Sunday, June 28, 2015

I lost a dear friend

My dear friend, one of the first people I met in Alanon, passed away on June 14. She was 81 years old. That first night that I walked into my very first meeting, I was so devastated, so heartbroken... and there she was, smiling and welcoming me in. She hugged me as I cried and told me to keep coming back. She is who asked me at that first meeting, "Just for tonight, can you put your girl into God's hands and let Him take care of her? Give yourself a rest for tonight. Tomorrow you can start fresh and do it again if it was helpful tonight." There was no pressure, no telling me what to do.....just loving suggestions of things that had worked for her as she came to a place of having to let go of her own son.

This kind gentle woman taught me to "wait for the question," to not assume I knew best and jump in to rescue and fix.  To not slip a mattress under our kids to soften the landing, that loving is not condoning, that some things we do for ourselves.....like pay for cell phones or an occasional hotel room....and that is ok. She taught me to say, "Let me think about that. I will call you back in 20 minutes," before making a decision when called by my girl during a crisis. She was a living picture of detaching with love and kindness and preserving our kids dignity....just because it was the right thing to do. She taught me to let things play out, to see how things unfold, to wait, to be patient, to not force solutions. She taught me to dig in and find some courage I didn't know I had...because as a mom, when it looks like your child is heading over a cliff, it is very frightening to "wait" and to "let things unfold." However, in time, I experienced for myself the peace of the program that emanated from her.  
This sweet woman changed my life. I, along with many many others, feel that God gave her to us each personally, as a gift, as someone who would share His love and acceptance with each of us on a personal level.

As I was leaving the memorial service today, I ran into an old friend who I haven't seen in several years. She has always had a tremendous faith and particular ideas on how things should be or not be. Today she told me that God had been speaking to her heart about not viewing her kids with her own eyes...."but instead you sit up here on my lap and look at them from my perspective, see what I see."

Its no accident that I would hear those words at this particular friends memorial service. It made me think of how God see's things in all of us that we aren't able to see in each other. He see's hearts and motivations, the broken places, and He loves us all right there. Just the thought of being a fly on the wall and watching my kids from afar, without having any agenda or identity associated to what I am watching, what would I see if I could drop all of my fears of "what will others think?" or "is this somehow my fault?" or "why won't they listen to me?"

What does God see when He looks at us?

I love you and will miss you beyond words my sweet well loved friend. Thank you for teaching me how to do this journey.

Annette

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Addiction and Fear....Such Close Friends

I remember living in those awful places of fear for my addicted daughter. I would walk around constantly with my phone in my hand. If I texted or called and she didn't answer right away, I would do it again and again and again and again, with each message becoming more and more frantic. Overnight I had become one of those lunatic phone stalkers! 30 messages saying things like, "Where are you?! Call me! If you don't call soon I'm sending the police over to do a welfare check (it had been 20 minutes after all!) I am so mad at you right now!!"

Recently "my girl" told me of a friend who does this to her. This is a peer, someone she met during one of her times in treatment. I asked if she mentioned that her mom goes to a program that helped her to not live in that crazy place anymore? She laughed. Fear and addiction seem to walk together hand in hand. For many of us. If a call isn't returned we immediately jump to, "They're dead! They're in jail, they're passed out and need emergency help, they're mad at us, they're ignoring us....on and on the imagined scenarios can go."

The truth of the matter is that MY fear issues began long before "my girl" was even a thought. As a little girl I learned very early on that when the liquor was flowing, when the voices were getting louder, trouble was usually right around the corner. I learned how to gauge moods, the feel of a room, an expression on an adult's face... and depending on what I saw or felt, the fear would rise up and choke me. And I would act accordingly. Even as a little girl I instinctively reacted to my fear by trying to control my environment. I was very good at it actually and for many years felt that my abilities to handle a crisis or a high emotion situation by controlling my environment and the people it was filled with, was something to be proud of!

Little did I know that eventually the very skills I had used to cope and navigate my whole life, would be stripped from me and I would be asked to let go and to trust and hope for an unknown future that would unfold before me in bits and pieces and that when I could stand aside and let it happen, the pieces would fit together as they were meant to, like the pieces of a puzzle and I would be ok. I would be more than ok. I would be at peace. I would feel safe, knowing that whatever the future held, or holds, for "my girl," or anyone else that I love and care for, including myself, it's out of my control. There is something very liberating in the idea of something being out of my control and *accepting* that as factual. Its settled. I can't change other people. I can't change future outcomes.

