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

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Perfect Day

Today was a perfect day. 

It began with cooler temperatures and the humidity not as high.  I was able to sit out on the back porch this morning, drink my coffee, and watch the dogs roam around the yard.  No one else was up.  The sun was barely up.  It was perfect.

My daughter had a job interview, she scheduled it in the afternoon, so that we could go and look at a house.  Though, the house was almost perfect, the experience was a good one I am learning not to settle.  We left the showing and drove to the interview.  We were early, so we stopped for something to drink.  We sat and talked.  There was no stress.  No worrying (yeah!) just easy conversation.  In plenty of time, we drove to the building where the interview was to take place.  I waited in the car while she went in.  I listened to the radio, filed my nails, and then stepped out of the car to stand and watch the brightest yellow bird I have ever seen, eat berries in the bush behind my car. The interview  took about a half an hour.  She came out with the paper work she needed to take it to the next step.  (Things are looking good).

After the interview, we went to lunch, shoe shopping and picked up some other odds and ends.  We drove past this candy/bakery shop and decided to stop.  It was so cute in side and the baked goods were amazing.  So many to choose from.  I bought a scone. She bought little doughnuts with toppings like salty pretzel and bacon. 

Not feeling like cooking, we decided to pick up some sandwiches for dinner. 

She is doing her yoga now and I am here.  Feeling happy and content.  I remember this feeling and I am welcoming it with open arms. 

Thank you, God, for this blessing of a day!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Reminder

I am still worrying, a lot.  Though it is not evident from my outsides, sometimes on the inside it feels as though I have electrodes connected to every thought and that causes everything that I think about to turn into some type of worry.  I worry about the jobs around the house I want to get finished--painting, cleaning the attic, cleaning the basement, getting rid of some paperwork, are just a few jobs I want to get done.  I'm not going to list all of the things I worry about, but the list is becoming endless.  My stomach can start churning at a sound that  reminds me of a thought that then reminds me of either a memory or job I have to do and then, wham, I'm in worry mode, again. 

I was sitting in the living room on Sunday morning. It was quiet. Early morning is one of my favorite times of the day.  I wasn't worrying. I was sipping coffee (another favorite time is that first cup in the morning).  At some point, I decided to turn on the TV. (I changed TV and Internet service companies and I am still playing around trying to rediscover what channels align with what stations).  Anyway, I landed on a channel where someone was talking about worry.  He said that you can't serve two masters--worry and God.  He went over Matthew 6: 24-34.  I know this passage, though obviously I haven't been applying it to my life.  I am trying to read this once a day so that the words embed themselves in my subconscious.  While I was reading it,  "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness..." was a part I was stumbling on.  So, I decided to research some places to see what other people had to say about it.  I read one site where the author, using Romans 14:17 explained 'the kingdom of God"  as the, "righteousness, peace and joy in you."  because of the Holy Spirit. I hope this isn't sounding too mystical, but this whole journey with addiction has also been, for me, a journey into how my faith and beliefs are working.  Kind of like a walk of proof.  Do I really believe what I say I do?  When things get bad (and having your child sick and destructive and sad is a 9.5 on a scale of 10 of how bad things can get) do I toss my beliefs for something else or do I stand firm (though a little shaky and worn)?

Well, I am shaky and worn out. I think the worrying is a sign of this, so I have to shift my direction, again, to get back on the more healthy path.  This time spiritually.  It's a daily struggle for me.  But I have to say that  along the way there have been amazing signs, shown in sometimes the littlest and least expected ways, that I'm not alone in this.  That there is some supernatural, benevolent, unseen presence that is never far away.  Last night, I was reminded about that in an unexpected way.

We were in the living room.  It has been hot and humid and rainy here.  I grilled some chicken and steaks last night.  The grill is on the back porch.  There is a large tree back there whose branches provide shade over the porch, during the rain, they are not much help.  So, I was outside, with an umbrella, grilling.  After the meal was cooked, my daughter put the umbrella on the front porch to dry off.  The front porch has a roof. 

