Sunday, January 31, 2016

Too kind....and the missing piece

You all are too sweet. I didn't mean to solicit a bunch of compliments.....really. It really was kind of a true confession, light bulb moment.....I can't fix this area but I can make this area better....so I will. But thank you.

So I was thinking about my girl and how I can fix so many of the exteriors of her issues. I know exactly what to do that would be a positive solution for her diet, her physical health, her skin, her bowels, her thick long hair, her nails...I can do all of that and make it better. What is beyond me is her inner illness. I can't reach those deep dark areas that are broken and THOSE are the key to what ails the outside, to the symptoms that we can see. 

I was thinking of how she doesn't fit in our family anymore. Not, and let me be very very clear, NOT because we don't want her to....but because we all live such different lives from each other. Her life is the polar opposite of our life. She is the puzzle piece that is missing in our family puzzle. Where that piece used to fit, is a big gaping hole. The lost piece. Even when she comes home to visit, its not a good fit anymore. Her big black thick ugly coat of addiction that hangs heavily over her thin body makes her edges and curves not fit into her spot. Her spot, the spot that has been her's since the moment of her conception. Her spot that won't ever be filled again unless she gets well and can come and fill it in with her own unique sweet self.

My dear friend Lou blogged here today and said, "Substance abuse and mental illness envelopes the family. I honestly don’t know how anyone can stay “detached” when a member is so clearly suffering."

I don't know either. I don't even know if its the right thing to do anymore. I know that human beings are always called to be kind to each other. That, I do know. So that is what I try to do. Be kind, humane, let her hold onto whatever dignity she has left.

There is still the mom in me, a small strand left that thinks, "Ok, here is what we are going to do...." That has never worked before of course....and you know what they say about that. lol

So for today I settle for being kind to my girl for as long as I am able, while there is no end in sight.

Keep praying and I will too.
Annette

"And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you."

                                                                    ~Colossians 3: 12, 13




Friday, January 29, 2016

There is nothing noble here

I have come to the conclusion that my drive to "help" others is actually rooted in my own selfish need to feel useful. Apparently I can't save my daughter, but I can talk with other parents and I can share what has brought me some peace and an ability to go on living despite carrying the greatest heartbreak I have experienced thus far in my life. I can immerse myself in other families as their loved ones work toward leaving this earth and I can comfort and tend to the physical and emotional needs of the dying and their sad families. I can help the disabled perform the most basic of human bodily functions and I can love them and give them their dignity while they have to endure the humiliation of needing my help.

I feel energized when I am in the thick of it with other families. Maybe that is sick. Maybe that is my co-dependence. Maybe I am on a huge power-trip. My need to be needed. Maybe it all comes from a deep place of my own dysfunction....but is anyone's motives purely pure all the time? Isn't there usually a pay off in most of what we do? My pay off is.....I can't fix one huge part of my life, but I can do some good over in another area. It is what it is.

I am getting better at balancing out my life and I love my days off and I am finding things to do that don't include work, or being productive every moment. That is big progress for me. I am very very content just "being" these days. I used to think I would never quit working until I physically couldn't do the work anymore. Now I don't think that way. The dad has a big project with work coming up this year and I am not taking on any more clients so that I will be available to be home MORE than I am now. I love quiet. When I drive, I don't have anything on....no music, no talk radio, none of my audible books. I think and I pray and I just drive. If little one is with me, we talk to each other. She is such a unique and interesting little person. I love her company.... my little old soul.

I think of Alanon's slogan...when I got busy I got better. Serving others takes the focus off of myself and that is not necessarily a bad thing. lol

I am still lighting candles for our lost kids and praying and thanking God for them and for the fact that we were picked to be their parents. Despite the heartache, my girl is a blessing to me. Please, you keep praying too.

Annette

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some excellent resources for you all

You remember that I became a parent coach for the parent coaching program through Drug Free Kids. I receive a lot of wonderful resources through Drug Free Kids and The Center for Motivation and Change. One of them is this interactive website that is full of videos of Jeff and Carrie (CMC founders) explaining how loved ones can be helpful, as well as other videos demonstrating how to use CRAFT/MI (motivational interviewing) strategies in the real world, both for parents and partners of people with substance use issues.

Also, if you go to the Drug Free website you will be able to download The Parent's 20 Minute Guide from their website for FREE by clicking on "get information" and then "guides and resources"....and its the newest 2nd edition which contains some new sections on topics like shame and enabling. The Parent's 20 minute Guide is the companion book to Beyond Addiction. You can also purchase both from Amazon too of course.

I am now also an admin for the Mom's CAN (change addiction now) FB page. I've met so many wonderful women through these ventures....I feel very blessed and grateful to have been asked. I of course can't fix anything for any of us, nor do I have any brilliant ideas, but I am very capable of walking along side and being present with other hurting parents.


Lets all keep praying. Things are not good here...I keep thinking that it gets darkest before the dawn. Let's hope so.


Much love to all....
Annette

Monday, January 18, 2016

A new blog to check out....

