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

Saturday, December 22, 2012


There is a woman I think about a lot, especially when I am waivering in my faith.  Well, I don't waiver in my faith of God.  I know that is true.  I waiver in my faith with the feeling that 'I'm not in the family' so to speak.  You know, the 'it works for everyone but me' whine that I know I can get into when I'm feeling frustrated or when I get too caught up in what's not working out instead of all that is working well.

Her name was Shirley.  When we moved to Alabama, she lived across the street from us.  She was one of the first people to welcome us into the neighborhood.  Her wide, enthusiastic smile is always the first part of her face that materialized in my memory of her.  She would leave secret presents for my children on Christmas and Easter.  Little trinkets that were like gold to them.  Mysterious, generous, gifts.  She always had a wave across the street when she saw me in the yard.  There was never an uncomfortable, awkwardness about conversation with her.  She was always direct but sincere. 

When we decided on a church to start attending regularly, I was pleasantly surprised that Shirley was a member.  She was a greeter the first Sunday we went.  Her bright smile and warm embrace on the steps of the church solidified in my mind that I had chosen the right place.  I made some very good and lasting friends there.  It was through those friends that I learned Shirley's story.

At one time she had been married.  She had two sons.  One had muscular dystrophy and one was a track star in high school.  The boys were two years apart.  Because of his illness, her younger son eventually died.  Two years after his death, her older son, the handsome, athlete with a promising future, was killed in a car accident.  Some time after that, her husband left her.  None of this horrific past was evident in Shirley's attitude toward life.  She was always among friends.  Was always positive.  Was always putting God first.  I never heard a grumble or complaint from her. 

After we moved a friend of mine called me to tell me that Shirley had contracted breast cancer.  During her fight, she was never critical or complaining.  In fact, on several occasions, she spoke at church confessing to everyone how blessed she was and how good God had been to her.  Until her last breath, she was faithful to her place with God. 

I so admire that strong confidence in a relationship with God. Not arrogant or cocky, but someone who is secure in the knowledge that God is a loving god.  That when the imperfections of life create such huge and gaping wholes, God is wanting and able to mend the hurt and hold us close.  I find that when I stop fighting God, and just let go of my fears, I begin to feel that closeness.  It's hard, though, letting go of anger and resentment and the, 'why me' attitude.  So, I think of Shirley.  Her kindness, her enthusiasm.  Her sincere love of God. Her forgiveness. 

Merry Christmas and a Joyful New Year to everyone.  My prayer is that we all can find the same kind of relationship and comfort in our lives that allows us to forgive and move forward into a wonderfully blessed future.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Tragedy

We have a little over 1000 students at our school.  They are grades 4, 5, and 6.  We had a faculty meeting on Thursday where our vice principal spoke, and in lieu of the tragedy that occurred on Friday, what he said was kind of prophetic. 

We have been having trouble with some of the students.  Because they are such 'squeeky wheels' they are always getting attention.  Our principal put it into perspective.  He said that out of 1000 plus students only around 40 are the frequent fliers (always in his office) and out of those 40 only about 10 are really hard core (we're talking fourth, fifth and sixth graders).  That leaves over 900 other students that are great and doing what they need to do--being decent, kind, involved students, but we tend to focus on those 40.  There are 40 buses that are involved with taking the students home.  Of those 40 buses, there are two where most of the trouble occurs on the way to and from school.  And as before the problem students on those buses account for around 10-20 students.  But we focus on the problem students because they cause the most noise. 

I believe that the majority of people in the United States, as well as around the world, are good and decent people.  I believe they love their families and work hard to make life better for themselves and others.  But, there are a few who make the choice to do evil.  Their actions scream their indifference to others.  Life has no value to them--they have become desensitized to its worth. 

I am not debating gun regulation. In China a man entered an elementary school and stabbed several children to death.  I'm not debating knife regulation.  I have a picture of my mother in high school with several other students posing with rifles because they were part of the rifle club.  The rifles were kept at school, and at the end of the day, the students learned about them and then had target practice.  No one was killed.  Something other than weapons has happened to our society. I don't think it is one issue but many; like all puzzles, several pieces work together to make the big picture. 

Serious discussion and action needs to start taking place to resolve this, but in the mean time,  I have learned two lessons from this tragedy.  One is that my focus is not going to be on the 'squeeky wheel'.  Instead I want pay homage to the tender lives that were so selfishly ended.  I watched the news today and said a prayer for each name that scrolled by:  Charlotte, Daniel, Rachel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, and Allison. And the adults, Dawn, Anne Marie, Lauren, Mary, and Victoria.  I don't even remember the name of the shooter, and I'm okay with that.

The second lesson is that life is unpredictable. Sadly, death is woven into life's fabric.  So, appreciate those you love and who are in your lives, daily.  Don't take anyone, any second, for granted because it could be gone in an instant.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Conditioning.  As with everything else, depending on how you use it determines whether it's going to be helpful or hurtful.  For me, conditioning has made me feel like Scrooge, stuck with his ghosts of Christmas pasts and present.  Conditioning is my third stage.  I am conditioned by certain smells, sounds, and sights, that can resurrect such gut retching feelings that I have to make a forced and conscious effort to drag my thinking away from the memory. 

At home, there are certain routines that, when I notice them either in progress or see that they have been done, the dread inside me begins to swirl: addiction is in the room, like a phantom, hovering in a corner manipulating her thinking and behaviors.  Some of these behaviors don't always signal its arrival, but most of them do.  Crazy as this sounds, there is a chowder that my daughter likes to cook.  On most of the occasions she's cooked it, she has been drinking.  So, when I come home, and the house smells like that delicious soup, my conditioning overrides that initial joy and the spirit of darkness  begins to shadow the room. 

There are various places around where I live that when I'm driving on roads that take me to places I love to go, those same roads are now a little darker for me with the ghosts of behaviors past looming and gawking at me as I drive by.  "There was where she was drunk, waiting for me to pick her up."  "Over there was where I saw her coming out of a liquor store before class."  "Here is where she almost jumped out of the car as I was driving."  I hear whispered in my head.  Even the college she attended, which is beautiful, holds spectres of drunken memories. I can feel myself grip the steering wheel harder.  My jaw tightens as these conditioned responses become so nauseating to me, that I have to force myself to look straight ahead while I drive, and concentrate on my destination rather than the drive because I can feel a whole new level of anger and resentment bubbling inside me like some witch's black cauldron. 

I do try to over come these conditioned responses.  I try to force myself to look at these places, smell the scents and listen to the sounds that, before the alcohol, where harmless and enjoyable.  I try to resurrect those memories or, if I can't, I try to lay the new ones to rest. Dead and buried memories that should never have been given  life in the first place.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Heightened Senses

I've read and heard that once you lose one of your sense, the others kick in and become more heightened.  Well, I've lost my sense of security and now my other senses: smell, taste, touch, hearing, seeing, and insecurity are heightened.  That is my second stage heightened senses.  I used to feel secure.  I don't mean locking my doors at night or making sure I don't park next to a van when I'm out.  I mean security as in a security of not being on high alert in my home or around my daughter. 

I used to be able to come home kind of mindlessly.  Walk through the door, leave the chaos of the day behind me outside, and then relax my thinking.  If something was out of place, it was because it was accidentally bumped, or I didn't even notice.  If my daughter was sleeping on the couch it was because she had had a hard day, too, and was taking a nap.  Normal behaviors that people do in the security and comfort of their homes.  Not anymore.  Well, not long term, anyway.  For several years now, I've walked through the door, not anticipating the security and protection of my home, but gearing up for a mental and emotional sweep of my surroundings.  Is something out of place?  If she's napping on the couch, has she been drinking?  Is there a scent that is out of place?  I enter my house like an undercover psychic detective, quickly taking in my surroundings and mentally assessing, "Is there anything wrong with this picture?"  I am living the Waldo books, only instead of looking for Waldo, I'm looking for the signs of addiction.

When I talk with her, I'm studying her with the agility and scrutiny of Sherlock Holmes.  Her words.  Her actions.  Her temperament.  Even the way she carries herself.  It is a quick analysis. I have been able to refine my technique over the years.  It used to take a lot longer, and I would have to follow her around (which I'm sure was annoying to her) talking with her, waiting for her response so that I could make my mental assessment.  When she is in cahoots with her addiction now, I can tell within seconds.

When she decides to stop drinking, and it lasts for more than two weeks, I begin to let my guard down.  My drive home isn't as anxiety filled.  When I come through the door, it starts to feel like it used to, like home in the days before addiction.  But, and this is the honest truth, I can be at work, and all of a sudden, I feel a queasiness in my stomach and the thought that she's bought alcohol comes into my mind, and when I get home, and begin my mental sweep, the signs are clear and it is confirmed.  When that happens, I can feel the rest of  my senses flick on,  and I'm in high gear; that fleeting sense of security being robbed from me, again, by a most cunning and persistent nemesis--addiction. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Foggy Thinking

Ever since I blew up at my daughter, I have been trying to sort out how my brain is coping with this experience with addiction.  What are my stages of recovery.  I know there is a public list some where, but in between those lines and wrapped around those words are additional experiences that are individually felt and lived.  I think I've come up with five of my own stages, though I haven't put them into words, yet, at this point I've listed them as feelings.  I am going to try to work them out here.  The most prominent for me is feeling like I'm in a fog.  I'm going to explain it as a picture. I work best with similes and metaphors.

