I am trying to sort out my experiences and thoughts to better understand how to move forward and not stay stuck in the past.

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Box

My daughter called on Friday evening. That's her time to call.  She wasn't happy or feeling that she was getting the right help. I'm still thinking about what she said, and trying to figure out how to react. Anyway, near the end of the call, she asked if I could send her a package of a few items she need (pair of jeans, favorite flip flops, tropical trail mix, things like that).  So, I wrote down the items as she listed them, and we hung up.  As I went around the house looking for the items that were here (others I would stop by the store in the morning before mailing the package) I started thinking of a size of box to mail it all in.  I went to the basement, and there, sitting on a chair was the perfect size box.  Last Christmas I bought a tea pot for a friend, and it came to my house in that box.  I usually throw them out, but this one I kept.  Even this summer, when I was cleaning the basement and throwing out stuff, I obviously kept the box for some reason. 

As I was packing the items, I started thinking about the box.  It's not that it was an earth shattering moment to have the box (though it was the perfect size and it did save me time and a little money from having to buy one).  Or maybe it was.  As I was packing it dawned on me, "Had that box been kept there because God knew this moment was going to happen, and by a succession of events- my friend needing a tea pot, me buying one for a present, and then discarding the box into the basement to wait for this exact moment-God was preparing me for packing these items for my daughter?  If that is the case, then this moment is what is supposed to be happening and we really are where we are supposed to be for a reason.  Honestly, my first thought was to get a little mad.  This was planned for my daughter to hurt like this?  But then, just as quickly, I thought, even with a strong faith (or a growing faith) life wasn't promised to be easy.  The promise, I believe, is that God will carry you through it.  The box is just a reminder that God is planning and caring and watching.  We buzz through life, and get all caught up in things, but in those close, quiet moments when we get a chance to think, and start to organize, a box shows up to remind us we are not alone in this. 

That thought is a hesitant comfort for me.  Hesitant because I wish none of this was happening to any one, and my faith is not yet strong, enough, in the truth that God does love me, but a comfort that I can see the message, and even as I come to terms with God's love, He's still setting up boxes long the way. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I miss my mom.  She died unexpectedly Oct. 21, 2005.  I had talked to her on Thursday night, telling her I would see her on Friday.  Fortunately, the last words I said to her and she said to me were, "I love you." She was gone Friday morning from a bleed in her brain.  I can honestly say my mom was the only person to ever take care of me.  Even when I became an adult, her nurturing nature enveloped me.  We talked every day.  When I went over there, just her listening to me refueled me.  I miss her so much, especially now, struggling with my daughter (whom, I might add she adored).  I don't think I would be telling her anything that has happened, but just to be near her and hear her voice would be so helpful to me.  Sometimes I miss her so much, tears well up in my eyes. 

So, last Friday, after I came home and my daughter was on her way, I started talking to my mom.  Telling her how much I missed her and how much I need to know she is still here.  I need to know I'm not alone in this.  Sat. afternoon I went to my dad's.  I stopped and got him lunch.  He is 89 in two days and still lives alone, cuts his grass, drives, walks a mile a day--it's pretty amazing.  Anyway, each spring I plant flowers in his yard, more as a tribute to my mom, than anything else.  She loved pink begonias and impatiens.  She also liked to plant white alyssum as a boarder.  Two springs ago, I didn't need to plant the alyssum, because some have been reseeding themselves, and it looked as though it would continue.  By midsummer, they were very sparse.  This year, I planted the begonias and impatiens but no alyssum, hoping they would reappear.  (Each time I went to my dads, the other flowers were doing well, but the alyssum was sprouting in pockets, and very thin).

After lunch, my dad and I went out to look at the yard.  I don't know how I had missed it when I went into the house, but the begonias and impatiens were doing well, the formally patchy alyssum, however was everywhere!  It was bordering the flowers, pouring over the wall at the side of the house like a waterfall, but the most amazing part was that it was growing where the driveway meets the foundation of the house.  There is no dirt there, but in one continuous stream of delicate, puffy-full plants, it runs all the way to the back of the house.  My  dad just looked at me.  My eyes started tearing.  I looked at him and said, "It's mom.  She's still here."  The look in his eyes was, for a moment, like a child's. He smiled, "You think?"  "I know, dad.   I"m sure."  And we stood there, smiling at the alyssum, blooming so beautifully and full.  Thank you, mom.  I feel refueled.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Working Something Out

