Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself

I now teach two classes at the jail.  One is 'Understanding Addiction' and the other is 'Expressive Writing'.  I teach them back to back and so I decided to find a way to tie them together and this came to mind.

So it is said, that if you know your enemy and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself, nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

The Chinese general responsible for writing the book, The Art of War, which I have never read, BTW, is widely known for this quote.  I don't know why this quote came to mind but it did and so I used it and am now seeing that this was perhaps, divinely inspired.

The program for re-entry my class is a part of is primarily religious based ( a protestant denomination) and so when they handed me a packet with the twelve steps containing scripture to go along with each step, I was leery.

I am a good Catholic.  But, I have learned from my twelve-step program, that it is important to have a thorough understanding of what a power greater than MYself really means and to know who I think that POWER is.  Many of us worship our own illusion of power without ever realizing it.

Apropos to that last sentence, back when I was trying to cure and control the addictions of others, I read Gabor Mate's book, In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts.  His insight is eye opening and radical relative to current ideas on addiction.  He introduces people with addictions and their stories.  Then he asks us to always ask the question, "not why the addiction, but why the pain."

That book helped me to look beyond the symptomatic behavior of addiction and to see the person instead.  To me, that is key.  It is an act of mercy to see every person and not just see their failings.  Father Greg Boyle, SJ often says that, we are more than the sum total of our worst mistakes or something along those lines.  (Sorry Father G if that is wrong).

I started using this book because when I ask how many in the class are addicts or alcoholics (this happens each and every semester) few raise their hands even though ninety percent in our county jail are there due to drug or alcohol charges.  I wanted them to have an accurate picture of addiction.

Addiction--or enslavement--is the ENEMY.

Now, for knowing thyself, I turned to Divine Therapy and Addiction.  This is a book by Father Thomas Keating OCSO and Tom S.  Tom S. interviews Thomas Keating about the twelve steps of AA and how centering prayer can aid each person in the task of learning who we really are.  He also takes an in depth look at happiness; what it is and where it can be found.

First of all, let me just say that each of these books is not for you if you are in the market for a fluffy beach read.  They are deep and thought provoking.  And, they are technical.  If the class weren't thrust upon me at the last minute, I might have prepared something different.  Something on a simpler level. 

You see, most classes whose curriculum is prepared with inmates in mind, targets the vocabulary at a sixth grade level.  And, many days, my students behave like middle school girls, looking out the window at any male inmate who happens to walk past our classroom.  They whisper and giggle.  Sometimes they try to shock me with sexually explicit discussions.  They become easily bored and so if you aren't really on, you have lost them.

I began my class by reading a few personal narratives from the addicts in Mate's book.  They were totally engrossed.  I picked some hard core addicts stories and some functional alcoholics and a few in between.

Then we read step one and talked about powerlessness. I didn't need to speak much about unmanageable, that part is easy to get.  But, powerlessness, takes time. 

Then we talked about step two: Came to believe that a Power, greater than ourselves..... This is where we talked about who God is to us.  How do we see him?  Do we actually trust him?  I told them that I had a really hard time trusting Him with my son, especially in the beginning....truth be told, I didn't trust him at all with my son.  They were shocked.  The church lady doesn't trust God and says so out loud--gasp!

God had their total attention for three hours.  I just sat there and followed His lead.  It was the most amazing gift to be a part of.  Their faces were like the symbol on your computer that lets you know it's searching for some request that you have made of it.  They would ask questions and you could see surprise or delight when maybe a connection was made.  If I meditate on the most amazing part of that class, it will have to be that when they started to buy in to what I shared, HOPE appeared.

For them and for me.

I realize now that I can only share my experience, my strength, my hope and my prayers for you and the Henry in your life and mine.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Keep your eyes fixed on where you're going."  Shouted Mr. Gray, an old cowboy who was trying to teach me to ride my horse, Bo. 

He would say this over and over again because, I was easily distracted.  "If  you keep your eyes fixed on your destination, he will head in that direction."  He said.

But, how will he know where my eyes are fixed, I wondered.  Mr. Gray continued as if knowing my question, " He can feel a fly on his back.  He will feel the slightest shift in your weight as you look around."

I began to learn that he was right.  If  I looked down at my feet, or looked at something to my left or right, he became distracted.

