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

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kneading it Out

My grandmother was a gifted cook.  I say cook and not chef, because she was never formally trained, though she could make a seven course meal out of a chicken, potato and some broccoli.  I admire those people who have the same talent with food as a composer has with musical notes.  They seem to have the same ability to orchestrate with herbs and various vegetables and meats, a symphony of tastes, much as a composer can see the notes in their minds and create a musical master piece.  I'm not that gifted.  I need a recipe to produce a good meal.  Another example of my need for a plan. 

I remember visiting my grandmother on Saturday morning and like clock work, she would be making fresh dough, for the weekly batch of homemade cinnamon rolls she would nibble on and serve to guests during the week.  Often there would be enough dough for a loaf of bread, and some rolls.  Those rolls, hot out of the oven, spread with butter and jelly, would literally melt in your mouth.  I believe she's serving the cinnamon rolls in heaven as we speak, to the delight of the saints and angels.  I loved watching her work and talking to her has she methodically scooped flour, kneaded and rolled the dough.  She was a master.  I, on the other hand, not quite so skilled.  One Saturday, she asked me if I wanted to try, again, to make a loaf of bread.  Sighing, I told her, "Sure.  I'll try, again."  She passed me the utensils and I mirrored her every move, though I was not as graceful at the kneading as she was.  And, again, we were both stumped when out of the oven came her typically perfect, golden brown loaf of bread.  And mine, another door stop.  It was a baffling experience.  But, completely made null and void, once we cut into her loaf. 

I was thinking about her last week.  Her temperament was as sweet as her cinnamon rolls.  Patient. Kind. Giving. She had been through a lot in her life.  Raising four children alone.  Her husband died unexpectedly at a young age.  Life was hard for her, but to look at her, you would never know.  Then I though about her on those Saturday mornings, kneading that dough.  And I thought about me.  How during this experience with my daughter I have run the gamut of emotions from numbness to rage; until recently.  I think I have kneaded my rage out.  I still teeter on fear and worry, sadness and anger but there is also a calmness that was never there, before.  A calmness that, from a logical view, shouldn't be there, but it is.  I have kneaded my anger into calm, and am currently forming my emotions into a more palatable menu.  All of the crying, and yelling and calling to God has begun to inspire in me an understanding that I am truly helpless in all of this; the  anger and rage does nothing but hinder whatever process has to take place. 

So, now I am praying that we are all on more sure footing, as we walk this path.  I am also praying that as each of us kneads out our emotions and experiences, we are all continually blessed along the way with golden servings of contentment and success.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best We Can

Last Sunday, my daughter and I went to the cemetary that my mom is at to plant bulbs for next year, and a few mums for the remaining fall weather.  Because of the situation here, I hadn't been able to go up there for a year and a half.  It is about 2 1/2 hours from here.  An old, country cemetary were all of her people are buried.  'Her people.'  That reference has always made me laugh.  I heard it first from my grandmother.  "Their people, our people"  It makes me think of tiny humans carried around in a little purse.  Anyway, as morbid as it may sound, I love cemetaries, and the one my mom is in is lovely.  She is on a hill near her mom and dad, some aunts and cousins, and her grandmother and grandfather.  If you sit by her stone, and look across the road, on the other small hill lie more cousins, and neighbors, and grandparents.  Everyone there seems to have related names. A lot of the stones are old. Someone's history.  There are big, ancient oak trees scattered all over. Some were still  in various stages of deep reds and gold.  Some were bare. As far as a cemetary can be, it is homey. 

We stopped at McDonald's and picked up lunch (my mom loved their grilled chicken sandwiches) went to the cemetary, and placed a blanket next my mom's stone.  We had a picnic before we started planting.  It was a very still day, sunny, no wind, sapphire blue sky.  My daughter and I talked, and then I said out loud, to my mom, that I missed her and wished I could talk to her.  At that moment, a swril of wind blew up in front of us, carrying with it a few fallen leaves.  That wind, rushed over us and then stopped.  It felt like a hug and kiss on my cheeks.  My daughter said, 'Mom did you notice that the wind blew when you were talking to grandma, and then stopped?'   "Yes."  And I smiled. 

I told a friend of mine yesterday, and she said, "That was your mom answering you.  She was doing the best she can to answer you with what she has to work with."  The best she can.  Even the spirits are doing the best they can.  An interesting thought. 

