Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Experience, Strength, and Hope

SO much has been going on and if I felt like I could write here about my people, with total abandon, total nudity, I would have come here and thrown up every gory detail so you all could tell me how awful it was and how much I carry everyday and poor poor me. 

But what positive purpose would that serve? For the past week and a half I have had this thought running through my mind...."What is your E,S,&H?" I have told my kids for years...."look for the good." 

So here it is.....my E,S,&H. 

Experience: Recently in a meeting someone shared about her wonderful childhood, where the adults in her life told her often and emphatically, how absolutely wonderful she was. A joy, a strong girl who could be anything and do anything. Then she married an alcoholic.....She was so shocked! "I'm not used to this sort of disregard, and drama, and stress. My mom told me I was awesome!" 

I had a lightbulb moment.....my entire life has been affected by other people's addictions. Every moment, even before I took my very first breath of actual air, has been touched by the anger, the turmoil, the fear, the control, the chaos, the unpredictability, the need to find a way to survive and hopefully thrive, the need to be self reliant....all of the things that addiction bring with it, have been a part of my life forever. I shared in that meeting that unlike the speaker.....THIS is all I have ever known. So my experience has been one of full immersion in addicted life, without ever having taken a sip or a drag or a snort or a shot. 

Strength: Letting go. Can it really be that simple? I think so....prying my white knuckles open, has given me the very things I was grasping to receive. It is one of the single most terrifying actions any of us are ever asked to take....but once we can let go, we find our freedom and our strength on the other side. Let go to get strong. I don't have to know the next step.....I can let go and believe that it will unfold as I need it to.

What I have learned for today is to STOP moving and talking if I am not sure of what to do next. Be still. Wait for some direction. I have shared this before.....if we get lost in the woods, we need to stand still, in the same place and wait for help to arrive. Not run around looking hither and yon, trying to figure out what to do next and using up all of our energy and resources. Worst of all we seriously stand the chance of missing the help that does eventually arrive because we are so all over the place. 

Growing into letting go, not reacting, and being able to be still, more times than not, has given me the most amazing blessings. My life has calmed down. All of the exterior circus acts that are spinning on all around me are still in full swing....but my insides are calm. Ok, calmer. My spirit has calmed down. When I don't know what to do, I stop, I ask for extra time if need be and then I pray, I ask for guidance...sometimes things happen that have nothing to do with me but they provide the answer, the direction. I accept that I can't orchestrate an outcome. Sometimes I just know what my next step should be. I open my mouth and something sane and reasonable comes out....due to no wisdom or goodness of my own.  I have learned that other people's reactions aren't any of my business. Everything isn't about me....that thought still boggles my mind! If not me, then who, dare I ask?! When I really focus on that idea though....what a relief it is. Everything is not on my shoulders anymore. 

Hope: God. I know....cheesy, but it's more true today than at any other time in my life. I rely on Him daily, minute by minute. "Show me what my next step should be." I spent so many years, barreling ahead in my own strength with my own best thinking leading the way into all sorts of holy hell and hard feelings. Today, God is my hope. He can do what I can't do. He has far reaching eyesight and knows what lies ahead far more accurately than what I think I know. His love for me and mine (and you and yours) is deeper and more vast than what my simple mind can conceive. I don't have to have all of the answers anymore. I don't have to single handedly hold all of the pieces together anymore. Life will play out as it will, but I know that I am not alone. 

Am I escaping, using a crutch? Probably.....but I don't care. I can't do this journey alone. I need a Higher Power and for me that is God. God is my hope. Something solid that I can stand on, rely on, and trust in. So there it is....in the middle of the 💩, God dwells there with me. He's not afraid, so I don't have to be either. 

I want to hear your E,S,&H too. Please feel free to share away! 

Much much love to all.....
Annette

PS: Wedding update: I bought a lovely fat dress, reservations are made for the rehearsal dinner, we have rented a condo that sleeps six, so anyone who wants to come with us, will have a bed. Flowers are in the works, succulents are growing for the favors....everything is coming along. We will be the down to earth non-drinkers wearing comfy shoes. LOL

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Varied perspectives....