I mentioned here before, how after my divorce, there were still a lot of issues to work out at home with my son and daughter.  Divorce is a process that unfolds way before and far past signing papers.  My one friend, who was a counselor, told me it was like we had all been in a car accident where one walked away with a few scratches and the remaining three (my children and myself) were left bleeding and broken, trying to help each other up at the same time we were trying to patch our own injuries.  That vision of stumbling around a dark, accident scene, three figures crawling toward each other, fit.  It's mentally what I felt like.  That feeling was more clear, though.  It was focused on one source and that source I knew I could (and would) eventually be able to move away from. I did help cause this accident. I wanted the divorce and that caused the life we were on to wreck, so I do take some responsibility--I just forgot to put on our seat belts.  It took a while, but I eventually bandaged everyone, left the scene of the accident, and we went on with our lives.  At least I did.  I wanted normal back so badly, I didn't pay close attention to the scars that were developing on my children.

Fast forward.  Leaving the divorce accident, I decided to drive the family train and put everyone on board.  I could drive this train and steer it in the right direction for all of us, while we were getting back to our 'normal.'  At some point, I let go of the controls and pushed the automatic button.  The direction we were in looked good, the scenery outside the window was beautiful.   We were back on track.  I was starting to feel good.  At one point, though, during a stop, we took on an unseen passenger, and as I was enjoying the ride, I didn't notice when the track clicked, and our train was guided to another track.  Outside the windows began to look foggy.  The direction was grayer and less focused.  In the midst of the ride, going at full speed, we jumped the tracks, and I found myself and my children, once more, sprawled and bleeding at the scene of an accident, though this accident has left me in a fog.  I'm still in a fog that I couldn't leave.  I carry it around with me.  I tried to help my children this time, too, but as it turned out, my son figured out how to help himself.  He gave us a rope, said he was going to get help, and told us to hold on, while he walked away, into and out of the fog.  He got the help he needed.  He has never let go of the rope, but he was able to get clear of the accident and has moved on to a good life for himself.  I am so proud of him.

Though on the outside, I have moved on. I have a good job. A home. Friends. My mind is still in the fog of the accident. I'm mentally still stumbling around.  There are moments of clarity were I can look around me and see how far I've come, but then I turn back to find my daughter still sitting in the haze and fog, berating herself and her life, and it breaks my heart so, I sit down with her and the fog envelops us.  We are huddled in the fog.  There are times when she takes hold of the rope and I tell her not to let go so she doesn't get lost on the way through the fog, and she does for awhile, but then I feel the slack on the rope, and look behind me and she's lost, again.  I do try to trudge forward, alone, but I get worried because the rope she should be holding onto feels much too loose, so I follow it back to find her huddled, again, afraid to move forward, finding (I'm afraid) a kind of comfort in the fog, so I stand with her, watching her.  Looking back toward the path out of the fog, but not able to leave because of all of the ties I have to her.  I love her so much. My heart hurts for her so much.  My sadness anchors me in the fog. 

It is in this fog that I am living.  Going through life, wanting to appreciate fully what I have, but stopping just in time and I'm not sure why.  If I leave the fog, will I lose her?  Will she not be able to follow the rope?  So, that is my first personal stage: Living in a Mental Fog. 

Friday, November 30, 2012


I am always amazed at how someone else's addiction can change me.  I'm not a loud person. I'm not mean. I'm usually pretty quiet and calm.  Not last night.  I didn't have a bad day. I wasn't feeling bad, but when I got home (yes, my daughter is drinking, again) something snapped.  I confronted her and just said the most horrible things. I called her a liar, weak, told her I hated her when she was drinking. I'm not going to say everything, because I'm ashamed of all of the words that I threw at her and that I blew up like that.  I even kicked this chest I had made her that was on the lower shelf of a bookcase, and down came several other trinkets.  She sat there looking at me like I was deranged.  Well, I guess I was. 

I haven't felt like this in awhile. I was feeling so calm and resigned to the situation.  I was letting hope go like a child's balloon in the wind.  And then, all of a sudden this rage rumbled up and I'm screaming like a banshee. 

I'm drained.  Part of me wants to take it back and apologize.  Part of me doesn't because some of it I meant, but not in the way I said it. 

I feel so drained and isolated inside. 

Trying to be so strong and rigid, I guess I crumbled.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A New Car

I bought a new car.  Well, it's a used-new car.  What I had been driving was a 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It had 192,000 miles on it.  That car drove me to a lot of good memories.  On the outside, it still looked good. No scratches or dents. Paint still in good shape.  The age of the car, though, was starting to effect the workings of the car. The first to go was the back windshield wiper.  Then the air conditioner, which has been broken for several years.  I could tough that out in the summer, though.  About two years ago, the hatch stopped opening.  Nothing gradual. I used it one day, and the next it wouldn't open.  After that, little components of the car started to flicker and fade.  The dash board lights, the CD player wouldn't play on cold mornings, little things I could live with.  Then, this September, I was driving and went to make a left turn, the the blinker was out.  So, I have been making the left turn with my arm because no one could change the bulb because the hatch wasn't opening.  I could live with that.  Work wasn't far away.  Other little noises started. Metallic dinging, inside the car was starting to sound like some off-beat, tuneless street band (I turned the radio up).  As long as nothing was falling off, I could live with that. Then it started getting colder, and there was frost on the windows.  I turned on the heater and defrost, and it didn't start with the same gusto it used to.  There was a puff of warmth and a lot of steam on the window that never went away.  So, I started carrying a cloth with me, to wipe the windshield periodically as I was driving.  It was annoying, but I could live with it. 

I had told my dad about the car and he suggested I take it to this place near him to see what the mechanic would say.  So, I went with my dad, and talked to the mechanic.  Bad news.  The heater would be at least nine hundred dollars to fix, they couldn't open the hatch either, so that would be a few more hundred to guesstimate that, the only good thing that happened was he found the replacement fuse, and got the back windshield wiper to work!  Woo hoo! 

I am not on a tight budget, but it is a pretty rigid one.  I'm still paying medical bills for my daughter.  We're working without a contract, so things are up in the air.  I didn't want to have to make car payments, but the money needed for the repairs was providing me some stress, that was getting hard to live with.

My son was home for Thanksgiving and we talked about the car.  He hadn't driven it for awhile.  He looked it over, and discovered that the four-wheel drive wasn't working, either (great).  It doesn't snow a lot here, but when it does...it does, and that four-wheel drive has become a necessity.  Anyway, he said that we were going to look at new cars, so he called around, and we went out Friday night and Saturday.  He brought his girlfriend.  They sat up front.  I sat in back, directing the updated version of how to drive the car.  "Remember when you make a left, you have to use your hand out the window."  "We should probably drive with the windows down, so the windshield doesn't fog up."  "Use that cloth to wipe the window when it gets foggy."  "Mom, what's that rattling sound?"  "I don't know, turn up the radio."

It was getting dark and colder. We had been to look at several cars, but didn't see anything promising. We got back in the car. He put the defroster on (kids, will they ever listen?) and the windshield fogged up so much, he couldn't see out.  I told him to use the cloth.  He couldn't live with it.

Saturday, we went to another dealership.  We did find a car. A 2010 Toyota Rav.  It was perfect. He provided the down payment and will help me with the monthly payments until the contract is negotiated.  Though it was stressful signing the papers, Sunday and Monday, driving a car where everything works was like crawling out of a dark hole.  I took my dad for a ride.  It was fun watching him think of places to drive to.

It's amazing how many ways I can be like a boiled frog.  I can 'live with it,' little by little.  When I look back on all of the things that were wrong with the car, it's a miracle that it didn't break down somewhere.  That car was a lot like me.  Still looks okay from the outside, but on the inside, things are breaking down.  I don't mean with age, I mean with stress, addiction, hopelessness.  This experience made me realize the internal repairs I still have to make.  I just won't 'live with it,' anymore.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Okay, thanks to Annette who so kindly emailed me the process, I have (hopefully) been able to show pictures of my dogs. 

This is Sophie.

This is Nissa, the food addict, who is 'pointing' to the treat jar-her tail wagging.  She does this everytime she comes into the kitchen until someone tells her, "No," or she gets the treat she's pointing to.

This is Dexter and Nissa who are always together.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Monday, November 19, 2012


This is an example of how I believe God intervenes.  I want to say that this was not a big intervention, but then again, it was.  Here is what happened.

I live in an older section of my area.  There are a lot of places like this because back in the day, this area was known for its mills.  It amazes me that even the 'ordinary' people owned these huge, beautiful homes.  They are close together, with small yards.  Everything is within walking distance, post office, a butcher shop, hardware store, other little small beginning shops.  It's a town in transition.  There is a brick alley that runs behind my street, so, it is behind my backyard.  My yard is fenced in.  Before we bought this house, the previous owner put in a garage.  The one side of the garage is along side the backyard. I got tired of looking at a cement block wall (it didn't go with the flowers and plants in the rest of the yard) so I decided to paint the wall.  Several years ago, I had painted it all one color and then tried to make mosaics in each of the brick outlines.  I liked it, and it was okay, but it needed a change, so this summer, I bought paint (three different colors) and decided to make a design.  I started but then it got so humid, that I stopped until this fall.  (If I knew how to put pictures on here, I'd take one to show you).  Anyway, the warm, fall weather is winding down, so last week, my daughter said she would finish the wall.  It took a day, but she finished it, all but five bricks because the paint ran out.  So, we went and got more so she could finish it last Friday (3 days ago).  She has been sober, it would be 9 days, but she bought alcohol and finished the wall. 