My daughter is one week and two days sober.  A blessing.  I miss her when she's passed out.  When I ask her why she continues to do that, she tells me, 'Mom, you never see all of the times I don't drink when I want to.  I am trying.'  She's doing the best that she can with what she has.  I think we all are.  We get frustrated, fall down, sit and cry, brush ourselves off, and try again.  Hopefully, the trying and the strength to do so, lasts a bit longer each time until, this parasite called addiction becomes weaker and weaker and someday falls off.  Another example of  why we can't judge others.  You can't see into their minds and the battle that is raging there.  We can only see the winner.  I think one of our jobs entails not only loving them, but when our children win, provide them with nurishment (soul, body) to keep them strong for the next fight,  and if the enemy wins a battle, be waiting with supplies for the time they're ready to battle, again.  Their choice, I know, but I'm still on her side when she decides to fight for herself, and she's fighting now.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Walk Away

Last week in church, the pastor talked about forgiveness and what it does.  He started by saying that your spirit is not intended to carry bitterness.  (I like that)  He also said that you choose to forgive you don't necessarily feel like forgiving.  After choosing, you release your offender, and third you tell God that you trust Him to see you through this because forgiving is hard.   He also said, that after you forgive someone (or yourself) you can walk away.  You can draw those boundary lines and not cross over them, again.  He said that, "Forgiveness is for the present and the past."  People often feel that right after forgiving someone, you have to trust them.  He said, "Trust is for the future.  It takes time."   Forgiveness is less about the offender and more about the quality of the soul of the person doing the forgiving.  

I thought about the person I need to forgive the most, and am pretty good about doing that, letting it go, until something from the past comes up or something in my present reminds me, and I can feel that old hatred beginning to burn.  It is really hard to forgive other people.

It is harder to forgive yourself, I think, because you have to take yourself with you everywhere you go.  You can't really 'walk away' as easily.  So, how does that work?  I've been thinking about that.  How do you separate yourself from yourself?  I was reading, "Because of Winn-Dixie" to the class. It's a fifth grade book, by Kate DiCamillo.  I want to quote a passage because it helped me with the answer.  This is from pages 94-96.

     "Look at this tree," Gloria said.
     I looked up.  There were bottles hanging from just about every branch.  There were whiskey bottle and beer bottles and wine bottles all tied on with string, and some of them were clanking against each other and making a spooky kind of noise.  Me and Winn-Dixie stood and stared at the tree, and the hair on top of his head rose up a little bit and he growled deep in his throat.
     Gloria Dump pointed her cane at the tree.
     "What you think about this tree?"
     I said, "I don't know.  Why are all those bottles on it?"
     "To keep the ghosts away," Gloria said.
     "What ghosts?"
     "The ghosts of all the things I done wrong."
     I looked at all the bottles on the tree.  "You did that many things wrong?"  I asked her.
     "Mmmm-hmmm," said Gloria. "More than that."
     "But you're the nicest person I know, " I told her.
     "Don't mean I havent' done bad things," she said.
     "There's whiskey bottles on there, " I told her.
  "And beer bottles."
     "Child," said Gloria Dump, "I know that.  I'm the one who put 'em there.  I'm the one who drank what was in 'em."
     "My mama drank,"  I whispered.
     "I know it." Gloria Dump said.
     "The preacher says that sometimes she couldn't stop drinking."
     "Mmmm-hmmm,"  said Gloria again.  "That's the way it is for some folks.  We get started and we can't get stopped."
     "Are you one of those people?"
     "Yes ma'am.  I am.  But these days, I don't drink nothing stronger than coffee."
     "Did the whiskey and beer and wine, did they make you do the bad things that are ghosts now?"
     "Some of them," said Gloria Dump. "Some of them I would've done anyway, with alcohol or without it.  Before I learned."
     "Learned what?"
     "Learned what is the most important thing."
     "What's that?"  I asked her.
     "It's different for everyone," she said.  "You find out on your own.  But in the meantime, you got to remember, you can't always judge people by the things they done.  You got to judge them by what they are doing now."
When I read that, it was like part of the puzzle for me to understand how to better talk to my daughter.  She has a hard time forgiving, people, but mostly herself.  She has hunkered down, and burrowed herself  into a stagnant hole.  Like her bunker, only she invites the enemy in instead of battling it (The battlefield truly is the mind).  I think it is important to have a physical representation of what you're forgiving, because thoughts are so abstract. You need something more concrete.  Gloria's bottles.  It might be a letter that you write to the offender.  Stones in a jar.  Something to hold the past, I think, may help you face the past and once that's done, it's just an empty bottle,  or a stone you threw in a lake,  or a letter you burned in the fire place.  Let the past go.  After that, start judging yourself on the present.  Each day a new way.  And if you mess up, start fresh the next day.  I have written on one of my walls, "Blessed is the life that finds joy in the Journey."  I think that's how you find joy in your life's journey.  Walk away from the past.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Joy and Sorrow

As of 6 years ago, this day is always going to be a day of joy and sorrow for me.  My son was born on this day, and though it was scary at the time, it was the biggest day of joy for me.  I can still 'feel' in my hands what it felt like to hold him for the first time.  I can remember how easy it was to make him laugh and giggle as he grew up.  He was the one who taught me that learning never stops and how to 're-see' the world every day.  He has grown into a wonderful man. He's a gentle giant (he looks like a Viking). He's funny, and smart.  Kind and an incredible writer. Each day, regardless of the stress involved, is a comfort knowing he's in the world.  He is a blessing.

