Thursday, June 25, 2009

To my son-- finding happiness and making good choices

For my son to think about:

You say that you hate your life and you aren't happy.

How can you change that? Do you get a second job? Collect friends and hang out?

Will money and a busy social life bring you happiness?

As your mom, who has struggled with a lot of unhappiness, heartbreak and disappointments in my life, please let me pass on what I have learned:

Happiness comes from within. It comes from learning to like yourself.

If you were your own friend, what you would say about yourself?

What kind of friend are you? Do you give or do you take?

Do you keep promises? Do you respect people's time? Do you show up on time, or do you keep them waiting? Do you sometimes not even bother to show up?

When people are talking to you, are you listening to what they have to say? Or, is your mind busy thinking about what you want to say next?

Count how many friends you think would be there in your deepest hour of need-- not for money, but when the chips are down. Would they drop what they're doing and be there for you?

Now count how many friends you have who know you are an addict. Do these friends offer drugs to you? Do they do drugs in front of you? If the answer is "yes"... are they really your true friend? Would a true friend tempt you, knowing that you are an addict?

Where is your life, spiritually? What fires you up, each morning? What do you strive for each morning? What is it that is the most important thing to you?

What to you spend the most time doing? Watching television? Reading? Meditating? Driving around?

Do you see opportunities to "serve"? Do you offer to help without expecting monetary compensation?

How much daily time do you spend, alone, with God? Just the two of you

How do you perceive money? Did you earn it, all by yourself. Or do you believe that God blesses you with money?

If a good friend was in financial need, would you give them money knowing that they probably couldn't pay it back? Would that bother you?

Do you believe that you cannot afford to give money to a charitable cause, because you cannot make ends meet?

Do you trust God when he says to give money for His work? Do you give begrudgingly, or do you feel you are honoring God by giving back?

Integrity-- do you speak truthfully? When you are being truthful to someone, do you stop and think first about what you are going to say? Is it hurtful? Is it helpful?

When someone gossips, do you listen? Do you agree? Do you feel that you need to add your own opinion about someone? Do you listen to what someone says about another person, and form the same opinion of them?

I have asked myself these questions, over the years. I've had to take an honest inventory of myself, and I didn't like my own answers.

As adults, we cannot help but to inherit a lot of our own parent's characteristics. Sometimes, it pains me to see some of your behavior mimicking my own. You learned this from me. You learned some of it from your father.

We have a choice to make, as adults. We can admit to ourselves what behaviors need to change. We must humble ourselves to those we love-- most importantly we must humble ourselves to God. Otherwise, we become hard-hearted and we think everybody else is at fault for our own troubles. We think like victims, and that breeds resentment and hatred. Can you admit to yourself, and to God, that you were wrong?

God knows us. He knows our every thought and action, even before we make them.

The only way that I can try to bury the person I no longer want to be, is to seek time with God on a daily basis. I need to find quiet time, and to meditate on God's Word. My time is in my car, each morning, as I drive to work. I listen to a daily devotion and then I talk out loud to God. I made a decision to attend church each Sunday, and to put myself out there to meet other people. I stopped expecting people to come to me...I came to them.

God isn't finished with me yet. Until he calls me home, with him, I have much to learn. Patience. Kindness. Selflessness. Forgiveness. I struggle with this, on a daily basis.

53 years later, I have slowly learned better habits. Financially, I'm learning to say "no" to my impulsive need to buy things. Spiritually, I pray each day and ask for God's wisdom. I try to resist gossip. If I slip into it, the Holy Spirit taps me on my shoulder and I feel guilty about it.

You have an extra burden that has been added to your life. You are addicted to drugs. It's illegal, it's dangerous and it holds you captive from being able to enjoy life.

Addiction has cleaned out your finances. Money has disappeared, been stolen and debts have suffocated any chance of your having peace in your life and your sleep.

Addiction has severed relationships in your life. Some of your friends don't want to hang out with you anymore, because they don't want to associate with a drug addict. You've had to sever friendships with those who are deeply lost into drug abuse.

Addiction has attracted so-called friends to you who have led you down the path of relapse. These so-called friends have taken money and drugs from you. They've sold you bogus drugs. They aren't your friends, and never were.

Addiction has taught you how to perfect the art of lying. You have lied to people who love you most, and only want to help you.

Addiction has affected your physical health and made you a slave to smoking cigarettes.

Fortunately, for you, you have a mom and a step dad who want to help you. We have opened up a home for you, with your own bedroom. You have all the creature comforts that you could never afford with the meager salary that you earn-- should you live on your own. We are happy to do this, because we love you and want to help you find and keep sobriety.

