Friday, May 30, 2008

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Right now, my life is on a fast merry-go-round and I want to get off! Work is hectic, and I'm struggling to get a peaceful night's sleep. It's not worry about my son that's keeping me up, this time. It's the curse of menopause that's causing me either throw off my covers, to be followed by a sudden case of shivers that leaves me tired at the end of each workday.

Yesterday, being Thursday, brought B at my job just as the student's were breaking for lunch. I've got it figured out, by now-- B likes to scope out the cute girls who hang around the school. His hormones are in full swing...gone is my shy boy who only cared about Pokemon, skateboards and South Park TV shows.

So, I offered to take my son and his roommate to lunch. Had I known that B would order a plate of Eggs Benedict AND a plate of scrambled eggs with bacon AND juice, I might have stuck to ordering a glass of water and a toothpick for myself. That boy can eat! This is good, because B lost a lot of weight during the time that he was using.

I was proud of my strength when he hit me up for $20.00 that he'd pay back. I simply said "no". He didn't argue with me. Co-dependency classes warn loved ones that we should say "no" to giving addicts money. It's harsh, but my son needs to learn how to provide for himself. At least, I get it. Unfortunately, his father has spent about $1500.00 to fix problems with B's car. In addition, B's father tells me that he's going to give our son $200.00 to pay his parking tickets.

Hello? Can we spell E-N-A-B-L-E-R?

Moving along with last night.--I got home at 7:15pm. I had a haircut/color appointment that I was not going to cancel. Even though I was happy to say "yes" to B's request for him and his roommate to spend the night at our home. Foodie that I enjoy being, I had a plate of seared and roasted pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes and steamed fresh green beans on the table in 40 minutes. It made me very happy to serve him the first home-cooked meal he's probably eating in many weeks.

I was able to spent about 2 hours, total, chatting with B and his roommate (a mature man who seems to be a nice guy). Fatigue took over, and I was in bed by 10.

I woke both guys up at 6:30am, made them both a quick hot breakfast and we all left together. They were appreciative and I enjoyed their company.

So, that's our latest update on how B is doing.

Tonight is when I go to my local Christian support group. I have come to appreciate these meetings. They are my chance to talk with addicts, parents of addicts/alcoholics, survivors of child abuse-- essentially, we share something in common. We are either in recovery, trying to stay in recovery, or we are affected by someone who has been through recovery. Addicts seem more than willing to talk about their addiction.

I enjoy the short worship music and teachings, because I feel encouraged. Next, we break into small groups. The small groups help me, too. I like being in a small room, with a handful of women where we can share our feelings. The rules are strict-- we remain anonymous (no last names). We have 3-5 minutes to speak, and nobody is allowed to interrupt. If we cry, nobody is to hand a tissue to us (there is healing in tears, and we want the person to let go). We cannot offer advice, either.

When I hear other people's stories, I am affected in different ways. Sometimes, I just feel grateful that my problems are small compared to others. Sometimes, I feel someone understands what I am going through, because their story mirrors mine.

Once again, I can hardly wait till tomorrow morning. My alarm will not go off at 5:15am. I can sleep in, read my paper and enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee. I have my husband who wakes up loving and cheerful just about every morning.

I continue to pray for my son throughout different times of the day. There are days when I worry about him, but that's when I remind myself-- God is in control of all things. I revert back to Step #1 and remind myself that I am powerless over my son's addiction. He is powerless over his addiction.

So, I pray, lean on my husband, and attend support groups for people like us-- the ones who are trying to heal from the pain of watching someone struggle with their sobriety.

My son is hanging in there, but he will always battle his addiction. It's just the way things are.

Till the weekend,


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surprise visit!

My cellphone rang 5 minutes into my lunch hour. I didn't recognize the number, but the area code was from the Bay area.

"Hello?", I hesitantly answered.

It was my son. He was just up the street from me. He showed up, within minutes of asking if he could come by (of course, I was waiting for him to hit me up for lunch or lunch money). He was with his roommate-- "Allen". I was pleasantly surprised that my son sat and actually visited with me. I clearly noticed that his legs weren't shaking up and down. When he was using, he was always in a hurry...very distracted. This time, he was relaxed.

I asked him how it felt to be "home" again, and he said that the familiar cravings came back as soon as he saw Salinas. His roommate chimed in that there was no way he'd let B visit his old turf.

I felt so thankful to know that there is a mature man looking after my son. Thank you, God!

Why is B here, you are wondering...

His father is doing about $1500.00 in repairs on his car.

How do I feel about this?

Again, I hear one side of B's dad saying he's broke and has no money. Yet, his father seems to come up with money to fix our son's car.

I'm very proud of myself. The only thing I said to my son was "you are very lucky that your dad is willing to do this for you".

No further comment, lest I say things that are not pleasing to God.

It was nice to see my son, of course. So far, I don't see any behavior that indicates he's using.
For that, I sing praises and thanks to God.

As I look back to April 1st, my son is approaching 60 days of sobriety. It has been a wild and crazy ride of worries and emotions. I continue to give ALL the glory to our God Almighty-- for he has truly been merciful and good to my son and to me.

I feel that I've made a few strong steps in a forward direction in that I am backing off trying to "help" my son with my wisdom. He needs to learn, and I do think he's trying.

So, today, I'm feeling "calm".

That reminds me of Matthew 14: 25-32

25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

27But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

28"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

29"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Across a new bridge

I haven't been able to blog for a few days. I think that I needed a few days to unwind, relax and finally find a good night's sleep that has eluded me for many weeks.

I've debated revealing the location of where I am from, because I wanted to keep things anonymous. After much thought, I think it's okay to do so. I say that, because I want to talk about where B is moving. I think it's important to share where B grew up, so that anyone can understand why I'm so happy that my son is moving to a new home.

B is currently living in Oakland-- not far from his treatment center. He is sharing an old home with 12 men. His room is on the third floor of the house, in the attic. That's a challenge for someone who is 6'3-- especially when his shower head is only 4' off the floor! I got to see the house, expecting the worse. It wasn't, nearly, as bad as I had imagined. The kitchen was pretty neat for 12 men. The living room was dark and not very homey-- something I couldn't help noticing. The carpet could use being replaced, but at least the men don't live in squalor.

I met B's roommate-- a man somewhere close to my age. He said that it was too hard to share a kitchen with that many people-- let alone share a small refrigerator. I could understand that.
So, B's roommate drove us to Benicia, Californa. Apparently, this roommate of B's has already decided to move into the house. My son would make roommate #3. On the way, it took 40 minutes to get there, because my son doesn't understand the geography of the area. Of course, that's a guy thing, isn't it? I did get maps for him from AAA, but has he used them? No! On the return trip, it took 20 minutes to return because we went the route that is closest. Note to self: buy my son a GPS for his birthday gift.

I have crossed over the bridge, to Benicia, on my way to Napa a few times before. You can't help noticing the moth ball fleet of retired ships and the refinery. But, once we headed into downtown Benicia, I was so impressed with it! It reminds me of our small hometown of Pacific Grove and a little bit of the mountains of Corral de Tierra-- where I live. I met B's future landlord/roommate-- another man somewhere in my age range. He has a 13 year old son who seems like a really nice kid (of course, I know that there are two sides to every "tween"...the one that the parents see and the ones their peers see). The four of us enjoyed lunch and I had a chance to chat with everyone.

What I really noticed is how different my son behaves around his older friends. It is such a contrast to the friends he had in Salinas, CA:

B grew up in the suburbs of Salinas. His father and I owned a 3-acre house with my five Arabian horses, swimming pool, and car shop. Life appeared good, until our marriage began to crumble to the point that our home became a place of tension and the joy was gone. B's father left me in 1996 and I moved into a small granny unit in a nice area of Monterey in 1997. Custody was shared 50/50 of B. I really wanted my son to go to a private school, but it was not financially possible. So, he attended a very large public high school in Salinas.

B was exposed to what I call "ag kids". These are kids whose parents are financially well off because of the agriculture business of Salinas. I was one of those moms who made my home an open door for B to bring home his friends. I invited them to join us for dinner, so that I could get to know them.

That's why I was so shocked to find out, a few years later, that most of these boys would turn out to be drug addicts. These are all kids who came from respectable families. So much for the stereotype troubled kid being a result of bad parents...

Salinas has had 13 murders since the first of this year. The gang scene has become so bad, that East Salinas is like a war zone. Gun shots are being fired off in neighborhoods that were once considered good real estate investments. A shooting happened just a couple of blocks away from his father's house. B moved in with his father a year ago, this month. Drugs are at the forefront of why the gangs are thriving in Salinas. I have lost hope that much can be done. So, I no longer drive anywhere near that area and I shop on the Monterey Peninsula.