Six years ago, I was at work.  I never check my messages during the day, but for some reason, I did that day at 11:30.  My heart sank, and I could feel my cheeks begin to tingle when I heard my dad's voice (who rarely calls my cell phone) saying, "Signe, this is the call you hoped you'd never get. Mom's gone."  The rest of that hour at work was a blur.  What'd he mean, 'Mom's gone?' She was coming home today.  That Wednesday, she had gone in for an asthma treatment, she had done that before, and was to come home on Friday.  I had just talked to her the night before and she was fine, a little tired, but fine.  I didn't understand.  The woman I work with took over, and I just remember being kind of 'packed up' and readied to go.  One of the principals had asked me if I wanted him to drive me, and I said said no, that I was fine.  I remember getting into the car.  It was raining (how appropriate) and driving 1/2 hour to the hospital, where my mom was on a ventilator.  My dad looked so lost and confused. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry. The doctors explained that her brain had shifted, a bleed of some sort.  She was on the ventilator until Sunday, when my brother flew in. It was all so surreal.  It all seems like a bad dream.

My mom was amazing.  A little powerhouse.  Quiet, and calm yet so determined to reach her goals. She had polio as a child and fought through that.  Her father died when she was 19, and she quit school (she wanted to be a nurse) to go to work and help her mom and 3 brothers. She was beautiful, and kind and generous. She gave piano lessons to the kids in our neighborhood growing up. She was an artist. She loved to garden, and play cards. She liked Bun candy bars, and shopping at Marshall's.  She read everything she could. She ended up going back to school and for seven years, I fell asleep to the muffled tapping of the type writer (yes, type writer) as she did her homework, downstairs at the dining room table.  She ended up graduating magna cum laude with a degree in Library Science, and three days after graduating she got a job as a school librarian and worked there until she retired.  She loved working with children.  She loved decorating the library. She was so precise in her work.  When she carved a turkey, it was with a surgeon's precision.  She was such a mixture of talent and personality.  I miss her every second. 

She loved her grandchildren.  She loved watching them grow and learn. She would be proud of both of them, today.  Thinking of her makes my daughter cry sometimes.  Not only the missing of her, but her feeling that grandma would be disappointed.  Of all the people in the world, she was not one to judge.  For her, love was a fortress, and once you were behind that fortress with her, nothing could take you away,  and she would fight for you forever, so regardless of your circumstances, you were loved.  Sometimes, I believe that if she were still here, her love would be the final pull that my daughter would need to stay sober.  At any rate, losing her, has been a lesson in so many things.  Most importantly, never, NEVER end a conversation with anything but 'I love you,' because you don't know if it will be your last words.  Along with that, anger, and resentment are pointless.  The only thing that matters is love and forgiveness.  I don't think about money, or house or clothes when I think of my mom.  I think of how much I love her, and how grateful I am that our last words were, 'I love you.'  No regrets.  I want my words to my daughter and son to only carry love.  Life carries enough hurt without me adding to it.  So, my mother's legacy is to be kind, work hard, never give up, enjoy a candy bar now and then, and never forget to say, "I love you."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Anxiety at 6:00

I have been thinking a lot about how did we get here concerning addiction.  I know times have always been tough, and I know that there have always been struggles with addiction, but it just seems that it has such a huge membership now, and I can't figure out why.  Through watching various shows (Intervention, Dr. Drew), Documentaries (PBS station),and listening to the news, it just seems as though there are so many hurting people.  The common thread with the majority of programs I've heard, concerning people with addiction, have to do with some emotional hurt that happened.  The degree of hurts vary, but emotions seem to be the seed to all of this.  So, what has happened to stir so much emotional unrest?

In Al-Anon, we went through some readings.  Each of us read one, and commented on it.  One of the women there read reading #8 that had to do with less stress and pressure.  That we're supposed to pace ourselves and not let stress overwhelm us (I'm paraphrasing).  It started me thinking.  A few weeks ago, I heard on the news (actually, it was the alarm in the morning, so I woke up to this) that people are losing approximately $750.00 a day waiting in traffic.  What!?  I heard that and felt a little surge of panic shoot through my body (remember, I was in the fog of waking up), even though it only takes me 15 minutes to drive to work.  As my head became more clear, and I continued to listen, the announcer explained that because people are waiting in traffic for so long, they are losing that amount of time that they could be working.  So, that added up to around $750 dollars a day.  They didn't specify the amount of time in traffic, just that dollar figure.  But that opened another door in my thinking and I began noticing how much we, as individuals are allowing other members of society to feed our stress.  The news goes without saying.  Even the little blurbs between shows produce anxiety about what you can view during the 6:00 news.  We are being conditioned for doom. 