Well, my daughter called me at work yesterday.  Where she is they can only call home at certain times. Though she sounded well, I could tell something was amiss.  She was talking to me in code.  She kept repeating, "this place is like Gateway."  I finally got the meaning.  One time she went to a place to get counseling, and the counselor was not good.  I noticed that when I went to the family meetings.  Anyway, she told me that she had written me a letter, and was mailing it, yesterday. I don't think it's going to be a good letter. She said she was meeting with her counselor one-on-one, today.  I told her to tell the counselor what she was thinking.   Part of her problem is that she internalizes everything, so let it out.  Right?   

I bought her a card, today on my way home from work, and I'm going to tell her that just because the counselor isn't good, doesn't mean she still can't get some good out of the program.  Even if she just journaled and prayed every day, it would be better than what she was doing here.    Being away from here I think is good for her, just to break up the spiral she was spinning in.  Being sober.  Seeing different people.  A change. 

I can't let it worry me, though.  I have to have faith that God will work something out.  I am praying he will position people to guide her.  Mostly, I'm praying that she will finally move closer to God.  I think things would work out, then.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Good Thing

My daughter went to get help.  It happened on Thursday night, when I got home from work.  She had been eating (she doesn't eat when she drinks, so when I saw the dishes in the sink, a spark of hope flickered). I went up to her room, where she was lying in bed, but awake.  I asked her how she felt.  She said, "Horrible, but I need help."  "Are you saying you'll go to that facility?" "Yes."  "Then you need to go down stairs and call Diane."  "I feel too bad."  "Then you must not want help."  (Big sigh) I left the room, and went to the kitchen. A few minutes later she came down and called.  Diane was able to get a bed (what a sad commentary that this facility holds 226 people and only one bed was vacant--so many hurting people).  She was to be at Diane's office by 11:30 the next day (Friday).  I took 1/2 a sick day.  I was still not 'exhaling' yet. Friday morning, she was still feeling bad, but we took time and packed.  At one point she did say that she thought she should get a drink because she was feeling so bad, I told her I wasn't going to argue about it, and left the room.  When I went back (about 30 minutes later) she never brought up the subject, again.  We leave (I'm still nervous, thinking she may change her mind because she would periodically say she was scared and begin to cry).

 But, we got to Diane's office.  As we waited for the van, there was another kid, my daughter's age, waiting in the room.  He looked at us and said, "I was where you were a year ago.  I'm a recovering alcoholic. I know you're feeling anxious and scared, but believe me, this is the best thing you can do for yourself.  Last year at this time I thought 'How can I get through life without drinking?  Now, I think 'How was I getting through life drinking?'  I have my own place now, I'm back in school.  Pay my own bills.  And, I was robbed last night.  They took everything, and I don't want to drink over it.  Life is good."  (He was one of God's people placements.  Thank you, God.)  I eventually had to leave to get back to work.  I was nervous that she would leave the office after I left, and roam the streets with her suit case. (The crazy scenarios I'm starting to imagine).  I hugged her.  She was tearing up.  So was I. I hugged her, again, and left. 

I went back to work, and after the day was over, I called Diane to see if she got onto the van.  Diane said, "Yes.  Once their support person goes, and they don't have anyone to worry with, they get the courage."  "Like leaving them off at kindergarten?" I asked.  She laughed and said, "Exactly."

Oddly, I was still kind of shell shocked.  I thought I'd be happier, but I was still worried.  I (and this is another irrational fear because she has no money) was imagining her taking a bus from 4 hours away.  I almost expected to see her on the door step at midnight.  But I went home, made some macaroni and cheese (a favorite comfort food) and after I ate, I fell asleep on the couch.  The phone woke me at 8:00 pm.  It was my daughter telling me she had arrived there.  She sounded okay.  Of course the phone card I bought her is the wrong one (they were not allowed phones) so, she'll call collect when she can, but other than that, all was well.  I hung up the phone, and I could smile.