My son has opened up to me about the places in East Salinas where he has been. These are neighborhoods that I would never venture into-- day or night. Once, I got lost in that area and it scared me half to death! He has mixed in with the gang members, but he never joined the gang. Unfortunately, his choice of music is rap and his way of speaking took on tones of street slang. I never liked that.

I live in a very safe area of Salinas-- in my safe bubble...a gated community, along the foothills of Salinas Valley. I live where I feel safe walking at night, and I thank God every single day for being able to live in my home.

That is why, as I crossed over the bridge to Benicia, I could feel a total culture change from what my son has known for most of his high school years. I did not see gang graffiti, nor the large population of Hispanic people. Please know, that I am 50% Hispanic and I am not ashamed of my roots. Unfortunately, the gangs of Salinas are comprised of primarily Hispanic people. I do NOT have a prejudice against Mexicans. I have a deep hatred for the gang life-- and there are very few things that I use the word "hate" towards.

I watched my son sitting in the living room of the home in Benicia that he really wanted to move to. I realized, then, that this new arrangement would hold a positive promise for my son. He will be far away from the "street" culture that he's been involved with. He'll be living with two mature men, who are both in recovery. The three of them talked about grilling at home, and how much money they would save not having to eat out every day. Sure, I wonder if all three of them will hinder or help one another in their recovery. I have prayed about this, and I realize that I need to let me son make his choices and suffer either the victories of consequences of this.

So, I agreed to let him use his trust fund for two more months-- under the condition that he earns and pays the rent increase different of $180.00 a month. The trust fund help will run out in 90 days, too. It's important for B to make finding a job his priority. He has a part-time job, but there are golf courses around.

B was really happy that I agreed to let him do this. After all, his only hope of doing this was to tap into his trust fund that he is not to receive until he is 25. I do believe that my mother would want me to invest in B's sobriety.

My son looks good, and I do not think that he's using. I say this, because he is speaking clearly. He isn't hostile towards me, either.

That's my latest update for today. I will post more, tomorrow. I have a lot more to share, but I need to return to work.

Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement.

Friday, May 23, 2008

To really trust God in all things...

I will admit, for the thousandth time (to the second power) that I have a tendency to need control, structure, routine-- in order to feel that all is right in my world. My mother's DNA has reached far into me, because she was one of the most organized people I've ever known. Organization comes and goes with me-- with the recent purchase of my Palm Pilot, I've gotten much better about it.

I say this, because I am trying my hardest to put into practice just how important it is to let go and let God. With addiction, this is really important because the first step is to admit that we are powerless against our addiction. For me, I'm working on breaking free of my co-dependent relationship with my genetic blueprint that is linked to my mom's behavior. I wish it wasn't so, but I am doomed to repeat her lists, checklists, follow-up calls and my dependence on sticking to a schedule...being on time.

With all of this said, I have been dreading my trip up north tomorrow. Yes, I am anxious to see my son-- to lean my head into chest (as far as I can reach...since I'm 5'7 and he's 6'3). I have fantasies of having some great mom and son bonding time. Not to sound pessimistic, but I do think that shall remain my fantasy. I have a strong feeling that B's "plan" on how we will spend our day is setting me up for something he wants.

I spoke with B, this morning. He says that he's having a hard time with depression, anxiety and withdrawal symptoms. I asked him if he is speaking to his sponsor. "Yes", he replied.
"Is it helping?" I responded.
"No, not really".

That makes me sad. On the other hand, I feel suspicious. I have already had B pitch that he wants to move to a new city-- about 20 minute away from where he is, now. He wants to move into a house with two other addicts he's met. This would be a good thing, if these were addicts who have years of recovery under their belt.

Stop!!! You see? I need to stop forecasting what I have no control over.

So, here is a big step for me to take. I need to drive north, by myself...listening to my audio book in my iPod and praying along the way. I really need God's wisdom on this. I think about the book of Job and how Job's "friends" would blame God for misery. They would say "curse God and die". It's a good thing that Job didn't listen to him, because God restored his life and blessed him tenfold. Where am I going with this?

I need God's wisdom. I love my friends. I have piles of books on addiction and co-dependency. I have my husband, whose advice is something that I respect.

But, in this case, I need God's wisdom. I don't want to make up my mind, in advance, what (if any) help I will agree to give my son. I need to put into practice to listen to my son and to pray about my decision. As much as my friends want to help, I want to trust God's perfect plan.

Please keep me in prayer. I need to not stress about what I have no control over.

I want to keep a positive attitude and to trust God.



Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On counting my blessings

Throughout the day, my thoughts are drawn back to my son. I wonder where he is, and how he is doing. I can't help myself.

My best friend and I have made a pact that we can only talk about B during our lunch hours-- when neither of our husbands can hear us. She, being my "sister I never had" is as concerned about my son as though he is hers, too. We both agree that we have perseverance and ambition in common. That's why we both share a feeling of helplessness with B's struggle. We both wish he'd pick up his day planner and resume's that he's forgotten at her house two days ago.

B is struggling in a big way. He is struggling with a brain that wants to use. He's been calling his sponsor, but B isn't going to meetings every day. I fear that B has put his new friends (from the recovery center) before finding a full-time job. My son is forgetful-- and he isn't taking care of finding a doctor to monitor his diabetes. B is very unfocused and he is leaving himself highly vulnerable to the temptation of drugs.

Frankly, it scares me half to death and my worries and fears haunt my dreams and my sleep.

This morning, I woke up to beautiful clear skies. The heat wave has passed. As I drove down the steep hill in my neighborhood, overlooking the beautiful mountains... I recalled Psalm 100:

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.
1 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
So, I began to make a mental list of my blessings, and I praised God for all of them:
- My home, that I appreciate and that I live in the United States of America
- My family, my wonderful and supportive friends
- My marriage to a man who is loving and supportive and wonderful and all that I have hoped for in a husband
- My finances, that I am free of debt and that I can afford to eat well and that I have savings...and that I am not afraid of ending up homeless
- My job, that I work for a school district and I know exactly how much my paycheck will be...that I have paid benefits, retirement and a month off in July. I love the students and the excitement of what I do-- I am never bored.
Last, but not least-- I praised God that my son is alive...that he is not dead from an overdose, or that he was shot in a bad drug deal, that he's not in an intensive care ward due to complications of his diabetes, that my son was able to go into an excellent rehab center, that there is a modest trust fund that can help him (hopefully) get on his feet...that God has been so merciful to B.

By the time I finished listing all the blessings I have-- and praising God, I felt my joy return.

So, for the entire day I was able to work at a steady pace, to catch up with a pile of paperwork on my desk... I got to laugh with my best friend, during our lunch hours, on our cellphones (and we didn't talk about B longer than 3 minutes).

It's so easy for us to become lost in our sorrows. I wonder...does my son really see his own blessings? Does he fully appreciate all that God has done for him?

I have no doubt that my son is afraid of relapsing. He's so lost in how to make ends meet. I think that he continues to burn through his weekly stipend on gas money, so that he can drive around and distract himself from the responsibilities of life that he needs to take care of-- finances, health and spiritual.

So, today, I'm feeling as the the Lord is my rock and my comfort. Without my daily prayer time, I could easily get lost in my own pity party.

Counting my many blessings is good medicine.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tired of being tired...

What happened to my energy? Yes, I'm going through menopause. I've got the power surges going on, and fatigue is partly due to not be able to sleep all through the night.

My son is a large part of my stress, though. I took a vacation from him on Sunday. It was nice get back to my routine of going to my church, and hearing a message that was very encouraging. It was about "You Gotta Keep Dancing". Given that I have a son who is 7 weeks into his sobriety, who lives in a new city 2 hours away, who doesn't have a full-time job... it's sapping my joy to try and keep a positive attitude.

My best friend tells me that B hung out at her house for most of Sunday-- doing laundry, watching television and playing with a new gadget someone gave him-- so that he can access the internet. I heard that on Monday, his father drove up to deliver the rest of B's clothes and shoes that he needed.

I had a rough day at the office. I was told that I looked like I'd been hit by a truck (gee, thanks). My hair was frazzled, make-up was askew and that I looked like I was ready to collapse. I was very happy to see the clock hit 4:30 so that I could head home. I took a chance, and called my son.

I still can't recall all of what he said-- the part my brain got stuck on was "I was in an accident. It wasn't my fault...I was trying to see a freeway sign but a big gas truck was blocking in. I was only going about 85 miles an hour, when a car swerved and hit the divider....I'm okay, though."