I hope you will all go over and read Man In Recovery.  An awesome new blogger who is so real and authentic and so aware of the grace that sustains him in his recovery as he finds his way each day. I have loved everything I have read thus far. Please welcome him to our community.

God bless us all as we seek out our path to serenity and peace and faith in a power greater than ourselves.
Annette

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Gift of Time....

I've wanted to write so many times, but I don't really have much to say. I feel like we are just getting through each day. There are some really great moments and then there is the background hum, the knowledge of the turmoil of my girl that seems to surround everything.

I found a wonderful addiction specialist who has been seeing her every week. She has made it to every appointment, on time for the most part, and he recently listed off all of her positive traits that he see's shining through despite her advanced addiction. He see's "her." He told me, "she is a good investment." I adore him for that.

I watch as he gives her time. He slowly has worked with her to build trust, to show her acceptance, patience, kindness. They are building a foundation together.

 Ive been thinking a lot about how there are no quick fixes in this world of addiction and dual diagnosis. Once an individual is fully immersed the damage just seems to build exponentially. As parents we are so incredibly impatient to see progress, to watch evidence of the healing unfold....to finally let our breath out that we have been holding without realizing. To not feel afraid of what the future could possibly hold for us in this foreign world of so very many unknowns.

I met with a young woman a couple of days ago, the same age as my girl. We became friends because I bought a couple of spoon rings....remember those from the 70's?! from her Etsy store. She is local to my area, she asked to be my FB friend, and from there, I could see in her pictures that she probably knew some dark times. I asked her if we could meet for coffee. We did and she told me her story. What an amazing story it was....5 years off all drugs, married, pregnant with baby number 2, building a business and has a remarkable and very authentic relationship with God. We both sat in that Starbucks and cried as we talked....I had to make several trips for more napkins to mop up our faces, but it was a visit that filled me up. Here was a girl who came back from the edge and is thriving. In real life, sitting across from me and drinking coffee and sharing a visit. When I told her that I work at staying connected with my girl, she said, "Good. Because when you let her go with no contact, you only reinforce all of the messages she has running through her head of not being deserving, not good enough, too bad, too awful, worthless....keep doing exactly what you are doing. Keep loving her.

I'm thinking a lot about the gift of time that we are able to give to one another. I think of the story I shared from the book God's Hotel about Terry Becker and how she was given the gift of time to heal the from inside out. I think of a boy I know and love, who suffered a debilitating mental break but came home from the hospital and was allowed the time to just be. It was concerning to watch his lack of motivation, his lack of direction, his apparent lethargy...we watched and were uncomfortable and wondered when or if it would change....but in time we began to see action. He is currently a happy, handsome, joyful and funny young man who is working at a job and enrolled in school and challenging classes and is getting full credit for them. He is speeding along meeting *his* goals. But first he had to just be, he had to spend some time healing. I think of Lou's words in her last post.....it took her 3 years of navigating new and foreign and painful territory to find her bearings after the loss of her precious boy. To be able to be in the middle of us all again. It took time. She needed time for her wounds to heal a little, to not be so raw to the elements of interactions with the world at large. And bless her heart, she gave herself what she needed.

Time is a gift we each have the power to give to ourselves and to those around us who are struggling. I think of the relief I feel when I am rushing and someone says, "Its ok. Take all the time you need." I can feel my muscles loosen, my neck relaxes, and I can take a deep breath and slow down. I feel like I can't run as fast as I used to. I used to be able to work for days on end, and have every moment filled or double booked with obligations and responsibilities....but today, I need time. I need solitude and time to think and pray and meditate. I need quiet. I need to live at a reasonable pace. 

I don't know what tomorrow holds. Today though, I will take a deep breath, I will sit quietly, I will breath, I will trust, be thankful, I will believe, and keep hoping....God is in charge of the outcome and I am never alone in this journey.

Bless us all.....
Annette

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Guest Post: Our Lou is back.

 I want to introduce you to my dear friend "Lou." I began blogging in 2007 and Lou was one of the first people I "met" here. Her input and compassion along with her own personal experiences, had a tremendous impact on me. She left our blogging community for awhile as she tried to navigate her way through the devastating loss of her sweet boy, Andrew. We have kept in touch through all of these years and she recently let me know that she was writing again. I asked her to please consider writing a guest post for my blog so that I could share my wonderful and brave friend with all of you... my faithful readers. Below is her contribution, but also please go and visit her new blog at: http://runawaykarma.wordpress.com/  
Much love to all of us mama's out here who love and support each other. 
Annette

I started blogging about Andrew’s addiction in 2003, calling myself brokenheartedmom. There were no news stories about the “heroin epidemic”, no legislation being passed to fund treatment, and I had never heard of naloxone. I felt isolated, stigmatized, and scared. Ten days after my first post, a lady named Pat left a comment. She was in Ohio, and her son was addicted to heroin. I stared at the screen and started sobbing. I was not alone.

From that first comment, to the next 9 years of blogging, I became invested in your stories, your children, and your journey. And you knew my Andrew. Our rapport, the back and forth comments sustained me. Remarkable, when you consider it.