We have a little min pin.  He is 12 pounds of energy.  We have to keep the screen door locked because if the door is open and he hears something in the front, he runs and literally slams into the door. If the door was not locked, he might unlock it and get out.  After dinner, while we were in the living room, there were several times that he jumped off of the couch, growling, because he must have heard something outside.  Kids walking by, another dog being walked,  anyway, he didn't do his normal jump, run and slam.  He jumped off of the couch and didn't leave the living room entryway.  He just growled a little and then jumped back on the couch. This happened a few times.  At one point, I walked to the front door to watch the rain coming down, and noticed that the screen door wasn't closed.  The lock was locked, but sticking in a way that the door was resting on the latch.  If he had run at the door, he would have been out. 

I sat and thought about it. I thought about Matthew 6.  God is in control. Don't worry about anything.  And I thought that as long as you are doing the right thing (my daughter did lock the door but it didn't latch correctly) that God will watch over the rest. 

I know this doesn't seem like a big event, but for us it was.  We worry about him getting out. He's done it once before and it was a BIG stress.  I don't know what was stopping him from leaving the living room and running to the door.  But the three or four times that he jumped down, he just stood there, looking around, and then jumped back onto the couch.  Not scared, not crazy barking, just quietly turned around and jumped back onto the couch.  That NEVER happens.  Well, until last night. 

I choose to believe that God was watching over us and that last night was an easy reminder that we are not alone in this.  I have had other reminders, too, if I take a walk down nightmare lane and remember all of the times that situations could have been much, much worse. 

So, I sit here and am grateful that I was given another reminder that we are watched over.  I will probably need several more in the future, but for now, this will do.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Melody of Hope

My daughter loved(s) the Little Mermaid.  As a child, when we lived in Alabama, after we saw the movie in the theater she was smitten.  She wanted me to dye her beautiful, golden hair red and change her name to Ariel.  I said no to both, but bought a red wig and my mother made a mermaid costume that my daughter loved.  She had two close friends and every day (no exaggeration) they would play the music and 'preform' in our living room, rearranging the furniture as best as they could to create the bottom of the ocean.  I kick myself for not video taping it, but the memory of my girl directing and singing, dressed in her red wig and costume is locked in my heart forever. 

Several months ago, my daughter read that The Little Mermaid was going to be preformed on stage in the city and so she bought two tickets.  I won't lie.  I was worried at first that maybe we wouldn't get to go.  But then I was hopeful that it would be motivating for her to stay sober.  Well, she didn't stay sober.  Last Tuesday she started drinking (I mentioned it in my last post).  On Friday, I went into her room, and reminded her what day it was and that Sunday was the Little Mermaid.  "Are we still going to go?"  The look of confusion and concern in her eyes made my heart sad.  "Yes."  She finally said.  "Well, if you are still drinking, we're not going.  I'm not going anywhere if you've had any alcohol.  I'm not risking you passing out or needing an ambulance."  She looked at me with a frightened and confused look (my heart ached, again).  "But..."  "No.  Drinking or not is your choice.  If you choose drinking, we're not going. If you decide to get sober, then we can go.Do you understand what I'm saying?"  She seemed to be struggling with the thought for a moment.  "Yes."  She finally answered.

Well, she continued to drink until early Sunday morning.  When I went into check on her, I asked her if she was done.  She said yes.  I have to tell you, she didn't look good.  She had had a lot to drink in a short period of time.  But, I made her some soup with bread and butter.  She ate and took a nap.  Around three, she was able to take a shower.  I helped her with her make-up.  She got dressed and we left the house at 6:15.  The show started at 7:00. 

The theater is an old, historical, beautiful building.  I was surprised at how may people where there of all ages.  Our seats were on the second floor. She had to take the stairs slowly, but we eventually found our seats.

When the lights went down and the music and singing started, I started to quietly cry to myself.  I had to wipe tears away several times.  All I could see was my electric, happy, courageous little girl dressed in her red wig and costume singing her heart out in our living room, perched on the ottoman just like Ariel was perched on her rock in the middle of the ocean.  What happened to my girl who had so much...spunk and confidence?  I looked over at her and saw a more fragile person sitting next to me.  Someone who seems more afraid and hesitant.  Again, what happened and when?  It all seems like such a jumble.  I know that the little girl I raised is still inside her. I just don't know how to unlock the mental cell she's being held captive in. 