"My girl" is at the hub of so much in our family. We want her with us, but often times that is impossible. It's like a web of strings all cris-crossing and touching and getting confused. 

Big brother let's me know he wants her at his wedding..."it's just one day, she has to be sober for one day." I say that hopefully she can pull it together and be there.....he says, "Even if she can't, she's still invited. No matter what. But she has to be sober to be there." No matter what.....but. He has no idea the fullness of what he is asking for.....but he is right to make that request. I don't blame him one bit. 

Molly invites "little one" to the lake, but not "my girl."  Little one texts me (I'm gone with work all this week) concerned "my girl" will feel left out, but she doesn't want to ask Molly to invite her because she knows Molly has some resentment toward "my girl." I point out that "little one" is a guest, she is being invited by her sister and boyfriend, and Molly and "my girl's" relationship is their's to figure out. It's not her's to fix or mend or worry about one feeling hurt by the other. 

Then I say, "When I'm home next week, we will go to the river and everyone will be invited." 

"Ok, that sounds good momma, thank you." 

Every single thing we do, every place we go, every family event is marked by this disease. We have learned to cope and manage the best we can... But it's always there. Before "my girl" there were many other's through the generations who caused the same questions and the same planning and the same concern. I can't remember a time of going into a family event without anxiety or an escape plan. 

This fucking disease is exhausting. Maybe I'm tired....it's the end of my week away, my phone is ringing off the hook with work again, and I dread taking anything else on....but I, at my very core, am still very co-dependent and the word, "no" never leaves my lips without an inner war being waged. 

We are trying to NOT let her go. To not let her just drift away until she disappears. We feel like what we are offering is life support, harm reduction, CPR, until a bed opens up for her. She is self admittedly so miserable at this point, but so stuck. 

There is a scripture that says, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. Romans 7:15. 

Sometimes I wonder what was easier.....the times we did let her go and she left us for months and even years at a time? Or trying to maintain some form of a connection with her. You know how parents say, "I won't watch you kill yourself!" I think of that often... But I think of if she had any other disease, I wouldn't leave her side and I would hold her hand and love her fiercely until her very last breath. So I choose to continue to navigate this complicated relationship in the healthiest ways that I can. I surround myself with support and help and I don't do it alone. And I pray. For us all. 
Annette

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Barricades

You know those places deep inside of our souls that we cover up, that we surround with bricks and mortar and then live in the illusion of freedom right outside that fortress wall that is protecting our deepest fragile spots? It's like we live right outside the wall, we smile, we laugh, we grow beautiful flowers and we pretend that all is well inside....well, somehow that spot got invaded last week. That fragile little spot that I had covered so well, that spot that needs to belong and needs community with her people, was jostled around and that sharp pointy needle of rejection, of not fitting, of being alone, pierced so deeply it physically hurt. It totally took me by surprise that something that seemed so innocuous could be so searing. I have cried over these hurt feelings for a week now. As recently as this morning. 

My first reaction was that I needed to raise my antidepressant dose. LOL God forbid I feel anything other than my status quo....who has time for this shit? But then I caught myself....no. So much has gone on this past month that is definitely cry worthy. Maybe I just need to feel it all, to acknowledge that it hurts and it might hurt for a long time and that might just be how it is. Just sit with it. Don't busy yourself with a million things, or say it doesn't matter, or eat ice cream....be quiet and look at it. 

So I am implementing a new eating plan. I am about 2 weeks into it and it's not so much about getting thin, although I sure in heck hope that happens, but it's forcing me to look at my unhealthy relationship to food and sugar. Food addiction sounds so silly....we all have to eat, but the similarities I see between my relationship with food and my girl's relationship with heroin is not lost on me at all. As a matter of fact, I am having to really stop and examine these dynamics and what I see tells me that she and I are no different than each other. Our compulsions focus on different substances, but the roots are the same. I committed for 30 days to this plan and my thinking has gone something like this....

"Well, I don't know that I want to do this forever. So extreme. What about big brothers wedding? I'm supposed to not have a piece of cake at my son's biggest day of his life?!! I need balance. I need to learn how to live in moderation. A little bit won't hurt." Does that sound familiar....I can't tell you how many times I have heard the alcoholics in my life say, "Just one.....I promise." And when they said it, they believed it with every fiber of their being....but it NEVER ended at "just one."

