I needed her out of the house so that I could really have a loud and ugly cry.  She and I talked about it and she is feeling the same way.  She and her sister are fourteen months apart. 

I'm blue about them leaving.  I'm blue about an era in my life ending.  I'm tired and blue about addiction.  I'm sorrowful and blue about all the chances I blew, choices made wrong and fear that I let stop me from dealing with it all for such a long time. I'm frustrated with myself for looking at others--comparing.  I'm sick of feeling sorry for myself because I envy what I think they have.

So now I will enter another season of mourning.  I will let those dark feelings come and sit with them for a while.  I will try my best to process them and let go of them as they will let me. 

But, most of all....I will try to pray more.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Past Meets the Future

We drove thru Mississippi several times each year when I was growing up.  At Memphis the terrain looked different.  My mother was from Tupelo.  My aunt lived in Jackson.  I loved the beautiful pine trees and the hanging moss trees that dotted the low flat roadways.  Tobacco and corn gave way to cotton and sorghum.  I always wondered about Billie Joe McCalister as I crossed the Tallahatchie River.  The visits with my cousins were fun and a little exotic to a girl from such a small town in Kentucky.  I memorized the drive.

Cousin and I saw the movie "Grease" four times one summer until Uncle found out and put a stop to it!!  We delivered the Clairon Ledger early in the morning wearing shorts and t-shirts and rollers in our hair.  We rode bikes to the pool and ice cream shop and sometimes to Kroger to buy shrimp off a truck that brought it fresh from the gulf each day.

The last time that I made that trip was twenty-seven years ago to be a bridesmaid in my cousins wedding.  The church was a beautiful stone building right across the street from the state capitol building in Jackson.

Big Sister is going to grad school.  She will be a doctoral student at Louisiana Tech University.  The first trip we made, we went thru Arkansas.  It was exhausting.  The second trip, we drove thru Jackson and went west thru Vicksburg on past Monroe to Ruston.  Memories began to flood back into my mind. 

My daughter would travel these same roads that me and my mother did.  She was going as far away from home that the Dad and I did just twenty-nine years ago.  The past was meeting the future.  Wonder how it's all connected?  Does it mean anything?

We moved Big Sister into her apartment.  She hung a mirror on the wall by the front door.  One last glance before heading out to be sure the hair is just right before going out.  But as I caught a glance of myself taking one last load up her stairs I didn't see myself in that mirror.  I saw an older woman that looked an awful lot like my mother.

Time marches on.  Time marches on.  Trying to live in this moment.  Even though my mind is caught up in the past.  In April, all three kids were at home.  We asked the son to leave a month ago.  He is where he needs to be to decide the kind of life that he wishes to live.  Big Sister is making her way far away.  Little sister begins school one week from today.

Our full crazy house will be quiet again.  I am sad and I am glad.  Not sure how to think or feel but going to keep praying. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Yesterday's rain brought a drop in the dew point which means instant relief from the humidity here in middle Tennessee.  Between a change in the temperature and a steady stream of Facebook feed pictures of school aged children all holding signs stating the first day of school for which ever grade they happen to find themselves entering, I feel a shift in the seasons.

I have no little ones heading back to school.  But, the moving rental will come and be loaded to take my oldest daughter to Louisiana to graduate school.  Perhaps she will let me snap her picture with a sign saying, "Grad School or Bust" for me to post.

My youngest daughter will start a new semester of nursing school on the twenty-sixth.  She has only three remaining semesters.  I can easily see the beginning of her new chapter in sight.

The Son has been asked to choose the way in which he wishes to live his life.....but do it away from home.  He has been told that he can figure it out and his father and I did when we were about his age.  I hope he chooses well. 

My mother died in late October sixteen years ago.  She started her decline about this time of year.  As I sit on the porch of the morning and the evening the sounds of crickets and frogs seems to slow.  The biting humidity gives way to a cleaner, dryer air and my body remembers.

Sadness still comes sixteen years later.  An open window with the smells of dried leaves brings to mind that time when I held on tight to every bit of her that I could.  Now it is a new generation that I am releasing. 

I guess that I find my life entering it's own Autumn.  Fatigue helps me accept the new season.  Experience helps me to appreciate it.  Hope helps me to keep looking forward. 