You are torn in two worlds-- a world that is open and waiting for you, with God at the center of it. It's a world with parents who are living a clean and sober and God-loving life. We are parents who love God, and can find compassion and forgiveness for the dishonest ways that addiction has led you to do.

You need to make a choice-- continue to work your own program (which hasn't worked at all) and find ways to try and fool us that you are not using drugs. In other words, you can continue to deny the truth that you are struggling with wanting to use drugs. The end result could be incarceration or death. But, first, you'd lose the privilege of living with us.

Think this out very carefully, my son. I can tell you, from my financial wisdom, that you are not capable of surviving on your own. You don't make enough money. You'd be driving your car without insurance, because you could not afford it. Should your car need repairs, you can't pay it. You wouldn't be able to feed yourself very well. You could not afford medical care, cable television, internet, clothing or a cellphone. After rent, you'd have barely $400.00 a month to cover the cost of living on your own.

Is that what you really want? Is your need to self-medicate with drugs what matters most to you right now? I realize that the answer is "no", you don't want to use drugs...but how bad do you want sobriety?

Or, you can make a choice to want to live a life of honesty with God, your loved ones and yourself. You need to accept that will be sacrifices that you will have to make-- romantic relationships, social events that cost money and "things" you'd like to buy will have to wait.

Your spiritual life should be where your eyes should be focused. Friends who are spiritually bankrupt will want to lead you away from the direction that God wants you to go. It will not be easy. If you choose to life your life to please God, you will be made fun of by those who don't believe in Him. You will be tempted, worse than ever before, to do things that are not pleasing to God.

Stay strong. Hang out with people who are Godly. Talk to God. Ask for God's help. Find Christ-Centered meetings for people in recovery.

In time, you will begin to shed your Old Self, and you will experience a peace that only comes from God.

I know, because that's how God changed me. Whenever I feel struggles in my life, I look up and I cry out to God.

He is with me now. He knows that I am worried, sick, about you-- my precious boy. Though I cannot completely stop worrying about you, I know that God is answering my prayers. He has been merciful to you. God heals my pain, and helps me to still laugh and find moments of joy and gratitude for where I am today.

I have learned to like myself. I hope that my friends and loved ones see me as a woman of integrity.

I'm not perfect, by any means. But, I know that I am in God's hands and I want to please Him. My faith is strong. If non-believers make fun of me, it doesn't weaken my Christian faith.

I pray that you will discover that true joy and happiness comes from within, from your heart. Forgive yourself, because God forgives those who ask of it from their hearts.

God is waiting for you to come to him with an open and honest heart. He is patient. He is kind.

I pray that for you, today and every day.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Update and Pensive and Peaceful Thoughts

I made it through the day, focusing on work. I'm waiting for darkness to fall, so that I can climb into bed and (hopefully) fall asleep.

I ended up calling my friend whose son has been selling my son his heroin. I prayed about it, and decided that I would want to know what my son's been up to if the tables were reversed. "AD" was thankful that I told her. We chatted for a while, catching up on our lives. I've known her for at least ten years. She used to be a facial client of mine. We realized we are neighbors, just a mile apart. I love her. She's a Godly woman, with a kind heart. Her son shoots heroin, which is as bad as it gets. "J" has been in and out of rehab, in and out of their home. Like my son, he's never been arrested (well, a misdemeanor for having needles on him).

I am so thankful when I can speak to a Godly woman. We are on the same level. We are both feeling calm-- just trusting our faith in the Lord to keep us from fretting and worrying.

"Barbara" commented that she feels numb-- about her son's recent arrest. I understand. I'm a combination of "numb" and "calm".

For the first time, since this drug addiction journey began, I'm truly realizing that there isn't a single thing that I can do to help my son find a way to face his demon of addiction. I get it.

I am running a few possible scenarios through my head. I'm also accepting that my son might not be living here by Saturday. I have to "feel" my son's desire to stay sober.

He is with his sponsor, now. He says he confessed his drug use to his sponsor. He says that "D" was very disappointed. B walked out the door with a notebook and a pen. They are meeting at Starbucks to start working on Step #1.

My son could be lying. But, I'm not going to focus on that. I've made peace with myself about my son's lies--

As long as B isn't stealing money or property from me, I have come to learn that addicts lie as a way to get what they want-- drugs. I believe that addicts know that what they are doing is morally and legally wrong. But, when an addict needs to use, they bury any kind of moral values and say "f--k it" (my son's own words). My point being-- I'm not going to get riled up if I catch my son in a lie. It's his own demon for him to deal with. He's hurting himself with his lies...unless he steals, and he hasn't yet. Then, he'll find an instant invitation to leave our home and the locks will be changed.

I made a giant leap allowing my son to take care of his own business. B's paycheck was $215.00. He had to pay his employer $117.00 in bounced check charges and another $66.00 to his bank for the bounced checks. He closed his account.