Today, Lucy, my little long haired dachshund, and I were out for our morning walk.  She was wandering more than usual, and I was wondering why she seemed so distracted.  Just as I began to think about why, the memory of those riding lessons came to mind.  So, I fixed my gaze on the path that I intended to walk, and like magic, Lucy straightened her path.

St. Francis of Assisi is attributed to the quote,

 "Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words."

I began to understand how to preach the gospel, without opening my mouth through my twelve-step program.  I had to mind my own business--clean my own house, first.  I cannot force anyone to follow my lead.  But if  I examine my motives carefully and am purposefully seeking to follow the will of God, by attraction, others may follow.

 If I have my gaze fixed on the will of my 'power which is greater than myself--God', then my weight will stop shifting in all sorts of conflicting directions.  It will be clear that there is confidence in where I am going.

We went to a family funeral last weekend.  It was a hotbed of distraction.  There have been disagreements.  There is division to the point of some family members refusing to speak to others even in a place where a family should come together. 

It was so stressful that when I got home, I got physically sick.  Those family systems can be toxic.  It gets confusing.  How do you honor your parents if they try to force you to go against all that you believe in?

It is no wonder why we self medicate. 

I was so grateful to come home.  It is where I can slow it all down.  I can call on the Serenity Prayer and work on discernment.  Then, I try to do what I need to do to take care of myself...Today.  That is all that I need to figure out.

Prayer and meditation are wonderful gifts.  I can pray for guidance and through meditation, I listen.  God's grace floods my mind with all sorts of ideas and thoughts to help me understand; thoughts to remind me to stop looking around. 

"Fix your eyes" I can almost hear Him say.  And so today, that is where I will place my focus. 

Addiction gave me these tools.  I would not have them if it had not been for the difficult journey of addiction.  Out of difficulty, there is blessing.  Always.

I'm praying for 'the Henry's' in my life and yours.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Draw What You See

Sirens racing past.  Two police cars, another unmarked and one ambulance.  I'm picking up dinner as I see them pass, wondering what could be going on in our small town.  The ten o'clock news reveals that there is a hostage situation at our county jail.  It is the same county jail that I have volunteered at for the last five years.  It is where I will be in just a few short hours.

A local detective who has worked closely with animal control has been placed on administrative leave without pay, pending investigation of misconduct.  My husband has worked with him for years.  He has always respected him. 

In high school, I took an art class.  I wanted desperately to be an artist.  But, I could not draw.  I was a serious coloring book aficionado, growing up.  But, drawing left me frustrated.  In our very first class, the teacher gave us each a huge sketching pad and pencil, placed an object in the front of the room and said, "draw what you see." 

That was it.  As she walked around the room, I stopped her and said, "I just can't seem to do this."  She looked at me and smiled, "draw what you see."  And that is all that I got for the rest of the year.

It wasn't until I began to write and I was told, "Don't tell me, show me", that I started to understand my problem.  As I began to put on paper what I actually saw, separating it from the way that I felt, I realized how often I saw with my head instead of my eyes. 

What do I actually see?  How has my perception colored what is?

A friend posted her son's " one second movie" on Facebook.  There is an app where you record one second each day for a year and then it creates a movie from your collection of one second videos.  It was so interesting that I decided to buy the app and make my own movie.  My friend's son is a professional; not only was his movie very good, he made it look easy.

He pointed out that this app, helped him to look for the good in each day.  It's true.  I am more observant.  I am always on guard for that moment--a second that is worthy of interest. But, for me, it also helped me to see that a random moment probably isn't so random.

And, perhaps I am learning that what I see has many more layers.  And, separating what I see from what I feel has tremendous value.  Maybe that is why I write.  Maybe seeing with my head and my heart are just as important to the story.  Maybe that is why I have so many questions. 

As the mother of a recovering addict and alcoholic, staying in each moment and realizing that I can't "see" beyond what is within the scope of my vision or the confines of my heart and mind has given me tremendous freedom.  It also helps me to be responsible with my moments--my seconds of each day that all too often, I tend to take for granted.

This post may be a bit random.  But, sometimes these seemingly arbitrary moments won't leave my thoughts.   When that happens, I usually know that there must be a nugget of value in them.  Why did my mind tie advice from a high school teacher to yesterday's news and a friend's FB post? 

To me this is fascinating.  It is a part of why I love to write.  I hope that you will capture what is special about your day and unearth what the moment has for you to learn.