Praying for all of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bottom Line

Everybody has an opinion regarding the death of Robin Williams.  Some can't believe it.  Some want to be clear that he only went back to rehab for a tune-up....Some think those who take their own life are selfish.  Some think he could have afforded the doctors so he should have gone to them so that he could  just snap out of it. 

Those of us who have lived with either addiction or mental illness or both hope that his life and his death might bring understanding to those whose lives have not. 

I accidently "butt dialed" a friend yesterday.  Last year her adult son was killed in a car wreck.  He had no problems with drugs or alcohol.  He was just a wonderful young man who was responsible and hard working.

"How are you doing?"  I asked.  It had been almost exactly a year since his accident."

She said, "You, know I had gotten past the point where I worried about his driving like you do a sixteen year old.  It just came out of nowhere. I don't think I will ever get over it.

"I can't even imagine."  I say.

"I'm really glad you called.  Most people avoid me like the plague.  Losing a child is a mother's worst nightmare and so it's like people are afraid they will 'catch it' from me."  She said.

I felt a big twinge of guilt.  You see I accidently called her.  However,  I do suspect that with God there are no accidents.  In his mercy he gave her an ear when she needed one.

I look at both of these situations and think---bottom line folks--bottom line.  We are to love one another as Christ loves me.  That's it.

So what if Robin Williams was using again.  So what if he was selfish.  So what if he could afford doctors and didn't seek their advice.  So what if we don't know what to say to a grieving mother who lost her sweet boy? 

We're not here to judge.  We're not here to say or do the perfect thing.  We are only here to love. 

Wonder if we will ever get it? 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

All I Can Do is Pray

"I have reached the point that all I can do for him is pray."  The Dad says with sadness.  I had reached that point sometime earlier.  Then second guessed myself and tried to take back control.  Given it up.  Taken it Back......You know how it goes.

But now, we have reached a newer level of acceptance than before, together.  And so what we do now is pray and grieve. 

Our counselor says that this is the place we all need to be.  He thinks we are getting healthy.  But, will the son?  It will totally be up to him.  We are at that place where the realization has come to us and we have accepted that it is time for him to decide for himself, the kind of man that he will be in this life.

He needs to face his own struggle....as we are facing ours. 

I look at the girls that I work with at the jail.  And, many times I am so discouraged.  This is why I go to Al Anon.  But, I must realize that I am in the business of planting seeds.  It may come up.  It may not.  It may be taken over by weeds.  It may flourish.  It may need to die back before it comes up new and strong.

And, so is the case with the Son.  I've planted the seeds.  Now I need to get back and tend my own garden.  I keep forgetting to tend my own garden.  And, I was thinking.....all along, all we could really do was pray. 

Praying for you and yours.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Random Shuffle

My sisters are eight and ten years older than me.  They were walking past the yard ( the home is no longer there) where we grew up.  My older sister Mamie said to my younger sister Macy ( names have been changed) that our mother used to carry me outside to one of them who would sit on the porch swing and swing me to sleep for my nap. 

I had forgotten that.  But, I found it quite interesting.  To this day, I need to be outdoors.  If I sit on my porch in the evenings and first thing in the morning ( my usual) then I sleep peacefully and soundly, if I don't, then sleep is restless.   

When she reminded me of those stories, it all made sense.  It seems important somehow.  It's a conformation of who I really am and where I came from. 

The Son is on his own again.  We've entrusted him to God....again.  I keep reminding myself that he is exactly where God wants him.  I am at peace today.

I love to play Solitaire.  I play and play.  Sometimes winning.  Sometimes losing.  But, I keep shuffling and trying again.  It occurred to me that as simple as that sounds, that is what we are doing as his parents.  We just keep shuffling.  We don't give up.  And, I think that if I stop looking at all of the variables of this disease and simply rely on God instead of looking at each thing as an indicator of good or bad, I will find peace. 

Prayers for each of you. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

What Is....

As the parents of an alcoholic and addict, we have found ourselves back at the place of letting go.

We have had suspicions.  We have worried.  We have tried our best at loving it out of him. 

We have examined ourselves to discover that it was our guilt and shame over doing so many wrong things that caused us to try to fix it/him.  It was for our benefit of feeling better about ourselves and not his benefit.  We didn't trust that God would do it our way.  We didn't trust that God knew better.  We didn't accept that God loves him most....no matter the outcome.

