Thursday, July 21, 2016

It's a process

Recently Little One and I had a visit with her counselor. The counselor gave us each a form to fill out and explained that at each visit we would have to now fill these out, stating what Little One's moods have been and how life in general is going for she and our family. This is a gigantic HMO so this information will be entered into a computer somewhere and on the other end will come out a graph sharing the gathered information and whether statistically the "treatment" is in essence, working or not. 

Anyone who has read here for a minute knows I loathe this stuff. I loathe anything that turns human beings into numbers on a page, that glops them all together into a big mass, I am not a joiner, and I want each human being to be recognized as the stark raving beautiful individual that they are, taking into consideration their own time tables and their own processes. 

I took the paper and said to the counselor who I adore (I swear she and I would be such good friends outside of her office if that was allowed....) 

"Well you know, we are all just people. We have ups and downs and that is just a normal part of life. I don't think that those types of good days and bad days can be used to judge whether treatment is working or not. We aren't machines that get programmed." 

She gets it, I'm preaching to the choir with her....but it's a necessary part of her job, to pass those papers out to appease the huge healthcare conglomeration. 

So in relation to the elements of addiction and mental health issues that hover all around my life....like with Little One and her work on her depression, recovery is a process. It's a life journey of ups and downs, good days and bad days. 

What I was taught early on was that sobriety was a one time decision and anything less was a failure. What I have learned all of these years into the process, is that maybe that isn't true for everyone. Maybe it's a cumulative process of putting together good days until eventually they begin to out number the bad days. When I look back to October at "my girl's" 27th birthday which was such a hard day, filled with the realization of what bad shape she was in, which prompted me to offer a hand once again....and then I look at where we are today, there are a lot more good days than bad days. It's not perfect sobriety. But it's so much better. We share so many good moments today. I have to acknowledge that maybe this will be as good as it gets for her. Maybe not....people get well, God performs miracles, everyday. But if this is it, I am going to enjoy every good moment I can along this journey with her.

I am not going to judge whether she "wants it enough," I am going to accept her efforts as enough for today. Just like God does for me. I am loved and accepted right where I am at this moment, flaws and character defects and all and we continue to walk together to figure out the next best step to take. 

God bless us all in all of our beautiful need for Him. 
Annette

My girl keeps a fresh vase of her home grown flowers on my window sill every few days. It does my heart so good. It's one of the good moments. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Willingness.....

Someone recently asked me how we stay connected, carry out our boundaries, and not have someone's addiction affect our life.

The simple answer is that that is impossible. 

I've thought about this conversation over the past few days and what I have come up with is that none of us are entitled to a life of smooth sailing. Very few of us receive it either...LOL but our response is up to us. There are parents of children born with birth defects, or whose children get cancer at a young age, or have an accident that changes everything for them all, or families that walk through financial devastation, or a natural disaster, and there are families who are struck with addiction. 

Life is messy and unpredictable and there are no guarantees that all will turn out the way we hope and plan. Our lives will be affected by so many things. Good things and awful things.  That is what living is about. We have people in our lives who are unhealthy. Do we reject, push away, cut off contact because they are dysfunctional in some way? Or do we decide what and how much we are able to give, what connection we can manage, how much time we can give to this person and we proceed in love and gentleness to hand our offerings over to them, with no expectation of a response or a change. We give it as a free gift, simply because these people are God's children too.  Just like each of us. 

I suggested to my friend that they pray for willingness to give whatever they are called to give. We are only called to be willing. Nothing more. We don't have to figure out our part, or their part, or what's next.....just be willing to do what is put in front of us to do. 

Make me willing Lord, to serve the least of these. The ones who don't live according to my rules and expectations. Help me to see them through your eyes. Help me to look beyond the exterior appearances, beneath the surface, the seemingly ungrateful replies, and help me to love unconditionally." 

Praying for this too, each day. 
Annette

Friday, July 8, 2016

Our Broken World.

We live in a broken world today. I know that many say it's always been this way. That it's the media and technology that brings it all right into our laps, so that we can now watch tragedy unfold in real time before us. Maybe so, but what I know is that the days feel very dark and sad and oppressive. I know that many of us feel the need to battle in our minds and hearts, the negativity and the fear that we feel and it's a lot of work, and it feels like it's becoming harder and harder to keep ahead of the darkness.

I usually stay away from posting anything political or big world news, because it seems I never have all of the facts and somehow I botch it up. Lol But today there are no sides to take. We are losing lives. Black, white, blue, yellow, brown, male, female, young, old, addicted or not, homeless or not. Someone somewhere will decide they don't like another group and they will set out to do harm. Serious, mind boggling, bodily harm. What has happened to us? 

