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

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.