Feeling grateful for the lessons learned in recovery and this community.  I'll take time today to pray for Henry--yours and mine.


Monday, August 31, 2015

Listen and Learn

Image result for listen and learn


That is how I felt.  For the last eight weeks, I have had to fill in at my husband's office.  It is a forty-four hour work week, unless I don't finish the jobs that I normally do when we have another employee in the office or an emergency comes in.  Then it could easily stretch to a fifty hour work week.

Endlessly the phone rings to schedule appointments, ask for advice, give updates on their horses health or sometimes to complain about a bill.  Clients come in to pick up medications and love to talk without realizing that there is still lab work to get ready for pick up or shipments to unpack because someone is waiting on a medication.  I used to handle the stress far better.

My husband and I have been doing this for over twenty years and I am weary from it.  It is his passion, not mine.  But, it is our bread and butter.  I am grateful.  I'm just very tired and very burned out.

I had to take over at the office one week before I went to New Jersey to pitch a book that I have been working on for quite some time.  At first, I panicked.  Then I realized that I had given this outcome to God and so whatever was supposed to happen would.

In the midst of this heavy workload, my son decided to seek sobriety.  He decided.  There is such gratitude and a lot of trepidation. 

Be careful. 

Don't expect. 

Just be.


Then, I realize that for a few weeks, all three adult children will live with us.  There is more laundry.  There is less food.  The house is a big mess.  I find myself tensing up. 

On a Tuesday evening, after a nine hour day at work, cooking supper and running a load of clothes, I wanted nothing more than to put on my jammies and fall asleep on the couch to some mindless  television program. 

But, I have the key to the church where our Al-Anon meeting is held.  I knew that the others who have keys would not be there that night.  I'd like to say that I knew that I needed a meeting, but I was too tired to care.  I felt obligated.  So, gripping and complaining, I went.

The chairperson for the evening's meeting said that I had 'voluntold' her to chair the meeting.  I think that is how I got my service position.  It was either that or I didn't show up and so I was nominated and voted in.  I'm glad that she chaired because she did a marvelous job and it was just the meeting that I needed. 

Her topic was on the slogans.  She took all of the slogans that she could find from our conference approved literature (CAL), typed them up,cut them into strips, folded and put in a basket.  She asked for us each take a turn to choose a strip, look in the index of our book and find a reading on that topic and then read the reading and tell the group, how that topic applied to our day.

As always, there are no mistakes.  God always seems to choose just what we need.  I think he told me to 'shut up and listen, dad gummit.'  No, he told me to 'listen and learn.'  Boy, oh boy is that exactly what I need.

I kept my slip of paper.  I am using it as a book mark. 

I'm glad I spent those eight weeks at the clinic.  I was able to clean up a lot of things that needed dealing with.  I was able to find a smart young girl who is happy to work there. 

My son decided to get sober, dealt with some things he needed to deal with and has chosen sober living.  He chose. 

My daughters and I have spent some time talking through some hard things that needed dealing with.

My husband and I are working through things we've needed to deal with for a long time. 

Before, I would have felt very sorry for myself.  I still did at first. 

But, then I decided to 'listen'--what am I being told to look at,  in this situation?  And, 'learn' --how am I to respond in a way that I am being led?

Like those who suffer from addictions, I too, don't really like to deal with things.  I'm learning.  It is hopeful.  My HP does a pretty good job, if I will let Him. 

I'm grateful to have my time at home again.  Lucy, my doxie is too.  We take our walks each morning.  She is careful to sniff and see who has been on "her walk".  She tells the big dogs in the neighborhood to, "Back off" when they bark at us.  And we are both grateful for our time of prayer and meditation.  Her snoring is somehow soothing as I pray.

I may have been gone, but, I did not stop praying for Henry, mine and yours.


Friday, June 26, 2015

God Has a Sense of Humor

I walk my little doxie, Lucy, every morning.  The length of our stroll is dependent upon the temperature, humidity and lately a neighbor that I will refer to as 'Mrs. Kravitz'. 

Until last week Mrs. K has only walked on occasion.  And, when she does, you will no doubt learn a lot about her life, who our other neighbors are, what they and their children are doing. 

The last time I lucked into such a meeting, we had just begun our walk and as she started talking my little Lucy did her business.

 Mrs. K said, " now you need to bag that up."

"Since it's an empty lot, I usually wait until I'm on my way home and then bag and grab it.  That way I don't have to carry it all the way through the neighborhood."  I replied.