The reality is that I am asking, I am hoping, that my girl will give up her substance "forever." One day at a time. I know that she must, she does, feel the same justifications and rationalizations that I am spewing out about food. And it's not that we don't want to be free...it's that we are afraid to be without our security. The thought of leaving that great comforter behind and going on ahead without it, is terrifying, exhilarating, and sad. We will grieve it's loss. Heroin, sugar, alcohol, spending...whatever it is that is filing that spot for us. It is like saying goodbye to an old faithful friend...that is slowly killing us by stabbing us in the back. 

What about big brothers wedding? If I was an alcoholic I would not drink alcohol, even for the toast. I couldn't risk having even one drink. Because in reality there is no moderation when you are addicted. So how is this different? There are triggers, and one bite of cinnamon toast, or chocolate brownie.....or wedding cake, can lead you (me) off into the land of sugar highs and then crashing lows and then wanting more and more. 

I am obese. I hate that word....and thank God in all of His divine mercy that I am tall! LOL I remember seeing my girl's medical records online (I had her permission!) and it listed off her "chronic health conditions." I thought, "Ohhhhh, I'm going to see if I have any chronic health conditions listed.....feeling slightly smug that I wouldn't because I am a big sturdy healthy girl. When I got to my health record page, there in bold capital letters, was the word "OBESITY." I gasped out loud! Then closed that page super fast! WTH?! 

So while I am not dieting, really....I am eating within certain parameters and looking at my behaviors around food, and what is going on when I feel compelled to feed myself outside of those healthy parameters? We will see where this takes me. It has taken the term "one day at a time" to a totally new level of reliance for me! 

I will leave you with this....
Grumpy man has a stack of these home made pot holders in all sorts of bright and cheery colors sitting stacked by his stove.....that he actually uses. I am dying to know who made them for him! Lol 

Ok All, I am falling asleep at my keyboard.....it's probably my lack of sugar! 
Much love to all....
Annette

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Speaking of books....

Last week on one of our drives down to the clinic we stopped at some yard sales. One was an estate sale with a book room. We could fill a bag for 5.00...we spent a couple hours there and came away with 2 bags filled to the top. My girl found old antique classics, Shakespeare, lots of interesting and unique volumes of information and stories.

Today as I drove her home from the methadone clinic, she read out loud to me from one of her finds, the Kama Sutra. Those poor Indian Hindu women had to be proficient in so much to be considered as "women of society." Very interesting....in many different ways lol....but never, in my wildest imaginings could I make this stuff up! LOL

It's been a really good day today. Untraditional, odd, unexpected....but good, a day I will look back on and laugh about in my old age. I will take what I can get! 
Annette

Monday, May 16, 2016

What does your bookshelf say about you?

I get to go into a lot of people's homes and work in their own personal surroundings. It is a privilege I don't take lightly....they are allowing me, a stranger into their own private space. Usually out of necessity, not want for a new friend.

 I can tell a lot by their surroundings, but their book shelves are like a window into the inner domain of their hearts and minds, what is most important to them of all. Childrearing, gardening, mystery novels, cooking, Bibles, kids books....My newest client is no exception. 

He continues to be resistant to help, and I continue to be present with him, accepting him as he is. He wants me to leave him alone, so he barks out, "Why don't you go for a walk?" "Go find something to do!" What he really means is find something to do that does not include him. LOL 

I tour his house like its a museum and in some ways it is.....it is the remnants of his past life. A huge, robust and powerful existence it must have been. The art work that he, at one point chose, to hang on his walls is meaningful, beautiful. His dishes are made of pottery with matching pottery drinking glasses. Very unique....and that he was drawn to that rather than just some simple unbreakable bachelor-worthy Correlle ware... Says something to me. He cared about his surroundings. He hand picked beautiful things, he could afford to create a tangible quality environment for himself. His clothes are from REI, his underwear aren't just the "buy a bag" Hanes from Walmart. 