But, now we find ourselves in the quiet of acceptance.  He is not doing well.  We cannot change it.  Only our higher power can. And, we are finally....finally willing to quietly whisper, " Please Lord, heal our son.  We will get out of your way."

There are times of panic and fear that wash in and paralyze us.  There are times of humble hope of healing.  It really can go either way.  But, regardless:  1.  I am powerless over the health and sobriety of my son.  2.  God can restore me to sanity.  3.  I will let Him.

That's where we are today.  Trying to return to prayer ....with every decision...every day....


Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I've been volunteering at the jail for almost four years now.  My church wanted some involvement so we are starting a new program to connect newly released inmates with jobs and housing and twelve step programs.  We are also offering mentors to those who wish to have one.

I offered to mentor a young girl who was just released.  She has a child and an opiate addiction.  No housing.  No job.  No license.  No car.  No family support.  I went to some friends and asked for donations and got her first and last week paid for in a recovery house.  I got clothes and food donated.  I picked her up from jail and delivered her directly to the recovery house.  Three days later, she packed up and moved out.

At first, I was angry.  Then I started to wonder if I had the right intentions.  Did I help her for my ego?  Was I helping according to God's will or Hattie's?  But, then I thought that maybe God was giving me the opportunity to learn to love without condition.  I called a couple of folks that she might be in contact with and said, " Please tell her that if she still wants a mentor, to give me a call.  No judgment."

I may never hear from her again.  She might call.  Who knows.  "It takes what it takes" as they say in Al Anon.  Maybe God placed her in my path to help me.  I have been so arrogant to think that I could save her when maybe she is saving my relationship with my own son by teaching me that you love someone mistakes and all.  You love someone who is not doing it your way.  You love someone enough to offer support even when they are doing it on their time and their way.

I look back at how I grew up.  My parents loved me.  But, their fears affected the way that they showed love.  If they were afraid, they might hold back approval or acceptance until I changed my behavior. That is much the way that I have parented all of these years.  But, I am learning.  I am learning more from those that I would least expect to learn from.

Healing started for me when I was able to get truthful....mainly with myself about all that was wrong.  Saying out loud what the problems were took a lot.  Now I realize that we all have problems.  We all have done things that we are not proud of.  All of us carry shame and guilt.

Shame wants us to keep quiet and stay sick.  And, I am over it.  I am a mess.  I just learned a very valuable lesson from a young girl who is a drug addict with the kindest heart and broken spirit and a smile that lights up a room.  So I am opening up about this ugly pride that makes me think that I can fix her and save the world. 

Funny how God works.  She might just be saving me.  Praying for us all.


Saturday, July 5, 2014


In the happy wagging tail of one long backed Lucy.
In the evening summer sounds of crickets and frogs.
In the sudden direction previously not seen.
In the despair at starting over.
In the prayers said by family members.

God is Present.

For healing and growth in our family.
For help when I cry out.
For strength when weary.
For a way, when none is seen.
For acceptance.
For Love.

I am grateful to God.

Quiet Acceptance.

The feelings God gives me today.

Heavenly Father,

Please empty me of all that is not from you.  Fill me with strength, direction and love.  Give me the wisdom to see and hear your will for me this day and give me what I need to carry that out.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen


The possibilities are endless if only I listen to the desires that God has placed within me.  There is hope in tomorrow.  There is love waiting tomorrow.

This is an example of a five step Examen used in Ignatian Spirituality.  Our wonderful Pope Francis is a Jesuit (the group who follows the example of St. Ignatius).

Ignatian Spirituality is about developing a better relationship with God through converser (Prayer).  This is a helpful link on his ideas about prayer.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Run Run Runaway.....

I've been doing a lot of volunteer work at the jail.  It's something that is both wildly rewarding and quite depressing all at the same time. 

I constantly have this inner turmoil about what my motives are.  Do I think that I am all of that and a bag of chips?  Is that why I am here?  Do I think that I can save them? 

Then I swing to the self deprecating "you are in over your head and a big fool to think that you will make any difference."

There are days when I just want to walk away.

Why can't I just learn to play golf or knit?  Why can't I just find a bungalow out there in some beach town and hide out there for a while.  No phones.  No television.  No interruptions.  Just solitude. 

That is my secret desire.  Perhaps that is running away and not a desire.  Or perhaps my desire is to run away.  I'm good at that.  I've been running from the chaos of addiction for most of my life. 