The rest of the paragph is a blur. I had visions of my son either being handcuffed for dangerous driving, or that his car was totaled. I guess I went into a temporary shock, because we moved on to another topic.

My son is struggling, no doubt. We chatted a little bit, and I explained to him that the reason he thinks I'm acting crazy isn't because of menopause-- thank you very much. I told him that I don't know how to talk to him. No matter how I try to deliver what I am feeling, no matter how hard I try to sugar-coat things, I can't win!

He responded that there is nothing to win. I don't want his addiction to win, but how can I help him to understand that?

I realized that B is still in a very delicate stage of his recovery. B is feeling depressed and I fear that he is totally lost in how to survive in this world.

I agreed to drive up on Saturday to spend time with him. I will, at least, be able to fulfill one motherly fantasy. He asked me to help him shop at the grocery store. He has no clue on how to cook inexpensive meals. Me, being the Foodie who cooks from scratch, will need to revert back to the days of my youth with hardly any money to live on. So, it's back to Hamburger Helper, tuna casseroles, canned soups and pasta recipes. I don't like processed foods, but given that my son would be happy to eat at Carl's Junior every single day-- this is the route I will need to take.

I'm struggling, today. I'm worried, sick, about my son. I feel so helpless and powerless.

I wonder if God ever gets tired of my daily please for help, wisdom and encouragment. I know he doesn't. I think I'm just allowing myself to feel discouraged. I don't want to do that. That's how the Dark One robs us of our joy.

Till later,


Saturday, May 17, 2008

A conversation with my son (if he'd only listen...)

Dear Son,

I wish that what I've learned from my youth could be passed on to you. I wish that you be willing to listen to me. While you think I have no idea what it's like to be a teenager, I do.

This morning, I blew a fuse when I saw that you had over drafted the bank account that I created for you. I did that to make my life a little easier-- so that I could transfer your weekly stipend at the touch of a button. You see, son, I don't have time to jump out of my desk and to drive to a bank to make a deposit. I'm busy working, five days a week, 9 hours a day.

I feel helpless as a mom. It frustrates me to see that you cannot focus on TODAY.

I see this every workday, son. Remember, I work at a high school. I see honor students who forget to bring an important paper to me until the last hour of the last day, because "they forgot". I deal with parents who drive to the school to deliver forgotten lunches, important homework, a jacket because the weather is too cold... and, to be honest-- it frustrates me. These parents don't realize how these interruptions are an inconvenience to me (it takes away from doing my job) and to the teachers-- whose classes are interrupted when a messenger has to deliver something. Worse, they don't realize how they are enabling their own child by not letting them suffer the consequences of their actions.

I have not forgotten how limited a teenager's "world" is. It's all about what day the newest and best video game is going to hit the store. There's a party happening tomorrow night, and there is no way you're going to forget where it is, what time it is and who will be there. Life is boring, so you have to fill up your day planner with things to do-- play golf, hang out, hit the mall. Homework can wait-- you can do it during class the period before. Their parent's lifestyles have evolved into technology that you cannot seem to live without-- iPods, iPhones, cellphones, text messaging, the internet, MTV, concert tickets that cost more than my weekly grocery allowance. This generation of teenagers have it so good, that you don't know any differently. No wonder that most teens feel a sense of entitlement!

It's interesting how most teenagers make fun of the "dorks", "dweebs", "square bears"...whatever the label is that kids give to the students who do well, academically. I can also tell you, that I know a lot of these students. Those "dorks" are the future entrepreneurs who stand a better chance of making an easier transition into this world. The more that I get to know the very students that you made fun of, they are great kids. They want to get the most out of their education, because they have ambitions.

In truth, son, it took a while for me to accept that you were not going to "walk" with our class of 2006 to receive a high school diploma. I am relieved, though, that you finally completed high school at an adult school. I still hope you would be the first "kin" to have a college degree. However, I have modified my hope for you dramatically.

What truly matters to me, now, is that you will find a way to focus your life on what's important-- and when you do, you will find true joy.

Life isn't easy, and God has never promised that to us. What God promises us is that he is with us during times of trouble. I think that people become angry at God when they don't get what they want. The fact is, that God has a perfect plan for each and every one of us. He gave us, each, free will. We also forget that there is a dark force that wants to entice us into making choices that are not God's will-- he is the Enemy, Satan, The Devil, The Fallen Angel...whatever you want to call him. He is temptation. The only force stronger than evil is good-- and God is good, He is perfect. I finally figured that out when you were about 14 years old. I had been led to believe, by "religion" that God is an angry God and that I cannot measure up to his standards. Until I found the right church, a bible study group and a radio show (Pastor Greg Laurie), I never realized how much God wants to forgive us and to bless our lives. He is not only the God of second chances-- he's the God of a zillion those who are willing to admit our wrongs and who desire to change our ways. That is what repentance is all about.

I am blessed, son. That's because I finally realized that material things are not true blessings. It was at the time that I was on the verge of losing my business, scraping together my rent money at the last hour, and not being able to afford basic necessities-- that I realized I could still feel joy. I learned to forgive, and I found peace. That's when I finally understood that God will give us joy, even when we are hurting, if we ask for it and we believe. I get it!

My joy came from appreciating what I had, and taking care of it. I no longer resented people who had more money than I did. Instead, I learned to be creative and resourceful.
Do you remember all the fun times we had with your Uncle and cousin? I can remember how much fun we had hiking in the redwoods... bonfires at the beach... watching you try to catch fish at a beautiful creek where we all walked with our pants hitched to our knees?

Those were great times. It cost us very little money. What mattered was that we were together as a family.

Since then, I have learned that it's okay to sacrifice buying something I really couldn't afford and staying at home. For eleven years, I struggled to make ends meet. Just last year, by working two jobs, I have paid off my debt. I am free!

That's why I worry about what I see you doing-- you are borrowing money to pay off other debts. You are shackled in owing money, and you are living a lifestyle that you want-- but that you cannot afford. You have not learned how to manage money, and that worries me sick.

I wish that you didn't have such a need to be on the move, every day. You are addicted to driving around. You can't sit still. Fun doesn't have to cost money. Boy, did I ever have to learn that as a single mom. Still, we had fun.

Finding a full-time job is something that you need to do when you are not working your part-time job or attending a daily meeting. I applaud you for going to meetings-- but are you applying what the 12-steps are all about? Or, are the meetings your social network to meet other people?

At my age, and maturity in life-- I try to focus each morning in prayer. I find comfort and wisdom when I pray each morning-- I thank God for another day as a gift of life from Him.
I ask God to give me direction and guidance for the day. I count my blessings, and they are many. I talk to God...I tell Him what I'm worried about. I pray for other addicts who are struggling to stay clean. I pray for the parents of addicts, whose hearts are broken. I pray for people who have asked me to pray for them. When I pray, from my heart, I feel peace and strength.

I have found a routine in my life, and I'm not bored. When I want to buy something that I really want...I write it down on my wish list. I have an emergency savings and I set side money for my wish list. I've waited months before buying something on my wish list, but I pay cash. I don't buy from my wish list until I've paid for things that are non-negotiable-- food, gas, housing, medical and emergency savings. I tithe money for God's kingdom, even if I could use that money. I see my money as God's blessing to me. He has returned that blessing tenfold. Money has shown up in ways that I've never expected. I believe that's God's work. I have peace in my life, financially.

That's all I wish for you, my son. Peace and joy, because God loves you. Maybe, one day, I can have this conversation with you and it will all make sense. For now, my words would fall on deaf ears to you. I suppose I'm one of countless parents who feel the same.

Addendum: I started writing this entry around 7:30am. B called me at 7:45am, and he sounded very depressed. He was upset when I told him that I wasn't coming up today. I just knew that would happen-- he failed to call me until the last moment. Did I mention that he called me at 7:00 last night because he had a dangerously low blood sugar (he's diabetic) and he wanted me to "wire" money immediately? I told him "no" and that even if I wanted to... I was in a restaurant. He said he'd call me in an hour.... which turned into 12 hours later.

I tried my hardest to sugar-coat my words. I struggled to not sound like I was lecturing him. It was useless-- he is in "victim" mode and he has an excuse and reason for everything. I left things by telling him that he needed to find HIS way to track how much money he was spending from his debit card. I warned him that the next time he over drafted the account, that it would be closed.

I could hear his frustration mounting, and then the expletives started in. He accused me of talking to him like a 5 year old. I can't win. I hate the "F" word. I warned him that I could not talk to him if he was going to keep the "F" word came, and I had to hang up.