And his bookshelves.....show me his brilliant mind. A mind able to put various pieces together and create a whole. A brilliant scientific mind. I used those words with him and he blushed and turned away and said it wasn't true. I commented that if he came to my house, he would find the polar opposite of what is on his shelves. He chuckled. Progress!!! Math, physics, Freud, architecture, politics, nature, but nothing that would show an interest or a faith in something larger than himself. 

As I work with him, I see that his faith was in himself, his own abilities, in his own best thinking.....and now that has crumbled around him and he is left afraid, angry, and frantically trying to rebuild what has been lost, not knowing any other way. A couple days a week I get to go over and be a friendly face, a presence that expects nothing from him, that can step back and allow him to forge onward on his own, or be available if he "barks" for me. Lol 

What would your bookshelf tell me about you? 

If you all came to my house, I have a room filled with books. Even when we lived in our tiny little house, I had books everywhere. The dad built beautiful built in book shelves for me on each side of our wood stove. That little house....so much good living took place there. The kids were little, I homeschooled there, that wood stove was our only heat source and we were never cold in the winter. We used a swamp cooler in the summer and it kept the living room cool. We used fans in the evening...life was simple and good. That house only had a bath tub when we first moved in...I loved it all and didn't want any modernizations....no central heat and air, the bath tub was fine...but I was in the minority. Lol Soon we had a shower. 

Today we have a much larger house, and my books are all wedged in their shelves and stacked on window sills, in the room we call "the big room." I have some children's literature that I just can't part with, because someday I WILL have grand children!! Elsa Beskow was my favorite, Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Loads of recovery books, books that nurture and teach about my faith, daily readers, novels, gardening, how to roof your house and build stone walk way books, how to raise chickens, how to knit, how to parent, how to be married, books about sex, books about dyslexia, famous artists, photographic journals, books about death and dying, how to train your dog, books about essential oils, cooking, hiking, running, diet and exercise, massage...on and on and on I could go. My friends come over and love to go in there and look through everything. Lol You can look around on my book shelves and know my passions immediately. Know who I am, what makes me tick, what is important to me. 

So tell me about your book shelves. What would I find if I could come and see you in your element? Surrounded by the things you love? 

Lord, bless us all with the knowledge of you, exactly where we are at this moment. 
Annette





Thursday, May 12, 2016

Come to me, those who are weary and burdened......

Do any of you read the daily reader, "Jesus Calling?" If not, I suggest you get a copy....as a matter of fact, let's do a giveaway!! My first reader to email me with their address will receive a copy in the mail! I would love to share this with you. 

Yesterday I had a horrible day. I cried literally all day. I looked awful! LOL It was just a bad day, a sad day, and it all had to come out. 

So this morning, I sat down to have my time and I read today's reading....

"Learn to relate to others through My Love rather than yours. Your human love is ever so limited, full of flaws and manipulation. My loving Presence, which always enfolds you, is available to bless others as well as you. Instead of trying harder (the co-dependent mantra...my words) to help people through your own paltry supplies, become aware of My unlimited supply, which is accessible to you continually. Let My Love envelop your outreach to other people. 

Many of My precious children have fallen prey to burnout. A better description of their condition might be "drainout." Countless interactions with needy people have drained them, without their conscious awareness. You are among these weary ones, who are like wounded soldiers needing R & R. Take time to rest in the Love-Light of My Presence. I will gradually restore to you the energy that you have lost over the years." 

"Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and you will find rest for your souls." 
                                                             Matt. 11:28-29

To my mom readers, I know that we all are serving many others in our lives. Our families, friends, other hurting moms, if we have active addiction intertwining through our lives, that is a whole other dynamic that requires so much thought and decision making and work of the heart. Today, I am choosing to pace myself, even in my thoughts...I am choosing to focus on things that are happy and bring me peace. Today is a day of self care as I go about fulfilling my responsibilities. If you are in the position of needing a minute, give that gift to yourself. Best case scenario would be before you become a sobbing mess. Be still. 

Much love and prayers.....
Annette

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Blessings in the mix

I am sitting here and have so many little inconsequentials that I want to write about... I'm just going to make a list. I have so much I want to do today but here I sit. I need to make a list of those things too.

