Sunday, March 1, 2015

Its all a matter of perspective....

Its been a hard week. One girl is choosing a relationship that is alienating her from the family. We are letting go, stepping back bathed in all sorts of love and care, and hoping it all works out. It feels like she is choosing him over us and my feelings have been desperately hurt all week.... what that says about me God only knows!

My girl continues to forge her path to some semblance of occasional sobriety. Recently she had an upset and I jumped into fix it mode, but only in my head. My mouth said, "I don't know what to say or do for you honey. Let me think for a minute." Then I called my sponsor and my voice shook, I ran between crying and being mad at once again being in the position of feeling like her life was in my hands....and then as we talked it through, a plan began to develop in my mind. I ran it by her and she agreed it was a good plan, a good middle road that honored my feelings and what I was able to reasonably offer without robbing my girl of the opportunity to figure out her own solutions. We agreed I would "wait for the question." I wouldn't offer my assistance unless asked.

Wouldn't you know that within an hour or two all had settled down and all of my problem solving skills weren't needed after all. It made me SO grateful that I hadn't acted, hadn't jumped into throwing out ideas and trying to force solutions to a problem that wasn't even mine, that I had stood still and quiet for a minute and let things play out.

Little One turned 14 years old today. She wanted her nose pierced for her birthday. A couple mom friends  said, "And you're letting her?!" I almost laughed....if they only knew the things that really concern me. Nose piercing and tattoos and hair color are so far down on my list.

My schedule is still crazy....until the end of May in case you didn't get that the last several times I said it!  Last night after work I went into town to buy last minute birthday supplies...I didn't get home until 10:30. I was so tired I hurt.

In the middle of these daily stresses.....I think of ISIS and their poor victims and I think, "I'm fine! I am absolutely fine." And God only knows what THAT says about me too.

God be with each of us as we walk the path you have laid before us.
Annette

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mothering

I have lots of young mom friends. Girls who I have known since they were little. One of them began a FB page on natural parenting and asked me to be a part of it. Yesterday "the girls" were discussing little girls dressing up like princesses and the "need" to begin instilling in these littles that they don't "need" a man or anyone for that matter. They want to foster independence and strength in their daughters.

I *had* to comment that human beings were not created to forge their way through life in isolation. People need other people. It was a good discussion that led into lots of topics like feminism, need vs. want, reliance vs. independence.

So FFWD to this morning. First the background story...I'm so tired. I set out to work 3 days a week beginning in January and it didn't work out, as you all have heard repeatedly. I am leaving the house at 7:30am and not getting home until 9ish at night 5 days a week. My weekends are being used for my overflow of clients that I can't fit into my regular week anymore. It looks like this is how it will be for me through May. 

So back to this morning... I am getting my very elderly client ready for her shower and I have long sleeves on. She stops the whole process as she sits naked on her shower chair and asks for my hands. She proceeded to ever so gently push my sleeves up for me and then rubbed my arms for a second and then said, "there." I got a lump in my throat I tell you! It was such a simple act of kindness and care. She mothered me for a minute and I can't tell you how long it's been since anyone has mothered me or taken care of me. It really was a living example of how, yes, people need other people. We need to give and receive love and care. We need to be touched and acknowledged. We can be a feminist (I'm not really....I'm just me) we can be strong and independent and so so capable of everything we want to do....but we still need one another. We all need to be taken care of every once in awhile. And that's a beautiful thing when it happens. 
Annette

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Harm Reducton vs. Treatment.....more thoughts

My daughter has been in traditional treatment seven times. Various forms of intensive outpatient and/or residential treatment. All have used the traditional 12 step treatment model. I happen to love the 12 steps, but like so many things that have a long history, *people* get into the mix and pollute what the initial intent was with their best ideas and agendas.

She recently placed herself into a methadone treatment program. I won't even venture to guess what the future may hold this time. For today, she is alive and working on not using. For today, that is enough for me.

Methadone treatment is considered a harm reduction approach to treating chronic addicts and relapsers. The things that I hear that transpire there makes sense to me. It feels right in my gut. Its real, authentic. Their clientele are there because they are addicts that nothing else has worked for. They have not been able to break their cycle of addiction and chronic use....*despite their very best efforts.* This is often their last chance at sobriety.

