Sunday, November 27, 2016

Im finally in the club!!

These two sweet things.......

Are bringing me this special little someone in July and turning me into a g-ma!
This feels so joyful and like something so very very good is happening in our family. These two are such neat people and will be such wonderful parents. Any of you who have shared this journey with me, who have been my co-travelers as we have navigated so much uncertainty and fear and hurt together, know what I am saying. This is just good. Happy, normal, life going on, and we are blessed.  

Hoping that Thanksgiving was peaceful for all....
I am savoring my down time and trying to protect it and keep it simple. 
Praying for us all.....
Annette

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Solitude vs. Isolation

I am pulling back these days. I have never been in this place before and I can only think that it is a tribute to the emotional health that I have been able to piece together through the years. I am a "never give up," "we don't quit," "I will forge on ahead even if it kills me," type of person.

However these days I just don't have it in me and I am finding that it's really very comforting, quite lovely actually, to step back and let others take over, and even....to care for me. I don't have to manage and be in charge or be participating in something that is useful every single moment of every single day.

Let me tell you that I am a doer. Doers, at least this is true of me, are afraid of being let down, so they do everything themselves. I should just speak for myself really, but I have a feeling, I might not be the only one and at the very least my true confession will let anyone else know they aren't alone. It is a little vestige of fear and control that I have not been able to let go of....and it all looked so nice. Lol I was the hero, the one who could do it all, who everyone could count on....until I wasn't. The problem with this is that we, I, rob other's of their chance to serve, to feel good for helping, to feel like they are a necessary part of something. It put me on top and you beneath. My need for this sort of affirmation has been so all encompassing that I have not been able to scoot over and make room for anyone else to be the hero, the shining star, the one that is needed.

The dad, bless his heart, has always just stepped aside and allowed me the freedom to pursue whatever I wanted, to fill this deep chasm of need that I have been compelled to fill...he was content for the most part to let me bull doze around doing a million things, while he played board games with the kids. My guess is that he was wiping his brow in relief that I knew enough to not seek all of that positive affirmation from him. My analytical, problem solver, linear thinker of a husband would have stared back at me, wide eyed, and wondered where to begin.

What me stepping back and acknowledging that I can't do it all, that I NEED help, that I NEED my family to rally around me for once, that I don't have the answers that we need....that maybe no one does and we just need to keep on moving forward doing the best we can....what this has given to me is a chance to rest and a chance for those I love to rise to the occasion. And they have. A hug here and there, a foot rub, a TV show chosen to share with me because they think I will like it (I NEVER watch TV and it's a source of pride with me that I do more useful things than zone out watching TV... I can really be awful,) a text saying that they love me, help around the house, help with all the driving we do, help with cooking and cleaning, taking over some of my responsibilities so that I can just be.

I have stepped away from some volunteer positions for a minute, I left Facebook for the holidays....a friend once called me "The Mayor of FB land." Not funny. I feel the need to focus on the here and now, the concrete of my daily life, be present in today with those closest to me. I'm keeping our holidays simple. They are an incredibly challenging time for me. I knew that watching everyone's "perfect" holiday FB moments played out over my iPad screen would be too painful this year, so I walked away until after the new year.

Not to mention all of the election awfulness going back and forth. For the record, I didn't vote for either of our top candidates so I knew that my "by default" pick wasn't going to win....but I couldn't in good conscience in all of my glorious freedom vote for either one. So for today I feel that we all need to live by being true to who we are, in love and kindness with one another, and let's see how things play out. I know.....simplistic. But it's all I have right now. If we all conduct ourselves in love and care for our fellow children of God, how can we go wrong?

So if I'm not around for awhile, you will know that I am just resting. Trying to take it slow. Trying to get through the holidays with some joy and a semblance of sanity. I am reachable through email though....Lv4gves@comcast.net Thank you to those of you who have reached out and checked in. That has meant so much to me.

Bless us all. May each of you, my readers and friends, find your way to peace and good will toward all men. Much love to all.....
Annette


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Still kicking.....