My response to stress is to sleep, so I went back to bed.  The phone rang, again, but this time it was my best friend (more like a sister) who was going to be in town on Sat. and wanted to meet.  We decided on breakfast in the morning.  I went back to sleep.  All day, yesterday, I felt as though I was in slow motion.  I initially thought that if she ever went, I'd get this done, and that done,  I'd be like someone drinking coffee and listening to banjo music--I'd be all over the place, but I wasn't.  I went to my Al Anon meeting last night, and told everyone.  They were happy, and I looked at the woman leading the group and said, "It's a good thing, right?"  She smiled and said, "It's a very good thing!"  I told her that I think I'm so used to broken promises, and horrible situations, that I can't see or maybe don't feel as though I deserve that this is SUCH a good thing--like I"m afraid another shoe (or a boulder) is going to drop.  She said that's not unusual, and again commented to take it one day at a time, and it is a GOOD THING.

So, it's Sunday morning, and my emotions are catching up with my brain. I'm recalling what Diane said about it being a process more than progress.  I can smile as I write this because regardless of the future journeys, today a good thing is in progress.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

An Angel Among Us

My daughter is still drinking, and refusing to go to treatment. She's afraid, she says.  Not ready. (Too afraid to live and too afraid to die, I think)  I feel like we're in a dark forest--the Forest of No Return, from Toy Land.  But as we are stumbling, and bumping round in here, an angel appears.  Her name is Diane.  This woman, whom I've never met is the Behavior Specialist/Case Manager who my daughter was told to call if she wanted to go to inpatient.  This woman has never met us.  We've  only spoken over the phone 4 times, for less than 2 minutes.  Since I spoke with her on Monday, after the fight, and she calmed us down, she has been calling at least 2x a day to find out how we are.  I finally was able to talk with her last night to thank her.  We are total strangers (even thinking about this kind gesture is making me tear up), and she said, "Just calm down. Take a break and get some rest. When she's ready, tell her to call me and we'll get her help."  Simple words, but so powerful. Like she brought me a down comforter and a feather pillow in the middle of this cold, dark forest.  May God Richly Bless Diane.  Praying for us all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Spot on My Faith

Another crazy day, yesterday.  My daughter said that she was going to go to a rehab facility about 4 hours from here.  She had to be at the office to catch the van at 11:30 am.  I left work during my prep (thanking God for such a compassionate and understanding boss) to drive her there.  On the way over here I was praying, praying, praying.  When I got here, she was asleep on the couch.  I woke her and she said she wasn't going to go.  Long story short, a big fight, verbally and physically (pushing each other, grabbing, pulling hair) I called the counselor, and told her to forget it.  She said, "You're dealing with the disease now, not your daughter...it's a process, not progress." (or something like that).  She said we'd try again, later.  After all of that, I splashed some water on my face, brushed my hair and went back to work.  (Insanity).  And on the way, asked God why He didn't intervene.

Last night, I was lying in bed thinking about all of this.  For a few weeks there, I did have some calm.  I can feel the rage bubbling back, again, though.  But I do have faith that God is in control, and could work miracles...all of it.  But this doubt pushes in, and I say, "But if You were a loving God, You wouldn't allow all of this bad to happen."  It is hard to block out that other voice, especially when things are so bad.  Then I thought about this TV commercial I saw once.  I think it was about some laundry detergent, because the person had on a clean shirt, but there was a spot.  When he was talking to another person, that other person didn't hear what the person with the spot on his shirt was saying, he only 'heard' the spot."  It was funny, but is a good metaphor for my faith, I think.  Each day, I wake up wrapped in clean, fresh Faith.  Except, I look down, and once the day has started, I see a spot, and that spot all day long is 'talking.' So, when something frustrating happens, I don't feel covered anymore, I hear, "If God really loved you He wouldn't let this happen."  or "It works for everyone else, but you." or "You're always going to be on the outside, God's never going to invite you in."  Thoughts like that.  And so, I end the day feeling spotted, and not crisp. 

I know life was never promised to be fair, or safe, or even happy.  But I can't help but fall back to that thinking (and I do feel as though I'm 10 years old, pouting in my room).  God is in control of everything.  Our family has committed themselves to God, and yet here we are in this damp,  dirty laundry room, dark and musty with resentments,  spotted with lost hope, and chest crushing sadness.  As always, I will try to wash something today, but what I really need is a good spot remover.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Riding the Yoyo

I'm so exhausted by these up and downs.  After drinking for 4 days last weekend (the Labor Day weekend) my daughter woke up Tuesday morning, and told me she needed help and wanted to withdraw from school, because she couldn't do this, anymore.  Second time she announced this, first time she admitted she couldn't go on with school until she got help.  Kids weren't in class, so we had a longer lunch.  I told her I would come home on the lunch break, take her to school to withdraw (ironically, Sept. 6th was the last day to do this).  So, she was ready when I got home, and we left, she filled out the papers, I brought her back home, and she said she would call this rehab place to ask for inpatient services.  She made the calls.

