Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Acceptance for the holidays....

My blogger friend Ron wrote an excellent post for the holidays. You can read it here.

My girl and her friend are invited to be here tomorrow. We will see if they really come. I hope so but I have no expectations of how the day will go. Molly is bringing her new boyfriend and his mom whom we've never met. Even with that added dynamic, I am ok. We all are coming to the table as we are.....flaws, dysfunctions, physical ailments, emotional brokenness, and hilarious senses of humor, and I think that however it goes, it will be ok.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my dear blogger friends...parents like me who are finding their way the best they can each day.

Bless us all......

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Proposition 47

Recently Prop 47 was passed in California. Let me start by saying I am not political at all. I vote, but only on the measures, propositions, and bills and people I truly understand and have an opinion on. (If that is even possible....I only have the information presented to the public.) You can read more about prop 47 here. It is a proposition written to drop non-violent offenses, drug crimes, theft crimes, to misdemeanors. The money saved from housing all of these non-violent offenders will go into the newly created "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools" fund.

I have mixed feelings on this. First, OF COURSE, if my girl were to be arrested for a drug related offense, I would love for her to not be a felon! I would love for a lot of kids I know here and in real life, to not be in danger of becoming a felon. Having a felony on your record shuts doors like nothing else.

On the other hand, I feel like, isn't the state of CA. almost enabling drug addicts to continue in their use by making the punishment for carrying, using, and selling, a slap on the wrist? The bottom line is its all about money. Drug addiction/abuse is a raging firestorm of an epidemic and our jails can't afford to keep housing these people. So rather then lets try to find a solution for the root, lets just pretend its not a big deal.

We as a society tend to normalize behavior that we don't understand or can't control. How many of us, BEFORE our children's addiction had strong opinions on addiction and drug related crimes and drug addicts themselves? As our children got going though, how many of us said, "Well its just pot or beer." "Wellll they are just struggling, trying to figure out who they are." "Wellll the teachers don't know how to teach...thats why he/she is failing everything." As we got in deeper and deeper with our kids issues, we let more and more of our standards go *to make it bearable, manageable, comprehendable* for ourselves.

I feel like that is what the state of Ca. is doing. They can't control it, they can't afford to really fight it, so lets say its not that big of a deal and we will book and release now and give the money saved to an organization that will help promote safe neighborhoods and schools. But HOW will they do that if the drug epidemic isn't being dealt with? In some real and humane way?

As usual lots of questions with no good answers. Its such a sad state of affairs.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holy Moley!

I left for a 3 day job and all hell broke loose. It seems to happen every time I leave for a few days. I was thinking that it must be a God thing....either He is protecting me from the drama, or he is *eliminating* me from my role as buffer and manager so that everyone can experience the stretching and growth that takes place during a crisis.

Really, it is *almost* comical when I think about it all.....

1. The fridge broke and needed to be replaced.

2. The day after the new fridge was delivered, the washer broke and needed to be replaced. (My biggest frustration with that is missing out on the discount we could have gotten from buying multiple appliances at once!)
3. My girl's little world is crumbling all around her and there is not one thing I can do to help her. All of her misdemeanor legal issues have been cleared up for about 18 months...but now they aren't.

4. Little one has been going to school for half days since August, transitioning just yesterday to full days. Yesterday and today I received secret text messages (because she's not supposed to use her phone in class....I have a feeling her teacher is looking the other direction) all day long stating that she needs to be picked up "RIGHT NOW!" I have droned on and on about what a strong girl she is, that even when things are uncomfortable they are still doable and the more we do it, the more comfortable we become. "NO, thats NOT working!" I am tired of my own positive thoughts!

5. The dad texted often as we ran ideas past each other about how to handle various situations that came up. Often.

6. The chocolate fudge icing on the cake was the sweet happy woman I was with who was convinced that "the President of the United States of America" was coming to see her personally. Every half an hour or so she would say, "Annette, don't forget the President is coming!" She is truly adorable and happy as can be in her own little world....but really, I had to laugh. The chaos of my world is swirling all around me but I had the blessed distraction of this sweet thing and making sure her hair looked ok for his visit. 

And a side-note.....a friend is teaching me about essential oils. I am so excited! My big focus is calm and peace and anti-inflammatories! lol I will keep you posted on how that turns out. If nothing else the house will smell good.

God bless us all.....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don't lecture, blame, or scold me......

Open Letter from the Alcoholic
I am an alcoholic. I need your help.