There are too many examples to list, but I bet I can tally at least 10 during one day.  Even when the stress isn't announced, I have noticed I'm beginning to anticipate it. For instance, the first time I saw the movie Babe,  the farmer was doing this dance for Babe (Babe wasn't feeling well) when he jumped into the air, I thought, "Oh, he's going to have a heart attack."  He didn't.  The first time, I watched this BEAUTIFUL movie called, The Magic of Ordinary Days, Livy was pregnant and pulling a huge gas can out of the truck, and I though,"Oh, she's going to loose the baby."  She didn't.  But it's instances like that, that I have become so accustomed to anxiety and dread, that even when something lovely is happening, that little bit of anxiety begins. 

So, could that be why addiction is the new growing epidemic?  These sensitive souls are being bombarded to be the best, be successful, doom is coming, you're too old, your too something else, and my daughter's anxiety, "It's (your?) never good enough." 

Feelings lie.  But all of the stress, and the isolation that technology brings, is hard to struggle through on a daily basis.  It didn't used to be this way.  When my parents were growing up, it was a slower, more dignified time.  Life has gotten so fast paced, and isolating, that if you don't keep those plates spinning, it's all going to crash down around you.  And somehow, more plates keep being added. 

Everyone is different, I get that. Everyone handles emotions, experiences, life differently.  But something has happened to cause people to want to escape from the hear and now.  Something has shifted from, "Tomorrow is a new day"  to  "Tomorrow may never come."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Do Over

I'm struggling.  I'm trying to find God in all of this.  Almost a month of sobriety, and bam, we're back, again, to drinking.  I don't get it.  I know all about free will, but a toddler has free will and I wouldn't let them walk across the street alone, or drive a car.  Even though their free will was telling them that is what they wanted to do.  So, why, then does God, who could pull my daughter and everyone else's child away from the terrible rush hour of addiction, as they run headlong (head strong) into on coming traffic, allow them to continue that stupid, harmful choice? Why can't He pull them back?  Scold them, and put them in the time out chair to help them rethink their choices?  When you think about it, in the big picture of us and God, we are infants-teenagers at best-in this spiritual family we are a part of.  God the head of the family.  The Holy Spirit like a loving mother.  Our amazing and loving big brother, Jesus.  Who wouldn't want to belong to that family?  Then why this feeling of such abandonment?

I don't get it.  I sound like the whinny kid sister.  Maybe.  But tell me where my logic is wrong.  So, feeling once, again, that I've missed something, some spiritual clue, I'm racking my brain, again--what did I do wrong???  What is the key to this mystery?  I feel like a spiritual archaeologist, trying to dig up clues as to how this all works.  I just don't get it.

I give spelling tests on Fridays.  One of my students (a fourth grader) was upset that he missed a word. He still got an A, but was upset that it wasn't a perfect score.  He was getting so frustrated.  I was patiently telling him that he did extremely well.  Top speller.  He couldn't be consoled.  He was quiet for a minute, and then he looked at me, gritted this teeth, and said, "I want a do-over."  I couldn't help but smile.  "Sweety, we don't have do-overs for spelling tests, especially when your score is so good."  (Teeth gritted, and cheeks getting red) "I want a do-over."  It took several minutes before I could convince him, and he could accept that his score was wonderful.  He took a deep breath, exhaled, and with pursed lips, he nodded and walked away.  On my way home, I was reviewing the day, and thought of him, and  I understood how he felt.  I don't feel my score is that good.
 I want a do-over, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I don't know if it is the full moon, too much humidity, a bad hair day, or fear of repeating the past, but I have mentally argued with God all day.  This is all just SO UNFAIR.  I was driving home, and saw a mother waiting for her young daughter to get off of a school bus.  That used to be me.  I see the female students in school, and think, once, that was my daughter with so many exciting unknowns in her future.  Where her biggest worry was who was she going to sit with on the bus.  She used to be so alive. Honor role, honor society, a ton of friends, so much ahead of her.  And now, this.  A life of rehabs, and worry and horrible memories. Sometimes when I think of the things I've been through with her, and the situations I've seen her drunk in, it makes me physically ill.  When I think of the insanity of her reasoning concerning the past, it is so frustrating.   This is so unfair.  Why?  Why us?  Why can't we know that either the prayers will be answered or they won't.  Why drag on a situation if it has no hope of getting better?  Why, why, why?  I want this all to be over.  I'm craving my normal, again.  I am just so overwhelmingly sad, today.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