 There is no "punishment" for relapsing. They are not shamed or kicked out or questioned on how much they really want to be clean. It is *accepted* that they are stuck in some very real ways. If they could get clean any other way, they would have done it already. They walked through the door on that first day and asked for help and that was enough. There are no expectations of perfection.....just keep coming back each day. Keep making yourself available. Of course as they begin to test clean on a consistent basis, they are granted some "sober age appropriate" freedoms. A one day take home dose. A weekend take home dose. Eventually, it is possible for them to only need to check in once a month. I hear that is years down the road though.

 Traditional treatment compared to harm reduction models make me think of church. How I used to dress all of us so perfectly, hair was done, we all arrived looking so together and "Christian." We jumped through the hoops, we followed the rules, but it never seemed to be enough. What no one knew was that I yelled at everyone to get them ready, that I was so overwhelmed trying to create that illusion of perfection because it didn't feel safe to be real there. It didn't feel safe to say how hard getting 3 little kids (little one came several years later) ready for church before 9 am was. I wasn't free to be honest about who I really was....just a young mom trying to figure out the best way to raise several little kids who I would have given my life for without a thought. So I ran faster, I jumped higher, until I couldn't do it anymore.

Traditional treatment seems to foster that "Ok, you're here now. We're going to figure this out, polish you up, you're going to shape up, get up early, go to meetings, do your chores, you're going to work the steps, and at the end of 30 days you will be on your way to a life of a sobriety (or holiness...whichever shoe fits.)" For some people that works... a few, maybe. But for the vast majority of hard core addicts, its a respite for their parents. They are tucked away safe and sound and the parents can sleep at night. But none of the real issues are really acknowledged or touched there. And definitely not at any deep or substantial level. Our kids jump through the hoops and then they get to go home or to a T-house, go to some meetings, but there is nothing to sustain them for LONG TERM sobriety.

vs...

A harm reduction model that says, "You are here for a reason. You are who you are, and you are what you are...lets start right here. You are a dangerously addicted human being who can't get free on his/her own. You showed up today and you followed through on getting your dose. Tomorrow come back and you can do it again." Day by day they begin to build something starting right where that addicted person is at that moment. Its a beautiful thing and it reminds me of how God accepts us right where we are at. He doesn't expect us to clean up our mess and present ourselves as together and ready to serve Him. Not at all.....He wants us to come broken, dirty, stinky, in disrepair and He will begin to work with us right there and as we keep coming back and as we keep opening ourselves up to the process (just as these young addicts who continue to walk through those clinic doors each day) we begin to heal. We begin to change and we see that it was a gift all along. It wasn't about how well we performed or what we thought we deserved....it was about how broken we had become. How desperate to do it a different way.

That changes you. Unmerited favor. Grace when you least deserve it. (For the record: grace is acceptance of what is....not necessarily condoning, but just acknowledging and accepting things as they are.) Lets be the conduit of God's grace to not only the broken among us, but to ourselves. I think we have to have experienced it before we can share it.

Annette


Sunday, January 25, 2015

My 800th post!!

What on earth could I have had to say for 800 posts?! And some of you have been here reading from the very beginning....2007! I have gone through all sorts of times with this blog...I have often wondered why I continue to spill my life out onto this screen for all to dissect and read. God only knows what people really think...but I have learned that that is none of my business. I can keep blogging until the day I decide I am done and I can talk about whatever I want, as long as I am not causing harm with my words. So here I still am. lol

I am fat again y'all. Remember back in 2012 when I went through that huge transformation and the stretching (ripping) of my comfort zone and going to see "little Miss Cutie Pie." I lost 50lbs. I have now gained 40 back. I have been living in my addiction off and on this past year or so and I will tell you that my food addiction, my coping mechanism of comforting myself with food, gives me so much compassion for our addicted kids. Because even when I set out to do what is right, even when I have a plan and I try do the very things I *want* to do...which is eat healthy and exercise and be healthy....the smallest thing can trip me up and I veer off the road of my food sobriety. I have said it many times.....my girl and I are more alike than we are different.