Once I came to a place, through years of fighting the process I might add, of accepting what is, I found calm, peace, and most of all I am not afraid anymore. I am not angry anymore. It is nothing short of a miracle, because I didn't see my life ever being rid of the turmoil of those emotions. Ever. No matter how hard I tried.

Don't let me mislead you.....I still have "fear triggers," but they are fewer and farther between than at any other time in my life. I have learned to *live* in a place of acceptance and gentleness with myself and others that helps me to live in the moment. These changes are gifts. They are not due to anything good in me. I didn't work my program good enough or hard enough. God just walked with me until I felt safe enough and strong enough to turn my cares over to Him and let Him handle them.

I was with *my girl* today driving around down in the city....we stopped at the methadone clinic for her dose, we got lunch, she was directing me from the map app on her phone and we were discussing how the directions made no sense but then we figured it out, and it occurred to me that this was just a normal mother/daughter day. (Ok, all except the methadone clinic visit! LOL) Her sobriety isn't perfect. Neither is mine from eating carbs and sugar. We take each other as we come and we keep moving forward.

Letting go of her gave her back to me in some very real and authentic ways. She isn't who I thought she would be. In some ways she is so much more. In other ways it is very painful to watch her fight her battles. But its what we have together for today. It all is a beautiful work of art that is being created and perfected with each day that we continue to walk it out, trusting that something bigger than us is in charge.

I'm always praying for us all......I know that some of my parent readers here have situations that are very volatile and letting go means no contact for a time. I have been there too. All I can tell you is that when I got out of the way of my daughter's process, things got better for me.

Love and prayers....
Annette

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pet peeve....

When a physician prescribes opiates or benzodiazepines to a patient with a history of addiction to said substances. How can they think this ethical or ok on any level? 

Just saying.....

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Life

There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for me with my crazy work schedule. I didn't even realize the huge affect it was having on me and how I was feeling until I had a definite plan for it to come to an end. I will be working 1 full day a week and 3 half days. I am working on consolidating some of the half days to make one more whole day a week that is free.

I felt so *happy* and *hopeful* and free and motivated to do so much! I want to paint the main floor and the bottom floor of our house, I want to clear out and paint our weight room and make it conducive to actually exercising, we are re-doing our dog kennel area and I am looking forward to looking out the back sliding door and not seeing what looks like a homeless lean-to shelter, I
 want to exercise and HIKE again. I want to actually cook dinner for all of us. I want to be here. Present and in the moment with my family.

School is out....can you hear the angels singing?! I LOVE school breaks! The not having to be anywhere, the freedom... with just little one being my last one at home, we have a lovely peaceful existence. There is no drama here, she is a sweet kid, not sassy, an old soul, and we both just putter around doing our thing.

She graduated from the 8th grade last week and it was so nice. Her big sisters came to watch, bearing gifts and notes of congratulations. I cooked her favorite dinner and we had a big thick rich chocolate cake for dessert. Her small little graduating class of 17 included 3 of the kids from the developmentally delayed kids program. She had volunteered all year, 3 days a week with those kids, so she was assigned a little girl to sit with during the ceremony and accompany down the aisle to receive her certificate too. The big group of families and audience was too much and the girl was upset and crying and clung to little one. My little one was so wonderful.....patient, calm, soothing, steady as a rock. I was so proud of her. I think they helped each other. The little disabled girl was a good buffer for little one who is still so shy and little one helped her get through this rite of passage and stand for pictures and receive her certificate.

(As a side-note: I watched as the mom of the little girl just watched and let her work through it all with my little one. She didn't jump in to fix or comfort or accommodate. I thought she was so brave and it made me think of  all of the times I did exactly the opposite in the name of nurturing and loving. I know now that my reaction was more about my own discomfort seeing one of my kids hurting, then what was truly best in the big picture. Watching that mom let her girl be independent.....that was a beautiful, selfless act, that I think all momma's are called to in one way or another.)

Later my girl texted me and said she was so glad she came. "I think my favorite part was watching Little One help that girl." It was a good evening. I had a few really good and comforting moments of thinking about what good people my kids are. Flawed, imperfect human beings, but all have good hearts. They have been my greatest teachers.