That hurts me more than words can express. After careful thought, I called his "Foster" home and spoke with "C". He said he'd call B and talk to him.

I went swimming for 1/2 hour which help to release my stress.

I just got a call from "C". He spoke with B and he agreed that he sounded very down. B is struggling in a difficult area to make ends meet. Already he's gotten three parking tickets, had his car towed and now a bank overdraft charge. He ran out of money in four days, instead of the seven he needed to make it stretch.

Yes, life is tough. But, the key (as I see it) is that you can either jump into the victim mode-- and blame everybody else...or you can be victorious, no matter what. You can choose to repeat your mistakes, or learn from them.

If there is one thing that anyone, who knows me, can say-- I'm a survivor. I don't give up. I have survived heartbreaking and painful divorces, bankruptcy, robbery, and having my hard-earned money swindled from me. Yet, I am in a happy and healthy relationship with my husband. He is my reward for all the men who have not treated me very well. I have been set free of getting involved with men who didn't love me for who I am.

I do believe that God doesn't give us more than we can handle. Out of the ashes come beauty, as the bible says.

My strength comes from God, my Heavenly Father.

I pray for peace in my life, today, and for my son. One day, I hope he will know the pain he has caused but that I still love him with all of my heart.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A mom on standby

I'm not going to be driving up to see my son on Saturday. I'm not angry at my son, but I feel a mixture of emotions.

I'm frustrated with him, but that's an understatement. I think I'm just plain frustrated with the helplessness of addiction.

I am beginning to think that my son has ADD. I say that, because I've just scratched the surface on what ADD is all about. My best friends sees it, too.

B is a bright young man. Actually, he's brilliant. He has an amazing memory for things, and he's an avid reader. But, he can't sit still for long. He can't focus on one single thing for long periods of times. It's hard to know how much of his forgetfulness is a result of drugs. He asks me the same questions and I give him the same answers.

I work at a high school, so I see a lot of characteristics from teenagers that I see in my son. In many ways, my son is a typical teenager. However, he has an addiction to opiates that makes things even more frustrating. When he makes irrational decisions, or he fails to take care of responsibilities-- is it his chronological immaturity? drugs? having been enabled?

I am feeling highly stressed from the pressure of my job. It isn't helping that my menopause is taking on the next level-- fatigue, weight gain , hot flashes and not sleeping as soundly as I normally do at night.

I have not heard from my son since Wednesday afternoon-- when he told me how he was excited about his new job. I called him, once, on Thursday and he never anwered the phone-- nor has he called me back. He has not called my best friend either.

Basically, he has gone "silent".

All I have, to give me strength, is knowing that I have a God who promises never to forsake me. B is a "believer" in Christ, but he hasn't quite developed into being a "follower". I pray, all day long with gratitude for God's protection over him.

There is not a single thing that I can say or do, that will help my son. I can only wait to hear from him, and pray that when I do -- he is okay and not in trouble.

I will use this weekend to rest, get some water exercises and to pray.

I'm struggling with this, though. I appreciate all the prayers, encouragement and strength I get from my church and recovery group.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Laugh, cry, scream or all of the above...

I didn't get much sleep, last night. I got home later than I should, but I was volunteering at the high school ministry for my church. It's hard for me to settle my mind from that, because I hear so many stories.

This morning, when I slugged my way to my desk (at 7:30am), I was not ready for my cellphone ringing. It was my ex-husband. Should I answer? I almost didn't, but at the last moment, I did-- and he greeted me with "has B called you, yet".

I dread those words. What now, I wonder...

B got his car towed, last night. He was in The Big City, and he learned a costly mistake. I had a feeling that B's dad wanted me to help him. All I responded was to call his "Foster Parent". These are the fine guardian angels, who are guiding my son without enabling him.

My anger is directed at B's costly mistake that caused his car to be towed. I'm annoyed that B was dumb enough to leave his wallet and his insulin in the car. What??? How dumb and irresponsible is that?!

A zillion thoughts went through my head-- I can't even write some of them down, or I'll get all worked up again.

I stewed, and fretted-- but my husband reminded me to "let go, let God" and do NOT enable him.

Sure enough-- his father deposited $400.00 into his bank account. A short while later, I see that $281.50 was paid to the parking garage.

The only good thing that B (hopefully) got out of this-- large cities don't mess around with illegal parking. The times posted aren't suggestions-- they are law. The towing companies are like sharks, roaming around waiting to prey on a person's loss of time. Bam! The ticket costs a fortune.

Once again, B's father has enabled our son.

What can I do?

Let go...let God.

(and scream a little inside my head, but love him anyway)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happier Days

Today, I am feeling hopeful.

I spoke with B, last night. He was at his foster family's house. B sounded happy on the phone. He got a job! It's a starter job, but it's a job-- and for that, I am happy. It's a part-time job, but that's okay. That will give him the hours he needs to search for "The" job and to attend daily meetings.

He sounded a little sad, when he told me that a "friend" of his (from our hometown) recently died from an overdose of oxycontin. His friend was discovered by his girlfriend in bed, and he just turned blue and he died. I've read a lot of stories about this kind of death from oxycontin. I recently read that Heath Ledger's death was caused by a cocktail of drugs that are very similar to the prescribed drugs that a "nimrod" doctor had prescribed to my son. B and I talked about it, briefly, and I told him how sorry I was to hear that. We both agreed how lucky that my son is to be alive.

B changed the subject and he asked if I'd give him so of my old kitchen utensils for the kitchen at his new home. Yes!! Those of you who know me, personally, are aware that I am a foodie in my own kitchen. I love to cook, and there are few recipes that I'm not willing to try. I have, over the last few years, kept my old cookware in storage as I slowly began to upgrade my kitchen tools. I will pass these on to my son-- he gets my George Foreman grill, my "set it and forget it" countertop rotisserie grill and an assortment of pots and knives. I can, now, pretend that he is going off to college and he needs mom's help to set him up. I'm going to take him to Trader Joe's to buy him some simple pantry items to make easy bachelor style meals. Plus, they have a lot of frozen meals that aren't loaded with nasty ingredients.

I'll bake my boy some cookies, because that's what mother's do. If I get a batch of chili made, I'll freeze a few portions for him to make at his own place. Maybe I can bring him a small peace of my home to his...

So, I'm driving up to see him on Saturday. My husband won't go with me, so I'm not thrilled about the 4 hour round trip drive by myself. At least, I have my iPod that's loaded with audio books.

For the first time in many days, I actually slept through the night.

I am praying that my son is on his way to discovering his independence as any young man should. He won't be making enough money to support the lifestyle that he's been used to, but I am praying that he will take personal pride in providing for himself. I am hearing good things about my son-- that he is going to meetings faithfully, that he looks good and that he really wants to stay clean.

These are all encouraging words for me to hear.

So, that's my thought for the day. I am hopeful and encouraged. I thank God for His blessings on my son, my life and that I am happy.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My own recovery from my addict's addiction

I feel as though I have been avoiding talking about the truth of my son's addiction.
I'm getting ready to start sharing details of B's timeline, starting at age 15, when he first began to use drugs. It's just so overwhelming, that I get writer's block. It will come...

What I need to accept is that my son has a disease, called "addiction". Until my son was admitted into a hospital for detox, I never fully understood the truth about addiction. Now, I'm spending more time reading about the topic, and by listening to other addicts who don't seem hesitant about sharing their story.

The biggest myth, I have learned, is that the road to recovery has absolutely nothing to do with willpower. The addicted brain doesn't have the capability to just "stop" the cravings of drugs. The best chance that my son has, of staying clean, is for him to know what to do when his brain begins to convince him that it wants him to "use". My son needs to have a good sponsor that he can call, and say "I need help". He needs to use the tools that are taught by the 12-step program. He needs to stay away from the friends he had who use. Otherwise, odds are, he'll be tempted to use again.

I am fooling myself, to think that B is clear and safe from returning to his life of drugs. In a way, it's like me-- who wishes that I could say "no" to any tantalizing dessert, or piece of chocolate, that is put before me. If I give in, my worst consequence is that my bathroom scale will tip higher. For B, if he gives in-- he is faced with the potential to spiral back into a brain that wants to use. Worse, he might have to go into detox all over again.

I'm afraid for my son. I received an email from a mother, whose son is about 30 days ahead of my own son's story. Her story mirrors mine very closely. He relapsed on Mother's Day. He was pulled over for an expired license plate, searched and arrested for possession. He was living in an SLE (Sober Living Environment). He's back as an outpatient at his recovery center, and he regrets his mistake. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

His mother's heart is broken. This, is my greatest fear.