My daughter went to an AA meeting while I was at my Al-Anon meeting. They meet in the same building. This was last night. I am so hopeful.  Today, on the way to church, we talked about what was discussed at our meetings.  One issue that was discussed at the Al-Anon meeting was the idea of alcoholism being a disease (all addiction, for that matter).  The woman who heads the meeting called it a disease of choice.  I raised my hand, and said that I wasn't sure it was a choice.  Another woman said that she agreed, that it was a difference in brain chemistry.  I said that I agreed more with that. It was explained to me once, in a more scientific way.  I explained (more simplistically) that imagine that there is a bridge in your brain that connects part of your brain with the section that aides in feeling good/content, where the serotonin is stored.  In non-diseased brains, that bridge is strong and can handle a lot of traffic, so the serotonin is always able to be carried across the bridge to other parts of the brain.  In brains of people who have that addiction disease, that bridge is not so strong.  And if they drink alcohol or take drugs, pretty soon that bridge gets worn away and depends on the alcohol/drug to transport the serotonin, BUT it does not transport the good serotonin. It kind of substitutes itself and tricks the brain into thinking it is working but really it isn't.  When a person sobers up, and stays sober, the miraculous healing of the brain, rebuilds the normal/natural bridge.  BUT if they would start using, again, that artificial substance (alcohol/drugs) tears the bridge down, again, and begins substituting the harmful poison of the alcohol/drug instead of the healthy serotonin.  That is why it is a disease.  When I was done with that explaination, the woman in the meeting said, "Maybe it isn't so much of a choice." 

As my daughter and I talked about it, she said it is a very insidious disease because it creeps up on you.  You don't realize what is happening.  She said it is like Type 2 diabeties or skin cancer. With both of those diseases, you can have remission (just like with substance abuse). With Type 2 diabeties, if you eat right, and exercise, you can pretty much stay healthy.  But, if you decide to eat cake and ice cream and not exercise, then the disease takes over.  Same with skin cancer. If you get it taken care of, and then stay out of the sun and wear protection when you are outside, chances are you will be okay.  If, however, you decide to continue going out into the sun unprotected at the worst times of the day, then you risk getting cancer, again. 

The choice in alcoholism and addiction, is to choose  to abstain. But being sad, and wanting to feel good (happy) are strong motivators.  Alcohol is all over movies, commercials, picnics, parties, socializing events.  It is hard, once you have the disease, to readjust your life. So much interfers.  Socializing, the stigma involved, shame, guilt, all of those horrible feeling emotions.  But it can be done.  It takes committment to yourself and a shift in thinking and, I think, an understanding of what the disease is about.  And the true happiness comes with sobriety.  I haven't heard on person say, my life is worse being sober.  I have only heard from those who have reached soberity say how blessed they feel finding soberity.

I am praying for recovery for all of those fighting addiction.

Friday, October 7, 2011


I believe in God.  I believe in what the Bible says.  I believe in supernatural healing. I believe in the power of Love. If God felt it necessary as part of the plan for you to physically move a mountain, I believe it would happen. I believe all of it.  I just didn't believe it worked for me. 

I was (and still am) always amazed and awed by the people who truly love and believe in God.  They seem so accepting of everything. They seem so strong. They radiate that 'peace that surpasses all understanding.'  It's inspiring to witness.  I always felt that if there was a table to feast at with God, I was sitting underneath it frantically picking up crumbs that fell.  It's as though I could hear everyone laughing and talking and enjoying the presence of God all the time, but my experience was hit or miss, and crumbs at that. 

Every day, I would put on the 'Armor of God', but I'd begin battling God.  When something happened that I didn't think was right, I'd argue with God. When I was feeling hurt, or upset, I would argue with God.  It got to the point that if I was in a hurry and I didn't get a good parking spot, I'd send a small grumbled complaint to God for that, too. I was beginning to wrestle with God as I was praying.  I was becoming the champion of the WWF technique of communicating with God. Each time I started a prayer, in the back of my mind was that voice yelling, "Are you ready to rumble!"  I stopped going to church.  On Sunday mornings it progressed from finding someone on T.V. to listen to (and there are some very good pastors there) to deciding I'd just go walking, to reading something to just sleeping in a few extra hours.  My taking to God--my prayers--continued to slowly deteriorate.  A lot of this happened because of what my daughter was going through.  My son, too, was having some issues, and there were other things like my mom dying suddenly.  All of it was getting to be too much, and who else to blame but God? 