He asked me if I wanted the rest of his money, but I decided to let his weekly rent slide. He has a little bit of money left over. I told him that if he wants to spend $30-some dollars on drugs, that's his choice. I suggested that it would be better used for gas to get to work. My reasoning in giving him a break with paying us weekly rent is that maybe B is suffering the physical consequences of his irresponsibility. He has worked for one week just to pay off bank charges. That has got to hurt.

He knows that he's in high danger of being out of our home, in two days.

Is my son staying clean now? I have no idea. I've given this to God.

Now, when I speak to my son, I try to keep God's wisdom in what I say. I'm not preaching fire and brimstone. I'm trying to choose my words very carefully-- reminding my son that he does not need to feel shame for what he's done. He needs to ask God for forgiveness, and to lean on Him to get him through the temptation that calls out to him.

Addiction is temptation. It' s not about willpower. My son needs to have a will to live a sober life. My son needs to see that God created him for a purpose. B needs to find joy in knowing that he is loved by so many people.

Pain is all part of life's process. Those of us who believe in God's promise of heaven know that we are just here to learn.

When I am all alone, as I was today during my lunch-- I was reclined in my car seat and watching clouds roll by through my moon roof.... I felt my first pangs of deep sorrow for my son. This "storm" that has hit our home can still be a good thing. It makes me cling closer to the Lord. The storms of life draw us nearer to Him.

How I long to see him feel happy, without the aid of drugs.

"High on Life"... such a cliche' from the 60's. But, so true.

I pray that God will give me, my husband and B a peaceful night's sleep.

Wednesday morning - prayers for wisdom

When your own child has something "wrong" with them, it devastates your heart. I cannot imagine how it must feel to find out that your own flesh and blood has cancer, and may die. Or that your child has a rare disease and will need experimental treatments to save their life.

When a parent finds out that their child is addicted to drugs or alcohol, it paralyzes you. The addiction cannot help but affect the life of their loved ones. We lose sleep. We blame ourselves. We lose trust in them.

It has been 15 months since my son first admitted to me that he had a drug problem. In the last fifteen months, I have blogged about my journey into a world I never imagined would become a part of my own life.

I have shared, with countless people, my personal struggles as I tried to learn about addiction. My husband and I have attended classes, at my son's treatment center.

I bought the books that were recommended (see my Safari Bookshelf on this blog). I went to meetings, hoping to find answers and support from other parents like me.

I've had days of being angry, resentful and paranoid. I've had days where I've snarled at my husband, because I felt he was acting too paranoid. I've blamed my ex-husband for enabling my son. I've blamed myself.

Sometimes, I read my blog entries and realize that they are affirmations of hope that my suspicions were wrong.

I've avoided my blog, for weeks at a time, feeling a sense of calm-- believing that my son was really staying clean and sober.

Obviously, he's not.

Once again, my life as a wife and mom has been shaken to the core with my son's admission that he's been chipping.

For anyone who doesn't know what chipping is, I'll break it down in simple English. It means he's been dabbling with drugs. A little here, a day of sobriety. My son has been lying to himself that he can smoke a little heroin, to deal with physical or emotional pain. He's used soboxone to help with the withdrawals in between.

It's hard to explain how I'm feeling about this new bit of news, from my son's own mouth.

I'm not angry, if you can believe it. Some folks might think that I have a right to be angry. I should throw my son out on the streets, because that's the only way he'll reach rock bottom-- is what many people might be thinking.

My Old Self, would kick into being the warden. I should put my son into lockdown-- give him a curfew. Control his money. Drug test him, naked and watching that he doesn't slip in someone else's pee. I should take him to meetings and pick him up, to make sure he's going.


My son needs to face his drug demons and he needs to be honest with himself. I do not want him to try and stay sober for me, for his stepdad or for anyone else. He needs to want this for himself, more than anything else.

There is no clear answer on this. I have truly given this to God-- at the cross. My prayers are for God's wisdom, courage and strength.

I will listen to people's stories or advice. I appreciate comments from folks who read this blog.

Ultimately, I'm going to commit to praying from my heart.

I feel a strong presence of God in me, in that I feel that He is holding my husband and I up. Neither one of us overreacted last night. We hugged this morning, very tightly. We didn't say anything. We didn't need to. We are in this together. We want to support our son with encouragement and prayers.

Heroin is one of the hardest drugs to stay away from-- next to meth. My son is a heroin addict. There's no sugar coating it.

My son has to do a lot of work from within. He believes that being high helps him to cope with life's disappointments, hurts and struggles. He thinks that he can use "just a little" and that's okay.