Even though she didn't feel good, she made it through the two and a half hour performance.  We talked about it on the way home.  Though she was still not feeling well, I think that she was happy that she was able to go.  I know I was proud of her for making the healthier choice.

As I sat next to her, during the performance, I laid my had on her knee and said a prayer. I prayed that she was reminded of who she really is.  That she begins to believe that and not the lies of addiction. In the darkness of that theater surrounded by the beautiful music and costumes, I prayed that my daughter recognize the melody of who she is and what she can be and that she allows that song to begin playing in her heart, again.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Turning Away

Matthew 7: 1-2 says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged..."

I don't think there has been anything more than this experience with addiction that has caused me to demolish so many of my own 'walls of thinking'.  I am in the process of rebuilding those walls (boundaries) only the mortar I'm using is a little more gentle and the stone not as heavy. 

Don't misunderstand me, I don't think judging is wrong.  I've written about this, before. It's important and necessary to make judgments every day.  A right action from a wrong action. Is this idea a biblical one  or not?  Judgments help to maintain standards and boundaries.  Judgments become an obstacle when you don't read further into that passage in Matthew where it states that you need to look at the log in your own eye before the speck in another's.  You have to make sure you're making the judgments for the right reason (making sure you have cleaned up your act) before you can help someone else see better choices to make.  As with most of the directives in the bible, I don't believe them to be written as a finger-wagging warning, but as a gentle, loving parent advising you on how to best live your life in order to help others, and yourself, get closer to God.

I'm not a loud person.  I'm not an in-your-face person.  It always amazes me when I hear people have commented to strangers on their weight, actions, etc.  I have never done that in the negative.  I have gone up to someone who I just observed doing something good or kind and told them.  Good behavior should be encouraged.  Having said that, I did make judgments in my own mind.  My thoughts would go something like this, if someones child had to leave school (college) unexpectedly and there were hints of drug or alcohol use my face would show sympathy, but my mind was judging.  "They should have made better choices."  "Must have something going on at home."  I was a bipolar judge.  On the outside sympathetic on the inside I was pointing my finger in all directions. 

If you can find good in any situation, a good out of this situation is that nothing phases me and I understand more completely how fragile people really are and how messy life can be when you are not being sheltered by your loved ones.  Once you get out into the world and are on your own, the past emotional baggage, experiences and all of the idiosyncrasies that make up you as a person get dragged along with you.  They are the tools you reach for when life starts breaking down.  Sometimes those are the right tools.  Sometimes you end up using a screw driver when you should have used a hammer.  But, you do the best that you can even when that best drags you down a path you would have never in a million years, dreamed you'd be on. 

Life has so many paths to chose all with their own set of consequences.  Some consequences are cause by our actions, some by other's actions.  Regardless of what the consequences, we are required to keep forging  ahead.  "All things work together for the good to them that love God." (Romans 8:28).  All things.  So, regardless of the spot you've landed in a field of roses or a pile of poo, it can work out for good.  The possibility is there if you're focused on the right.

My very best friend in the world called me last week to tell me about a choice she had made in the distant past.  The consequence of that choice showed up last week.  She was afraid that I would judge her.  Me.  I can write a full two page, front and back, single spaced list of the goofy stuff we did as kids, yet she was afraid that I was going to love her less because of this one choice she had made. 
I listened to her story. Heard the pain in her voice. The fear.  When she was done, we talked and the bottom line for me was you did the best you could with the choices you had at the time.  I asked her if she was happy with her life now.  "Yes."  Does she have a family she loves and who loves her?  "Yes."  Then why would you be upset now about a choice made so long ago? 

What we experience, if we learn from it, makes us who we are at this moment.  If you learn from your choices and strive to make better ones (even if you get weak along the way) then how could you fault yourself? Who's so perfect that they never make mistakes?  (Of course, I'm not considering extremes like torture or purposely hurting someone...I think Hitler has a lot to answer for) I'm talking about the general, normal human that most of us are.  When Lot's wife turned back to look at her destroyed city, she turned to a pillar of salt.  You can't keep reminding yourself about the choices of your past. It's over. Done. Bury it and move on.