Then something happened, I can't say exactly when, or how or what I was doing, but one Sunday, I was so tired, I just decided to go back to church.  It is a good church. It took me awhile to find it. The pastor is an excellent teacher. He explains, unravels and applies the teachings. I take notes.  So, I would get up each Sunday and force myself to go to church.  When my daughter was sober, she would go with me.  When she was passed out, I went alone.  I honestly don't know why I did go other than, I had reached that point I'd heard about where I was totally empty.  So, I would go and just sit there and listen.  Pretty soon, I started feeling the stirrings of a calmness, and I started feeling stronger.  Not all at once, and I'm still not completely there (and by there I think I mean that peace that surpasses all understanding), but I'm getting there. 

I was plodding in one Sunday, and a women who greets people, asked if everything was okay. I started tearing up.  (I was doing that a lot there.  People I didn't know, even the pastor at one point, would say hi, and ask me how I was and I would just start to cry, so I had people praying for me almost every Sunday. I was starting to get embarrassed because I didn't know how to stop that). Anyway, she asked me, I told her about not feeling that it all worked for me, and she told me it was because I was believing my feelings and not the truth.  I had to believe the Truth of God.  So, I had to not only recover from being an enabler, I had to recover from believing in feelings. (Which, as I think of it the two are kind of intertwined).

It is getting better.  I am loyal to my meetings and church.  I am learning a lot.  Before my daughter came home, I was praying all over the house. In her room, especially.  I wanted a supernatural healing in this home so that the same memories wouldn't entice her to fall back.  I was cleaning a few days before she came back, and I found a stencil that said, "Believe."  I had bought it about a  year ago at this colonial festival I went to.  The thought came to me to stencil it on her wall.  So, I did.  I continued to pray, and the Monday she was to come home, when I was at work, I was starting to feel those twinges of worry.  I was beginning to crawl into my mind's attic and unpack that suitcase of old feelings I had packed away when she had left.  I was walking around the room, and happened to look over at one of my students, and on the back of his shirt was with word, "believe."  I couldn't help but smile (and yes, got a little chill).  So, I started to relax, again.  I had to believe that God was in this and my prayers were in the process of being answered.  Fast forward to my daughter getting home.  We had talked, and she told me that she had made a plan for staying recovered here (thank you), and, oh yeah, she had made a mug while she was there.  So, she went and got it and showed me.  On the mug, she had written the word, 'Believe.'  I laughed.  I told her to go up to her room.  She did and when she saw the 'Belive' stencil, she looked at her mug, and we both smiled at each other.  I told her about my student's shirt.  God communicates in many ways. 

So, I am believing.  I am still weak, relying on feelings at times, but I am forcing myself to believe the Truth of God.  I am believing that God does love me (even though I still feel awkward saying that). I am believing that whatever may occur, God is working in all of this.  This time, I am truly believing it all.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

God's Maneuvering

Good can be gleaned from any bad situation.  This is what I believe.  Sometimes it takes time (even years) to see the good, but it is there.  Seeing the Hand of God move and shift people and situations always amazes me.  Here is how He worked with my daughter during her visit to Crazy Town.

Of course, she didn't know anyone when she arrived.  She is shy to begin with, and her not knowing anyone or anything about the situation was causing her anxiety.  She was afraid to face the unknown.  She arrived at night, so she was placed into detox and stayed there for the next day. (By the way, they only gave her a vitamin, nothing to prevent seizures, just a vitamin during the detox)   During lunch, the next day, an older man who was there came over to her and started talking to her.  He was genuine, kind and a recovering alcoholic like her.  The next day, another older man, also a recovering alcoholic befriended her.  They were like loosely choreographed tag-team.  Because of their company, she did not feel isolated.  In addition, they had some good life advice and encouragement.  The one man was a professor, and they ended up having some very good conversations. He gave her a book to read, that she really enjoyed.  Then he gave her a reading list!  (teachers)  Anyway, one afternoon, when the weather was nice, there was a break and my daughter was working on this packet she was given about recovery.  She needed the NA book, so she asked one of the men, I think she said his name was Chris, if she could borrow his.  He said yes, and then told her she should go outside and sit at the picnic bench to write because the weather was so nice.  So, she did.

When she was out there working on her packet, one of her roommates came over and sat with her. She was writing a letter to her boyfriend.  While they were there, another man, (this big guy as she described him) came over to her.  "What are you doing?"  My daughter looked up.  "I'm working on my recovery packet."  "Really?"  "Yes."  He said, " I have never seen anyone working toward their recovery during break like this.  That's impressive."  My daughter smiled and he walked away. 

A few minutes later, one of the female techs came over to my daughter.  This made her nervous, because this particular tech was hard to read.  The tech asked my daughter what her name was.  She told her.  She wrote it down, and informed my daughter that she would be attending 'Big D's' group at 6 that evening.  "Who's Big D?"  "The big man who was just talking to you.  Consider yourself honored.  Everyone wants to be in his groups."   (Big D had also picked the friend of my daughter who was writing the letter, thinking that she was also working on her recovery)  

(So, there is the first had of God, Chris suggesting my daughter write outside.  The second had of God was the roommate sitting next to her and writing her letter). 