Don't lecture, blame or scold me. You wouldn't be angry with me for having cancer or diabetes. Alcoholism is a disease, too.

Don't pour out my liquor; it's just a waste because I can always find ways of getting more.

Don't let me provoke your anger. If you attack me verbally or physically, you will only confirm my bad opinion abut myself. I hate myself enough already.

Don't let your love and anxiety for me lead you into doing what I ought to do for myself. If you assume my responsibilities, you make my failure to assume them permanent. My sense of guilt will be increased, and you will feel resentful.

Don't accept my promises. I'll promise anything to get off the hook. But the nature of my illness prevents me from keeping my promises, even though I mean them at the time.

Don't make empty threats. Once you have made a decision, stick to it.

Don't believe everything I tell you; it may be a lie. Denial of reality is a symptom of my illness. Moreover, I'm likely to lose respect for those I can fool too easily.

Don't let me take advantage of you or exploit you in any way. Love cannot exist for long without the dimension of justice.

Don't cover up for me or try in any way to spare me the consequences of my drinking. Don't lie for me, pay my bills, or meet my obligations. It may avert or reduce the very crisis that would prompt me to seek help. I can continue to deny that I have a drinking problem as long as you provide an automatic escape for the consequences of my drinking.

Above all, do learn all you can about alcoholism and your role in relation to me. Go to open AA meetings when you can. Attend Al-Anon meetings regularly, read the literature and keep in touch with Al-Anon members. They're the people who can help you see the whole situation clearly.

I love you.

Your Alcoholic

This is a piece of literature from my Alanon program....obviously some of us need to replace the word "alcohol" with drugs....or whatever our loved ones drug of choice is. The words that have been playing over and over in my head this time around are, "don't lecture, blame or scold me." And then...."I already hate myself enough."

I used to be a big lecturer, blamer and scolder and it got us absolutely no where. It didn't change a pin dot of anything.....except to add a heavier burden of guilt to my girl, and a heavier burden of anger and frustration to me. We both would leave each other feeling miserable, mad and guilty and shamed.

So this time especially, any contact I have with her, I have that sentence running through my mind. It must be a God thing....because I certainly haven't willed it to be so. "Accept her, don't lecture, blame, or scold her. She feels bad enough about herself already."

That means that a lot of the time I am quiet, or I say those stock phrases that we learn... "I know honey, I'm so sorry." Or "That sounds like its really hard." Or "I know you can figure this out."

The other night we had a dinner date planned. I was to pick her up on my way up from work. I got to the pick up spot and she wasn't there. I texted her and she had forgotten and had some reasons why etc and asked me if I wanted to come to where she was.....miles away from the meeting spot. In my early years, I would have dashed off to get there and see her as fast as I could. This time I said, "No, its ok. We will try again another night. I love you sweet girl, be safe." She answered with, "Ok mama. I'm sorry." It really was ok though. Her behavior is that of a person who is stuck in the sickness of addiction. Why would I expect any different at this point? Why would I think that if I yell loud enough at her, or scold her, or lecture her, pointing out all of the trouble she has caused and the danger she is putting herself in.....why would I think that would change anything? Even when her behavior is inappropriate or rough or loud....I don't have to join in. I can be quiet.

I know that receiving love, grace and compassion when I felt like I least deserved it, changed me. I am not God and I can't change her heart....but I can be a conduit of His love, grace, and compassion for her if I am willing to lay down my own ideas of how it should all be done and just do what is in front of me....and that is to keep loving my girl. To firmly but gently set my boundaries in love. To detach *from her disease* with love.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Some days are better than others.....

Yesterday was a really good day. I was dashing around going to my jobs, managing a million things, heading up our mountain to pick up little one from school, answering calls and text messages, getting all of my errands done so I can leave tomorrow for a 3 day job, and I felt like we are all ok. I like us. We are all good people, flawed, no perfection in the group, but good. Good hearts. I felt like our struggles have made us authentic.....kind of like the Velveteen Rabbit story. We are rough around the edges, a little worn and threadbare, but we are real and we are approachable and we know how to love pretty darn good.

Then I have other days.....

I feel like we are a mess! Every one is depressed and I am fat again. The dad has ADD and only retains about a quarter of what we talk about. The house looks like a bomb went off in it most of the time, there is never enough time to do all that I want to do, we are just surviving, doing whatever it takes to keep our heads above water! But even in our messiness....we keep moving forward. I do have to give us that. We don't call into work, we don't slough off our responsibilities, we don't stay in our bed all day with the covers pulled over our day at a time, one step at a time, we keep moving forward.