"If you bag it now, you can lay the bag on the curb, that way you won't forget it, and will see it and can grab it on your way back."  She said.

It's hard to break old habits.  So, I bagged the poop and laid it on the curb, all the while listening to her remind me what a great idea that was.  My twelve step brain was so angry.  Why do I automatically try to please others?  Why didn't I just say, " that's a great way of doing it too" and just continue walking?

I've taken to looking out both doors before leaving and if she is on her walk, I just wait.  How silly is that?  Then one day last week, after I Lucy and I took our walk, I decided to put some day lilies in the ground before I took my shower and guess who was rounding the corner?

Inside, my youngest was having breakfast.  She heard me mumbling about what to do because I really needed to get them planted and get moving to get to a morning appointment. 

"What is going on"?  She asked.

"Oh, Mrs. K is walking and I'm afraid if I plant the lilies now and she stops to talk, I will never get away."  Then an idea came to me.

" Will you do me a favor"?  I asked.

"Sure"  She said.

"If she stops to talk and you see that I just cant get away, will you bring out the phone and tell me that there is a call for me"?  I asked feeling mildly guilty for including her in my deceit.

"Yes, I'll save you"  She chuckled.

I began digging as the guilt made it's way in.  She is probably just lonely, I thought.  How many times over the years have I told people what to do?

  "Lord, please forgive me.  Help me to be kind."  I silently prayed even though I did NOT really want to be kind.

On hands and knees, as I am putting the lily in the ground I hear her voice.  "You make me feel guilty out here planting this early."  She says as she walks up to where I am planting.

"Moooom"  I hear coming from the front door.  Wow, she did not waste a single second.  I just meant to save me if I was trapped.

"The phone is for you."  She said with an enormous smile on her face, all the while trying to give me some secret message by raising her eyebrows and winking at the same time.

"Always busy."  Mrs. K said and headed towards her home.

Daughter whispers, "the phone really is for you." 

We both laughed.  Maybe, if I was willing or perhaps even struggling to do the right thing, then God was willing to give us a little laugh for the morning.  Maybe it was just good luck.  I don't know.

As families in addiction, we sometimes need to focus on these little graces and move our focus so that the day has meaning and purpose instead of the insanity that the disease brings.  I just wanted to share this with you in the hopes that it would brighten your day.

  Praying for Henry.  Mine and yours.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Glimpses of Heaven

Little Sister and I went to see my sisters in another state yesterday.  It isn't a big trip, it is only a two hour drive.  My oldest sister had lunch ready for us.  She is the unofficial cook in our family.  Lunch alone, was worth the drive.

My other sister lives just a couple of fields away.  She was at a dermo apt with her husband and didn't get there until later.  She had an found old movie taken when my kids were little.  We could not wait to watch it.

When your parents have died and your kids are grown, finding a glimpse of something past is the best gift.  I can't even find words for it.  It's feels like a supernatural phenomena.  The movie was on a VHS tape.  My sister only has one VHS player left and it is in her grandsons room.

Five adults sat in a five year olds bedroom, littered with toys, peering at the small television set, placed at eye level for a three foot tall boy.  We strained to see and hear our parents speak.  We laughed at the children as toddlers.

It was a wonderful treat.  But, I found myself growing sad.  I was sad because I realized that I was peering at my son, the same way that I peered at my parents.  I looked at him as someone who was gone from my life because addiction has come between us.  It has made him so enslaved unto his disease that he can't even consider being a part of our family.

More than anything, that is my wish.  But, it is not to be.  At least not now.  Drug and alcohol addiction is at epidemic proportions and we're worried about what Bruce Jenner is doing with his life. 

I wonder if we aren't already living in hell sometimes.  I guess there is but one road between heaven and hell.  My perspective has everything to do with the direction that I'm facing on that road.

There was a little part of that movie where my sweet dad sat in his rocker with my son at about five years old.  They were rocking and cutting up with each other.  They were both smiling and laughing and in that moment it was pure heaven.  I think I will hang on to that.


Friday, April 24, 2015

The Sky is Falling

Image result for elizabeth I'm coming to join you honey

An unfamiliar number showed up on the caller ID yesterday on our house phone.  Skeptical, I answered it anyway.  I'm not sure why we keep our home phone other than that number is on every form that I have ever filled out in the last twenty years.  Most calls  coming to that number are either a sales call or a robo call.