We are a nation filled with many wounded, angry, unforgiving, people. Our first responders are afraid to do their jobs. Various races are afraid of the judgements made against them as a whole and the possibility of attack based on a perceived religion, or belief system that may or may not be true. 

All I know is that every life does matter. This world is filled up to its brim with children of God. Some humbly understand that concept and some do not. My job on this earth is to be a light of His love and grace and forgiveness. 

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34

My heart is broken today. Please pray for our world, our nation, for the families in Dallas TX affected by this unfathomable violence, for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Please pray with me for peace. 

Annette

"Being against evil doesn't make you good. Tonight I was against it and then I was evil myself. I could feel it coming just like a tide...I just want to destroy them. But when you start taking pleasure in it you are awfully close to the thing you're fighting."
                                                                        ~Ernest Hemingway 



Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Radical Acceptance

I feel like I am on the cusp of learning a monumental life changing God concept. It's like a little bird is nipping away at the edges of the shell surrounding this truth in my heart and soon it's going to burst open. Some days I fight it...I waffle back into my ideas of what enabling is and what I "deserve" in my middle years (if I live to be 104 lol) ... Peace, calm, financial stability. I think about the boundaries that I "must" set. And we must....of course. Life is filled with boundaries and limits, but those things don't need to be harsh, punitive, alienating, a negative.....a fortress. It is often such a fine line, but quite literally in my situation, lives are at stake. So how do we, or I, keep loving, keep connected, keep positive in the midst of active disease and dysfunction?

A friend shared this blog post on Facebook and while it is not about addiction....it could be. It is about a precious little one who is different. Who at the core of who she is is not part of what her parents planned on. Like us, they grieve the loss of the idea of the girl they would have and they celebrate the girl they have been given.

This post that I linked you to above, speaks of a village named Geel, in Belgium...where the families of Geel take into their homes mentally ill patients as boarders to live with them. They share family life with them. The town got the nickname, "Paradise for the Insane." You will need to read the post for the full story...this type of acceptance always strikes me as so beautiful. It shakes me up inside.

We spoke the other night in a meeting about the blessing of being able to "come as we are." Again, acceptance of us in our most broken places. We can come as we are. Not perfect. Not cleaned up, leaves in our hair, dirt under our nails, stinking of the night before, hearts broken, and find acceptance in these rooms of recovery.

What if those in our lives who suffer from addiction, never get well? Is my acceptance pending on the "getting well" factor? "Once you are off drugs and living a responsible life, THEN and only then will you receive my approval and my acceptance of who you are. Just typing that nauseates me. Is that how God feels about each of us? I believe that we are each God's child. I know that at that moment when I felt His acceptance of me, when I felt like I least deserved it, when I was at my lowest and felt that I had failed at everything and anything that had ever been important to me...it was that exact moment  that changed the very core of who I was. Who I am. Feeling accepted, part of, loved, changed me. Acceptance didn't enable me to be perfect or whole....but it did give me the courage to venture out and try to do things differently.

I am in no way insinuating that if we accept our addicted kids enough then...Ta da...they will become healthy! What I am insinuating though is that their sobriety is their process. Can we accept them without judgement, as they walk it out? Or not? Can we set up a safe relationship with the actively addicted? If they refuse to participate, can we continue to extend a hand of love and care with no expectation for response? A text that says, "I think about you a lot. You are not forgotten." "You are in my heart today." Sometimes I tell my girl stories from her childhood...happy ones, when she was just my little sweet red haired girl, who was so kind to other children in her own quiet peaceful way. She listens quietly and smiles. I miss that child. So so much. I'm sure she does too.

I just know that acceptance is crucial to any of us finding peace. Acceptance of each other with the good and the bad and the ugly and the stinky, and acceptance of the imperfect lives we have been given.

I want to find ways to implement radical acceptance in my life and in my relationships with others. God show me how. Show me the way. Open the door in my heart so that I can love as you do.

Always praying for us all.....
Annette

Friday, July 1, 2016

Letting go of Tough Love....an article.

A friend shared this article with me on letting go of tough love. It articulately explains exactly where I am at. After years of willing myself to dole out the principles of tough love, and having it not work, I have come around to a different place. The principles of CRAFT and Alanon, and my faith have brought me into a new place that I am grateful to be in, that feels true to my heart and my conscience.