No one warned me about real life! I honestly went into it thinking that if I did it all "right" and loved everyone enough, and didn't yell or hit or drink or do drugs, everything would be great! Back in the days when I was having babies, no one told me how risky it all really was. No one said, "They will break your heart. Their struggles will be excruciatingly painful to watch and you won't be able to step in and fix it. You get to watch and pray. You will dig down to your toes to find the strength to let go of them." No one told me that no matter how hard I tried, they each would have their own free will and do life their own way. No one told me that I would love them so much it would actually hurt! Yeah, no one is prepared for being a parent. I don't think anything anyone could have said could really have done all of the joys and the sorrows of parenthood justice. Plus, I probably wouldn't have listened. Back when I was 20 years old I of course knew everything! Ha!

Today however, is a pretty good day. The dad and I spent the day cleaning together. All of the kids seem to be ok for the moment. Big brother is getting situated in a new very intense work situation in a stinky state because its so humid but he seems to be handling it all pretty well. Molly is all moved back in and already posting embarrassing videos on FB of us. Little one is doing good. She is totally coming into her own little self, putting together quirky and interesting outfits and wearing bright red lipstick! She got her hair all cut off into a short little Anne Hathaway do....she just looks adorable! Like a little ginger pixie. She is working with the disabled kids at school and said, "I LOVED it!" She is never an effusive child about anything.....calm and steady are her middle names. So this was really monumental to hear from her. My girl is still out and about...staying where she can find a spot. She texts or calls everyday.....rarely asking for anything. I believe that where there is breath there is hope.

Praying for us all..... lets keep moving forward!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Brittany Maynard

Brittany Maynard was a beautiful young woman who was terminally ill and chose to end her own life.  Some will argue that she was endlessly courageous and some will view her decision as cowardly. I'm not here to say one way or the other....although if pushed I would lean toward courageous. It would take a certain amount of bravery to make a decision such as she made and then to actually follow through with it, leaving behind all that she knows and loves in this life. 

What I do want to talk about though is the opportunities we are given to embrace our process. I think there is a lot to be said for walking through a process, whatever it may entail, to the end result. I think that awful devastation can be used for good if we can open ourselves up to the process. We can find so much beauty there if we can accept our journey for what it is.  I have seen some beautiful things transpire at the end of life that would be missed out on altogether if we all decided to take matters into our own hands.

This is not a political post. I am not going to argue the right to choose or whether it is morally right or wrong. We could get into all sorts of grey areas....if one refuses chemotherapy because it will rob them of their quality of life are they in essence choosing to end their lives? I don't know....I know that there comes a time when each individual gets to say "enough" and allow nature to run its course. That is different than taking a deadly cocktail at the time we assume to be best though.

I have been privileged to walk with many families through to the end of the life of their loved one. I have watched families riddled with hurt and harsh words and actions, come together to care for the culprit of the hurt. I have watched that culprit soften and make amends. I have watched adult children and grand children rise to the occasion and take care of some of the most private needs of their loved ones.....and I have watched hearts change. To be the servant and to allow ones self to be served brings about healing and humility. It breaks down those hard walls that we erect to protect ourselves, it gives us an opportunity to be vulnerable, unprotected, and real. There is something so profoundly beautiful about walking with someone as they journey to the other side. If we can open our eyes and *see* the process for the gift it is.

I think that just as we walk through our journey's here with our adult children, we are taught to let go, to trust, to have faith in a power greater than ourselves and to embrace the process, whatever the outcome may be. We all have circumstances that are difficult and challenging and painful... but often good comes from the bad, when we can step back and allow it to unfold. We just don't know what changes, what awareness's and awakenings, could have happened in Brittany's parent's hearts, in her husband's heart, iin her own heart, because she took the opportunity away.

When one grasps at control, there is almost always fear. She took control and did it her own way. And that was certainly her right....but its counter to what we all work so hard at learning here on our journey's.....let go and let God. Surrender our will. Acceptance. It seems she usurped God's power and will in her life and took matters into her own hands, despite whatever plans He may have had for she and her family. When we choose to assert our will, God steps aside and allows us that freedom. I believe that His grace is sufficient for us....but just like the times I jump into action and use my best thinking and try to figure out the best solution....I end up robbing myself of God's perfect plan that would affect the bigger and more far reaching picture. My thinking is limited. Its finite, and when I am in control/figure-out mode, I am almost always afraid. Fear is not a good captain of my ship.