There is no cure for addiction. I cannot bubble wrap my son, and protect him from the real world. He's legally an adult, so he is free to make his own choices-- and suffer his own consequences.

As far as I know, B is attending meetings on a daily basis. I believe that he has someone who will be his sponsor. From what I've heard, this person is a perfect match to my son. His potential sponsor has the kind of personality where he could tell it like it is, to my son. He needs that.

I feel robbed of the hopes and dreams that I had for my son. I feel as though his addiction has stunted his maturity. Rather than B focusing on either attending college, or keeping a job, he is burning a lot of his time and energy .... well, doing what?

I don't really know! He lives 2 hours away from me. I am not calling him, because I need to leave him alone. I do think that the main reason my son isn't calling me very much, is that he knows I won't give him money.

Addicts are manipulative and selfish people. Ask another addict, and they will admit it. Addicts will say and do anything to get the drug that they need. Unfortunately, the collateral damage that comes to the people who love the addict, is that they stop trusting them.

I have books on codependency, but it seems that I have little time to really sit down and read them. I have six more weeks left, before my month long summer vacation begins. It looks like that will be the time when I can sit down, with my highlighter, and to really begin to identify and set a plan into motion to recognize my codependent behavior with my son.

I feel a lot of compassion for parents who think that just because their child has been discharged from rehab, that the problem is over. That's what's so evil about chemical and alcohol dependency... it's like the addict has been shackled by the Evil One. They need a lot of prayer, support and encouragement.

Celebrate Recovery - Celebrate Recovery Serenity Prayer

Prayer for SerenityGod, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot
change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the
difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting
hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it
is; not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I
surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and
supremely happy with You forever in the next. AMEN - Reinhold Niebuhr -

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day aftermath

I lied.

It was a sad mother's day for me. I doubt that I'm alone, but I definitely felt that mine came and went with a small whimper. Now, I'm not throwing a pity party...I'm just saying how I feel. My husband was loving and sweet and thoughtful. He knew I was sad, bless his heart.

It's really different for me-- I was raised differently, where I didn't forget birthdays or special holidays. Partly, I wouldn't dare forget...or my mom would've made me feel plenty guilty. But, truthfully, I think it's just the right thing to do. Maybe it's a "guy thing", but I don't know. My oldest brother is really thoughtful, and he rarely forgets our birthdays. My older brother (but the youngest of the boys...I am the baby of the family) is hit and miss. I used to call him, every year, to remind him when mom's birthday was rolling around.

When B was a little boy, he would do the sweetest things for me. Even when his father and I divorced, I can remember my son giving me a sweet present for my birthday or for mother's day. I knew that his father had to pay for it-- and I appreciated that he did that. I still recall each gift he gave me-- several of them are still in my possession--like the little blue glass bird he gave me. I still have it. I still have the faded paper bouquet of flowers he made for me at pre-school. They are priceless gifts. I never really understood why my mother kept her mementos from us, but now I do-- it truly isn't as much what the gift's that our children took the time to pick something out just for us.

Those times have changed. B hasn't bought a birthday gift for me, let alone a Mother's Day gift, in a long time . It's been at least two years since he's even purchased a Christmas gift for me. Again, it's not the gift-- but it makes my heart sad to realize that his money has gone elsewhere. I'm guessing that B has taken on his father's tradition of not acknowledging holidays and gifts. I can remember my 40th birthday-- I had returned from a business trip and B's dad was watching TV. There was no birthday card...nothing. I remember crying because I felt forgotten. Is this what my son has learned, too?

If only he would've bought a simple card and mailed it to me. That would've meant a lot.

I know that I wasn't alone. How many moms don't get phone calls from their kids? I've heard, countless times, that kids are busy making a life of their own. I know that I kept myself pretty busy, at my son's age. But still... I always called my mother and made sure that she got a and, when I could afford it-- I'd take her out to dinner, a movie or buy her something special. When my mother passed away, I found a lot of those cards that she had saved in a special box.

That I was sad about my Mother's Day hit me while I was at Border's, yesterday afternoon. I was looking for a book on Co-Dependence to buy. Standing closeby, were two women giggling and just having the best time. Out of the corner of my eye, I could tell that they were having a blast looking for a book. They seemed like very close friends. I looked up and realized that next to "Self-Help" books were "Sex" books. I smiled at them, and they apologized to me, sheepishly. I laughed, and said, "Hey, girls day out is always fun!"

"Yes", one woman responded..."especially when we are mother and daughter".

Ouch. I envied them with joy in my heart-- if that make sense. How lucky they are.

I suddenly became aware of families-- moms and sons, dads and daughters... and I wondered what my son was doing at that moment-- 2 hours north of me. Was he thinking of me?

As I fell asleep, last night, I said a prayer that God would help me to let go of my worry over him. God has been so good to me and to my son.

I haven't even begun to share the stories my son has confided to me. They scare me, to be honest. That my son isn't in jail, or that he's alive is truly a miracle of God's grace and mercy.

So today-- I spoke with my son, briefly. I tried to be courteous and to hold back saying the things that I wanted to say. I am trying to not ask him a million questions. Still, I annoyed him and he hung up saying that I was "coddling" him. I know where he got that saying...

It's a good thing that a mother's love for her child is unconditional. He has no idea how much he hurts my feelings.

Tomorrow is another day-- and maybe next Mother's Day will be different.



Sunday, May 11, 2008

On Being a Mom, on Mother's Day

B woke me up at 7:45am to wish me a Happy Mother's Day. I was in the middle of a very deep sleep, so my brain was in a thick fog. B didn't sound much more alert. He sounded a little irritated at me that I couldn't understand him. B talks fast, like so many teenagers. His words, at times, sounds like one long tongue-twist of vowels and gibberish. We did our little small talk and it was very awkward for me. I need to have eye contact when I'm having a conversation with my son. When we are together, I still feel a little edgy, but there are times when I feel like we can connect. Those times have been rare, in recent years. Of course, now that I look back, B was using and we were living in different worlds, with different values.

Now, it seems that most of what we do talk about is his addiction. It's good in a way, but it's sad in that I wish we could be talking about the things that mothers want to hear from their child. I still would like to hear B talk about his friends. I enjoy seeing the excitement in his eyes, when he talks about having played the best game of golf...ever! I want to hear my son talk about his job or about how he is doing in college. I know that these conversations could still be forthcoming.

But, for now, the most news I get about my son comes from my best friend. She talks to my son on a daily basis. I'm happy to know that B has a safe home to come to. He is renting a room at a Sober Living Enviroment (SLE) but he still comes over to visit my friend. It's kind of funny, because my BFF has a grown daughter. She is a very successful business woman, who managed to work full-time and to raise a young girl. Bless her heart, she has become a foster home to my son. She is one of the funniest people that I know, so I can see my B loves being around her.

Today is not a traditional Mother's Day for me, but I'm not sad about it. I'm happy to know that my son is at least safe, and that he is going to daily NA (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings. I'm happy to know that he is narrowing down to having a sponsor-- and that it is someone that my BFF knows. Nothing is official, but I'm going to pray about this. My son needs to have a good sponsor who can keep my son accountable for taking care of things.

This morning, I was thinking about my own mom. It's so very true, that we ultimately end up raising our own kids the way that we were raised. I've tried, very hard, to not do the things to my son that my mother did to me. More times, than not, it seems that I fail at that.

To try and write about my mother, would take pages of journaling. I'm in the process of working on Step #4-- writing my personal inventory of those people who have affected my life the most.
My mother, is definitely on the top of the list. On this Mother's Day, I feel a debt of immeasurable gratitude that my mother taught me how to be a survivor.

My mother's life closely mirrors my own. It's scares the hell out of me, to be honest, when I take a close look at it. My mother was a battered woman, and that is one area of my life that I have never been subjected to. Now that I am beginning to take a closer look at codependent behaviors, and how parents can pass down a lot of these traits to their own children-- I can see why my mother had such an anger management problem in disciplining us. I used to live in fear of being hit by her cooking spoon or that dreaded wicker tool from Germany-- a long broom like tool that was used to hit rugs, strung on a clothesline. That tool would leave large, angry welts on my legs and it was my mother's Ultimate Punishment against us. One day, my younger brother and I burned that beast. My mother never replaced it. My brother and I vowed that we would never beat our children the way that we were. I kept that vow, but I have lost my temper more times than I should have. On occasion, I smacked my son when he pushed my button. Often times, I would go to my son and apologize and I felt a deep shame for becoming my mother. Fortunately, those occasions can be counted on one hand. For the record, I do not believe that parents have a right to hit their children. It doesn't work. I know.