So I hired a new personal trainer who happens to be a dear old friend of mine. I love the times we get to see each other and now I get to see her once a week religiously at 6:30 every Saturday morning. I was there yesterday and it was good. No tears (if you were around for 2012 you will remember I sobbed my way through the first few weeks of getting going) but we did laugh a lot, talked about our kids (she was pregnant with twin girls who are 3 months younger than my Little One,) talked about our goals, and I felt comfortable.

Yes, I'm fat. So what?! ISIS is beheading people...how important is it that I am fat again? Not very....to anyone but me. So for my own physical health I am once again setting out to get strong again. That is my biggest regret...letting all of that muscle go! I loved feeling strong and fit. It wasn't even about being skinny. Although that part was fun too.

I am attempting to use a new eating plan called "Trim Healthy Mama" which so far has felt far too difficult and complicated for me to figure out. Today I spent the day trying some recipes out.....I used my spiral cutter thingy and cut zucchinis and sweet potatoes and then drizzled them with olive oil and garlic salt and pepper and baked for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Yum. I made a quinoa salad with quinoa that was cooked in chicken broth, I added lots of vegetables and some black olives, and some 0 carb organic balsamic dressing. I also made a drink called "The Shrinker." LOL Its not bad....not as good as diet coke, thats for sure! There is something about the ingredients that are supposed to shrink my fat cells. One can hope! I will post the recipe at the bottom of this post.

I want to thank each of you who read here....some new, some for years now. Thank you for being here with me. You have read your way through some of the hardest times in my life. Your comments have meant so much and encouraged me to "keep coming back." You have no idea how much being able to come here and pour it all out and reason things out with other mother's who are walking similar paths to mine, has meant to me. Bless each of your hearts with something so special just for you.

Much much love to all.....
Annette

PS: And here you go.....


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Soccer Mom's

I can talk about this because I was a soccer mom for more than 20 years. I went into retirement just this last soccer season when Little One hung up her cleats for the last time.

I have a friend who has a 5 year old who is just venturing into the world of team sports. She was asking me about team snacks, because word on the streets had freaked her out.

"Did you ever have to bring team snacks to your kids teams?"

"Yes."

"Well, like what? Because I am hearing that I need to pack the equivalent of a small lunch for each kid on the team, including the coach, and also include a small gift of a pencil, stickers, or eraser. Is that really how it is?!" 

We talked at length about what on earth could motivate parents to do this sort of stuff? When did soccer snack turn into "soccer buffet?" And why?

We decided in all of our down to earth wisdom that parents are so afraid of appearing to not be good enough at their job of supporting their little Loves, that even soccer snack day has turned into an event to prove their skill level. "Seeeee, I AM a good mom!"

When did parenting become a competition? It must have been a long time ago because I can remember back in the day being only too aware that others were doing "it" better and more insightfully and strongly and gently (depending on the day) than I was able to do it. And it felt downright shitty!

If I could tell a young mama anything, it would be.....spend oodles of time with your Littles, days upon days sharing the world with them, don't rush (they don't know how and it only leads to frustration for everyone,) gently and quietly be consistent, pick your battles, allow room for many mistakes (yours and theirs,) remember that you are their first teacher, the journey is not about us being in "control of our kid" but of us teaching them the way, look at the world through their eyes, keep it simple, their misbehaviors are not about you, its not personal, they are figuring out who they want to be and how they want to get there, raising kids is a lonnnnnggg process, its not done in fits and starts and there are no flashes in the pan with being a parent, you are in it for the long haul, sweet young mama, be gentle with yourself, pace yourself.... and most of all, a bag of orange slices and a granola bar is more than enough for a soccer snack.

None of us know what the future holds for our sweet little ones. I am here to tell you that soccer snacks, though they seem huge right now, are the least of our concerns. 

Annette




Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Mother's

I am thinking this morning about the mom's of the addicts. These mother's are unique. They live with constant heartbreak nipping at their heels, they continue to love and carry hope even when common sense would say that there is none....their mantra becomes "where there is breath there is hope." They will do anything to save their child, EVEN the unfathomable act of letting them go. The courage these women carry and walk in daily is unfathomable to most. The disease their children live with day after day carries an ugly stigma with it. There is no sympathy. No fundraisers, no home cooked dinners being delivered. The depth of the silence....all the words that are NOT said, is deafening. The shame that our children carry and that we carry as their mother's cloaks our shoulders with heaviness.