I'm still alive! Some of you have emailed me to see if all is ok.....which is so very sweet and makes me feel good. I'm just super busy. I will try to write soon. In the mean time here is an old post, written several years ago, that some one recently referenced in the comments... I see a continuous theme through my years of blogging. I am always "busy." There is something to that I am sure, but I am too busy to figure it out right now.
Love to all......I will be back soon. I miss being here. 
Annette

Hinds Feet On High Places

Life has been stress-fully busy lately. I have been to 2 meetings in the past 4 weeks...both I was incredibly grateful for. At one a sheriff came to the door and stood there looking in. My heart took off racing and I began to feel sick. Someone asked him what he needed and he was looking for someone inside the church where the meeting meets. I asked if that had produced anxiety for anyone else...every mom in the room nodded their heads. It was like an immediate anxiety attack or post traumatic stress reaction. It just showed me that inside me is a deep well of a lot of emotion, fear and feelings that are all still there. I have learned to live above them and they don't rule my life anymore, but given the right circumstances they can still be triggered and rear their ugly heads. 

The second meeting was a parent meeting and the topic was on the 3 C's. I have heard lots of meetings on the 3 C's before, but this mom shared on the 3rd C...she didn't cause it. She talked about all of her "if only's"...if only she hadn't worked, if only he had gone to private school, if only she had been more strict, if only they hadn't lived in an affluent neighborhood, if only she had homeschooled him, if only he hadn't been an only child. She said she learned that to each of her "if only's" she knew someone who had done the opposite but was still in the same boat as she was. Amen Sister. It just happens. 

I had a counselor explain it to me this way as I went on and on about all that I had done wrong as a mom...."If you think its your fault then you have some hope that you can change something to make it better. If its not your fault, you have no control over the situation. Its almost easier to bear the responsibility of it being your fault and having hope of change, then to acknowledge it was nothing you did or didn't do and be forced to acknowledge your powerlessness."

At that same meeting I heard a mom say that she wouldn't share her son's story because that was his to share. She could only share her's. That resonated with me and reaffirmed my goal to keep the focus on myself. I only have charge over my own recovery.

Lastly, I am reading an old book that has been one of my favorites for 30 years, with one of my clients. It is called Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It is a Christian book, an allegory, about our journey with the Shepherd to the High Places. Not as in dying and going to heaven.....but while alive and the suffering we encounter and how as we make our way through each obstacle we become stronger, more filled with compassion, gratitude, and more surrendered to our Shepherd's will for us. Below is an excerpt from the preface that was very meaningful to me. Feel free to exchange Christ's name with Higher Power if that makes it more palatable: 

From Hinds Feet on High Places pg 11-12
But the High Places of victory and union with Christ cannot be reached by any mental reckoning of self to be dead to sin, or by seeking to devise some way or discipline by which the will can be crucified. The only way is by learning to accept, day by day, the actual conditions and tests permitted by God, by a continually repeated laying down of our own will and acceptance of his as it is presented to us in the form of the people with whom we have to live and work, and in the things which happen to us. Every acceptance of his will becomes an altar of sacrafice, and every such surrender and abandonment of ourselves to his will is a means of furthering us on the way to the High Places to which he desires to bring every child of his while they are still living on earth.

The lessons of accepting and triumphing over evil, of becoming acquainted with grief, and pain, and ultimately, of finding them transformed into something incomparably precious; of learning through constant glad surrender to know the Lord of Love himself in a new way and to experience unbroken union with him-these are the lessons of the allegory in this book.~

I know that in my journey in recovery I have often found myself at a point of such deep gratitude for the journey we have been on. Sadness, heartbreak, fear, and all that it has included this far, because it stripped away all of the yuk. All of the facades of trying to look better than we were. It brought us down to the bare soul of who we are, where we are. It was real. We get to look head-on at the good and the bad of who we are and deal with it accordingly. Through this journey I have found a loving God, a God that accepts me unconditionally and loves me despite my imperfections and mistakes. I don't know how I would manage if I hadn't found Him along the way. 