Praying for all of you and hoping to find the center.....again.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Just How Much Do you Say?

My cousin and I took a knitting class.  In three short classes we were supposed to knit a hat.  We did not accomplish our goal.  But, we are both okay with our lack of drive to be at the head of our class.  We had great fun.  And, we will keep trying. 

On the day of the last class, we both dreaded going because we had neither one progressed very far.  "I thought about skipping today."  She whispered.

"Me too....let's skip."  I said, relieved.  Ever the dutiful one, she said  "No, we need to finish." 

So, we went.  With great trepidation, I pulled my sad little piece out of my bag.  Eyes rising from the ground carefully surveying the little group to see who was looking.  Cousin, my noble defender, said "She's writing a book and she doesn't have time to practice.  She's only here for me."

I know what is coming next.  She hasn't thought that far ahead.  She is proud of me and it really is a gift when you have someone in your corner. 

All eyes, in unison, focus on me.  How much to say? I've been with them for a few weeks now.  They all seem very nice.  I'll probably never see them again.  It doesn't bother me.  But, my goal has always been to do no harm.  "My son's drinking and drug use are a problem for me and I write about what I've learned while living in the midst of it."  I blurt out in one breath as if the faster I say it, the less it will hurt.

The older lady at the end of the table says, "My husband has thirty-two years sobriety.  He volunteers at the Rehab center in our area helping young men with fifth step work.  Do you go to Al Anon?"

"Yes ma'am."  I say, grateful.

The instructor says, "I don't have anyone in my family, but a good friend does.  I understand."

The quiet little lady next to me says, "I have three brothers who are alcoholics.  Two are living sober and the other one is living with a dual diagnosis.  I know what you are going through."

Oh my goodness.  I was so surprised. 
Something changed.  We shared something.  We now understood one another.  The class changed.

I don't ever know how much to say.  One lady in my Al Anon group says that anonymity doesn't mean secret.  It was also pointed out that "we" as used in the steps means that it doesn't mean for us to remain alone.  But, I do respect the stories of others as their private stories. 

In writing my book, I have prayed for the wisdom to know if I am doing this because I feel called or if I am doing it for me and my pride.  I have walked away many times.  But, I really want to share as a mother so that other mothers might not feel alone. 

I watched the documentary "The Anonymous People" on Netflix.  It was very interesting.  If you haven't seen it, I encourage you to do so.  Now, I'd like to know your experience, strength and hope with regards to anonymity.  There is always more to be considered and learned.

Praying for you and your loved ones.


Thursday, May 15, 2014


I turned fifty on Tuesday.  I've been thinking about this new decade with hope.  Ever since I turned forty-nine my focus has been on fifty.  You could argue that I'm not really living in the present....and be right.  But, for me I need to look back and examine so that I can look forward with clarity and possibly understand what it is that I really want out of what's left of this life.

In the early days of dealing with my son's addiction, I held on to the past (i.e. what I did and didn't do) with a death grip.  I'm not sure why.  I guess I wanted to know why he was an addict.  I figured if I knew why then I could fix it. 

I've been on a long search trying to understand.  "I've been to at least one hundred thousand Al Anon meetings", as Father Tom Weston SJ would say.  I've been to many Saturday night open AA speaker meetings.  I've taken some weekend Ignatian retreats to better understand the Spiritual Exercises.  I volunteer at the jail in the Homeward Bound program.  And, I've bought many books.  If I laid down all of the books that I've bought in the last few years and put them end to end they would extend from my home in Tennessee to........Never mind......that is probably not information that the Dad or I want to look at too closely.

I've been looking for truth.  Like the apostle Thomas, I am looking for direction.  "I am the way and the truth and the life." Jesus said in John 14 :6.  When my Son went to his second stint in rehab the counselor met with us on family weekend.  "He's really honest.  But, he's not very truthful."  He said.

What a strange thing to say. The Dad and I looked at one another puzzled.  This counselor, this recovering addict would teach us a lot about life.  I was asked to teach a class in the jail called Moral Reconation Therapy.    I didn't really want to teach the class.  I didn't even know what the word reconation meant.  The class taught me and the students to stop making decisions based on pleasure or pain and to start making decisions on moral reasoning or right and wrong. 

Truth is what is real.  Period.  Honesty, simply put, is our perception of truth.  Growing up, if you hear that you are lazy enough, it becomes what you believe about yourself.  But, is it truth? 