I came home and recognized the change in her.  She took me out to see the wall, it was beautiful, but she was talking goofy, so I encouraged her to go inside, she went in and fell asleep.

I have three dogs.  All of them were rescued.  I have a doberman-lab mix. Sophie. She is such a good dog, after having been abused so terribly.  She is gentle, and loving.  I just love her.  We got her when she was a year old, and she has never really needed a leash.  She just stays with us.  Our second dog, Nissa, is a beagle mix.  She is cute and loving.  She 'talks' a lot.   She is a food addict.  We have to make sure there is no food near the edges of tables.  She has pushed chairs aside, to jump on them and to the table to get a piece of bread. She's pretty tenacious. Though I love her, I'd never get another beagle.  They are cute, but hard to house train and they bark at everything (There is a woman in our neighborhood who I see walking three beagles.  Every time I see her, I think, 'there is a special person).   Our third dog is a miniature pincher. Dexter.  I really never thought I'd like a small dog.  He, though, doesn't give you any time to do anything else but love him.  He is all over the place.  He thinks he's a mastiff.  He's comical and sweet. He is the man of the house, with four females totally enamored with him.  He gets along with my older dog and the beagle, but he and the beagle are buddies.  They play together, hang around outside together, sleep together.  It is so cute to watch.  Again, if I knew how to post a picture. 

Sophie doesn't run out of an opened door. She will wait until you are out the door, and invite her to come with you.  Nissa and Dexter, on the other hand, will zip out invited or not.  And they will run.  When we first got Nissa, someone told me to always keep her leashed because their sense of smell is so controlling, that unleashed they will just run.  Dexter has escaped three times.  Fortunately, he needs to stop, sniff, and pee on everything so I was able to catch up to him before he ran too far.  But really, I didn't even see him bolt out of the front door.  I just happened to turn around, see him pause to look at me, bark and run. 

Here's the miracle.  On Friday, after I had looked at the painted wall, I never checked the gate. The backyard is fenced in.  It was garbage pick up and the recycle bin needed to be taken in.  My daughter apparently had thought about it, but then didn't and forgot to latch the gate.  Friday night I let the dogs out without walking out with them. They came in.  Saturday morning, I did the same thing.  Saturday afternoon, I went out to rake leaves, and went down to get the recycle bin, and (with the dogs out there with me), saw that the gate was standing open about five inches.  All three dogs were in the yard, in fact, Dexter was at my heals.  My heart stopped. And I have to say, that for a few seconds, I looked at Dexter wondering if that was really him sitting there looking up at me. I was shaken.  I locked the gate, picked him up, unlocked the gate, got the bin, and then locked the gate.  I was dumbfounded and the only thing I could think of was, "Thank you God."  Because there was nothing else keeping them in the yard with an opened gate. 

Small miracle, to look at, I guess. But to me, a big one.  I would have lost them, I'm sure.  Hit by a car, taken by someone.  The way he and Nissa run, and bark at the gate if someone walks past...
So, of course I am thankful, but then my reality brain starts thinking, why a miracle here?  My spiritual brain kicks in, maybe because it is one less thing for me to worry about.  Maybe because they are so dependent on me, that since I was oblivious, God stepped in.  I don't know, I just know it happened and I'm still in awe. 

I'm not even going to say what my next thought was, because it will sound like a complaint and that I don't appreciate what happened.  And I do.  I guess I wrote to show my thanks and to admit that I don't know the way God thinks, or why things happen the way that they do, but I do want to say that I'm grateful for miracles, regardless of their size.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


A good therapist is very hard to find. I think a lot of times, they come with their own opinions, prejudices, and baggage. At least in the field of treating addictions, this seems to be how it has been for my daughter. There are the therapists who think they need to 'get down to their level' so that rather than being someone that persons with addiction can look up to, they become someone
'just like them' seemingly, anyway, and rather than being able to show the person or group a new way, the therapist-buddy becomes just another peer with authority and nothing changes.  Then there is the therapist with an opinion, and that opinion has been that the person struggling with an addiction is less of a person.  They go through the mechanics of therapy, but fail to reach the heart of the hurting that is helping to fuel the addiction.  This type of therapist, because they are so locked in the mechanics of therapy, will also fail to filter what they say, and so in a group of people who are searching and hoping for help, they announce that, "Unfortunately, some of you will never recover."  Do you know what kind of a poisoned worm that is for a person struggling with an addiction and hopelessness (and excuses) to be lured to?  How easy that statement is to swallow when there are so many issues swimming around in their brains in those early stages of help before they can clear that murky thought process?  Then there are the therapists who have a grudge, usually a family member who struggled with addiction-a person they still resent deep down inside, and now here in front of them are a group of people all representing an aspect of their (the therapist's hurt) sitting around a circle--fish in a barrel for this person who quietly lashes out with stinging comments further confusing and injuring people who are trying to find healing. I hate the damage that these people do and have done. In a process that is so fragile and intricate--unravelling the human mind--they are careless and hurtful and selfish and yes, I'll say it, stupid. 

So,  I've talked to my daughter about finding other sources of therapy.  There are some very good books to read. Journaling. Painting. Exercising. Talking. People can discover and recover on their own as well as with someone leading them.  When the leader isn't available, that's no excuse to not start the journey.  Building a new routine of good health. Forcing yourself to step off of the path you've been trudging, and making a new path.  Yes, it will probably be hard, you may have to cut down some weeds, and you may trip over some stones, but as the new path becomes more walked and worn, it will be smoother and more familiar.  If your mind is able, regardless of the hurts of the past and the fears of the future, you can begin to heal. 

I need therapy, too.  I think anyone who has watched and participated in a loved one's addiction process needs rehabilitation.  Of all of the commercials and programs on rehab facilities, I have yet to see one specifically for the family members.  So, I have to do it on my own.  I have found several different therapies that help. Listening to other people.  Talking to other people. The anticipation of the first sip of coffee in the morning. Smelling fresh air. Getting rid of excess around the house. Working in the yard. Reading. Watching a movie. A nap on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Sitting in the yard on an autumn afternoon and just breathing in all of the fall aromas. Journaling (blogging) and reading other people's journeys. Even if the blogs don't talk specifically about the addict or addictions, the other aspects, hiking, cooking, opinions, all of it, help someone who's making a new path, see all of the other options that are out there. Other people's stories and opinions help to cut a new path. So, keep writing because our thoughts have value, our opinions have healing, we have a story. 

In closing, I want to quote something I read while looking for prayers and help on the Internet during a time my daughter was drinking.   The title is Making it Happen. I don't know who the author is, but I like how they clarify the word 'try'.

          "...there are two types of people in this world: Those who try and those who make it happen.  Many of us have negative behaviors or addictions we've tried to over come and if we have failed, the harsh truth is that it's usually because we are satisfied with just trying.  Our reasons for trying are generally selfish.  We try because we don't want to feel guilty or because we want recognition from someone else.  Trying is one type of consciousness, and often those of us who try are not successful.  But there's another type of consciousness--one of conviction.  That's when trying is not an option. Overcoming challenges requires a commitment to never give up.  Success comes from seeing what we want to change or accomplish and deciding that until we cross that finish line, there can be no turning back.  Those who merely try, usually don't really want to make it happen. They just want to feel a little bit better about themselves. Making it happen means making a transformation in our consciousness to actually care about something or someone more than we do our own comforts.  At the end of the day, whatever challenge we are facing, we have to choose if we're going to be someone who tries, or someone who makes it happen.  As long as we are here in this world, anything is possible and anything is changeable.  As long as we keep on pushing and persevering, we can overcome.  We can never, ever give up."

Saturday, November 3, 2012


I came home so sad and mad yesterday, that I stopped off at the grocery store, bought a container of chocolate pudding, brought it home and ate the whole thing.  It didn't make me feel any better.  In fact, each chocolaty spoon full made me feel more sick to my stomach.  The combination of a week's worth of dark, gloomy, rainy weather, stress at work, stress at home, all of it, made me think chocolate pudding would help.  I have never been an emotional eater, so I'm not sure why I chose to do that, other than maybe I was too tired to do anything else.  I fell asleep on the couch.

This afternoon, I watched the movie Eat, Pray, Love.  I read the book a few years ago; a lot of it as I waited for my daughter to be finished with class. I read a lot of books while I waited to pick her up on the days she didn't take the bus.  I loved the book.  The movie isn't as good, though, I still enjoy it.  Anyway, a phrase from the movie stood out like neon glitter: "Ruin is the way to transformation."  Initially, that sounds enlightening and hopeful, because the assumption is that the 'transformation' will be a good one.  Well, it hit me like a handful of glitter in the eyes.  I have gone through ruin: a bad marriage, the struggles during the divorce, the emotional issues that followed with my children, and then my daugther's engagement to addiction.  It has transformed me, but not in a good way.  I am a more bitter person, less hopeful, less happy.  I have turned from someone who enjoyed a challenge to someone who hits the snooze alarm as many times as I can to avoid the challenge of getting out of bed.  I used to look forward to time with friends, now I hope they don't call because wearing the mask of 'normal' has become so exhausting, I just don't want to put it on anymore. I feel old and worn out, even though I'm not. Many years ago, I went with two other friends to the Pocono's to meet with a woman who does past lives.  The one friend I went with wanted to 'unclog' herself and wanted us to go with her.  We did.  It was a memorable weekend.  Something the woman said to us when we were in her living room, talking, was that you know that you are spiritually healthy if the sage you are growing (the herb) is deep green, and healthy.  This summer, of the three sage plants I planted, two died and one could only muster three shoots (I should have heeded the warning).