Recently in a meeting a newcomer dad shared that he texted his daughter messages and scriptures. "Is that ok?" he asked. Several in the room shared, but what struck me was that none of those sharing had walked in his shoes, or even a similar walk, none had a child "qualifier." There was talk about enabling, letting go, taking care of one's self.....all was good information, but did not come from a place of implementing those tools with their offspring. This dad, this broken hearted man, asking if it was ok to reach out to his broken and lost child... Doing what any kind human being would do. Finally it was my turn to share..."I hear you and I too am living what you are right now. I will just say that acts of kindness are not enabling. Sending a kind text message letting her know that you have not given up on her, is not enabling. Feeding your hungry child is not enabling. Being respectful and gentle is not enabling. Kindness is not condoning."  I hope he comes back. It's all so confusing in the beginning, and there are so many opinions.

On to other topics......I have been home all day. It's been so nice. I changed our sheets, am doing laundry, am drinking coffee with cream and blogging at the table, while Molly sits next to me working on resumes for some of her clients in her job developer position, with 4 of the 6 dogs laying around our feet. Little One is still in Louisiana for another week. I am missing my sweet girl, but know she is in good hands. 

Yesterday my son, my first born, turned 30! I have a 30 year old adult child. He said, "I still feel 21!" I told him I didn't think it was a good idea to broadcast that. Lol I reminded him of the day of his birth and how he was the first one to teach me what it meant to love someone more than myself. How in love I was from the very first minute I laid eyes on him. I was 21 and thought I knew everything. I was in for a shock! If I only knew then what I know now. I immediately started eating fresh vegetables and being aware of protein because the fullness of needing my breast milk to be the very best, the most nourishing that it could be, became very real to me as I watched this sweet little baby boy seek out his nourishment from my body. Oh gosh, we had so much to figure out. He cried in his crib and I tried the "cry it out" method but I was miserable, crying outside his door. We both were in tears. Finally the dad came up behind me and said, "Who said we HAVE to do it this way?" That was all it took.....I went and got him and wiped up his snotty tear covered face and he slept with us and we were all at peace. No more hysterics, no more missing out on sleep, we got to wake up to a happy baby beside us...thank god for my hubs who is rational when I get stuck on something. "The book says....." LOL 

Praying for us always. 
Annette



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Self Love

You all know I have been slightly obsessive over the wedding and what I will wear and what I will look like...and generally just feeling insecure and not good about the way I look. Because THAT is super important in the big picture. Not really.

I am blessed to have several people who took the time to write to me and (shake me by the shoulders) help me to look at the reality of it all...what I am actually doing when I talk about my "fat dress" and my "back fat" and "I just need to lose a couple inches from...all over and THEN I will be ok." 

One in particular is a very long time real life friend. We have travelled many familial roads together, she and I. She knows me inside and out and what she wrote brought me to tears. I asked her if I could share some of it here....because it made me think of not just my fat jokes and my poor perceptions but it made me think of the ways that we all struggle with something. If not fat, then we are shy, addicted, not athletic enough, not pretty enough, not ambitious enough, not fast enough, too fast, boring, not funny enough, we wear glasses, have crooked teeth, we weren't a good enough parent... We were never perfect enough. 

***Dear friendI feel moved to share something with you which I experience from time to time, namely how we as human beings denigrate ourselves. Regularly. Caustically. Ongoingly.***

When she sent me her email and I responded, it occurred to me why I do, and probably why most of us do what we do. Why we denigrate ourselves and judge ourselves more harshly than we would EVER judge another in our lives...if we say it first, it won't hurt as much when it is noticed by someone on the "outside." I am trying to stay one step ahead of the potential hurt. Good Lord....how did I get here? Well it's been a lifetime of events I can assure you.....as I am sure it has been for so many of us who find ourselves in this place of "beating others to the punch." 

I began thinking of what my girls are hearing and learning from me. My girls, my most beautiful, kind, strong, authentic girls... Am I teaching them to loathe their flaws? To hate aspects of their miraculous selves? 

What about unconditional love? Where does that come into play? Because if you have been reading here for even a minute you know that I have been being brought into this understanding, this knowledge deep in my heart, of what unconditional love is, where it is birthed from, and how to implement it in my life with those around me....but is it not for myself too? 