I have no doubt, that my short fuse is a result of so much suppressed anger at my helplessness against the beatings from my father and the spankings from my mother. My mother felt that it was her divine right to cuss me out and to criticize me. Hence, I have a button that can be easily pressed if I feel belittled, criticized or misunderstood.

On a more positive side, my mother was not an enabler. In fact, she was quite the opposite. I had to learn how to cook dinner for my two brothers, and father, when I was still in elementary school. Most summers, when my friends were all playing outside, I was having to dress up in a German dirndl dress and I was carted off to work in her delicatessen. Worse, my two brothers didn't have to work for her. They got to be boys, and I resented it.

For a teenager, working with my mother was a fate worse than death. This went on during my junior high and most of my high school years. I had to learn how to ring up sales, slice salami, cook and serve simple lunches at her small restaurant. I had to learn how to unpack, inventory, price and stock shipments. I had to learn how to write the bank deposit for her business. Eventually, she'd leave me in charge of the place, while she drove around to run errands. I didn't get paid to do these things. It was all part of being in the family.

Eventually, I grew to hate my mother with a bitterness that evolved into being a very disrespectful 16 year old teenager. In retrospect, I didn't really hate her. I resented her. She wasn't the kind of mom who could lighten up enough to do fun mother/daughter things with. She was just too controlling, and she didn't know how to listen to me.

Today, I am thankful to my mom for teaching me survival skills. Because of my mother, I know how to manage money. Eventually, I opened my own business and kept it going for almost 15 years! This is where my life mirrors my mother. She struggled, very hard, to keep her business going. Like me, she finally shut it down when competition from large grocery store chains forced her out of business. For me, the internet and doctor's offices forced me to throw in the towel. I saw the light, and I am now working at a school district.

My son has a total contradiction in parenting from me and from his father. Our son was 8 years old when his father walked out on the marriage. In my home, I pinched pennies because I had to. Because of my own mother, she taught me to live within my means. When I moved away from home, at 18, I never looked back. My mother's last words were that I was not to call and ask her for money. If I was hungry, I could come by her deli and she'd give me some sausages. I'm not making this up! It's the truth!

B's father was indulged as an only child. His father enabled him by giving him money whenever he ran out. B's father has overindulged our son. Even my son admits that.

Back to Mother's Day-- I do feel secure in knowing that my son loves me. I am disappointed knowing that my son has heard so much negativity about me from his father. I am disappointed in myself when I behave like my mother behaved with me. What I feel most sad about is that I cannot shut my mouth when I see B making mistakes. That's where I feel as though I'm more like my mother than I wanted to be-- I tend to impose my beliefs, values and systems on my son. I desperately want to help him, but I have to realize that he's not me.

I need to let my son make his own mistakes. That makes such personal sense, but I still have a hard time following through on not meddling.

I can only hope and pray, that one day my son will truly realize how much I love him. I hope that, one day, he will realize that my unwillingness to enable his financial excess needs is my way of trying to help him cope with the real world.

I hope that, one day, he will realize the financial sacrifices that I made so that he could have what he needs will have a true meaning to him.

I hope that, one Mother's Day, my son will give me a card that was personally picked with care from him...that he will want to spend Mother's Day with me because he understands that-- despite my faults and backfired attempts to help-- that I am a mother who loves him so much.

My mother passed away 5 years ago. I'm thankful that I made peace with her, weeks before her death. I sat down on her hospital bed, held her hand and told her that I was sorry for all the times that I was so disrespectful to her. I apologized for whining and complaining for making me wear a stupid Catholic school uniform and for going to a stupid Catholic school. Until I became a single mother, I never realized the sacrifices that she made to pay the tuition. How that must've hurt her! I remember the look of relief on her face, and I do believe that she accepted and believed my apology. I made peace with my mother, before her death.

While I wish I had a close and loving relationship with her-- I could not. Sadly, I always felt like I could never measure up to her high standards of perfection. No matter what, I will always admire my mother's ability to survive against a lot of hardships in her life.

I do know that my mother loved her three children. We kids still joke that she loved the younger son the best. But, I think that she loved us all for different reasons. I truly think that my mother wanted to live her life, vicariously, through her kids. Unfortunately, our lives didn't fill the void in her life. While she believed in God-- and I had the honor of praying with her to accept Jesus in her heart, I don't think she ever felt the joy and peace in her heart, that our Lord can give us. At least I know that she is forgiven and that she is in Heaven. I believe that.

I finally know what it means to have the Peace of Christ.

I pray that for everyone who is reading this blog, today.

Proverbs 31 (New International Version)

10 [c] A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

11 Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:

29 "Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all."

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Deep exhale and tears of joy and relief

I have been wide awake since 7am, and sitting with my laptop for the last two hours. By now, I should be dressed and have done my Saturday house cleaning. Instead, I'm still wearing my sweats, with an empty coffee cup and a cat purring next to me on the couch. I have been surfing the web, looking for information on addiction, recipes for a special dinner that my wonderful husband deserves. I've spoken with my oldest brother, and with my best friend. I haven't done much of anything else.

Since I last posted, I spoke with my son for a few moments-- yesterday afternoon. I wanted him know that I had received calls from someone at his treatment center. He was upset with the woman who was calling me, and he explained that she had relapsed. Anyway... before we hung up, I mentioned that I was still planning on driving up to spend Mother's Day with him. He sounded fine with that, but mentioned that he was thinking of driving down to our hometown.

I panicked.

My best friend just called to tell me that B was invited to play 9 holes of golf with a friend of hers, yesterday. This is someone who is a recovered addict, and I've heard all kind of great stories about this guy. He sounds like a big, bad looking "brother" who you don't want to mess with. I'll call him "L". "L" had been told that B was planning to return to his hometown for a visit...and "L" told him that "hell no, you're not driving down there". He said if that was B's plan, then he was driving with him.

Praise God! The floodgate of tears finally opened up to me. Even writing this, I feel a rush of gratitude that there are so many people who care about my son. I feel as though God has sent legions of angels to surround and protect my son.

"L" is a golfer, and so is B. This is the first time that the two of them met, but I am so thankful that this has happened. I also heard that B met someone on the golf course who offered him a paying job to do some painting for him. So, as I understand things, Mother's Day will not happened as planned. Instead, B will work to earn money.

I'm not as disappointed as I should be. I think it's because I'm so grateful to know that B isn't returning home. I have been told that the first 90 days of recovery are some of the most difficult.
It is said that just seeing the people that B used to hang out with-- and use with-- can set off "triggers". The brain can literally be triggered by anything that is connected with B's addiction. He can, at any moment, have a uncontrollable need to use drugs. Addiction can lie to the point of that an addict will think that "just once" won't hurt. "Just once" can start the whole process over again, and the addict will end up back in detox. I have met addicts who have been in rehabs multiple times.

Every morning, I pray for my son and for the faces of the addicts I have met through my recovery meetings. I wish I could just pick up the phone and call my son. Once again, I know that I really need to leave him alone. B needs to learn how to live his life, without my tendency to try and help him. I catch myself resorting back to my mother, where I tend to offer my son my years of wisdom in managing money. He has to learn this, on his own.

I need to shut down the laptop and focus on my day. I need to celebrate one more day that my son is alive and well. I need to give my husband the attention and pampering that he deserves. He has been so supportive to me.

I need to live my life so that I don't catch myself obsessing about my son. I love him, and I care about him. But I cannot let his addiction consume my thoughts and rob my joy.

I'm just so thankful that I have the kind of friends who really care about me, and my son.

Friday, May 9, 2008

One baby step forward, a giant step backwards

Addiction is a disease. I need to remind myself of that. This morning, I felt as though I have forgotten how serious my son's problem is-- and that I could be slipping back into denial.

My son's disease goes far beyond making it through detox. The physical symptoms and pain of not giving his brain the drug that it craves has passed. My heart is sad, because his disease is showing far beyond trying to resist any urges to use drugs.

My son has no idea how to survive in this world.

The reason that I say this is that he spends money faster than he can get it. He can't hold on to money. He was given his weekly stipend on Monday, and it was gone in two days. The stipend was a number that he figured out, with the help of my best friend. It was a sum of money that would pay for one tank of gas, food, and a small sum of pocket money. I found out that B called his father and told him he overdrafted his checking account. B's dad called me, sounding angry and frustrated, and saying that he could not afford to help our son-- and he asked me to call him back. (He wants me to help pay for my son's inability to manage money...and I won't.) A short while later, I found out that B's father had deposited $150.00 into B's account.