I write in an effort to mine for truth.  I look back at my family looking for what is real...not what I've always heard.  There is a lot of alcoholism and addiction in my family.  What does that mean?  What does that say about me?  Does that mean that my son is doomed to live his life out in active addiction?

I've learned so much.  I am really no different than the alcoholic or addict.  At the root of it all, we all feel uncomfortable with who we are or what we think that we are.  We've been listening to those voices whether from within or without telling us that we are not enough. 

Those voices that say, "You should be ashamed of yourself."

Those voices saying, "It's your fault."

Those voices that tell you to be afraid.....every waking moment of every day.

The difference between them and me......I can have a drink and think, "no I'd rather save those calories for chocolate."  They can't.  I have diabetes and when my blood sugar drops, my hands shake and I start sweating and my body aches for sugar.  I told my endocrinologist, " I think my drug of choice is sugar."  He said, "Yes, diabetes acts very much like addiction.  You get low and crave sugar.  You eat the sugar and you feel sick again and it starts over and over again.  You can't live with it and you can't live without it.

I get that analogy.  My son has a disease just as my ancestors have.  Disease is hard to live with, no matter what the disease.  Disease, regardless of the kind  affects the whole family.  But, with addiction, nobody wants to talk about it. 

I do.

I want to respect the privacy of my son.  But, I will not let fear or shame keep me sick.  I'm not ashamed of the addict or alcoholic.  I hope one day they will find their way past fear and shame. 

But, until then, I will pray. 

For them. 
For you. 
And for Henry. 


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Looking for Hope....

It's been a while since I've been on here.  I've spent a lot of time lately with friends and family and it has been a blessing.  I went to my hometown for a brunch and reception for two different nephews who have or are getting married.  This trip back was a reminder of a lot of the pain of my growing up years and the problems that addiction brought into my life during those years. 

I get nervous seeing those bad feelings.  It makes me fear that I will never be able to escape the pain of this disease.  Couple that uneasiness with the fact that I keep reading about more deaths from overdose and I feel weary. 

I am blessed.  I have so much to be grateful for.  I am realizing that I'm eating less healthy.  I'm spending less time in prayer and meditation.  Perhaps that is the direction that I need to focus my attention on. 

There is a blog that I used to read that used to really help ground my thinking.  It is inactive now but I thought about it and went there for a visit.  The last post has a top ten list that you can go here to read.  I found so much truth in it that I thought I'd mention it.  Just trying to keep praying......

Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Monday

I am thankful that the last couple of weeks have passed.  There was a undercurrent of anxiety and stress that seemed to run the show.  The biggest problem was that despite the fact that the Dad and I had come up with some very clear boundaries for the Son, the Dad suddenly needed to change them and didn't really bother to consult me.  I was furious.  Anger is my go to emotion.  It's like there is no pause available after my brain registers that I have been wronged.  There is an instantaneous explosion of anger.  Then, I get a little down and depressed.  Then I work out the emotions that I am feeling.

Eventually, after much prayer for my enemy (the Dad), I was able to see that he is in a different place than I am.  I was able to recognize that since he had not been the kind of Dad that he wanted to be early on, this is something that he needs to do now.  But, I was also able to say, "Look, I can't really watch it anymore so he needs to live in his own space."  The Dad actually thanked me for letting him do his own thing.  Seems so simple now.  But, communication has never been key in our relationship.  Hopefully that will change.

This week is supposed to be glorious.  Last week the weather was as dreary and turbulent as the mood in our home.  Today's high is around seventy-three and sunny....glorious sunshine!  I watched the movie the Joneses on Netflix.  It was really interesting.  I expected only fluff but there was something there which was a nice surprise.

Saturday the Dad and I went to see the C.S. Lewis play the Great Divorce.  It was so good.  It could easily be argued that as he fought with the idea of giving up lust that he could easily interchange that with addiction.  It was very thought provoking.  After the matinee we had dinner and went to a open speaker meeting.  The weekend ended on a good note. 

Today is my Weight Watchers weigh in after a very stressful and not so vigilant week, so we will see.  I'm still not giving up.  That is the variable that has changed this time around.  I think Al Anon has helped change my perception about failure. 

It's been a productive Monday, thus far, so I'd better head off and finish my list.  You can always count on prayers for each of you being on that list.  Hope your week is good.