The recorded voice began their sales pitch about caring for the needs of the elderly.  They went on to discuss preparations for burial.  I thought to myself, 'they don't do very good research....I'm only 50'.  Then it dawned on me, they did do their research......oh my gosh I am 50!  They want me to prepare for MY FINAL EXPENSES! 

It's a little crazy, I know.  Or maybe, I'm a little crazy....I know that too.  There are days that in my mind, I am still young.  I hear myself saying that I am fifty years old and it shocks even me.  Then there are days when my body feels that I must be close to one hundred long years old. 

My body has been screaming at me to get healthy.  You are probably entering the "too much information zone" but IBS is killing me.  I had been thinking in crazy circles, swinging from maybe I'll give up diet coke to maybe I should call the doctor to 'oh my gosh, I probably have colon cancer.  (It's not pretty, but it's my usual route of thinking.......I've survived a lot of imagined cancer scares, ya'll).

So, while I'm having my morning coffee with Splenda, worrying about the caffeine and artificial sweetener that I can't seem to quit consuming, this segment appears on the Today Show about WHOLE 30. 

The woman who was talking about her experience with whole 30, named EVERY SINGLE SYMPTON that I was having.  Then she mentioned that she had lost fifty pounds and was off of every single medicine.  I was listening.  But, it sounded a lot like one of those Paleo type diets and I am no hunter or gatherer.

Then, I thought about my aunt whose life ended far too soon because of colon cancer.  I felt as if at fifty the bloating, if it continued, would send me into the maternity section of most stores just so that I could fit into something other than sweat pants.  How embarrassing would that be?  I'm getting calls about preparing for burial......I'm a little too far from the bringing new life in stage.

So, I got online and read about it.  This program started by two nutritionist takes you off of several large groups of foods (dairy, legumes, sugar...yes, I consider it a food group) for thirty days.  This gives your gut time to heal and then very slowly you start re-introducing the other groups one at a time to see which group gives you the most trouble. 

Thirty days.....I asked my son for thirty days at rehab.  Actually, he spent sixty.  Why couldn't' I commit thirty days for the sake of my health?  My Al-Anon began to kick in.  I needed to take care of myself.  So I headed to Barnes and Noble and bought the book and am now on Day 4.

Those writers really know their stuff.  They tell you every possible negative thing to expect.  They tell you to stay off the scale for the entire thirty days.  They explain that it takes almost two weeks for the inflammation in your colon to subside which really helped me to realize that it would take time to see this through.

I'm feeling better.  I still have some issues.  But, each day seems a little better.  They predicted that your tastes will adjust.  And since I have had no sugar or sweetener of any kind in four days, I love the taste of water.  How strange is that?  I've always had to force water.

This has always been a big obstacle for me.  But, I feel good and committed trying to commit thirty days to it.  I also want to see my writing project through.  It is another 'big ticket' item on my inventory that I need to see through despite my fears. 

Yesterday at the jail, I showed the movie, "When Love is not Enough"  to the inmates.  It is the Lois Wilson story and it is a really good movie.  I show it once a semester.  Each time, I am able to hear more.  I noticed when Lois was reading the twelve steps, near movie's end, that they are showing scenes of her service with the last three steps.  This is also where she decides to go to Bedford Hills even without Bill because this is what it means to take care of herself.

It is in caring for yourself, that you are able to care for others.  So that is exactly what I'm trying to do.  I'm praying for Henry this morning.....and all of you.


Monday, April 13, 2015

What do you most need to hear at your first Al Anon meeting?

Our home group has been asked to start a Newcomer meeting group at a rehab facility so that families will have the opportunity to visit an Al-Anon meeting while they are there for IOP.  Their hope is that a regular meeting will evolve from this Newcomer meeting.

I got the format out of the service manual for that sort of meeting and found myself wondering, what would I most need to hear if it were my first meeting?

There are so many valuable things.  If I think back to my first meeting I guess the thing that stands out the most is that I got permission to take care of myself.  What a foreign concept.

I'm working on my fourth step inventory for the very first time.  I go to confession.....not nearly enough.  But, I had never done a fourth step inventory.  The most amazing thing is that a big part of taking care of myself involves being aware of where I am emotionally.