My days of parenting are pretty much over. They all live their lives in ways that they see fit. Even My Girl....she gets to make her own choices. I don't have a say anymore, unless I am asked. When I can let go of "my responsibility to direct and guide" it really does free me up to live my own life and to enjoy them and mind my own business on the stuff I don't like. Who knew?!

Bless us all......
Annette

Saturday, May 23, 2015

If I'm right everyone else isn't wrong.

I shared at a meeting the other night. I totally bombed. I go over all week what I will say and then I get in front of the group and freeze. I repeat myself, I talk in circles, I forget the point I'm trying to make. Ugh...I HATE speaking in meetings and the only reason I say yes is because there were other parents there to greet me when I first came through those doors. I want to be able to extend a hand to a desperate and scared parent. I have been in their shoes... hopefully they see through my gibberish and can see that we are more alike than not.

So this meeting was a Forum meeting which means we read an article from the Forum magazine and we share our experience in relation to that article. Mine was on being right and what does that mean for others. In my world I have spent so many years from childhood on trying to be right, trying to control my environment with being right, trying to prove my worth by my rightness. If I am right then you are wrong. I loved to be in the "right" category. That proved that I knew more, I was on top, I was in charge, you needed me and my brilliant rightness to lead the way for you. I once listened to a speaker CD by Mary Pearl and she said she would create situations in life where "you may not want me, but you will need me."

What a concept that more than one of us can be right at the same time. What is right for me, may not be right for the dad (since he is who has had to suffer through the brunt of my rightness the most,) or my girl, or my Molly, or any of the others. It again brings my life down to what is going on inside of my hula hoop. What is right in my hoop stays in my hoop.

The other thought in this article was that every conflict doesn't need to have a resolution. What?! I thrive on neat tidy packages. We had a disagreement, we talked it through, and now its done, and packaged and tied with a bow. How can that not be right?!

Recently I wrote about the changes in Molly and my relationship. That didn't really ever have a resolution. We have talked and talked and I have cried an ocean....but she had her ideas and I had mine. I wanted to be heard and understood so so much and it wasn't happening on the level that I needed it to. (Can you imagine being one of my kids?!) My husband, the dad, kept saying "I think you need to settle down and give it some time. "But nothing is resolved!" I would sob. He would reply, "Not today, but maybe later. Give it some time." I wanted to slap him. Didn't he know that we can't go through life with loose ends flapping around behind us?

But this time, this once (lol)....HE WAS RIGHT and I was wrong. (thats me whispering.)

In time things are coming back together. There is room for her to be right about what her life can include and not, and for me to go on with how I live my life and we don't have to agree on everything and can still continue on in a beautiful relationship. The more I walk in it, the less scary it becomes.

Not having to insist on my rightness has opened the door for me to continue on in a relationship with my girl just as she is...and... just as I am. I think out of all of my kids she probably gets me more than anyone else. It has opened the door to look at my part and not have to be right or justified or the poor victim mom of this lost girl. I have made mistakes along the way. Did those mistakes destine her to the life she is living.....no. But there are things that in my fear, in my hysteria, in my quest to control the terrifying, I did wrong. Its ok. Its not the end of the world. There is room for us to not do everything perfectly and we can still be loved and accepted and forgiven and just be people. Fallible, loving, crazy, human people. That applies to all of us. There is more than enough grace to go around for all of us....if we can lay down being right and accept it as the medicine and healing ointment that it is.

I've missed being here y'all. I am still trying to whittle down my schedule.....its a work in progress, just like me.

Love you all and as my g-ma used to say.... God bless your hearts real good.
Annette

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Who Knew...

Thank you for the kind words about yesterdays post. I know in my head that its not my fault. The other kids who were doing all of the same things as she was, have gone on and created lives for themselves that don't include the struggles that she battles each day. There are lots and lots of other factors, chains of events, that set things in motion for our kids, and sometimes it builds a momentum that gets away from you (them.) There are however things that I wish I had done differently. I just do and it just is what it is.

So yesterday was one of those days you wake up ready to jump through the hoops of your day, not really thinking about what you are doing. I have several hours off today and I was thinking about what my day held yesterday. I spent it with a WWII Navy Wave who translated Japanese code during the war. We watched a you tube video about Elinor Otto, the last *working* Rosie the Riveter who only quit this last year when they stopped building the Boeing C-17 planes she had been constructing since the 40's. My client told me about living in "cubicles with bunk beds" and going to work each day to translate this code. I asked her if she knew Japanese and she said, "No, none of us did. But we learned."