Summing up the week: She was recovering from the drinking and not eating for 4 days, it is a slow process, but by Friday (2 days, ago) she  was feeling better.  She had called the place, and because she had been sober for 5 days, they didn't think she needed inpatient.  SHE DOES!  But they made a call, and they were going to take her on Sat. morning (Thank you, God) but then someone called back and said that she had to call Monday (tomorrow) to see if her insurance from school, that she just withdrew from, would still accept this treatment.  So, yesterday morning, she said that she wanted to drink.  Did we argue, YES.  Did I lose the calm I have been cultivating?  YES.  She bought alcohol, but assured me that she was still going to call Monday.  It is so hard to get help.  It is such a fragile existence.  I'm so tired and dizzy with this. 

My horrible thoughts:  Last weekend there was a concert here, I think it was Journey, and a friend of mine's daughter was killed in a car accident on her way there.  She was the same age as my daughter, a full life ahead of her.  She had just begun a job as an occupational therapist.  And now she's gone. In funeral home, as I looked at her lying there, it could have been my daughter.  I cried on the drive home.  And then there's my daughter, caught in his Titanic of a life situation, slowly sinking, throwing out all of her gifts.  I feel as though I come home to a funeral home.  I feel as though two precious lives have been taken, one quickly and one slowly.  How do you cope with the walking dead?  I know God is there, and I pray all of the time.  But if His time is not our time, then what time is there? 
I have a headache, thinking and living this. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

God Lifts

I went to church this morning.  We had a visiting pastor from Sweden. Though his English was very broken, and he would stop every once in a while to figure out the corresponding English word that would express his thought best, his passion and love for God was so infectious, I couldn't help but believe what he was saying.  His message was from Ezekiel, talking about how God lifts people up from seemingly dead circumstances.  One of the stories he told was of an old gypsy violinist who went to a music store to buy a new violin.  Though he spent an hour testing and looking, he could not find the new violin with the right sound.  The pastor went on to say, that the old gypsy had to use the bathroom, and the only one available was an outhouse behind the shoppe.  He also explained that in Europe, people used to have a pile behind their homes where they would put junk, old furniture, etc. and burn them.  So, the old gypsy walks out back and happens to see, on top of the mound of ash, an old violin, with only one string.  Curious, he picked up the violin, and put it under his chin, and began to play.  The music from that discarded violin with one string was so beautiful, in the hands of such a master musician, that people began gathering around.  The gypsy, himself, was so enthralled with the beauty of the music, it took him, mentally, away.  When he finished, he opened his eyes, to the crowd who had gathered to appreciate the beautiful music. 

The lesson: God does the same thing.  He can pick you up from whatever ash heap you are sprawled on, gather you, regardless of the holes, lack of strings, take you into His arms, and produce beautiful music through you.  This was helpful to me because I have always hoped God would go looking for you, but some of the teachings, or maybe it's the way they've been taught, make it seem that, yes, God is there but you have to seek Him out.  But, if you're lying on top of a pile of ash, you're too broken to go looking.  Just like someone in addiction, may be too broken mentally or physically, to go looking or even KNOW what to look for.  The supernatural healing of God is where the miracles come.  And so, when God walks by, and looks down and sees a broken soul, and tells them to, "Live," the prayer is answered.