I decided to bite the bullet and begin working on it after visiting another Al-Anon group.  The chairperson had written some questions from the various Al-Anon books from the fourth step inventory and placed them in an envelope.  We passed the envelope around and it was amazing how people seemed to draw just the question that they needed to think about.

It was such a great activity that I did the same thing in my home group.  The interesting thing that happened was this;  people drew tough questions, even ones that brought them to tears, questions that they had never answered out loud before-- I was worried.  Had I done something harmful?  Well, the answer ended up being no.  Every person there went on about what a wonderful meeting it was.

Isn't it strange how the hard things that we avoid, once faced free us so?  I was really blessed to be a part of it all. 

I'm loving my windows open, the crow's caw, flowering trees, the Bermuda grass resurrection, my neighbors out and about and all that spring brings.  I appreciate all of these things so much more now that the nest is empty and I am not running around taxing my kids. 

I have a great urge to travel.  With the Dad working as a solo veterinarian of an equine practice, we will need to make some changes for that to occur.  Maybe that is something that we can work towards.  A girl can hope.

I hope that you are all enjoying your spring.  I'll be praying for Henry.  Yours and mine.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

All Things Spring-y

Image result for scooby doo

I'm in cleaning mode.  It's part spring cleaning--part Easter is Sunday and the girls will be home.  Whatever the reason, it feels good to declutter and clean.  It's even nicer to open the windows to invite the fresh air in to chase away the stale dry air of winter. 

Bright blue planters will make their way to the porches just waiting for the safety of a much promised no-more-freezing-May-first.  The hummingbird feeder has been placed and morning coffee resumes on the back porch. 

Come on over and sit for a spell!!!

I love spring.  I love summer.  As I grow older the symbolism that they embody is not lost on me.  How I long for fresh starts and new chances.  I guess we all do.

Since winter began, eight new houses have been built near our home.  It was fun to watch in the beginning.  Now, I wake up each day and pray for landscaping.  Louis, our standard poodle, whose paws more resemble bear claws than dog paws, loves to frolic through the mud next door. (I say frolic because when he runs he sort of canters--head bobbing up and down in rocking horse style movements) 

He is a crazy dog.  He reminds me of Scooby Doo from the cartoon.  When I walk Lucy (Doxie --4 1/2" tall) and him(40 1/2" tall)  together,  he cowers at other dogs.  She goes into protective Mama Bear mode.  I have a leash in each hand with Louis stopping frozen, tail tucked, attached to my leg and Lucy running directly toward any barking dog in the opposite direction than Louis, tail up barking loudly as if to say, "Don't talk to me that way Buddy.  I'll walk on this sidewalk anytime I want."  This exercise is what I like to call doggie yoga--or split your owner.

Speaking of summer, I read a blog written by Sophie Hudson (Boo Mama).  She is really funny to read, especially if you are from the south.  She recommended a lovely summer-time beverage that I tried yesterday and loved!  It is from Chik-Fil-A.  You get one part unsweet tea and one part diet lemonade and voila you have the perfect southern tea.  I just had to share.  Tell me what you think.

I've been working on a book.  It is a book about how addiction changed me and my faith.  The book feels a little like the character from Harry Potter--"He who shall remain nameless" because of the stigma that surrounds addiction.  Who might I hurt if I write this?  Who might behave differently if I publish it?  Have I changed the names?  Should I write under a pseudonym?  Will this cause more harm than good?  Those are questions that I have been asking myself since the idea of writing first began to dance itself around in my imagination.

The act of writing this book was a bit like spring cleaning.  I swept up a lot of scary things into a pile, looked them over, sorted them into categories and tried to put them into some sort of logical order to try to glean some bit of understanding before washing my hands of them. 

Now what to do?  Well, I do not know.  So I am going to pray.  And, walk the dogs and sit on the porch.  Maybe I'll sip some tea.  Happy Easter everyone.  Praying for Henry.  Mine and yours.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today's Leper

I watched a Today Show piece "Rossen Reports" on drunk drivers yesterday morning that was really bothersome to me.  The piece focused on the alarming number of repeat offenders who go basically unpunished.

The part of the piece that bothered me the most was when Rossen went to the door of the man who had many DUI's asking why he continued to drink and drive.  The man replied, "Because I'm drunk all the time."

The report then went from that scene to a statement from a MADD spokesman. 

If a family member of mine was killed or hurt by a drunk driver, I would in fact be mad too.  I would want retribution.  I would hopefully use that trauma as these women do to protect others. 