I started thinking of one of the pastors at the church I go to (though I haven't been in awhile).  He was on vacation at the beach in September.  A wave knocked him over. He hit his head and was unconscious in the water for a time before anyone saw him.  He was rushed to the hospital, never regained consciousness, and three weeks later he died.  This was a man who relished his relationship with God.  He made you feel good about being in church. He was kind, giving and outgoing. He had a good family, with a grandchild on the way.  And God chose not to heal him.  If God chose not to heal someone like that, how on earth can I believe that he would heal someone like my daughter who is having doubts about God?  The whole church was praying for a miracle of healing and one never came; The same prayer I've been praying for five years.

Well, today I am still bitter.  Though I understand and acknowledge all of the things I should be grateful for, the dismal and waning life of my child still casts a shadow on all of it.  I'm just so sick of all of this. I'm so resentful and angry. Today, I can't keep it in. Today, I'm letting it out, here.  I just feel so bad.  And yes, she started drinking again, and no, I'm not buying anymore chocolate pudding.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


My daughter is working on being sober, again. I can't describe the relief and hope I feel inside when she decides to not drink. I am always praying that this is the time some miracle of thought happens or someone comes into her life to help guide her. What I really hope is that she is able to find the courage to dig through her memories, confront those that diminish how she feels about her self, toss those away, keep digging until she finds that inner mirror that reflects the true person she is (strong, determined, funny, smart, gentle and kind) that she recognizes that reflection and begins the journey back to rediscovering herself.  (Please whisper a little prayer here to have that happen).

In the past (and the past isn't necessarily months or years, weeks will do here, too) I would try to bring up topics that I thought were the roots of her triggers, but when we got too close to the pain, she would shut down the conversation. "I don't want to talk about this..." is what she would sharply announce and the conversation would be over. Much to my frustration and fear.  If you don't get to the root, that weed of sick thinking will continue to choke off the healthy thinking. So, I have a lot of talking points stored up in my mind just waiting to be let out. Sometimes, I think, that inner chattering about points I want to make or advice I want to give, all of that stored up valuable information is starting to take on a life of it's own. My own thoughts are starting to become convoluted and out of sync.  I think they are also interfering with my daily thinking--so many of those thoughts are, at times, crowding out my own thinking that I think it contributes to that feeling of being overwhelmed.  Anyway, it is beginning to be the source of a problem when my daughter decides to talk.

In the past few days, on two separate occasions, my daughter has brought up issues, without my prodding or insistence, that she wanted to talk about.  Insights she is having or questions about the concerns of her drinking.  I can't explain the joy and enthusiasm that is clicked on when she has started those conversations.  I think I literally begin a small bouncing where I'm sitting. It's like a tremor deep inside, a tremor of relief and hope and joy all in one.  Unfortunately, that tremor cracks open that part of my brain that his housing all of those unspoken thoughts and advice and pretty soon, as she's talking I start blurting out comments that at the time they were originally thought (some are years old) made sense but now, because they have been housed so long they are combining with other thoughts so, because I want to get everything out just in case this conversation gets shut down, I start making comments that are confusing and frustrating for her to hear, and I'm interrupting what she's trying to communicate and the result...an argument.  Not at all what I ever want.  Not what she was hoping for.  Her ending comments have been, "You aren't even listening to what I'm trying to say.  This is why I can't talk to you about this, you start talking about things that don't even have anything to do with what I'm saying!"  And it's true.

As I sit there in silence, those final thoughts trudging back into their little cubicle in my brain, and try to sort through what just happened, I realize that I'm in such a panic to get all of this information out, information that I think is essential to her recovery, I fail to listen, and that spoils the whole moment.

The anxiety and urgency that I feel to get out all of my thoughts has caused me not to hear what she is saying. For her, I have become a non listener.  Not a good thing. So, I have grown, again, by realizing this mutation of myself as a result of the addiction that has invaded our lives. I am a good listener, though not with her. I have to retrain my thinking to adjust to her timing. She will being to heal when she feels ready.  In the meantime, I have to clean my mental house so that those old thoughts that really are no longer viable, are excused and a clean place is ready for new thinking so that I can listen better and truly hear what she is finally trying to say.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Residue Thinking

There is a lot of residue thinking from this experience with addiction.  Two that seem to be big on the list for me is worry and finding my thinking to be less focused.

I was sitting on the couch last night, not really (or so I thought) thinking about anything.  I was watching the news but not really paying attention. I saw the screen, the commentators, but wasn't really listening.  As if pulled out of a fog, I finally realized that I had been thinking about something.  I was sitting there worried about this grocery store that was go to being changed over to another type of store. Though the change hasn't even begun, and they've been talking about it for two years, I still sat there and worried.  I don't even know how that conversation at work started, but again, during bus duty, we were talking and someone said that the store I go to (and they like, too) was going to be changed.  Their version of a Whole Foods store (which I happen to love, but it is more expensive).  I was sad when I heard that because I just like how this store 'feels', the people who work there, the way it is laid out, what they offer.  So, last night, once I started noticing what I was thinking, I was worried about this store changing.  Really?  I live equidistant between the same two stores.  Both about three miles in opposite directions.  It's not a big deal, but there I was fretting about it.  When I realized what I was doing, it occured to me that I have been doing that, a lot.  Worrying about everything.  Big issues and little issues get the same worry time.  I think my worrying for my daughter has broken some 'worry boundary' so that I don't filter what is 'worry worthy' and what isn't.  I just worry.  If it's a good day, I look for things I probably should be worrying about.  As usual it's not noticable by my outward behavior, yet, but it's happening on the inside just the same.  It's terrible and time consuming. I think all of this worrying is the cause of my next problem.

I don't focus like I should.  There will be some days that I get to work, hoping I didn't go through any stop signs because I obviously remember the drive, but just the starting point and ending point.  The actual drive is less memorable. Is my trip to work so embedded in my brain that I drive it not really applying it to memory?  But it's not just that, I find that I feel at times there is so much information to think about, I don't focus on any one issue.  It reminds me of the Christmas book I had growing up that went along with a record, Babes in Toyland.  Mary (I remember her name!) was sitting at a desk trying to figure out her money situation and the illustration shows a bunch of numbers and symbols floating around her head.  I feel like that a lot of the time.  Like I'm wandering in the Forest of No Return, signs pointing in all directions, warnings of not to enter (though I did), twilight skies, and no clear way out.

I didn't used to be like this.  I used to feel more clear in my head and more defined in my thinking.  My experience with addiction has cracked my core, like a melt down of sorts, so that I'm not as contained as I used to be.

How do you patch those cracks?  What is the mortar that will seal and hold?  I have to stop worrying, I realize that.  But how?  How do I get that filter up and running, again? 

Monday, October 22, 2012


Here is what happened last Friday.  Thursday night my dad called me around  6:30.  After a long, round about way of asking (I have no idea why he does that) he asked if I could still have his car towed if he needed it (I had his car towed from his driveway two weeks ago because the brake fluid was leaking).  "Of course.  Is something wrong?"  "Well, the car wouldn't start."  "Okay, I'll call AAA to come and pick it up.  Is it in the driveway?"  "No, it's down in the mall parking lot."  "How'd you get home?"  "I walked."  (It's about a mile walk).  "Well, do you want me to call tonight?  I can drive over..."  "No, no, no.  It can stay there all night.  We can do this in the morning."  "Well, dad, you have to be there when the tow truck comes."  "Okay, I'll walk down and then you can call them."  "Well, it takes about 15min. to 1hr. for them to get there.  When were you planning to leave the house?"  "Around 8:30." "Okay, you leave at 8:30, I'll call AAA at 8:45 from work, and then you just wait in the car until they get there."  (The car would only have to be towed about 50 feet.  As luck would have it, the service station wasn't too far from where he had parked.).  "Okay.  So, when I get down there, I'll call you."  "How are you going to do that, dad?  You don't have a cell phone."  "Oh, yeah." 

This conversation lasted about 45 minutes.  It was back and forth. He wanted to do it his way, but his stubborness wasn't allowing him to see that his way wasn't going to work for this senerio.  Since he chooses not to have a cell phone, answering machine, hearing aide, and an assortment of other 'modern' gadets, working through some situations can be 'challenging.'  Eventually, my daughter came into the room, heard us talking and volunteered to take him in the morning.  Problem solved.  That problem, anyway.  Working with my dad can be frustrating and exhausting.  He is one of the funniest people I know.  Very smart, very aware of global issues, very healthy (he just turned 90), but when it comes to certain life situations, well, it's very stressful. 