My second client for the day was also a WWII Navy Wave who had written her life story a few years ago. It was typewritten on a typewriter. In a few places were words penciled in, important facts that she had left out on her first run through. She told of her childhood, family tragedies that she survived and went on to live her life from. She told of her *many* adventures moving and visiting all over the United States, her many jobs through the years, including with Boeing aircraft. I wish I could share it here....for obvious privacy reasons I can't but it was such a delight to read. She is hilarious and sweet and loving and it is my privilege to work for both of these women who lived during such a historical time. I love hearing their stories.

As I was finishing my shift with my last client of the day, I got a call that one of my long time respite clients was close to passing and would I come. I headed down my mountain and I got to spend the last 10 minutes of this precious woman's life with she and her daughter, holding hands, talking to her and letting her know how loved she was, and what an honor it had been to call her a friend and that she wasn't alone, we were there with her as she walked toward her freedom from this broken body, this life.

What a day! Who knew all of the wonderful people I would get to serve through the years. People who have been a part of our history, who have contributed so many good and wonderful things to our society.

I am always struck by their resilience, by their toughness, and most of all by their humility. They did what needing doing. Whether they liked the job or not, whether it was rewarding or not, comfortable or no.....they carried on. They didn't expect anything other than an honest paycheck. I have met so many honorable people. Some rough, but still would have given me the shirt off of their back if they thought I needed it.

Who knew......
Feeling blessed. 
Annette


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Pictures of the Past.....

My car is in the shop...so Im driving the dad's car which is 10 years newer than mine. It has stuff like bluetooth and a clock that works and air conditioning. I am fine with my old rattle trap bucket of bolts....and while its in the shop I asked them to charge up my air conditioner, because being 50 years old and not having any air could just be the deal breaker that pushes me into forking out the money each month for a second car payment. My dream car is a prius. lol

Anyway, this morning I plugged in my iphone to charge in the little usb spot and on came all of this music. I don't even have music on my phone! It was "little one's" play list which is connected to my i-tunes account.....so I drove to work listening to what was on her play list. I loved that. It was like this little connection to my little one. A glimpse into her insides and what she likes and what feels good to her. It made me happy.

The past couple weeks I have not felt good. Just out of sorts. I have had a God-awful work schedule for the past 5 months and I haven't been reading my daily readers, praying, exercising, nothing. Then some of "my girls" old friends posted an album of pictures on Facebook (and were kind enough to tag me in them) from their middle school days. There before my eyes was the transformation of my sweet little red haired, freckly, girl to the dark depressed gothic punk girl that she became in what felt like a whirlwind. As I looked at them this fear that I think has always been lurking around in my dark hidden places welled up and began its tedious job of accusing ....."You over reacted. She was just a kid figuring out who she was, if you had only not been so afraid, if you had only not yelled, if you had only not demanded that she behave a certain way, if you had only been capable of accepting her and loving where she was at during those years with no stipulations or expectations for who she would become....she might not have taken the path she has been on for the past 12 years."

I wish so much that I knew then what I know now.

I was left with a knot in the pit of my stomach. My sweet little girl who changed so drastically and so fast. There she was in front of my face and I got to look at her, at it all, with years worth of perspective and experiences between then and now.

So much regret. I have apologized numerous times for not knowing how to do "it" better. She always always always lets me off the hook. Never does she blame or say "if you had only......"

Who knows if I had known better and done better if anything would have been any different. We just don't know and while I did panic and over react.....I was also a good mom. I was present and there and could be counted on. I was always looking for my "in" into this foreign world she had entered. How could I reach her, how could I hang on to her.....which was probably a mistake because she didn't want to be held on to. She wanted to be free to do as she wanted. We used to say she was probably our kid who would backpack across Europe. The other kids didn't like to even go to sleep- overs....but not my girl. She was always out the door, ready for fun.

Its sad.

My hope is that nothing is ever so broken in this life that it is beyond repair. I have a God who works in miracles and redemption and grace and love and mercy and I am able to lay all of my mistakes, all of the places I messed everything up, lay my broken self and my beautiful broken girl, right into His hands and let Him put us all back together as He see's fit. In receiving thus, we are then able to be the givers of those very same gifts to others in need. We get to share what we are given.

God bless all of the broken hearted mama's.
Annette