I paraphrased a much longer and more eloquent story, but as I was listening, tears were beginning to blossom in my eyes, and I became choked up.  I thought of my daughter, and everyone else's daughters and sons and loved ones who have been thrown upon a pile of ash by addiction.  Broken, disheartened, hopeless and lost.  My heart ached.  I prayed for all of us trying to clean off the ashes and those still buried or covered in ashes that God walks by, today, lifts them up and begins to play the beautiful melody of their lives that addiction has silenced.  May God pour blessings on each and everyone one of you.  Amen.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Hope Sinks

Well, I can't tell you how sad I am as I write this.  Last Sunday, with my daughter telling me she has to 'own this' and asking me to dump the hidden bottle, was such a hopeful moment for me.  I literally said a hundred thank yous to God (should I have said 1000?).  The week went well, and then she came home, yesterday from class.  I could tell by the look in her eyes.  (No, I didn't ask, "Did you buy alcohol"  I used my new code phrase system: "Is everything okay?" --did you buy alcohol?; "Is your day going well?"--are you sober?; "Are you feeling okay?"--are you thinking of buying alcohol?  I'm not sure if she understands the code, yet, but that's what I do)  Anyway, I looked at her and asked her if she was okay.  She paused and then said that she had stopped on the way home and bought a bottle  (maybe she does understand the code).  (my heart sank, but was also a little hopeful that this may be different, because she didn't hide it, I turned and saw it on the night stand, and she didn't lie to me about buying it).  So, I didn't panic.  I sat down with her on the bed and talked about it. I could tell by were the liquid line was on the bottle that she had already had her first drink, so I wanted to talk with her while she was still able to talk.

In as calm a voice as I could muster I asked, "Can you tell me why you bought it?"
"Because I heard some of the other kids in class saying they were going out to the bars, tonight."
"And you were jealous that you couldn't go and drink?"
"So you're wanting to have that same experience, alone, here, in your room?"
"I want to feel normal."
"You are normal for the most part.  You just can't drink."
"I know and it makes me upset."
"Because that's what everyone does."
"But they're out with each other.  You can go out and not drink."
"I'm too shy. I'm not as out going.  Alcohol makes me outgoing."
"And passed out in your room is outgoing?"
"I don't have to think when I drink and pass out."
"Sweet heart, don't you see how this 'lie' you're drinking is robbing you of your life?"
I could see her eyes getting heavy.  "You have so much life, a good life, a head of you if you just stop drinking.  It's the drinking that has given you all of these regrets.  I love you, and it is so painful to watch my child do this to herself."
"I love you, too."  And she fell asleep.

I said a prayer over her and then left her room.  I had such a feeling of hopelessness--that she will never recover from this, and it is breaking my heart.  I think part of my problem is that I pray, and still live in fear.  I don't think you're supposed to do that.  God doesn't give the spirit of fear, right?  How do you keep faithful and hopeful when there is so much darkness?  It is morning. I heard her moving last night, but she is sleeping now.  I have a meeting, tonight, that I am looking forward to going to.  I am planning to get out, today, and just do stuff, so that I don't have to think about this.  I don't know what else to do.  This numbing hurt can produce such cloudy thinking.  What I prayed last night was:  "God, please take her home or heal her, but do it today, because I can't take this limbo anymore."  Was that a lack of hope, or the beginning of letting go?  Did I pray the right prayer?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Starting My Day With a Cup of Worry

I start back to work, today.  After a summer of being around and able to monitor (sometimes from a distance, sometimes up close) my daughter, I'm feeling a little anxious.  That nervous stomach feeling, again.  After what happened on Sunday, I have been very hopeful. She has made an appointment for intensive out-patient therapy beginning next week.  She will have classes in the morning, and then Tues.,Wed., and Thursday from 6-9 counseling groups.  She went in on her own, and has even said she wanted to start going to a bible study group Sat. @ 6 p.m. with some other students in her class.  (I have always admired the people who are so committed to God, that no matter what they do, school, work, free-time, they find the time to come together to study the bible).  Anyway, this has all been good.  My brain, however, seems to love slopping around in past memories and miseries.  For three weekends in a row, something negative, and potentially devastating, has happened concerning alcohol.  Was that the grand finale?  Or a speeding up of a crisis to come?  This is how my brain works.  Then, for a split second, it relaxes and tells me to relax.  (Do you know I have gone through red lights because my brain has been so occupied with this type of thinking?  I have made repeated trips up and down stairs, into stores, turning around in various streets because I passed up the one I was meaning to turn onto, because my mind has been so occupied).  Then, I start thinking, "Will these unspoken, worried, negative thoughts somehow seep into her aura, then to her brain, and then to the bottle?  CRAZY thinking! I have found those pockets of peace the last few days.  I think I'm ready to attach them to a vest, now. Wish I was a more accomplished seamstress.