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, 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?

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Trip

My daughter and I took a trip last week to Indiana.  My very best friend lives there with her family. I've literally known her all of my life. We grew up together five houses apart.  When she was five, her family moved to New York.  At five, we wrote each other letters (hey are the craziest things to read now!).  Her family moved back to Pennsylvania six months later about 1/2 an hour away from my parent's home. We kept in touch, calling and writing.  When we were old enough, we spent summers and vacations at each other's houses.  Being with her is like being with my family.  I have no sisters, so she has taken that place for me. I'm seven inches taller than she is.  My hair is blonde; her's is brown. She has green eyes and mine are blue; yet when we're out, we've been mistaken for sisters.  Despite all of the coloring differences, we do look alike.  Go figure.   Once, when we were eating lunch out, the waitress came over to us and asked us if we were sisters.  We smiled and said, 'No.'  She paused and then asked, "Well are you twins?"   We smiled and shook our heads.  (True story).  

So, anyway, it's about an 8 hour drive.  We took Dexter, our Min Pin with us, because I still don't trust him with other people.  He's gentle and sweet, but fast.  He's bolted out of the front door now, three times.  Fortunately, he pees on everything and that slows him up enough to catch up with him and grab him.  He was great in the car and when we stopped for a break.  The whole trip was wonderful.  Somehow, time doesn't react with my friend the way it does with everyone else on the planet.  It goes slower when she's around but amazingly, everything that is planned, gets accomplished--and you don't feel rushed!   Last Tuesday, after a leisurely breakfast and coffee,  in one day, we drove to this place called Shipschwanna (I'm not sure that's spelled correctly) which is a huge flea market.  Then, another hour drive to Notre Dame.  After walking the campus and taking some pictures, we drove to lake Michigan to end the day at the beach.  We arrived home around 11:00.  Tired but satisfied. 

The rest of the week was the same.  It is always hard when it's time to leave. 

Being there was so good.  It was good to get away.  It was good to participate in someone else's routine.  It was healthy to hear other conversations.  It's different when you just meet up with someone for the day and then go back to your own home.  Staying in someone else's home, other conversations and comments happen that force you to leave the mental rut you're in and breath in some fresh experiences.  It reminded me of how dangerous isolation is.  My daughter, when she's out, is talkative and funny.  Though she feels she is shy, when she's interacting with other people, you'd never know it.  How she  perceives herself is completely different from how other's see her.  It's frustrating to me that she chooses not to believe what they say to her.  Her comments to me if someone compliments her range from, "They're your friends, they have to say that."  Or, "They're just being nice."  Or some other contray, negative response.  Truthfully, I get tired of hearing her put her self down.  My response is usually, to quickly refute the 'they have to say that' and then tell her that she can choose to accept the compliment or not, and move on.  I just can't figure out why she's thought herself into such a miserable, bleak hole when she has so much going for her. 

Having said that, it didn't hinder the feeling of the trip.  I'd hoped it would help refresh her.  Whether it did or not, I was refreshed--and I really needed to be.