My brother's cremation: Anyone who has a child with long term addiction in their lives, knows the affect on your finances. I have one child in college, one getting married, and one addicted that we are paying for therapy and a daily 120 mile round trip commute to a methadone clinic. So adding in a cremation wasn't part of our financial plan, BUT I also felt that it was something I had to do for him. So I did what any red blooded American does....I put it on a credit card! What has transpired has convinced me of God being my provider....what a relief to know that there is a bigger picture than just my own best thinking and hard work.  It was confirmation that I definitely had done the right thing by giving my brother the dignity of a cremation and receiving his ashes back to my house to be scattered in a beautiful place. Some family members were unwilling to contribute, but the ones who did....oh my goodness, that meant so so much to me. A dear long time blogger friend (you know who you are Love) generously mailed me a check, an uncle mailed me a generous check, my older brother, a niece, together we are accomplishing something so beautiful, a right thing. Not because my brother "earned" this by all of his contributions to the world, but just because he was a person, broken in many ways, but he deserves to have his body disposed of in death with some sort of care and reverence. He is still a child of God and through many circumstances and many reasons he never was able to live to his potential, but that potential was there in all of its fullness at one time. I am blessed to tears when I look at how this has played out and I am so so very grateful for others in my life who were willing to join with me to do this....not just monetarily, but in spirit and acknowledging his worth as fellow human being. I feel surrounded by support and love and that I am blessed. For that I am so very grateful.

A new client: I have a new client who is an angry man. I walked in to his beautiful gigantic home and was met with an ice cold "hello," with his back to me! He wouldn't turn and look at me! I walked up and touched his back and introduced myself....."Yeah, hi,  ____ will be here in a minute. Go look around the house." I am used to working for people who are happy to see me! LOL My first reaction was "this is not going to work. I don't have the emotional resources to be disliked right now." I walked around his house wondering what I was going to do....I saw evidence of a huge vibrant life, beautiful and obviously carefully picked watercolor paintings hanging every where, cat boxes that were clean and a collection of cat food sat on the counter, an upstairs office with a gorgeous slate fireplace in front of the desk and a beautiful view of his vineyard out the wall sized windows.... Who is this person?! What kind of work does he do? He obviously has a sensitive side....those water colors show that. Anyone drawn to that sort of beauty has a heart that feels something. "God, do you have something for me to do here? If so show me what and give me the grace to do it."
Eventually his friend who hired me came and we talked and talked....I loved her! She told me his story, which I obviously can't share here, but he has been a powerful man whose many very serious health conditions stopped him in his tracks. He refuses to stop working so he sits at his computer typing away....being so angry and so frustrated. He is relegated to the main floor of his house because he can't do the stairs anymore. He doesn't want help, he wants to just do his life and be who he is used to being, god damn it! I had a renewed mission....to become his friend. To be sensitive to his desire to do as much as possible for himself. His life is dwindling and he is enraged at the process.
The wedding: I have a feeling this is going to be a case of the country mouse and the city mouse. You know who is who I am sure. LOL We have four kids and we are used to being "do it ourselves" sort of people. Do you see where this is going? I volunteered to cover the flowers and the rehearsal dinner...
I am working with my florist friend who is a flowery genius thank the Lord! This is the dad working on the wood rounds that will be the center pieces. We had to have 5 trees taken down due to the bark beetle attacking them during the drought. So we cut our own rounds and treated them with Pentracryl to avoid cracking and drying too quickly, sanding, and then a coat of clear varnish. Then once this wedding of the century is finished, I am saving them because I have a feeling Molly is going to be getting married within the next 18 months.
More than enough so I can pick and choose.
Hopefully we can create THIS!
The succulents we are propagating for the favors.
                                                                                                                                                                                                       We will make 150 of these little wooden boxes. My reclaimed wood friend is giving me the wood.
The mother of the groom dress...its too small but I loved it so I am starting my diet and my upper arm workouts tomorrow! 


 Mothers Day: I miss my mom today. Happy mothers day to all of my readers who are mommas. Some of the most courageous, loving, and faithful women I could ever hope to know. Bless each of you where ever you are at in your journey. Know most of all that you are never alone.

Much love and ongoing prayers.....
Annette