The things that these mother's do in support of their children is nothing short of Herculean effort and Mother Theresa gentleness. Recently a mother sent me a song that she wrote, a joint effort with others who love her child, a beautiful tribute to the love that all carry for that child. There are the mother's who face every deep dark corner of their own character defects, they make amends for not being a perfect mother, they agonize over what they did to create this illness in their child...only to find out that they didn't cause it, they can't cure it, and they can't control it, but depending on their actions of love, they can contribute to its daily sustenance. So they dig deep within themselves, feeling like they are ripping off their own limbs and they stop "helping." They love freely, but they learn through some unfathomable circumstances to leave the choices and the acts of free will with their writhing child.

I think of the mother's who are now raising their grand children, the children of their addicted children. They sacrifice the entire length of their lives to care for these babies and young children. They hope with every fiber of their being that they can guide these children, teach these children to avoid the paths that their parents took. We talk to our younger generation about the gruesome details of addiction hoping to scare them straight. The genetic predisposition, where to seek help, how to seek help, its ok to need help to figure out how to navigate life healthfully in this crazy world.

I think of the mother's who stand still not knowing what else to do and the fear and the sadness they hold....all while putting on a smile to carry on at their jobs that they desperately need to keep, to afford the credit card bills for the multiple attempts of rehab, trying anything to save their child, who is now back out in their addiction.

That any of us find a way to survive this anomaly of regular life is a miracle.

For me personally, Alanon saved my life. It taught me how to live my life and detach from my daughters. I love my program and am forever grateful for it. However, it took time, years, and I am always still learning how to love my girl in the healthiest way for both of us....and not feel guilty about it for not being what I had always envisioned for us.

Like anywhere, there are people within the program who will tell you how to do it....which is why most of us find our way into those rooms to begin with. We think we know what is best for everyone else and if they would all just listen to us, we could lead them to the promised land! Even within the walls of Alanon, we get to learn at our own speed, take action at our own speed, learn how to keep the focus on ourselves and move forward as OUR path unfolds in front of us....no matter what any well meaning person says. There are no musts in Alanon. There will be a lot of first tries, a lot of false starts, a lot of mistakes, but that is how we learn and have it reinforced for us what does and doesn't work. So don't give up! Keep coming back!

This morning, I tip my hat, I honor you, fellow mom's of our much loved addicted kids. You are beautiful, and smart, and loving. You are tired but strong. Bless your kind and gentle hearts, my kindred sisters. 

Annette


Thursday, January 15, 2015

There are always two sides to every equation......

When a child is riddled with anxiety should we push them to face their fears and find their way through day after day? Or should we acknowledge that a change may be in order and allow them to take an easier, more comfortable route....and have faith that in the long term there will be lots of life situations that will provide ample opportunity to work through their discomfort in smaller increments? These sorts of dilemmas have always been my parenting nemesis.

This post is going to be about anxiety....school and social anxiety, to be exact. The roots of "My Girl's" struggles began so many years ago with social anxiety and depression. Fast forward to today and Little One is now battling similar wars within herself. She has given me permission to write about it here. These two sweet girls who look like twins that are 12 years apart, also share this genetic brain chemical glitch.

Little One has struggled with going to school since she was tiny. Actually with leaving the house.....she would walk around as a two year old asking the big kids if they would be home to babysit her while I went out to do errands. She has always loved being at home the most. Then came preschool..."surely she will outgrow this." Kindergarten was fine (she had a teacher that was like a grandpa and had been at the school for years) then first grade...again, "surely she will outgrow this." Second, third, and finally in fourth grade, the sobbing meltdown outside the class, the worrying and obsessing for entire weekends about classroom seating arrangements, tears, begging, refusing....until one day I told her she didn't have to go back. It wasn't working. She wasn't outgrowing it and she was miserable and so was I. So we changed things up a bit. She homeschooled 3 days a week and went to school 2 days a week. A perfect blend of both worlds. The relief we both felt was tremendous. Her teacher was of the opinion that I was indulging her. I was of the opinion that I was meeting her where she was at and ensuring her emotional needs were met for the time being.