Andrew died of a heroin and xanax overdose on Feb 6, 2013. He had just turned 30.
His father, his sister, and myself are shrouded in a new family dynamic. Someone is missing, there is a sense of incompleteness. I can just now write after 3 years. I have learned much about grief and it’s timeline. Sudden death and socially stigmatized death such as overdose or suicide complicates the process. Death of a loved one “out of order” makes it more difficult still, especially for siblings.

I cannot stress how important the small (and large) gestures of sympathy and support meant to us after Andrew’s death. The landscape company Andrew worked for planted a tree in our yard. A woman I didn’t know, whose son committed suicide the year before, came to the funeral. A mother who I knew only from the neighborhood, had lost her 33 year old daughter to colon cancer the previous month. She hugged me at the funeral home, and said “we both lost our children to a disease.” Annette sent me a necklace of a bird flying out of an opened cage. It is draped over the box that holds my son’s ashes.

When you hear of a family who has lost a loved one to addiction please reach out. Go to the funeral home if you can. Send a card, an email, give a hug or an “I’m sorry” at the grocery store even if you don’t know know us well. Don’t ever believe it won’t make a difference, or that you will make me uncomfortable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Supporting the families left behind helps overcome stigma and and makes us all braver in telling our stories.

Andrew was loved and supported in life, remembered and missed in death. Our family is closer now, and more grateful. My daughter and family moved back to Michigan. We see each other every weekend, and my little Ava (now 4) sleeps over at grammy and grammys’ often. Andrew would be so happy.



scan-1 - Version 2.jpg

Monday, January 4, 2016

The shifting ground


What happens when our kids begin to get healthy? I have two close friends whose adult "kids" are in their first few months of recovery and both have expressed similar feelings. I remember from my girl's various times of recovery feeling very much the same.

We work so hard at learning how to parent our child who has veered off into the most unexpected of left turns. How to accept them and their choices that quite literally scare us shitless. We work at letting go, minding our own business, loving them where they are at, managing our fear and our need for control, we choose not to take things personally and react from our hurt feelings, some of us go to meetings each week, sometimes several times a week to learn how to be ok in this unfathomable situation....it is an inordinate amount of work to be even relatively healthy through out all of this. And just when we feel like we have figured out our stride, we have our momentum going and we have accepted that our happiness can not be dependent on how well our child is doing.....they seek out recovery.

Yayyyy! Praise all that is holy! Our prayers have been answered, its a dream come true, our joy is through the ceiling, our relief, palpable.

Then it sinks in.....our whole world, our whole identity, all that we have worked so hard to figure out, has just changed radically. Now what?! Who am I if I am not the parent of the kid who has spent months, if not years waffling the fence of life and death? How do I parent a young adult in recovery? What is my part? Do I even have a part? What can I do to be supportive without stepping over that invisible line and robbing them of the opportunity to figure out life on their own terms?

Often times, and the experiences of myself and my friends totally validate this as real.....this shifting ground is down right terrifying. What if we allow ourselves to feel some joy, some hope, on behalf our kids progress.....and what if it doesn't last? What if it does last? It all feels so eggshell fragile. The relationships, the recovery and the sobriety.

So what do we do? How do we navigate this new and happy and scary territory? I don't know anything for sure and Im not even there right now, but I have been in the past and I have a couple of precious momma's who are here today....but this is what I am thinking....

We keep taking care of ourselves. We keep minding our own business unless we are invited in and even then we think before we leap. Is our involvement a good fit for ourselves and what we are trying to accomplish in *our* own lives? We keep loving and accepting them where they are, because early recovery is hard work, and raw, and very challenging. We continue to step back and allow them the space to figure it out, to build relationships with their sponsors, mentors, therapists, and we allow them the dignity to forge out their own path of wholeness and health. We keep loving them unconditionally. We acknowledge yet again that we are not the answer to what ails them.

Our support and our love is all we have to offer them.....and even though, despite the Herculean strength contained in those emotions, there are still no guarantees. But we offer them anyway, because its instinctual to who we are. We remind ourselves that God has our children in His hands and God is limitless and can accomplish anything in any heart. Any amount of healing, any amount of restoration and redemption, any amount of putting back together what has been shattered. None of it is beyond His abilities. And if, through some series of events...our children don't make it either in recovery or this life, because that is ultimately the mother of all the fears that we live with....we can KNOW that God hung onto our children through each moment. They were never alone. They were enveloped in His perfect love every moment... they weren't alone. And neither are we.

So....we surrender to the process, the new process, we ride the waves and move with the motion and we let it take us where it will, trusting that a power greater than ourselves is in charge and is gently leading the way.... and we follow the best we can. When we get tripped up and lose sight of our guide, He stops and turns back to find us and gets us back on track again...much like the shepherd that I wrote about a few posts back. Even on the darkest days of this journey, there is hope and we are not alone. People do recover. It does happen. How will we choose to live that out? To recover ourselves?

Much love to all of us,
Annette