Continuing on my journey just for today, because today is all I have. 
Annette



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Seeing more clearly today....maybe

I am feeling better today. ( Mood swings anyone?)

A few things happened.....I have had two entire days off, I got to meet a friend for lunch, and another for coffee, I have gotten to cook and bake, I filled my bird feeders, little one and I walked the dogs and let them play in the lake. I went to a wonderful meeting where I heard what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it...the topic was concept 8. 

"The Board of Trustees Delegates Full Authority for Routine Management of Al-Anon Headquarters to its Executive Committees. " 

Who goes to meetings on the concepts?! Lol It just happened to be what we were talking about though and while that particular concept isn't what resonated with me.....it was all of my faithful co-travelers comments that poured over me like cool water on a blistering hot summer day. It led to a lot of discussion about control issues, and *delegating* responsibility, our own self-importance that we can't allow anyone to do anything without our involvement or oversight. I slip back into that space sometimes, especially when I am feeling a little fearful. A lot fearful. The strange thing is that the more I manage and control, the more afraid I become. The more I let go and trust the process (and my kind and gentle HP) the more calm and at peace I feel.

My trigger this time was helping my girl to make the appointment to file for SSI. We have put this off for years, hoping, believing, that she will get better. We haven't wanted to admit or accept that it might *need* to go this way. We have in no way wanted to convey to her that this is it, there is no hope for more or better living, that she is irreparably broken. As we filled out the volumes of paperwork, that she needed extensive help with filling out and getting back in the mail within the required time frame, it was like a slap across the face. What we have allowed to be our norm, accepted, was made glaringly apparent by this process, how limited she really is. We hang onto the idea that it's a stepping stone, a bridge, to something more. 

You know in this journey of addicted kids and mentally ill kids, there is a grieving process. I have gone through it at different stages as things evolved and changed through the years and I have had to let go of how I thought things would be....this was just another level of that. A much deeper, guttural, level. This is NEVER in my wildest nightmares what I envisioned as part of my mothering journey. 

I think the above, the aftermath lull of the wonderful wedding weekend, the political sh*t that is being flung all over our every waking moment, that our country has been reduced to these two choices as our fearless leaders, the God-awful videos of overdosing addicts and the observers laughing and saying such cruel things and *videotaping* rather than offering help....I feel like I am living in a world that has gone crazy and its weighing on me. All of it. It's oppressive, scary, and it all, every dot and tittle is.....OUT OF MY CONTROL. All I can do for today is fill my house with the wonderful smell of roasted vegetables and potroast cooking, listen as my little one practices her Japanese....she asked me to help her to make up flash cards. What a simple joy. One of my kids needs me, is requesting my involvement for something as simple as making up flash cards! THAT I can do. After Canada's ruling to not allow bully breeds and to euthanize all pit bulls we are studying breed discrimination and she is writing an opinion piece later today after we watch the movie Beyond The Myth. I can savor THESE moments, I can trust that God has a plan...even when I don't understand it or see it. It's there and I can trust and believe in its wisdom and perfection and not concern myself with having to figure everything out. 

Thank you for all of the very kind comments. You all are my people! I know that some of you are right here with me, you get this like many other's can't. Just know that I appreciate your words so so very much. 
Always praying....
Annette

My big boy "Jake" who would be illegal in Canada. The sweetest goofiest protector of all.
                  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Co-occurring disorders

This month marks one year since I spent the day with my girl for her birthday and realized in a very conscious way that if someone didn't intervene, she would probably not survive another year as she was. She was in such bad physical shape. I offered a therapist, an olive branch, an open door for her to go through that would lead out and away from her toxic existence. 

So what happens when the drug use is drastically reduced, but they aren't really getting better? We've had several months of "near" abstinent sobriety....but she remains frozen, paralyzed in her abilities to cope, to head out into the world and create a semblance of a life for herself. Very minimal progress in the realm of life building, but significant progress in changing her substance use. 

I will be honest....this scares me. 