Unconditional love and acceptance is available for all of us, without stipulations and requirements. It just is there for us. A gift from God, that he fills me up with, so I can share with others, but I need to add myself to that list! And maybe you do too.... Maybe this will be something we can work on. Looking at ourselves more gently. Giving ourselves a break for not being perfect. Accepting that our efforts at life are "good enough." Knowing that today I will choose healthy foods to nourish my body so that I can be healthy and strong. (It is taking all of my restraint to not make a fat joke or a reference to my upper arm jiggle right now!!!!) LOL 

                                                                                                                                                             ***And it hurts, a lot, to hear her say or write self-critical things about herself, even though they may              be delivered in a “light-hearted” manner.  I don’t think my wonderful friend would talk about another friend the way she, at times, refers to herself. And she would never apply the “F" word to any friend of hers, and I don’t mean fuck. The “F” word is such a deep subject for so many of us, especially women, that perhaps we don’t discuss it, we don’t get near each other’s body-image issues, we joke around about what is not funny, and especially, not trueWe often feel very sad, and very protective, about this issue as it shows up in our circle of beloved friends and family, and as it shows up in our own lives. If I could have my wish in all of this, I would wish that when my lovely, dearest friend, or I, or anyone takes a long look in the mirror, when she puts on the dress, when she does any number of the many, many positive things she does, that she sees what an amazingly beautiful, lovely, accomplished, and strong woman she is, in the body she is in. That she would feel good in her beautiful dress on her beautiful day and not feel self-conscious, because it is her day too. That she would revel in herself as she revels in all that is around her on that day.  And finally, that she would embrace herself and her absolutely perfect body that gave amazing birth to the outstanding son in whose honor she wears her lovely dress in the first place.

I love you Annette.***


Just for today, let's say we are enough. We are exactly where we need to be, where we belong, in the process that is ours to journey through and find our way to all of the many blessings of self love and approval and acceptance that are available to us, to take and hold and possess as our own. No matter how big or little we are or if our gray roots are showing or if we are uncomfortable in our own skin because we are working on letting down our old walls of protection and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable to the world around us. Just for today....and then maybe if today felt good, we can allow ourselves to do it again tomorrow. 

Bless us all with courage to forge on ahead and dare to love ourselves right where we are at. 

Annette


Friday, June 24, 2016

Thanks to my fellow bloggers.....you matter! Each of you!

Thursday was an absolutely horrible day. One of the worst I have had in a very long time. I ended up leaving and crying and shopping and crying and texting and crying and mulling over all of the ways that I was justified in being so upset. Then I went back home and went to bed.

Friday was a fresh start.... On our drive to the clinic my girl read out loud to me from some of my blogger family's posts, bugerlugs63 and Mark Goodson's post Spirits. As I listened I could feel that she felt understood. You were describing aspects of her life, but you have never met her. It was a bridge for us, after a rough week, and my gratitude was incredibly deep. I threw the idea out there that she could blog too. Her concern was that she wouldn't follow through, she wouldn't write frequently enough... I said, "Who cares?! Write when you feel like writing. It would be your spot to say what you want. Whenever you want. No musts or have to's."

As hard as I thought "letting go" was, it was nothing compared to standing by and watching someone you love start and stop and start and stop and struggle and be so uncomfortable, be so torn and conflicted about wanting sobriety but knowing how much easier it is to just keep using. But it's not. But it is.

And all I can do is stand by and love her. I can't fix it....how many times have I typed those words here? Hundreds of times I am certain. Once again I am having to acknowledge my propensity to barge into other's business and try to control things and create certain outcomes that I think are best. MY character defects of codependency and control are insidious and slip in through the tiniest crack in my reserve to stand back. 

I have been mad this past week. Mad that it takes so long, mad that it's not a straight shot to health and wholeness, mad that it's not cut and dried and mad that this might be as good as it gets. There may be good times of sobriety, but there are no guarantees, especially when it comes to heroin.....of life-long sustained sobriety. 

So what I have for today is what I have. I live in a beautiful place, I have a husband pounding away outside building a new deck for us, I have freedom to do what I want when I want, I can choose to live a simple life filled with hiking and times to think and pray and write, I have a son getting married soon and that will be a fun time (even if it kills me LOL) ...OR I can choose to obsess, future trip on what might happen, how things might go, will there be enough money to sustain all of our commitments, will my feet hold out until my old age, all of the work it will take to ever downsize from this house...I have ADHD of the mind, I swear! Yesterday I chose to live in the moment, to mind my OWN business, I played cards with an 11 year old little friend...and I felt so much better. 

It is a lot of work to maintain a connection with someone who is so stuck in addiction, anyone, not just my girl. To enforce my limits and boundaries in love, without alienating or shaming, to feel the feelings of sadness, hope, love, to be present and not avoid, numb or hide from what this feels like. For me, the alternative isn't an option anymore...but looking back I can tell you it was easier. It didn't seem like it at the time, but it was. 

God is my strength.... I found this in a little shop the other day during one of my meltdowns. It is now hanging in my office. It was God saying, "I see you, you aren't alone. Keep going, you are doing fine and I am right here with you." Thank all of you for walking with me too.....you have no idea how much it means to me be in touch with so many of you. You bless me!❤️ 
Annette