We used this schooling option until the 7th grade when she went back to school full time and again, the anxiety hit. We limped along through the year....not ideal, but she made it.

This year, the 8th grade...her best friend has gone on to high school, her favorite teacher got promoted to principal, and her big brother moved several states away. Three significant losses of people that were her touch stones, her security.

Soon after the school year began it all came to a volcanic and emotional head and we decided to stop simply putting out fires and slapping band-aids on the hurt spots and urging her along because "surely she would outgrow this."  We began to acknowledge fully and forthrightly what she has battled for so long. It was like we took the cork out of the bottle and it all came spilling out all over the place. It was hard, and scary, and sad, and I was so afraid it wouldn't ever get better. But we looked it in the eye and eventually the bottle's flow slowed and we could catch our breath and begin to formulate a plan to nurture her into functioning at her optimum and true self....which is a magnificent human being I might add. 

So what does social anxiety feel like? "Bad. Stressful. Like you can't sit still. Like everyone's watching you. Like everyone's judging you," says Little One. I would add shortness of breath, heart beating fast, lack of focus, limbs feel like they weigh a million pounds and you just want to lay down and sleep.

Fortunately we have a tremendous support system of doctors and school staff who truly care and are doing everything possible to help her through this time. And she has the dad....and me of course. I am here to tell you that really, it can be very advantageous to have at least one recovering co-dependent on your side. I am recovered just enough to know to step back and give her space to figure her own stuff out, but not quite enough to not jump if she stumbles and love her and hug her and clap as she finds her way and tell her how awesome she is, and of course she is able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound!

We have spent a lot of time learning who Little One truly is. How she operates, what works for her and what doesn't and accepting that it is what it is and its ok. Each of us are created individually, with beautiful strokes of color and texture, none the same as the other. Sometimes we have to learn how to work with and how to appreciate the unique traits that make us who we are. Even when they are challenging.

So during this latest episode, it was brought up over and over again that she needed to stay in school. She wanted to stay in school and find a way to make it work, but I did present the idea that if it wasn't working, we could always find something different that really did work for her. I am the guru of alternatives to traditional schooling....charter schools with a certain educational focus, farm schools, Waldorf schools, part time schools, virtual schools.

There is the side that says she needed to push through, overcome her anxiety, dig deep, stick with it until it isn't uncomfortable anymore. Exposure therapy-ish.

Then there is my thinking that if its not working, there are many ways to skin a cat! Lets find something that does work. If I was stuck in a job that I was miserable in, I would move on and find something that suited me better. If my kid is an octagon shape then I refuse to shove her into a square spot. However I am seemingly in the minority...."you must be a part of the whole" is the mantra.

So where is the balance? Personally for Little One, things are settling down and going much better and through avenues I never expected. Bless her brave and courageous heart, she gets up every morning and heads out to do what she needs to do. She doesn't complain, she will discuss what she is feeling, but there is no drama. She is insightful and articulate beyond her years. She co-operates and we work together toward solutions. She is a joy. She is finding her way in her own time and in her own way. For me, that is more than enough.

One resource that was very helpful and helped her to share her needs was this website.... Worry Wise Kids. I printed up this page and had her highlight the things that she thought pertained to her and we shared it with the school staff. She has a volunteer job at school helping the developmentally and physically handicapped children, that they gave her more time to commit to, they took away time limits for assignments and tests, they gave her the freedom to step outside of the classroom if it became too much, to visit a teacher friend's room and either help or sit in the back and read. She has a scheduled check in each week with her two teachers. I LOVE these people for loving my child and making themselves available over and beyond what is expected. It has been a team effort in the truest sense.

I am so grateful that we as a society are learning how to gently meet the needs of kids and acknowledge their reality and teach them coping skills and strategies to be successful within the realm of their abilities.

So that's our story for today....

Bless us all, each and every one of us, whoever we are, whatever our struggles and our strengths.
Annette