I worry that a loved one of mine will be the cause of a death because he or she is drinking and driving.  It is one of my great fears as the mom of an alcoholic. 

Those are all of the facts.  But, the problem that I have with that piece is not so much with what it said, but with what it didn't say but was implied.

Remember the 'War on Drugs'?  I am curious who benefited from that war.  What are your thoughts?  To me, I think a few politicians gained the most by spewing a few sound bites that sound like something might just happen to eliminate a terrible problem if we just wage war against this elusive enemy--drugs.

Remember the commercial "This is your brain (showing a frying pan) This is your brain on drugs (break an egg into the pan)?  I wonder if that really stopped anyone from trying drugs. 

When I saw the man who said, "because I'm drunk all of the time" I didn't see a guy who was having a good time.  I saw a man in pain.  I saw a man who did not know how to stop. 

Does that excuse his decision to drive?  NO!

Then why am I bothered?

I am bothered because that report falls under the "If it bleeds, it leads" column for me.  Yes, perhaps the spotlight will be placed on states with lenient laws for repeat offenders.  But, as a gal who volunteers in the county jail, I have a few questions for you: 

Do you understand that part of the definition of addiction is that the need to use or drink is so great that they will do anything regardless of the consequence?

Did you know that Dr Gabor Mate, an addiction doctor in Canada, says that we need to stop asking 'why the addiction and instead ask why the pain'?

Did you know that author John Bradshaw says that at the root of all addictions is shame?

Do you know what the rate of recidivism is from most jails or prisons?

I think that you and I and those who have lost a loved one to drunk driving all want the same thing.  None of us want to see lives lost.  But, how do we accomplish that?  Should there be tougher sentences?

I do not know the answer.  But, I suspect that we need more than just incarceration.  I think we need to offer some sort of treatment before we turn them out to just do it again.  And, there is one thing that is for sure:  if we shame and blame they are less likely to come forward for treatment before a tragedy strikes.

Remember the parable of the Leper?  I think we just keep living that parable over and over again.  I think we should all be looking at the bottom line.  The bottom line is that we want to prevent deaths as the result of addiction.  The question should be are we using every possible avenue to do it?

I'm praying for all of our loved ones and for those who have suffered as a result of them.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunny and Seventy-five.....

Image result for old fashioned bicycle

Today is a gorgeous day.  It is sunny and 75 as the country music song goes.  I would love to enjoy this day but instead, I got called in to cover the Dad's office.  If I seem a bit pout-y about this, it is because I am. 

I think that all of the cold, wind, snow and dreary skies have caused my body to organically blanket itself in fat for added warmth.  As I begin to shed thick layers of clothing and try to squeeze my body into some of my warmer weather clothing, I find myself mildly panicking.  You see, I will see my endocrinologist tomorrow.  It will not be pretty.

I'm not giving up without a fight though, in a desperate attempt at quickly shedding say ten pounds overnight, the Dad took me to Wal-Mart where we bought bikes.  They are complete with bigger seats and baskets.  My first ride caused me to collapse on the sofa for a two hour nap.

We have not heard from the Son in a week.  That is always worrisome.  The Dad and I have taken a vow to detach from his situation.  With a bit of Lenten encouragement, we are trying to walk this Paschal Path while praying for the faith to trust that God does in fact love him more than we do.

Our girls don't really ask about him.  They know that I freely share the good news.  They are weary of the bad so we just 'don't ask-don't tell' as they say.  Even friends rarely ask.  It is probably safer that way.  But, sometimes it is a lonely feeling. 

I am sneaking in bits and pieces of time to work on my book.  My book and I have a love/hate relationship.  I need to write it but it is painful and sometimes I dread it all at the same time.  I am drudging forward.  Secretly, I'd love to be able to wait long enough to slap a happy ending onto it.  But, in reality, it is probably best to end it here where we are trying to tread water and grow our faith.

It is in this place that we are just a bit closer to our Lord.  This is where we learn the most.  And this is where I am most afraid.  Today I pray for each of you and your loved ones as I pray for Henry.

Friday, February 20, 2015

You Can Either Laugh or Cry........