My daughter was at his house by 9 Friday morning.  I called AAA from work at 8:45.  They towed the car, it was fixed and she followed him back to his house by 2:30.  That sounds smooth, but it wasn't.  My dad argues with people, and since his hearing is failing, you have to talk louder than usual, which done for several hours is draining.  He ended up aruging with the person at the service center.  My daughter tried to explain what they had done to fix the car (my dad knows cars, he's a mechanical engineer --I'm not going to preface that by saying 'retired' because he really IS a mechanical engineer all of the time, his brain is always working like one.) So, the service man (looking exasperated according to my daughter) took 25 dollars off of the price and offered a free oil change for whenever he needs one. 

My daughter has been sober for a while, she started drinking when she came home. I asked her if she was mad.  "No."  Did grandpa upset her?  "Besides his normal stuff, no."  "Then why?"    When I asked her why, she said that she was feeling stressed, and she always thinks that a drink will help her relax.  Well, it does, but not in a good way.  She is out for several days.  We are thinking of moving in the spring, she claims that a new surrounding will be different.  She won't drink.  I told her after the stress comment, that stress is going to follow you always.  So, moving, if you don't learn how to deal with stress in the stressful times, isn't going to be some magical cure.  You have to learn other more healthy methods.  I should have proably waited for an answer, but I got up and left the room.

A year ago, I would have panicked and begun packing right then, because I was looking for a magical cure, too.  I know differently now.  I closed her door, and with a little bit of sadness and resolve, I went downstairs, made a cup of tea, and sat in the cool, late afternoon watching the dogs play in the yard.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Poem

I am cleaning today.  It's raining outside and chilly.  Sometimes this weather feels like a good book, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup or a good, long afternoon nap.  Today it felt like a good day to throw out some old and organize what's left.

I was going through some books and magazines in a wicker box I have.  Tucked inside was a poem.  My daughter used to write poetry.  She was very good.  I liked the way she would weave her words.  I found a poem written in her handwriting.  I don't know if she wrote it or if she read it somewhere and liked it enough to write it down.  It was on a piece of paper with a list of what she had to eat in one day, so I'm assuming this was during the time she was working on overcoming her eating disorder. 

The poem sounds both hopeful and sad to me.  Here it is:

I'm tired of keeping secrets
I'm tired of all the lies
My addictions aren't subsiding
I'm not ready for good-byes.
My pride will be my downfall
I can't take care of myself
My silent screams go unheard
To my deteriorating health.
I pray to God for strength.
I pray everyday for my soul.
I pray to be forgiven and cured
I pray to be unbroken and whole
So let's sing a song of sadness
Another story of the blues
I'm my own judge and jury
My fate is mine to choose.

Friday, October 19, 2012

What If

I have a reoccurring 'what if' scenario concerning my daughter, her addiction and my role as an enabler.  First, let me say that I have come a long way from my days of denial.  I'm pretty clear on the situation here.  I'm not in denial any longer.  Of course, that doesn't mean I'm happy about the situation or that sadness and regret are constant companions or that I accept the situation, I'm just resigned to the situation. 

During this, though, I do think about the 'what if's'.  One 'what if' I think about is, 'What if I hadn't interfered?  What I mean is, would things be different with her recovery if I hadn't dumped out alcohol, had those knock down fights.  When she was drunk at school, rather than run and get her, let someone else find her.  Would she have gone to jail?  Been kicked out of school instead of graduating? I think of all of the bad things I helped her to avoid.  Could she have also avoided meeting people who could have helped her?  Would she have hit a bottom so low that she would never recover or would she have hit a bottom that would cause her to recover?  So many emotions and fears. So many questions.

Then I think about times when people are drinking and you shut them off or take their car keys so that they can't drive.  I've done that (taken her car keys) to avoid her hurting herself or someone else.  Heck, I've done that with friends in the past. Is that interfering or averting a potential tragedy?  Telling the difference has become difficult.  It all starts to blur together.  I get sick of thinking about it sometimes, but because it never leaves, I can't help but think about it.

Because of how she's been treated in emergency rooms in the past (some of those doctors can be very condescending) she refuses to ever go back to a hospital.  That means no medications, so I have been relying on vitamins, minerals and food as medicine.  I have researched a lot of information on the brain and how it functions.  What alcohol takes away from the body.What if I just let it go?  What if I didn't help her like that?   I am always afraid that, during one of her drinking spells, she will have a seizure, lose her mind or I don't even know, more what ifs? So many horrible scenarios have auditioned in my mind as very viable outcomes.  I do try not to think about them.  Also, as I've written before, I have been able to talk with her about her situation.  Though she still gets mad or defensive about certain topics, I do think there has been progress. 

And then there's prayer and God.  Can't God work in any situation?  Do you really have to be in the worst situation for God to make an entrance?  Does He only show up when when you're at your lowest?  My impatience with 'God's time' vs. our time causes a lot of frustration.  What if He's through with us?

So, that's what I think about.  Sometimes.  More times than I really want to. Pretty much everyday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lake Antonio and the Soviet Onion

I am teaching the states and capitals. It is a lesson I think is brushed over in school.  The memorizing is important.  Learning about the country where we live is important.  Each time we talk about a new state or city, the students either express their desire to go there or they share an adventure they had visiting a place.  Either way, their faces light up with the memory of a good experience or the dream of one they would like.  We often use the globe as well as the book and some videos.  I bring in pictures of the places I've been and any souvenirs I've purchased. 

Teaching and correcting papers is a learning experience.  You can have a lesson planned down to the pencils you're passing out and still, some other idea or concept sprouts from the lesson and you're down another path.  You have to be very flexible when you're teaching.  Sometimes, you're teaching a lesson, it's going smoothly, and no one is asking any questions to clarify anything.  You've succeed in getting the concept across in a way that everyone understands; and with so many different little brains and distractions in the room, getting everyone to understand at one time is a real accomplishment.

I thought I had done that.  We were talking about the great lakes.  I gave a paper to work on finding information about the individual lakes.  I told them about HOMES and how to remember the names, where they were located, etc.  I was correcting the work yesterday, and this one student who is always a joy to work with even though he can be 'challenganging' he always brings an interesting perspective to what is being discussed.  Anyway, I was correcting his paper and he has labeled all of the lakes, I'm checking the names, Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Lake Antonio...what?  It made me laugh out loud.  At the end of the assignment, I wrote:  Do you have a question about what we've learned so far?  He wrote:  What is soviet onion?  I was stumped.  Though we did talk about what each state produces, onions never made it into the discussion and we've never talked about soviet anything.  Then I remembered the globe.  It has been in the classroom for years, and the students like to see where we are as compared to other places we talk about.  They also like to spin it and touch their finger to it, as it spins, to see where they will 'land.'  The Soviet Union is labeled on that globe.  After backtracking through the day, (he had the globe)  I smiled to myself once I understood.

It made me think, though.  We assume people are understanding what we're saying when we're saying it.  Even when they say they understand, do they really understand what it is you were trying to say?  Regardless of how gingerly we choose our words there are times when what we say is not what 'they' hear.  That miscommunication is no one's fault, but it can cause a lot of frustration and arguing if you don't stop and backtrack to understand where the person is coming from.  It makes communicating more deliberate. Word choice becomes more personal. A conversation requires more time and patience.  But isn't that relationship worth it?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I was doing bus duty on Friday and four of us were outside with the buses.  As the buses were pulling away, one of the other teachers started talking about the hair cut she didn't like (It looked great).  But to her, she was insistent that one section didn't look right.  The three of us stood in front of her squinting and searching.  I know I didn't see anything wrong.  Finally, someone said, "I  don't see it."  We all chimed in with the same sentiment.  It looked good to us.  Then she started talking about the wrinkles around her eyes and the new cream she has been using in her attempt to try and erase them.  She's very pretty and the lines around her eyes are minimal, but they do show that she laughs and smiles during her day (is that really such a bad thing to hide from the rest of the world?)  Again, the three of us squinted and studied and almost in unison this time, "You look great."  But she couldn't see it. Kind of like in the, 'King's New Clothes,'  She was imagining everyone saw what she saw, which was somehow distorted and intensified in her mind--she was relying on what others see to validate what she feels about herself.  I think we have all done this at one time or another.  I know that pretty much my whole life I haven't been satisfied with how I look, until a few years later, I see an old photograph and realize I looked pretty good. The first thing I think of is all of that wasted time not liking how I looked.  Body Dysmorphic Disorder I think is what it's called.  When you see yourself as distorted in some way rather than how the rest of the world really sees you.  I don't understand how the eyes and brain get the information so mixed up, but it happens.  I imagine it would be a very freeing moment when your vision finally aligns with what everyone else is seeing. 

It made me think about addicts and recovery and the people around them waiting and watching.  Is some kind of dysmorphic disorder at play while we watch those we love, struggling with sobriety, but in reverse?  While we watch and stare and notice or wait for all of the signs and symptoms of being actively under the influence are those in the struggle, who are making attempts at being sober, victims of our skewed vision and thinking?  Are we the ones who are watching so intensely and wanting so desperately that our vision gets skewed and we don't see the small progresses working in the person with an addiction.  Are they the ones looking back at us trying to convince us that, 'Yes, I am trying...though maybe not in ways you can see or appreciate?'   Does our distorted vision of our expectations for the addict in our lives hinder the progress attempts?  Is this where the non-judgment comes in? Since we can never change them and they are in control of their choices, should their choice of one day sober be good enough for us?  Since a good support system is important to recovery, does a view prejudiced by fear and wanting, taint the support system?