How long will this take? Am I just being impatient? Will it get better? We are only getting older. Maybe time will make things better....but that has not been the case in the past. 

Every bout of sobriety is like this for her. She does not get sober and feel release and free and hopeful. She feels miserable, frozen, uncomfortable in her own skin, and afraid. I totally get that early sobriety is fragile and painful and uncomfortable. I know this... But can she stay sober long enough to get past the discomfort? I don't know. I just don't know. Can she ever get past the discomfort? 

Mental health care in America for the uninsured is non-existent. Mental health care for people WITH insurance is terribly lacking. I am not feeling hopeful for our future today. The dad's and mine and our girl's. I'm sure things will get better, more progress will happen. It has to. I can't fathom it not. The eternal optimist has hit a speed bump and it's thrown me head over heels catapulting down our pathway. 

Pray for me. 
Annette 

PS: Things I'm doing to take care of myself:
1. Raising my antidepressant 10 mg! 
2. Going for a walk today with my big dog Jake to look at the fall colors all around where I live. 
3. Reading a real book.
4. I bought my favorite custom scented lotion.
5. Praying. 


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

"The Wedding"

I think most of my readers are friends with me on FB so you have seen my inundation of photos. It ended up being a wonderful weekend that included so many dynamics and things to think about. For me at least.....I think the dad, while so very happy with everything, would say, "What? We went to our son's wedding and then we came home." Lol  While I have to dissect everything and look at it from every angle.

So first things first.....I was able to wear my first and smallest dress purchase, the dress I really wanted to wear, and be totally comfortable also. I forgot my wedding sandals and had to wear my Oofos flip flops....but my dress was long, so who cares.

Everything was beautiful. The venue, the feelings, I had all four of my children there with me and all were committed to each other and being supportive of one another where they were at. It was one of those wonderful "mom moments." The succulents that my girl had spent months propagating were a big hit for the wedding favors. The flowers that my wonderfully eccentric florist friend had put together and sent up with us were exquisite. Eucalyptus garlands for the arch and the head table, flower center pieces, that we set out on top of the wooden rounds that the dad had cut from our fallen trees, surrounded by candles and more eucalyptus. It was truly stunning.

Miraculously, I had no anxiety about the flow of alcohol. My long time readers will remember the wedding I went to three years ago that triggered some God-awful reaction of panic and crying for days and days after the event. It just touched something in me and it took me a long time to recover from it. I went into this "wedding of all weddings" feeling quite nervous about it all... I DID NOT want to lose it at my son's wedding. I wondered to the dad if that part of my heart has healed, or am I just numb after all of these years of substance infused events. My son, bless his heart checked in with me several times..."You doing ok mom?"

My girl. My girl did well. It was uncomfortable on some levels, but she worked her way through it. There were several old childhood friends there that she got to re-connect with. I think it was enjoyable, but I think too that it probably posed some challenges. They have all moved on, graduated from college, have careers. And she doesn't.

So while the weekend was a success, it was the thing we had all been anticipating and working toward, creating plans on how to successfully navigate and take care of ourselves and our own unique needs in the middle of a crowded and busy weekend. Once back at home, there was the natural lull,, the let down, and my girl had her old boyfriend pick her up. It's disappointing, unfortunate, but not totally unexpected. I am viewing these things as "bumps in the road." We will see how it all plays out.

I appreciated the dad so so very much this weekend. I watched him walk around talking to everyone and socializing. Even when some guests were so obnoxiously drunk he was friendly and didn't treat them any differently. That would have been a challenge for me.....drunken slurred affection makes my skin crawl. He gave his toast and he was funny and sweet. I just thought of how reliable he is. I trust him completely and I can count on him for anything. After we got back to our room I said, "I'm so glad that you are my husband." He said, "I'm SO glad that you are my wife too! That was wild out there!" LOL

Overall, it was a wonderful bonding healing time for all of us. Not without its bumps, but all was navigated in kindness and calm. Thank you to those of you who reached out to me through text and private message to let me know I was in your prayers. There are no words for how much that meant to me. I was surrounded by care and I could feel it. 