I wanted to scream!

My son is addicted to driving around in his car. He cannot help himself, because his father would give B his gas credit card and let him fill up the tank. B's father would complain to me the hundreds of dollars in gas that B would spend in a month. My response was very simple. "Don't give him the card. He needs to be inspired to get a job." Still, B's father kept bankrolling B's gas expenses and continued to pay his car insurance.

There was nothing that I could do about that. It's been hard for me to hear my son blame me for making his father pay all of his expenses, and I wouldn't help out. I can just hear B's father complaining about that to my son. I know I was doing the right thing-- because I am not an enabler. I learned that from my mother, who made me earn money for anything that I wanted. She never gave money to me.

Therein lies a huge problem that I am powerless to do anything about-- the relationship between my son and his father is so deeply codependent that I am worried sick about it. There are days that I feel angry at B's father. Yesterday, my frustration and anger hit the roof, and I ended up with an intense headache.

I don't want to blame his father, but I can't help myself. I want to disengage from this man more than anything else. I have chosen to focus on identifying my own codependent relationship with my son, and to find a way to find a healthier relationship with him. It has become apparent to me, my husband and my friends (who are helping my son) that B's father is enabling and endangering my son's chance of recovery. B's father cannot see that our son needs to suffer the consequences of his choices. B needs to find out that when he spends all of his money, he will be eating Top Ramen soup. He needs to find out, for himself, that he can't drive around because he won't have money to fill up his tank. The painful reality is that if our son chooses to start using drugs again, there is nothing we can do to prevent that. Only B can choose to have a successful recovery from his addiction to opiates.

It's so obvious!

I feel sorry for B's father. His codependent relationship with our son is lying to him. He thinks that he is helping his son by paying his debts. He doesn't want his son to ruin his credit. I don't either! But he is stunting our son's maturity and ability to learn how to survive in this world.

This morning, I am physically exhausted. At 10:00, last night, I was awakened by a phone call from B's treatment center. It was a patient who was in detox at the same time as my son. The woman was wanting to talk to him. B told me that she was re-admitted because she relapsed back into her alcohol and drug addiction. She apologized (I met her a few times before) for waking me. The phone rang once again, at midnight...then one more time at 2am. The Caller ID was from the treatment center. There went a peaceful night's sleep-- it scared the heck out of, because calls in the middle of the night are rarely good news.

What the heck is going on?

I sure need my support group meeting, tonight.

Heavenly Father-- once again, I need to remind myself that you are in control of all things. You know my worries, because you have heard many prayers being said on behalf of B. I trust you, Lord, with all my heart. Forgive me, Father, for letting my worry become greater than my trust in you.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My blog therapy

My brother sent a link to an article that stated blogs can be group therapy. Boy, howdy! Sometimes I don't know if I'm “blogging” just for my own sake, or someone else’s.

It’s interesting (at least to me) how my blog is evolving into my personal thoughts and feelings.

There are times, when I am writing, that I visualize myself at a podium--- speaking to a room full of parents of addicts. At times, I feel as though I’m venting my feelings to just my family and loved ones. There are, of course, times when I’m writing my feelings to no particular audience.

A couple of days ago, I expressed my frustration with B’s father. I’ve thought about deleting that entry—and I may still do that. It sure felt good to journal my feelings, though. I still haven’t told my son about this blog. I don’t think he’ll mind, because I’ve kept things pretty anonymous. I would hope that the day he reads my thoughts, that it might help him to understand my perspective on how his addiction has affected me. I even hope that he'll want to write his own blog, and share his own story about his addiction and present recovery.

A couple of weeks after I began this blog, I began to read the book “My Beautiful Boy” by David Sheff. It’s a poignant book, but I am relating to so much of what he shares. I’m thankful that B’s addiction didn’t reach the level of shooting heroin or crystal meth into his veins as Nick Sheff did. But the feelings of helplessness, guilt, despair and lack of trust are very similar. No doubt, David Sheff loves his son unconditionally. Ditto, for me.

I never know what thoughts are going to manifest from my head to my keyboard. Each day, I go through a lot of different emotions. At times I am completely focused on my job. Other times, I have moments of feeling anxious and concerned about my son. My best friend makes me laugh, for the most part. She is really getting to know my son. I’m thankful that she finds him amusing. It’s good to have a friend who can gently grab me by the collar, and remind me that I’m slipping into my codependency habits with B. My husband has commented that when I talk to her on the phone (lately is has been several times a day, every day) that she changes my mood to be one of laughter and joy. I so cherish our friendship.

Until very recently, I had no idea the ways that I’ve been enabling my son’s addiction. I simply cannot afford to buy the materials things that B has held as his higher power, so that's something I'm not guilty of. What I’ve come to realize is that I have moments that I want to surprise him with something he really wants. They're not necessarily high ticket items, but they're also not necessities. What parent really doesn’t want to? However, my best friend reminds me that it’s time for B to learn how to get a job, and buy these things on his own. She's right, of course.

How many other parents can relate to this, I wonder?

I did speak to B today, for a few minutes. He sounds good, though I could tell that he didn’t want to chit-chat with me for very long. Thank goodness I don't use the kinds of guilt trips that my mother once used on me..."why don't you every call me?" or "I guess you don't care what the doctor said about my checkup...?" That used to irritate me! At least, that's a victory for me. When I look back to the times that B was using, I am now aware that most of his calls to me were to set me up for the other shoe to drop—the hesitant “so, mom… can you do me a favor”? How much” is what my mind would immediately wonder.

B definitely wants to break away from me, and I can hear it in his voice. My common sense knows how important it is for me to honor my son’s need to find his own independence. I’m trying, I really am!

I will, however, see him on Mother’s Day. I’m looking forward to it.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tuesday update on B

I'm feeling pretty tired and worn out. I wanted to write about something totally different, but it will have to wait.

My BFF finds my son to be totally amusing. He is! He's very funny, loves to chat and he is very well-mannered. For that, I am truly thankful.

B is going to one or more meetings a day. He seems to have made a few friends who are living clean, like he is. "C" (who sponsors several people) says that this is healthy. Addicts, who are in the early stages of recovery need to go to 90 meetings in 90 days. It's good for him to have a "family" to encourage one another. He also thinks that he found a sponsor-- and it happens that "C" knows him!

B came to my friend's house, late in the evening (after a meeting) because she is always up quite late. He came to pick up a few things. He returned a short time later to say that he had been handcuffed and searched by the local police. My heart jumped--- but she explained that a car with dark tinted windows in a deserted parking lot makes the local cops very suspicious. B has illegally dark tinted windows, so she says that just asking the police to check it out. B explained that he went to McDonald's and he didn't know it was closed...that's when the cops pulled it and questioned him. Fortunately, he had nothing illegal in his car. It's a good thing that his father paid for a thorough detailing of his car. B asked for that, because he wanted to make sure that there were no "triggers" of any kind of paraphanalia or memories of his past drug use.

In a way, my BFF and I agree that this is a blessing. Hopefully, this will remind my son of the dangers of drug use. He agrees that it's time to remove the dark tinted windows...this is part of the drug culture, and he no longer needs to live that way.

B says that his roommate has sleep apnea, so he snored pretty loud at night.

I'm just thankful that B is in a house where he is subject to random drug testing. The house has a zero tolerance to drug or alcohol use. This is all a good way to encourage B to stay and live clean and sober.

"C" says that B is doing very, very well. He really believes that B wants to live his live free of drug abuse.

That makes me very, very happy. I sure hope to see him this Sunday...what a great Mother's Day that will be!


Monday, May 5, 2008

Fraternity House

I just got a phone call from my BFF. B is now a resident of a new address. He has moved into an SLE that she described as looking like a fraternity house. She says that it' s a 100 year old Victorian home that looks like it could use some sprucing up. The first thing she noticed was the Serenity Prayer was posted when you first walk into the front door. B's room is on the third floor, in what looks like an attic room. He is sharing the room with a former meth addict-- a man who looks like a construction worker, and appears to be in his thirties. This guy has lived in the house for a while. My 6'3 son will sleep in a twin-sized bed...I can visualize his long legs hanging over the edge.

B has an HDTV that he just loves. Somehow he, and a friend, hauled that monster to his third floor room. My BFF says that his roommate already has a plasma TV mounted on the wall!!

Anyway, she said that B hurriedly set things in the room and was anxious to race off to a Nar-Anon meeting with his friends.

So...this is it. B is spending his first night on his own... a place that neither of his parents lives in.