I always want more, but I started thinking that while my daughter is sober, I'm always worried and watching for the signs of her drinking, again.  Even when I 'start to forget', there is always that little sesame seed of fear getting caught in my thinking.  I love my daughter.  Do I just appreciate what time she chooses to 'be here' and let the rest go...the worry, fear, anticipation?  I think, yes I should. I know it is hard to do, wanting a sober good life for her so badly is like having marionette strings attached to my actions.  Sometimes I do things, out of that wanting, that I wouldn't normally do.  Anyway, it was just something I was thinking about as I try to understand how this all works.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Everyone I know is overly stressed.  Like the fall scents that start drifting through the air this time of year--smoke from some distant fireplace, cooler air, turning leaves (yes, there is a fragrance to them), the ripe apples in the tree next door--there is a 'scent' of stress, here, too.  Teaching isn't what it used to be even 5 years ago.  The amount of assessments, paperwork and progress monitoring that has to be done, in addition to the state tests and pressure to have all students be 'proficent' by 2014 (think about it...really?) it takes away from the actual teaching.  I love teaching. I love watching the students learn and interact.  I enjoy hearing their conversations and perceptions.  A child's view can help keep your view fresh.  State mandates zap that joy right out of the classroom. 

There is stress at home, of course.  No state mandates there, but the joy has been zapped.  I don't know why, but I started thinking about all of the things I've done to reach my daughter and help release her from the grips of this addiction. At the time I decide to do these things, I am completely hopeful and totally committed to the idea.  Look, if you believe in God then you have to believe everything that goes with it. For one, I believe that we are in a spiritual battle--all of the time.  The bible is full of amazing, mystical events.  A donkey that talks, walking on water, raising the dead.  God used words to create the world.  Words must be very powerful. Thinking is powerful.  Believing, faith, all of it carries a lot of good energy.  So, why not apply it?  (This may show how much my brain was pushed to the edge as a result of living with addiction, but as I said, at the time it made perfect sense).  Don't laugh.  And please don't think I'm crazy, though, maybe that is part of the effects of this maddening disease--you get a little crazy with your thinking.  Okay here are some of the things I've done.  Sometimes on Saturday mornings, my friend and I go shopping and there is this church who's doors are always open.  There are candles to light.  I've lit enough candles to light a small city.  In that same church, you can buy (for a donation) little bottles of Holy Water.  I bought some once, and would pour little drops in my daughters tea, juice, water, whatever it was she was drinking...and she didn't know.  I snuck it.  I did it when she wasn't looking. On one of those occasions (actually, it was the first time I did it) she ended up having to go to the emergency room. The doctor asked me if there was anything different that she may have taken.  I felt stupid, but thought I should fess up, and told him I put some holy water in her drink.  After an uncomfortably long silence and him studying me to see if I my head was going to spin in a circle, he said, "Yeah, well, um...I don't think that would be it." ( Darn, I should have kept my mouth shut).   I found several prayers on line from healing to freeing from addiction, to protection and good health.  Some were in Hebrew, some English, some Rune symbols.  I printed them out, rolled them up and tied them around the metal headboard of her bed with green ribbons.   I periodically tape protection and healing symbols on her bedroom door.  I change them out like you change holiday wreaths.  I submit her name to prayer groups--all kinds. I bought her a healing bracelet from Nepal.  One time, I used a Wiccan (I'm not Wiccan) spell thing where you write the person's name on paper with the 'desire' and throw it into a stream or river, I threw it in the creek down the street.  This is what I do when desperation picks me up for a ride.  I've never admitted this to anyone, but I was thinking today that maybe it's not good to keep it bottled up.  Confession is good for the soul, right?

So, that is what I was thinking today with stress levels rising and rationality starting to waiver, and my beautiful, lost daughter reconnecting with her demons.


Life has been going on, here. I was trying to think of how to describe it and all I could think of was surfing.  Though I've never tried it, it's fascinating to watch.  I suppose there are a lot of different emotions when you're actually participating.  Well, I'm actually participating in my own surfing experience, here.  I swam out five years ago.  I spend a lot of time just sitting on my surfboard, legs dangling in the water, nervous and scared about the unseen 'things' bumping into my dangling legs and feet.  Then, a wave comes and I pull myself up and become invigorated, again, by the excitement and freeing experience of riding the wave.  While I'm surfing, it's great, once the exhilaration of the wave is gone, I'm fearful, again, and feeling very alone, floating out there. 

That is  what it is like, here.  We've been surfing a beautiful, life-experiencing wave.  I was beginning to think that this could be the moment when my daughter decides that she's done with drinking.  But now I'm sitting back on the surfboard, afraid and distracted.  She decided to drink, again.

I just don't understand this.  I am tumbling around with all of the thoughts, again:  Will I ever feel normal, again?  Will I never not be distracted by thoughts that revolve around drinking and alcoholism?  Will I ever feel like me, again?

What bothers me the most about her achieving sobriety is that her thinking can be a lot like her father's.  He is the son and brother of an alcoholic.  He's a big controller.  What I found out about a year before I divorced him (started the process, anyway), was that he doesn't see life at it is, he sees it as HE thinks it should be.  I think that is some kind of mutated, distorted thinking that a child develops in his situation, in order to help cope with the uncertainties of a home with an unpredictable alcoholic.  That thinking, I believe mutates as the person gets older and without anyone trying to counsel them, they just get more embedded in that thinking.  It does cause a lot of confusion and uncertainties with the person they are with.  A lot of arguments grow out of that thinking. When is life ever what you think it should be? 

You can tell her she will make new friends.  She's convinced she won't.  She thinks that because no one has been pounding on her door, it's a reflection of what a bad person she is, instead of the reality that people won't call if you continually don't call them back.  Your lack of action not who you are inside is what caused them to not call back after five years.  You've been romancing this addiction.  Turn your attention to being well and healthy, and you will find someone good to romance you.  Regardless of the argument, she finds a way to turn in against her.  That is so disheartening to me. How do you  show someone how valuable they truly are?  How do you help someone who feels so hurt find hope?  That's where I think God should come in and work a brain miracle.  Rewire her brain somehow. 

Anyway, that's where I am, right now.  I'll get ready for work. Pretend my life is good. Pick up my car from the mechanic's (Sunday a hole must have developed in the muffler.  Monday and Tuesday I sounded like a muscle car...people who were waiting for buses and walking were turning around to see what was coming down the road. Me. Embarrassing.) Come home and try to motivate myself to do something other than fall asleep on the couch.  I'm so tired 'floating' out here waiting for the waves.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Game Plan

Occasionally, when I ask my dad how his day went, he'll say it started with him feeling 'blah.'  I think I have been feeling like that for the past couple of weeks.  Not really motivated to do anything but what is necessary.  I don't know why I'm feeling like this.  My dad takes a nap and that seems to dissolve the blahs.  I can't nap during the day now that school has started back.  Plus, I'm not really any more tired than usual.  I feel like one of those cars you pass along the side of the road, where everything on the car looks okay (no flat tire, or parts hanging off) yet, someone tied a little white rag to the driver's side door handle, and left.  So there the car sits, in surrender, waiting for help to arrive.

I called for help. I called a friend of mine and asked her if she wanted to go to lunch. Sure!  So, I picked her up Sunday afternoon and we went to this Mideastern restaurant.  The flavors and spices in the food they bring are so healthy feeling (I don't know how else to describe it).  We ate things like, hummus, babaganoush, tabbouleh and stuffed grape leaves. The meal concluded with Turkish coffee and a piece of baklava (in all honesty, that was so good, I could have bathed in it). 

Not only was the meal nourishing, but, as always with her, so was the conversation.  Several years ago, her son (he's a year older than my daughter) was playing baseball.  I'm not sure how it happened, but someone hit the ball and it ended up hitting him in the head.  The hit caused a concussion.  The concussion has caused an even bigger ripple in the health of her son.  He suffers from headaches, can't drive for long periods of time, for a while light was bothering him, and it seems to have had an effect on his temperament.  He gets angry quicker and it seems as though he has a difficult time with it. Like he knows its happening but the feeling is so quick and strong he hasn't developed the skills to grab that feeling to wrestle it down.  They live in a beautiful place.  A creek flows right past their house.  They have a large yard, so, now, when he's feeling mad, he'll either calm down by the water--just sitting and listening to it, or (and this made me laugh when she told it) he throws apples at the shed in her back yard.  

As she was catching me up with what has been happening, she told me how she has changed her approach to her son's circumstances.  When this first began, and she was still trying to understand it all (and she wasn't fully believing what he was saying--she wasn't comprehending the new, foreign situation) there would be a lot of yelling and fighting.  Her son had to quit his job over this and is living at home.  Though he did go to counseling and a rehabilitation place for brain injury, it has taken a long time for him to develop the skills.  During that 'developing' time, is when the fights occurred.  I remember her during those times and she was exhausted and drained.  Everyone was butting heads and judging and seeing things from their point of view instead of surrendering to the situation and working from the ground up to build a new set of rules to deal with this very unique situation. 