And did I mention that I got to wear my smaller dress?! 😉
Love, 
The "MOG" (mother of the groom) 







Monday, September 5, 2016

Wait for the Miracle

In my Alanon program we have a saying, "Wait for the miracle." Hang on, don't give up, keep coming back... Until you begin to live out your miracle. It really does happen too. It's amazing and the word "miraculous" is the absolute best there is to describe it. 

I am working with a woman right now, who is about 20 years older than I am. I am writing about this with her permission. The first time I met this woman was at a meeting. She came in with the perfect colors on for her skin and hair and was so well put together and lovely. She has a big warm smile and oozes warmth, and care and confidence. I just loved her from that first moment. She is one of those people that you are immediately comfortable with. 

About a year after attending our weekly meeting together, she asked me if I would be her sponsor. I was honored. We set off on our journey of working through the 12 steps together. She has shared her heart with me, so bravely, so boldly....each week she has journaled and worked through questions that we have discussed, she has faced some difficult painful memories and deep hurts that have affected her for many years...with such courage and willingness to examine them from every angle. She forges on ahead to her place of freedom. 

As we walk together on this journey of the spirit, as we drink coffee and talk, and often cry....because this stuff just makes us do that, I can see the changes taking place. I watch the healing flow through her, over her, to all of those dark and hurting places....and I listen as she tells me she feels different. She is doing life differently, she feels better, lighter, free, she has options today that she didn't know were available to her before working her program. I am watching the miracle unfold. 

I have been allowed to watch these beautiful transformations take place for many women through my years in Alanon. What an incredible blessing to me. To be able to walk with another, to get to witness a woman finding her freedom after many years of external and internal oppression that she felt there were no answers for. It always starts the same... Broken, in pain, hurting, feeling lost with no options, hopeless. As we begin to meet week after week and talk about what we can control, what we can't, and what to do with the issues and people that we carry in our heart that we have no power to change or heal...I watch them begin to smile more, we laugh more, there is hope in her voice. They aren't alone with their pain and fear anymore. 

I recently met with a second sponsee who is also quite a bit older than myself and she is so surprised at "the miracle" that is unfolding in her life. She is doing some very hard work, looking inside at what has tripped her up for a very long time, and making different choices today. I love hearing her talk about it and watching her face as she talks about how unexpected it all is to really feel better and hopeful. 

What these women give to me is invaluable. They show me that it is never too late to find a new way to do life. A new way to be whole and healthy and happy and at peace with one's self. I receive so much joy in watching their lives unfold. I get to live out the miracle of sponsorship and the 12 steps. What an honor to be allowed to accompany a sister on her journey to serenity and peace. 

I too experienced my own miracle and someone, bless her heart, walked me through those early years. I can assure you that sponsoring me was not for the faint of heart either! I was given solutions to problems that I thought would plague me forever. I spent so many years being angry and hurt and afraid...but desperately doing everything I could to camouflage my character defects, to not let anyone see. I have been given the courage to live an authentic life, free from any cover-ups, from shame, from hiding....I get to stand free in all of my imperfect glory, knowing that I am a work in progress and that its ok. The icing on the cake is getting to share that with other women. Being able to say "me too" when they share their hearts with me. 

It's all this beautiful circle of service...someone gently took me under their wing and shared life with me, now I do it for other women and continue to find my own healing in the process. Eventuall they too will one day offer their presence for other women and they will find even more miracles through that process. Don't ever underestimate the power of an extended hand to a hurting soul. For both parties. 

Bless us all....we keep walking forward, even when it's scary and painful and uncomfortable. Eventually we discover that we have been walking out our very own personal miraculous healing. Just for today. 

Much much love....
Annette

PS: "The wedding" is 12 days away. Did I mention I bought a bigger dress? LOL Little one tried cinching me up in some form of elastic that was supposed to be flattering and said, "Oh Mom, just buy the next size up! You want to be comfortable for this day!" So I did.