I haven't been here to post in a while.  I haven't visited your blogs either.  But, true to this blog's name, I have been praying for you and your addicted loved ones.
Prayer is a joining up in relationship with my power who is Greater than myself--we had to work that one out but I've finally come around to His way of thinking....but, I digress.  I have been deeply working through prayer these last few months.
One way that I have found to pray is through writing.  I have been afraid to say that out loud even though  I have been calling myself a writer for a couple years .  I decided that it was okay to do that because --well, anyone can write.  But,  really what I  would like most is to become an author and that is an entirely different beast.  That means that I need to learn to write well.
I have been hunkered down working on a project that I will share more about later as I get a better handle on it.
My son is working at a wonderful restaurant and doing an IOP.  I am working very hard at staying out of his business.  And, when I forget, he is thoughtful enough to remind me.  It is a work in progress. 
Big Sister is in Louisiana in a doctoral program.  Her school got out for Mardi Gras (apparently we all went to the wrong school).  I think it was a great experience for her.  And," no there was no flashing for beads going on, Mom, in case you were wondering."

Little Sister is in her very last year of nursing (BSN) and was hired at a hospital as a CNA(certified nurses assistant) PRN (as needed).  She is thrilled about this as it helps her to make connections once she graduates,  because she is so afraid that she will never be hired.  Did you all know that it takes experience to get experience?  Because, I could not have possibly known that until she sat me down to explain it to me in slow......, loud .....words.

The Dad has brought a new standard poodle puppy into our world.  He assures me that they are intelligent animals.  He (Louis) has chewed every magazine in our home.  He even went to the newspaper recycle basket and went through the entire stack to find any shiny magazine-like pages and pulled those out to chew into rice sized pieces which he evenly distributed all over the sofa and floor.
He can pull the runner off of kitchen table.  He has not yet mastered the trick of keeping the napkins and salt and pepper shaker in their place when he rips the runner off of the table.  I am sure he will keep trying.
He has decided that we shouldn't be able to snack while sitting on the sofa since he cannot share with us--thus he has chewed up each and every coaster that we own.
And, he has a distinct eye for fashion.  He skipped over every cheap pair of flip flops that I own, opting for my expensive OluKai ones with the much needed 'old lady arch supports' for his chewing pleasure.
See, I told you he is intelligent.  Maybe I need a new trainer. 
I'm going to a silent three day directed retreat next week and then going to visit Big Sister.  I'll remember you there and your loved ones as I pray for Henry and all of you.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I had forty-five days.  Forty-five days where I simply had no control.  He had forty-five days.  Forty five days where he had no control.  We had no power.

For forty-five days, I could admit that I was powerless.  I really haven't had any trouble admitting that my life was unmanageable.  But, admitting powerlessness, that was another thing all together.

But, for those forty-five days, I was actually aware that I was totally under God's care.  I had my ups and my downs.  Sometimes I felt brave only to crash and feel hopeless later.

By the end, I had accepted that I could not make a difference.  Before, I was so adamant about showing unconditional love.  Now, I questioned that love.  Was it really unconditional or an effort to love him out of his addiction (manipulate)?

The best thing that I did, was pay attention.  If I could quit planning long enough to just be present, then I could learn so much more. 

What if I stopped judging everything that he said ...what if I stopped thinking..., 'that sounds irresponsible or it sounds like someone who is not on the right road to recovery...' You know those crazy thoughts--If I could stop long enough to just witness who he is as a child of God, what would I see differently. 

So I became a spectator.  I watched deeply.  I listened intently.  Every time that I tried to get all 'judgy' I asked God to help bring me back.  The more I watched, the more I liked watching.  He is a very smart, fun and loving person to be around.

Once after he came home but before he went back to Sober Living, I was unable to stop myself.  "I'm just so worried because I haven't heard you say that you weren't going to drink again."  I said with tears rolling down my cheek (extra guilt thrown on top ).

"Mom, I feel bad.  I don't want you to cry.  But, I can't say that.  I don't know that I can say it.  So I'm not going to."

Crap.  Double crap.  I blew it again.  "Please Lord help me.  I knew better but I just could not stop myself.  Help me fix it.  Amen."

"I'm sorry."  I repeated. 
"I don't want you to feel bad because of me."  He said.
"I am the one who is sorry.  If it weren't you, it would be something else.  It's what I do."  I said.

 He looked surprised.  I felt better.  It was all true.  It was my stuff.  We are on this parallel journey.  If I can just stay on my path, I think it will all be okay.

These hardships are but lessons on living.  I'm praying for us all.  And, for Henry, of course.