What she told me on Sunday was so simple, yet so hard to do in the midst of turmoil.  She said that it just came to her to start being more loving.  She doesn't react in rage, she is calmer.  She makes sure to tell him she loves him everyday.  She includes him in everything, even if he can't participate. She tries to touch him more.  A hug, her hand on his shoulder.  The little things that are so often brushed aside in a busy day.  I watched the peace in her face as she told me this.  What popped into my head is how biblical it was.  1 Cor. 13 describes what love is and if God is love then, that is a good guideline of how to act if we choose to follow it.

I know from my own experience here from last summer to this past summer.  The summer from hell was filled with anger and hate and rage and ignorance.  Things got better once my thinking changed and I started from scratch to work on a different game plan.  I guess the game plan is love. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

On the Mend

I have been trying to get healthy.  After summer school was over, I spent August trying to focus on my health.  I used to be pretty healthy.  No aches or pains. I rowed, walked and gardened without any problems.  Last November is when I started going down hill.  I've written about it before, here.  Not feeling up to my normal self, forced me to review a lot of how I was living my life.  I wondered things like, are we really what we think?  Do our thoughts and worries really boomerang back to us?  I remember commenting on various occasions that I would hate to be in chronic pain.  Hello, here I am in chronic pain.  I've told my daughter the same thing, that she has become everything she talked about that she didn't like, hated even.  (So, why is it the negative thoughts that come to fruition, and not the positive ones?  Hmm). 

Anyway, I began reading articles, talking to friends, and trying to center myself so that I could relocate the person I was.  I liked that person.  The person I've morphed into is not someone I'm comfortable with.  I'm physically more than I want to weigh.  I'm mentally more negative and less spiritual than I like. I'm emotionally pinging from numb to fear to anger to sadness.  I'm not me.  Where do I start?

I had to start with the pain. It began with the wellness day at work last spring, but I only utilized the aloe vera juice as an anti inflammatory.  I swear by it now. Every morning I have a 1/4 cup, before I drink anything else.  I started using food as medicine.  I became a vegetarian way back in tenth grade.  I remember how after a few weeks I felt 'lighter' and ended up losing 20 lbs. without effort.  After I had children, I began eating chicken.  I eat a lamb gyro every now and then, too.  I decided to go back to the way I ate before.  I was more conscience about what I put into my body.  So, it's been more natural, less processed.  No white sugar.  I buy raw sugar and raw honey.  I also started reading about the flora in your digestive tract and that if that isn't healthy, then the food and supplements you take aren't as effective, so I discovered something called Keifer.  I drink two glasses of that a day.  I do take several vitamins, probably more than I need to but I can't wrap my head around the idea that all of the vitamins I need are in one multi-vitamin--all of those vitamins listed in the ingredients in one pill, really?  So, I take singles.  (It's me, I know). 

I have started moving more.  It's hard to move when you hurt.  It feels better to find a comfortable position and stay there.  Not the healthiest thing to do, but moving in pain is unbearable.  Sitting without pain feels a lot better.  However, not having the metabolism that I did at 20...yep, I put on some weight.  I felt 'blocked' or stuck.  I was not used to not moving.  After the majority of the pain started to subside, my daughter and I started stretching to this beginners yoga DVD I bought at a yard sale.  I love it. I can already see a difference in how I feel, physically.  So, now I stretch.  I can walk up and down the stairs without feeling like I'm 90 (though, my dad will be ninety in 2 weeks and he has been more spry then me).  I will start walking in the fall.  I'm taking things slow.  The last time I started feeling better, I over did it and found myself back on the couch.

Emotional and spiritual is taking longer.  The spectre of addiction is still lurking in the corners of my home.  It still has influence over my daughter and has also managed to infect me with emotions and feelings that I would normally overcome.  I am still processing how it has changed me.  When you're in the middle of it, it's like being in Dorothy's tornado; everything is swirling around and you can't grab on to any one thing. Once you land, you see everything sprawled around you, your personal life, your emotions, your fears, your child.  Learning what to do and not do is hard.  It's confusing and often goes against your very nature.  I am still so angry about so much.  I am hurt.  But I'm trying to work through this.  A very good friend of mine has given my name to a spiritual counselor.  I look forward to talking to her. 

Anyway, that is what I have been doing.  I have noticed how insidious addiction is and the way it seeps into your behaviors so slyly that you're changing even though you don't realize it, until one day you wake up and don't recognize the person you see in the mirror. You don't feel like yourself.   Sometimes I feel as though I was spirited away as I slept four years ago, and dropped into a dark forest on an unknown planet.  I have been trying to fight the unseen demons, while trying to keep my family alive.  It's hard work and it takes a toll.  But I feel as though I'm finally on a familiar and comfortable path. I'm finally on the mend.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Steps

I'm not out of my slump.  I am too tired to try and be positive.  Though, this summer is better than last, my mind (those memories) keep wanting to revisit those feelings and fears.  I don't know why.  Is it better to face your fears; get them out in the open, turn them around, crumble them up and then toss them?  Or should they stay buried--out of sight out of mind?  I don't know anymore.  I have read and heard that this life experience with addiction is like a death of sorts.  I've read that the five steps of grieving is a process some may go through.  I looked into it.  I read them.  I found another professional who feels there are seven steps (they seem to be the five steps with additions).  I didn't really go through the steps when my mom died.  I never bargained.  I wasn't in denial.  I was and am still just so sad about it.  So that I don't get too overwhelmingly sad, I tuck those thoughts and feelings away in a place in my mind.  I know they're there.  I have no way of getting rid of them, but avoiding them allows me to function, so they are buried. (I guess I just answered my own question)

The standard stages of grief don't seem to work for how I've been effected by this addiction assault, either.  Always trying to understand the whys and hows, I thought through what I went and am going through and came up with my own 13 steps of the assaults of addiction.  I envisioned the steps as a ladder, where I started at the top, and with each step I move down a rung, ending with my feet planted on the ground, looking up.

The first step is Oblivion.  This is the time you are at the top of the ladder living a life you perceive as good.  Though life has it's ups and downs, you see your children as on track-healthy and present in their lives. You are oblivious to what's going on in their minds and what is beginning to surface in their actions.  (For me, this is when she was in high school, active in sports and her academics.  What I saw as her dedication was really the early stages of her obsession).

The second step is Confused Shock and Disbelief.  This is when something happens and you see the darkness, but only for a split second because the complete picture and corresponding ramifications are too foreign and horrible for your brain to comprehend.  This stage is fleeting because you so want your life back to normal, that you accept any and all explanations.  (For me when her eating disorder was budding, my son had heard her in the bathroom, and came and told me.  I confronted her asking her if she was sick.  She admitted to throwing up but assured me it was only that time and she wasn't ever going to do that, again.  What a relief it was to hear that!  The drinking was more insidious because everyone drinks in college, so her reassurance that she only drank with friends seemed true to me, so, I accepted it.)

The third step is Naive Trust.  After you begin to see signs, but aren't savvy enough to know something is not right (or aren't ready to admit it to yourself) you trust what they say: 'Everything's going to be okay.'

The fourth step is Confused Realization.  This is when you finally begin thinking in ways you've never thought before.  This is when you realize a life you've never considered or imagined could very possibly be overlapping and seeping into your own life.  This is when you start researching the topics.  You still keep things to yourself, but the dialogue has begun with yourself.  You start questioning and reviewing.  Your senses start be become more refined.  You start looking for behaviors that don't make sense or seem a little odd.

The fifth step is Tempered Trust.  Though you're still not completely sold anymore, the thought of this life style choice by your child (or loved one) is still too difficult to comprehend.  Your senses continue to be refined (mostly because they've become raw by this time) you still look for behaviors that are out of place, but you also want to believe your child, so you cautiously trust them.

The sixth step is Panic and Confusion.  This is when, after repeated situations, you finally realize that something is terribly wrong. You almost fall totally off of the ladder but manage to hold on, hooked by the elbows.  This rung takes awhile to let go of, because fear is a mighty force.  Since panic and confusion are two of Fear's most powerful tools, it takes a while for your thinking to get caught up to speed.

The seventh step is Anger.  Sometimes, it might boarder on rage. This is when you start reflecting--kind of rewinding your thinking in quick spurts--realizing what is being lost or put on hold.  The anger gets directed at God, the situation and sadly, the child. This anger, though, forces you to research more and to seek out help.  This anger can bring clarity to your thinking, like a huge wind storm, it can clear your thinking out.

The eighth step is Resentment.  After the anger storm dies down, the sadness sets in and resentment is a companion of sadness, so they take up residence for a while.  You resent choices, decisions, other people and their 'perfect' lives.  It is a very bitter tasting rung.

The ninth step is Sadness.  Resentment moves over and sadness becomes the main focus.  Sad for the same reasons you're resenting things.  The sadness, though, is more of a smothering feeling where as the resentment was more biting. 

The tenth step is Emptiness.  This feeling can be overwhelming.  Help hasn't worked as fast as you'd hoped.  You feel alone. Your life is feeling overwhelming. Your loved one is still 'lost.' This is a horrible rung to stay on.

The eleventh step is Exhaustion.  Fortunately (for lack of a better word), the exhaustion stage takes over the emptiness stage, so you can let go of the tenth rung and fall to the eleventh.  It's hard to hold on there, because everything is too exhausting.  It's too exhausting to think, pretend your life is okay, hope, function. 