My daughter went to the group and said that it was the most powerful group she's ever been to.  What he talked about and got them to talk about was very moving and my daughter said that she was crying most of the time.  My daughter's roommate also got a lot out of the group.  There were about 9 people  picked to attend.  After the first session, Big D, said that he had felt God was working here, so they were going to have a second group the next night.  And they did.  After that group, he said he wanted a third group (the second group was apparently unheard of since so many people want to be in his group, he usually has only one per group).  It was that third meeting, however, that she had to miss because of the 'whole unit' acting up incident.  That was why she was so mad.  (See how evil also has a plan and how people can also be used to carry that out?) 

It is always a choice to do right or wrong.  Good or bad.  I believe we are in a spiritual battle--always.  The choices are there--always.  Who's side we pick is determined by our intentions.  Do we intend to help or hurt?  Do we intend to be faithful or fearful?  It's all about choices. In this case, the choices are clear:  Big D-Man of God.  Supervisor on the unit-works for the other side.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Plan

So, my daughter and I talked most of yesterday and last night. She came home sick, with a temperature of 102. She said that four people had been diagnosed with pneumonia while they were there. She said to see a doctor, you had to put in for a medical slip. She did that twice, and was seen once. She was feeling achy, sore throat, headache, chills. The doctor looked in her mouth, and listened to her back. Never took a temperature. Never gave medicine (not even aspirin). Just told her to drink some water. It was this kind of treatment that was hard for me to hear. Her being denied treatment both mentally and physically. The more we talked, the more this was sounding like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. I think the supervisor of her unit fit the nurse Ratchet role like a clone. There was an underlying cruelness to the facility. For instance, though my daughter's drug of choice is alcohol, most of the patients there were struggling with heroin or other drug addictions. One night, for recreation, they showed the movie Basketball Diaries.   This is a movie about drug addiction.  My daughter said that after the movie, several of the patients commented that they had just relapsed.  Whether joking or not, I think it makes no sense to show a movie like that to people who are trying to get away from that life style. 

There were a lot of instances like that, where the supervisor or the general 'rules' were not in support of recovery.   It's all very sad for me.  It's as though the people who are supposed to be in charge of the healing of people with addiction, themselves don't respect those struggling with this. They don't respect the steps to recovery. They don't respect the trauma that began the addiction. They don't respect that this is a person, not a number or a thing, but a human being who deserves the time and compassion to be helped.  The stigma of addiction was shadowed in the attitude of the people in charge and routine of the place my daughter was staying.  So frustrating. 

I'm a letter writer.  I write letters when someone has done a good job.  I write letters when someone does a bad job.  If I  can't find the address, I make a call.  I have done this for a long time.  My inspiration was a quote I had seen on a church marque once.  Ironically, I had been working at a school that took in adjudicated students.  Even though they were a hard group to work with, they could be worked with!  Yes, it took time, and energy, and a ton of patience, but they could be reached.  However, not everyone had this same experience or view.  There were some people who were not helping, and I was so frustrated driving on the way home.  I happened to be at a red light, and looked to my right, and there, in big black letters was the quote:  "Evil Prospers When Good Men Do Nothing."   That has been the motivation for me to speak out when the time calls for it, good or bad.  I'm not an in-you-face type of person.  Once, someone used the description Velvet Sledgehammer.  I like that.
So the plan is to write some letters.  To the man who went to see my daughter, because apparently he didn't listen too hard to her and he misquoted me to her.  Then, I found the CEO of the whole medical group that this place is tucked into.  For what it's worth, he'll be getting a letter, too.  Will it have an effect?  I don't know.  I hope, though, that my putting these concerns forward, with the intention to clean it up and get the help snowball rolling, will throw out some good in the universe.  I think God works that way.  Anyway, that's what I feel motivated to do. So, I'm following that.  I don't want to end this, though, feeling like all was horrible.  God did place people in my daughters path while she was there that helped keep her motivated and did inspire her.  Prayer is definately a powerful tool.  And God surely does work in amazing ways.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recovering from Recovery

Well, my daughter is home.  It seems like she's been away for a lot longer than she was.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I'm happy to say that she seems different in a good way--calmer and wiser. That's the result.  This past week, though, has been wild and unsettling.  There are so many emotions and thoughts I have been trying to sort out.  So, here was the process.