The past is where my daughter has chained herself. For whatever reason, when things are going their best, she chooses to turn around and review every mistake, postponed decision, lost friendship.  Every bad experience is the result of alcohol, YET what does she turn to after she flails herself with memories of the past?  Alcohol.  I don't understand it.  Why is it so hard to forgive yourself? Why is it so hard to let go? Why is it so hard to turn away from the past?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Where's the Cauliflower?

Life has been good, here.  Hot and humid, but good. I have seen good changes in my daughter.  She seems happier.  More positive.  She doesn't get upset as quickly. And I have been practicing letting her get upset.  That is still one of my 'forbidden zones' trying to avoid her getting angry or upset.  I have a lot of experience padding the way so that people don't get angry.  I learned it from my mom, who was always trying to avoid an argument with my dad.  And being married to a controlling individual, I refined those skills.  Since this addiction has been following me around, I have learned that emotions that are too intense--mostly the negative ones--literally drive my daughter to drink, so I have adapted to the situation and have worked hard to make sure life isn't too frustrating for her.  It's exhausting work!  So, I gave it up. 

I don't understand when emotions and feeling your feelings became such a dreaded experience.  I understand the pain of breaking up with someone.  I lived through many break-ups.  I survived it and moved on.  Those heroic men, women, and children who pioneered our country, left their own familiar surroundings to find their American Dream, lived daily hardships.  Death, hunger, sadness, loneliness, adventure, and they lived through it.  They kept plowing ahead and found their futures.  They built a life.  Life is not easy.  It can be messy.  But it can also be amazing, even through all of the junk that is put in your path, you find treasures if you keep looking and don't give up. 

I am working at summer school, now.  I had two weeks off and we began on Monday.  It is hard getting back into that routine, but it is also fulfilling working with the kids.  I am teaching a social skills class this year.  My first time and so it is a work in progress.  Anyway, everything was going great here.  I had even begun to forget about the drinking.  Really, it was starting to feel like a distant memory.  I'm so tried of thinking about it anyway, that when my daughter promised (yes, I said promise which hasn't been said before.  In the past it has been, "I don't plan on..."  This time it was I promise I'm not buying alcohol)  I was more than willing to 'forget the whole darn thing!'  All six, nightmarish years, gone in the puff of a promise.   My promises mean something, so my assumption is that all promises  mean something.  Well....

I came home today and my daughter was making Shepard's Pie, only it is the detoxing recipe that uses cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes (you really can't tell the difference, it is that good).  Anyway, I noticed something wasn't right in how she looked. Subtle, but a familiar change. BUT, she promised, so I pretended I was seeing things.  I told her I was running to the store.  She said that she was going to finish cooking the cauliflower and then bake the casserole.  Okay, so I left.  When I came home, she was asleep on the couch.  (I wasn't concerned, it is so muggy and hot here that I could sleep most of the day).  I walked into the kitchen and as it goes every time she drinks, I have a mystery to solve.  On the counter is the food processor, empty.  There is broccoli cut up in the pan, but not cooking.  Half of it is in the pan, half on the table.  The chicken is cut up in the casserole dish, sitting on the table.  The pot that the cauliflower was cooking in was in the sink.  Something was missing.  Where was the cauliflower?  I looked in the oven.  Nothing.  The refrigerator.  Nothing. The garbage. Nothing.  I went into the living room and woke her.  "Where's the cauliflower?"  She blinked at me.  "The cauliflower...where is it?"  She furrowed her brow.  I waited. She stood up and went into the kitchen, looking in the same places I did.  She looked at me, "How can you lose cauliflower?"  "Good question! Only I'm the one who should be asking it!"  After a few more minutes of watching her look (which was starting to really frustrate me)  I told her to go upstairs. She did.  She's there now.  I cleaned things up.  Put food away, however, I still haven't found the cauliflower.