The twelfth step is Resolve.  You become so tired, and tired doesn't feel good after awhile, so you begin thinking that, 'this is it.'  My dad used to listen to a female singer, Peggy something (truly, I never liked the song) but it applies here.  In the chorus she sings, "Is that all there is?"  On the twelfth stage, you resolve that yes, this is all there is, so work with it.  In the song, after she asks, "Is that all there is?"  She sings, "then lets keeps dancing," so use that advice--start dancing to a tune you can work with.  Get healthy, appreciate your family and friends, love your child (or husband, wife) with the addiction and get back to living your life. 

The thirteenth step is Guilt.  I put it as the thirteenth because you experience it at every level and even when you have your life ordered, it still makes an appearance.  In your quiet times, when you see a young mother and child, when you hear a song from the past, guilt creeps in. Didn't I bake enough cookies?  Go to enough games?  Read enough bedtime stories?  The list is endless.  I don't really know if it ever leaves, it may just get quieter.  But as the bottom rung, it's easy to step on it, occasionally.  A precaution, though, if you revisit this step for too long, it may motivate you to begin climbing back up the ladder, and the goal is to get off and stay off of the ladder.

So, those are the steps--the rungs--of the ladder.  When you step off of the thirteenth's you are on the ground, looking up.  You can see where you've come from.  You're in a perfect stance for prayer and, you're able to take a rest, use the knowledge you've gained, find a new direction, and begin moving forward, again. 

I'm not off of the ladder, yet, I still hold on, not wanting to let go, for reasons I'm still not sure of.  But, I'm working on it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


Stuff happened, again.  We had that nice vacation over the Fourth of July.  That following Monday, she started to drink, again. Who knows why??  Again, I was at work in the morning and around 11:00 got that sick feeling in my stomach.  I thought, 'No, that can't be what it means.'  When I got home, I noticed the change in her behavior, very slight, but it was there.  I didn't ask anything.  Didn't start to argue.  She eventually, went up stairs and that was the end of it.  I didn't see her all week.  I was more numb than upset. I just felt so 'blank' inside.  

That Tuesday, I came home and did laundry.  Too hot to be outside, so I put the air conditioning on in the living room, so that I could fold clothes.  I decided to watch a movie called Hotel Rwanda.  It was an amazing movie.  True.  The main character was like the Schindler of Rwanda.  I don't know if it was the power and intensity of the movie, the alcohol addiction, the heat, or the new repair that's needed on the back porch, but I just started feeling so exhausted; as if I just got sucked up into a huge plastic bag and all of the oxygen was taken out.  I just felt drained and I said, out loud, "God, I can't do this anymore.  I don't have the energy to pray, or wait, or fight back. I'm so sick of this addiction and what it's doing to all of us!!"  Then, because God is all powerful, I start my theological questioning, like, Does Free Will absolve God from acting proactively?  If our time and His time are not the same, how can we ever expect to have prayers answered when we need them?  Questions like that.  Then, infused with some guilt, I start remembering all of the times I have had prayers answered, even when I haven't prayed for them.  I remember the times that what occurred could have only come from God.  Then I go back and complain about the 'crumbs' of blessings instead of the 'feast' I need.  Then I remember that through all of this, no one has died, or been physically injured by my daughter's decisions at her worst moments.  That is a huge feast to be a part of. 

So, I swung on that pendulum for a while.  When it started to wind down, I found myself, again, just numb-tired and numb.  I was nervous all week.  I never checked on her.  Never opened her door.  I remember, during the summer of hell last year, when I did call the ambulance and police and other organizations that are there to help, to the house, no one would take her.  The ambulance wouldn't take her to the hospital because they said without her consent, it's kidnapping.  The police said that, "It's not illegal to drink and pass out in your house, no matter how much, if you're of age."  I even tried to 302 her once, but they couldn't do that because it was alcohol related.  That was last summer.  I called all of those people because my son and ex said that was what I should do.  All that did, in the end, was make me uncomfortable.  I work in a small community where the police I called to my house, who didn't know me before, now see me at work when they come to school to talk to the kids or do community out-reach.  It is hard to hold your head up, sometimes. 

Anyway, at one point last week, my daughter sat at the top of the stairs and called to me. I walked to the bottom of the stairs.  "What?"  "I heard on the radio that the Aurora Borealis is going to be as far south as Florida tonight." "What!?" (She has always wanted to go and see them, in fact, we were planning a trip at one point, but the addiction got in the way).  She repeated what she had said.  "I don't give a s*** about the Aurora Borealis!  I don't care about anything!  Why the **** did you start drinking, again!!?  I'm so sick of this addiction!!!  If you hadn't started drinking, again, we could have taken a long weekend further north to try an see them!  Stop talking to me, I don't care about anything anymore!!"   I was a crazy woman for a few seconds. I don't normally swear.  I'm normally calm and even tempered.  In the past, I would have jumped on that opportunity to be encouraging and patient. Walking on egg shells in what I said so that I wouldn't say something that would make things worse.  Not then, I was screaming. I was stomping all over the egg shells.  After I was done, my initial reaction was to look around the room.  Thank goodness, it was so hot and the windows were closed.  I was safe from the neighbor's ears.  I heard her begin to sob as the bedroom door closed.  I felt a little guilty for yelling, but surprisingly, the guilt subsided rather quickly.  So, until a few days ago, I have been feeling very little and being exhausted.  She has stopped drinking, again.  We did have as talk that she initiated this time.  She asked for help, first, before I offered any.  I have been knocked down a few rungs on my hope ladder.  (If I lean back far enough, I can touch bottom.  That's probably not good, but it's where I'm at). 

Anyway, that's what happened.  I went to work in the morning like nothing happened.  Came home and moved about like a shadow.  I'm not 'all better' but I am less exhausted.  I'm going to write, today, in a journal I've started. Something new.  Do some yard work.  I started doing yoga, too.  It's a beginner's CD.  My daughter said she wanted to try it, too.  So, that's a good first step-- us and the TV.  I'm not brave enough to be in a group, yet.

Also, the recent events in Colorado are heartbreaking.  Praying that the families involved find some kind of resolution and peace.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Power of Thought

"Every thought that enters your mind creates reality-you become what you think."   That is the scariest statement I've ever read.  I was going through papers on my desk (fyi, if it weren't for papers, I'd have no clutter).  Anyway, I wrote that down from the wellness day we had during school.  The person who does reflexology said that.  She was adamant that 'you are what you think.'   For me, controlling my thinking is very difficult.  I do try to think positively, but then those little negative gnats start flying around and I begin to focus on them and not 'the good possibilities.' 

Regardless of how scary that idea is, I do think it is true.  I have thought a lot about it and when I think of my daughter and where she is, today, she is an excellent example of becoming what you think or focus on.  Growing up she was very electric-a natural leader.  She was a slow starter in the morning.  After she woke up in the morning, before eating breakfast, she liked a hug and then to just sit at the kitchen table, watching everything that was going on.  She woke up slowly.  But once up, she was energy all around.  She would wear herself out so much, that on occasion, she would fall asleep at the table during dinner.   I remember having to wake her up so that she would finish chewing the food in her mouth.  She slept deep rarely waking in the night for anything.  The morning started her leap into the day and she grabbed onto every minute.  Once, she toddled into the kitchen and announced, "Mommy, I love you as much as flowers smell sweet!"  A big hug and then a glass of milk and the day was off.  I find myself meandering in those memories more frequently. 

As she got older and life as it does, required her to respond to more responsibility; school, peers, sports, she continued to maintain that solid personality.  I don't think I ever told her to get her homework done.  She would come home on her own, spread out her books, and tackle the assignments.  She never waited to the evening. In her mind, facing it and getting it done was just her way: work first, play later.  She had her wisdom teeth out in high school on a Friday and went to Crew practice the next morning.  She was driven and dedicated.  Her first year in college, she wanted to row Stroke position, but didn't know the coach well enough to ask, so she bought a pair of shorts with STROKE written on the back and when they were doing their required mile run, she would make sure to run past him.  Eventually he approached her and asked her if she ever rowed stroke position.  She said, "Yes."  He said, "I thought so."   He tried her out and allowed her to row in that seat. 

Somewhere along the way, she latched onto more negative thinking than positive or hopeful thinking.  For the eating disorder, it started her junior year in high school, when she over heard some boys criticizing other girls on how they looked in their spandex suits they wore for crew.  She didn't want to be included in that group of girls and so dieting became obsession which became the eating disorder.  She hated what she was doing, but the thought of not being accepted by boys was stronger.  There were several personality traits about her dad that she did not like-hated would be accurate. Her anger at herself and how the boys talked, I believe, began mixing in with how she felt about her dad. Today, she exhibits a lot of those behaviors. I've pointed that out to her; that her concentrating on the behaviors she hates so much has molded her into what she hates the most. The drinking thinking deceives her even more. And that is the craziest thinking.  She gets upset about what she's 'lost' and I point out that the drinking is what caused it all. Then she thinks that it's too late, and that, in turn, has dried up her well of enthusiasm, desire and hope.  She has become what she thinks. 

It is scary to me, how strong thoughts are.  What are the keys to unlock their hold on a person?  Words have power.  Once thoughts and words have taken root, is seems so hard to pull out the bad thoughts and replace them with new.  You have to be so vigilant not only with what you say but with what you think.  Why is it so easy to believe the negative over the positive?  I don't know.  I do know, that I'm swatting back negative thinking more frequently as my own hope begins to waiver. 
How do you hold on to good thinking when the negative seems so much stronger?