First, about me. I want to make an observation.  The first week my daughter was gone, it took me about a week for my emotions to catch up with my brain.  I would go to work, and come home, let the dogs out. Let the dogs in.  Put on the sweats, and lay on the couch.  Sometimes I would fall asleep.  Sometimes I would watch some T.V. and then fall asleep.  Most of the time, I would watch T.V., take a nap so that I would have the energy to go upstairs to go to bed.  It was like I couldn't focus on how to function without worrying.  All of my energy went into work, I couldn't push my brain anymore when I got home. Then, the next week, the week I was packing up my daughter's box, my brain kind of did a fast forward, like they do in the movies where the character goes through five years of life and zip, is in the present.  That was me.  As I was packing her box, my thinking just go clearer and clearer.  From that day until today, I was on time, laundry didn't sit in the basket for days, papers didn't get pushed aside.  I cleaned out 2 closets, the dinning room (turned into 'study'), I worked in the yard, and was not only on time for work (I am always) but I went in early to work ahead!  It didn't take me years to re -find myself.  It took me a week.  It felt great.  Even with the crazy situation that happened at the facility she was in, I was having my own self-rediscovery recovery. 

Her recovery:  My daughter had called me the Friday before the box, and she wasn't happy.  She said she wouldn't be able to call me until the following Friday. I recieved a letter from her on Monday that pretty much told of a place similar to House on Haunted Hill. I didn't know what to think. Well, Tuesday night, around 6:30 the phone rang. My daughter was angry and panicked.  She was telling me she was going to leave AMA (against medical advice) She had demanded to use the phone, even though it wasn't her day.  I told her to calm down. She said that someone in her unit had stolen a key from one of the tech's and so no one could go to group.  She was upset because she had said that this group was actually helping her.  (Even in her panic, I felt hopeful because she said that something was helping her, but it made me angry, too, because she was being denied treatment for something she didn't do).  So, I told her to stay there, and don't go anywhere I was going to make some calls.  We hung up and I started to panic because I had no idea who to call.  So, I went on line to look up names from the facility.  I left a few messages, but I didn't feel satisfied.  Then I remembered Diane, the Angel of Mercy who had helped us, before.  So I called her and left her a message.  Well, by now I was worried and worked up, so I started dusting.  Diane called back around 8:30, and she sounded madder than me!

I explained to her, again all that my daughter had said, and her exact words to me: "You get on that G** D*** computer and type all of this up!  I will give you a fax of the guy in charge of all of this and you send it to him! I'm so fed up with these counselors!  People have complained to me before, but no one says anything!"  Me: "Hold on, Diane, do you have a number?  I'll call the guy."  Diane: "Yes. You'd do that? That's even better.  I'll text him right now and tell him you'll be calling him tomorrow morning."  When I got off of the phone with Diane, I was happy that she was there, again, ready to help.  Then I started wondering why she sent us to a place where she felt the counseling was sub par. (hmmm).

So, I wrote it down, had my daughter's letter and waited until the morning.  Before I could call this guy, Diane called me making sure I had all of my paper work ready.  I assured her I did, and then I called.  On the phone, this man, Mr. B, sounded sane. In fact, he was in the car on the way to the facility that was two hours away from his office.  I was feeling hopeful.  He listened to what I had to say and then assured me he would talk to my daughter, make sure she was safe, and get to the bottom of things.  After all, this facility was where he started.  His statement: "I built that place."  (hmmm).

He said he would call later that afternoon. I had to go back to work, but called Diane to tell her about the conversation.  After I was done, Diane said that my daughter was no longer there.  That someone said she had left, AMA.  "WHAT!?"  She told me she would make a call and get back to me.

Five minutes later, the phone rings.  It ends up being the supervisor from the facility.  The very woman who denied the treatment.  She introduced herself, and said that she understood that I had a question about my daughter's treatment. (How did she know so quickly?)  "Yes.  Is she getting any?"  She then read me the daily schedule.  I said, "That sounds very nice, but is that schedule followed EVERY DAY?"  Pause.  "Well, it wasn't yesterday because the unit was 'acting up.'  Me: "The WHOLE unit was acting up?   (silence)  "Well, I find that hard to believe."  (silence)  "Are you still there?"  "Yes."  "Okay, well, I don't care what the whole unit is doing, you can't deny my daughter, or anyone else there, treatment because that's why they are there."  "Well, she sees her counselor every day."  (that ended up being a lie, by the way)  "Great.  She needs the other groups, too.  Especially the one that is helping her. Make sure she gets there."  Her: "Do you have any other questions?"  "Yes. Is my daughter there?"  "Yes."  "Let me talk to her."  So, she put her on the phone.  I asked her if she was okay. She was. Then I told my daughter that a man would be coming there and she was to tell him everything.  She said that she would.  I told her I loved her and hung up the phone.

I called Diane to tell her about that conversation, and that my daughter was okay.  I went to work.

That is part one.  I wanted to wait because my daughter's view on what happened is my guide to how this will be resolved. We talked when she got home, so, I'm back to trying to put my thoughts together. This recovery business really does take some time...and a lot out of you.