I talked to my son, briefly today. He sounded in good spirits. He put together a budget on what his expenses are-- including paying his own car and medical insurance. It's do-able, but he'll certainly learn that the perks he's used to will be a thing of the past.

I hope that my son uses his new "budgeted" lifestyle the way that I did-- I found myself, a divorced mom with no alimony nor child support and I made things happen. I didn't mope or act like I was poor. I simply learned to cook on a budget, and I hung out more at home. I had a few creature comforts-- a TV, cable, kitchen supplies and food in the pantry. It was a challenge, but it taught me how to survive.

I wish that for my son-- most importantly, I pray that he will be safe walking to and from his new home. I pray that he will enjoy how close he is to his treatment center and that he will make lots of new friends. I pray that the fellow addicts he meets are those who are living a clean an sober lifestyle. I pray that these more mature housemates he will live with are willing to take my son under their wing-- and to encourage him to keep going to meetings and to work the 12-Step program.

I hope to see my son for Mother's Day. I would love to hug him, and see his beautiful hazel eyes and long lashes... bright and shiny. I'd love to hear him speak clearly, without drug-induced slur of his voice and half closed eyes.

Sleep well, my precious boy. May God watch over you, protect you and keep you from the Enemy.

I love you.


Forgiving others, because I am forgiven

I have not posted any new blogs, this weekend, because my emotional well-being has been through highs and lows. Strap yourself in, because I need to unload:

My husband and I had the luxury of sleeping in on Saturday morning, and catching up on household chores that had fallen behind. The last four weekends have been spent commuting 2 hours to where B is in an outpatient treatment program. Saturday night, the two of us finally had a chance to redeem a gift certificate at an upscale restaurant—where we celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary. Our anniversary date is New Year’s Day, but illness and bad storms forced us to postpone our celebratory dinner, twice. This weekend, we vowed that we’d go to dinner, no matter what. “No matter what” resulted in my husband waking up not feeling well. He mustered up enough energy for us to spend two hours, with the cell phone turned off. For the first time in a long time, I felt as though we could focus on our marriage.

For B’s father, he spent Saturday driving up to see our son. (B is moving to his new Sober Living Environment today). From what I heard, B was happy to see his dad and to enjoy a game of golf. My BFF (best friend forever) was shocked to see that B’s dad has not aged kindly. She has known me, for 32 years--eight years before I had met my future husband and father of our only child. She can see that years of smoking and complications of diabetes has taken a physical toll on him. B’s dad (I will refer to him as BM) has become a bitter person and he looks much older than his 63 years. I don’t say this with any malice intended. But it’s the truth. I was to find out, later that day, that BM made a mean-spirited comment about me, in the presence of our son and my BFF. My BFF was shocked at what was said. Essentially, BM blames me for spending all of his money. I've been blamed and belittled so much, that I'm not surprised. I'm just tired of it.

I have finally come to terms with our divorce, 12 years ago. What I mean is that I don't hold any bitterness nor resentment towards BM. There are things that happened between us, that I haven't divulged to our son. Depending on whom you talk to—BM’s friends and family have been convinced that it is all my fault that our marriage failed. I am portrayed by BM as a controlling woman, who ruined his business and spent all of his money. My friends and family see that I became a lonely and neglected wife. I was given the illusion that our lifestyle was easily afforded by BM. Little did I know that his father financed our material lifestyle. I'm not free of blame, mind you. I became an angry woman, and I needed to learn how to change the willful behavior that I inherited from my mother. I dispute the accusation that I spent all of his money. However, being willful-- that part is very true... I just wish B's father would stop beating me up in from of our son. I don't do that to my son because B loves his father.
Sure, I've slipped here and there. For the most part, I know it's wrong for me to vent to my son. He does not need to be involved...then again, how could he not be? I'm sorry that our marriage didn't work out for my son's sake. But, it is done.

When I was told about BM's negative comments about me, I felt as though I’d been dealt another sucker punch in the stomach. She didn’t tell me with the intention of upsetting me—she told me because she is incredulous at how untrue his accusations are. For most of the weekend, I had a really hard time letting this go. Once again, I am reminded that my efforts to keep a peaceful and forgiving attitude towards BM is not a mutual one. I felt a need to defend myself, but I know that it's useless. I found myself rehearsing my own defense, to the point that I realized that one of my co-dependent behaviors has been triggered.

I have been reading the book “Facing Co-Dependence” and focusing on my personal 12-steps to recovery. I have narrowed down that I do become highly defensive when I feel my personal integrity is under attack. I become upset when I find out that someone has talked behind my back or accuses me of something that has been taken out of context. My son and I have been engaging in this for a long time, I have come to realize. All my son has to do is to accuse me of something, and I jump into defense mode. This pattern has led into futile discussions where I feel I am an incompetent mom—and I doubt my ability to know how to talk to him. Sometimes, I feel resentful that the things my son accuses me doing is being parroted by something his father has said about me. These feelings make me feel that we aren't as close as we used to be. I'm reminded that he's a typical teenager...and he is. I just miss him so much.

This posting is become very long, so I am going to stop. There is a purpose between my journaling my feelings about my son's father. I have no doubt that our divorce has affected my son. My own parent's divorce deeply affected my life-- and not in a positive way. I feel frustrated and helpless that B's father and I are not on the same page. We are such polar opposites, that I cannot see how our son has conflicting values and morals. Sometimes I find myself blaming his dad, but that's not helpful to anyone. I also know that this is not God's will.

I need time to find a forgiving heart, towards him. By the same token, it is time for me to disengage myself from him. We have both moved on with our lives. I know that I am happy with my marriage, my job, my finances and my spiritual life.

I just need to work on letting things go. I have allowed my self-esteem to be shattered too many times. It helps me to remember that I am both loved by God and forgiven because Jesus's death on the cross and his resurrection.

John 15:12
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Familiar suspicions and worries

I am so thankful that it's Friday, and in 30 minutes, I will head home. I have my support group meeting at 7:00pm, so I'll have about 1 1/2 hours to spend at home. Tomorrow will be my first weekend, in a month, that I don't need to leave the house by 6:30am to be at B's treatment center at 9:00am.

I called my son, today, just because I wanted to hear his voice. I can't help it. I miss him, I think about him all the time...he's part of my dreams, and when I awaken during the night I can't stop wondering if he's sleeping okay. I know that I can't let this become an obsession, but this is all so new to me.

B returned my call from earlier this morning. He told me that he was at a golf course about an hour away from "home". Right away, my mind races with thoughts of "who is he with?" "how did he get the gas money?" He tells me he's with a girl named "Annie". "Who's Annie?", I think to myself. Does she "use"?

I hate myself for asking, but I can't contain myself. I lose my resolve to not ask these questions and they pour off my tongue....... where did the money come from...who is Annie... how are you doing with your job search?

I regret asking those questions, as soon as they come out. B answers that his dad gave him a little bit of money, he met Annie at a coffee shop and he tells me not to worry. "Are you kidding me? I'm worried sick about you!" the voice in my head says. The responsible mom in me doesn't understand why he thinks golf is more important that finding a job. Why is he spending money on gas and hitting golf balls, when he has to save every penny he makes? End of discussion, I say nothing more. It's pointless, really...

The truth be told, I feel resentful that I work hard for my paycheck. Why can't my 19 1/2 year old son start to realize that he needs to get his priorities in order?

Any moment, B is supposed to be headed with my friend "C" to check out his new home.
Tomorrow, B's father is driving up to see him and to buy him a round of golf.

Please, BM (B's dad)...don't enable him. Don't give him money. You are only postponing B learning how to make responsible decisions.

I'm reading the Nar-Anon books, and about co-dependency. I know, in my heart, that I need to let go and let God. I know that I am powerless over B's Addiction. I know that B needs to make his own choices, and that he needs to suffer his own consequences. I know all of this!

Still, I keep praying throughout the day that my son knows what to do when temptation comes his way... I wonder how strong I can be if there is a second round. I shouldn't think that way, I know.

The last 30 days really took a toll on me. I appear strong to my friends, husband and co-workers (most don't know what I'm going through). I am able to keep it together when I share at my support group-- my voice quavers a little, my eyes fill with some tears. But, I seem to be able to quickly compose myself.

I know that the only reason I can keep myself together, is that I do believe that God has a plan for each and every one of us. I believe God's promise that he will never leave us nor forsake us.
It is my faith, alone, that keeps me from losing it.

Hebrews 11

By Faith We Understand

1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

I made it through one more day... let's see what tomorrow brings. For me, it's a morning to sleep in, stretch and to return to my usual routine of taking care of my home.

Till tomorrow,