About a year ago I watched the documentary, "How to Die in Oregon." I can certainly understand *why* some would choose this and with my work it really made me think about how our care might be different if this was an option here in Ca. I have had many terminal patients, including my own mother, who had moments of wishing for a quick end, but those moments passed and they were able to be kept comfortable, and loved, and cared for until their end came naturally. Their deaths followed a natural rhythm until finally their lives had ended.

Below is a video of a family, Deidrea and T.K. Laux who found out at 20 weeks in utero that their son had trisomy 13....a genetic abnormality. They chose to allow the pregnancy to continue until its natural end and allow their son to live until his natural time of death. Its a beautiful yet heartbreaking tribute to acceptance of what we are given and walking courageously through to the end.

I know spiritually what I believe would be right for me. I know in my gut, which is how I make a lot of my big decisions, what would feel right for me. I am not judging Brittany's decision. For her it may have felt like it was the absolute right thing to do. I think that there is a lot to consider here though. Its taking control at the deepest and the very basic of levels.

This is just me processing this recent and very sad passing of a beautiful and intelligent young woman who obviously gave a lot of thought to her decision.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Addiction....the disease.

We say addiction is a disease. It is classified in the DSM as a disease with loads of scientific research to back up and verify the affects that addiction has on the human brain. We learn about the floods of dopamine brought on by meth use which when stopped makes the brain crave that chain of events over and over again to feed the need of more and more dopamine just to feel "normal" as it is being depleted by the lack of drug use....thus the vicious cycle of using and abusing has begun. We read about the detox from heroin, the muscle cramps, the sweating, the nausea, vomiting and dehydration, and how so many addicts can't bear to face it, especially when they know that relief is just one shot away.

We often compare addiction to cancer or diabetes.....but really, there is no comparison. If my child had cancer my friends would be bringing over dinners, offering rides, buying us gas cards.....but instead I hear silence. (And I understand that! This is just factual information, not a complaint.)  If my girl had cancer, we would not be in a position of banishing her from our home.....she would be snuggled in a bedroom with down comforters, and flowers on her night stand, and netflix on the tv. I would be making her healthy smoothies, and brushing her long hair and braiding it. I would be able to lay next to her and snuggle in while we read books together, I could watch her sleep. I would be assured that she was safe at home with us and her spirit wasn't being ravaged out in the world. I would be allowed and able to love her freely and take care of her like a mom wants to do for any sick child of her's. I wouldn't hope for an arrest or a serious illness where she needs to be hospitalized in the hopes that maybe, just maybe she will get help and this will be "THE" time.

When I have discussed this dynamic with my girl during healthy times she has said she doesn't agree with the disease model. She said, "I wasn't sick to begin with. I was depressed. I knew right from wrong and I chose to take that first drink. I chose to smoke that first bowl, and eventually I chose to stick a needle into my arm. I didn't start out sick, but I am sure sick now. Now I am diseased." She always takes full responsibility for where she is, which is almost harder, not almost, it is....harder than if she was screaming at me to go fuck myself.

We read of doctors heartless responses when addicts come into the emergency room. A story was recently shared about a young man in jail, left to die from an asthma attack in his cell because the guards assumed it was just him detoxing from heroin and ignored him. He died a slow agonizing death.

So where is the line that our children are still human beings and deserve to be treated as so despite their obvious character defects? I eat too much. Would that deem me unworthy to be treated like a human being? Some people shop too much, drink too much, play too many video games, watch too much TV, exercise too much, our defects can manifest in any and many ways....some more socially acceptable than others. We all on some level have the disease of "too much." We use a variety of behaviors to feel better, to mask, to escape, to avoid.....we all do it. Our kids just got caught up in a terrible and deadly cycle.

I can't change the way society views drug addicts. I can't change that we call addiction a disease but we as a society, shame addicts, we ridicule, judge and push them away from us in the name of boundaries and order to save ourselves. I am currently doing this last behavior! It doesn't make sense to me, but I know its necessary for my own sake, and the sake of the rest of my family. I hate that the world see's my girl as a worthless junky. I hate even more that she see's herself that way. I see her as someone who is sick but can always get better. Someone who holds limitless potential to use her experiences, both good and bad, to bring about change and to reach people. In my heart I keep feeling the urging to stay out of the way of the process....but I don't understand the process. It makes no sense....let go to receive back. Maybe that is faith.