My son is lying to himself. He needs therapy-- he needs someone he can talk to. He needs a spiritual foundation to understand how to cope with the bad things that happen in life. He needs to learn how to handle stress, without turning to drugs to disconnect from whatever it is that is troubling him.

All of us, who are not drug addicts-- we need to try and understand that people like my son think they cannot cope with life without drugs.

Once again, I am drawing on God's strength. There's a part of me that wants to break down and sob. I can't. At times, my eyes fill with tears. If I speak of my son's dilemna, my throat closes up and I choke back emotion.

For that very reason, I am asking anyone who knows my phone number to be aware of that. If you feel a need to call me to offer moral support or sympathy, thank you. Not right now, okay? There is nothing you can say to me to ease the pain of this.

Your prayers for my son would be the most helpful. Please pray that my son would believe that he is worthy of God's love and forgiveness. Please pray that my son will find someone who will be a Godly sponsor to him.

Please pray for my husband and me-- and for parents like us-- that we will not lose hope in our kids.

I need to focus on my job, now. I will update things as they happen.

One last thing-- thank you for your comments. I read them. Many times, I wish I could personally respond to you, but I don't have your email. To those of you anonymous commenter's-- thank you for your words. They mean a lot to me.

To my husband, best friend, brothers, family and loved ones-- thank you for your support. I will not give up on my son. Please don't give up on him.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Another relapse-- here we go again

Well folks, it's official. My son has been smoking heroin again.

I don't even know how to explain how I feel right now. I'm not angry. I don't even feel betrayed. This might sound strange, because I should feel angry.

It's already past my bedtime, in order to get a good night's sleep. Obviously, sleep won't come easily tonight for any of us.

You would think that what C and I should do is common sense-- we throw our son out. We let him be homeless and we let him reach rock bottom.

Yes, that's what we said we'd do.

Somehow, it isn't our first solution, as mom and stepdad. Instead, we listen to my son speak. He's crying. He finally lets out all the lies that I suspected he was holding inside.

He admits that he was faking the urine tests. He tells us how he did it. Our suspicions were right.

He tells us that he's been chipping. He explains that his job, which is physically demanding, hurts his back that he injured in a car accident last year. This is true. He moves pallets of heavy equipment and he is physically exhausted when he gets home. He says that he takes the suboxone in the morning, but by noon he's in pain. So, 1-3 times a week, he bought a $10.00 bag of black tar and smoked it. He says it takes all the physical and emotional pain away. He feels superhuman and he can work hard. By nighttime, he's hurting and so he takes his suboxone.

He's in the crazy cycle and he knows it. He tells us that the only reason he isn't full-blown smoking heroin is because he doesn't have the money to do it. He doesn't own anything to sell. He doesn't deal drugs. He doesn't steal to buy drugs.

My son is chipping, and this all makes sense to us now. It confirms my suspicions. Once again, I had a dream that my son was using. I told my son about the dream. He tells me that's the very day he just smoked heroin. He says it freaks him out, how I seem to know.

I've suspected that my son was holding deep dark secrets. I'm a mother. I know these things. I have a gift of sensing things. There are times when my son is behaving in ways that make me feel the "ick". When he hugs me, I get a bad feeling. I feel as though this is a smoke screen.

I blogged that my son was acting weird on Sunday. Now I know. He was withdrawing. He says he had no money to buy heroin over the weekend. That explains why he sleeps so much, and watches hours of television. It explains why his eyes look so red rimmed and tired. It explains why he doesn't wash his hands, and they look dirty. His clothes aren't as clean as usual. He explains that this is all part of withdrawal-- not taking care of oneself.

What are we going to do?

I asked my son what is HE going to do. He's an addict. I remind him that whatever program he's been working, it's not working. I tell him that he needs to tell his sponsor. Now. C and I tell him that he needs to go back to Step #1.

It's very late, and I have to go now.

In a perfect world, my son would check in to a rehab center. He would spend a year in an SLE.

Unfortunately, there isn't a place where he can do this. We cannot afford it. Believe me, I know what's available in my area. I know all about it. The "free" places are filled with drug dealers. You can score any kind of dope you want in these places. Most of the people in these places are there because of the law. They aren't there because they want to be clean and sober.

I know of an SLE that is Christian based. It's full. No openings. It's free.

My son is still in denial, I think.

I am not going to make a decision yet. We have agreed to give it until Saturday morning.

I did tell my son that I was sick of the promises. I don't want him trying to stay clean for me. He needs to want sobriety more than anything else.

So, here I go again. Back to April 2008.

My son is an addict. He has graduated from oxy-contin to smoking heroin.

He hates his life. Frankly, I would, too.

He has allowed the addiction to become bigger than life. God is bigger than addiction. My son needs to immerse himself into a program, with sober addicts. He needs to go to a meeting every single damn day. He needs to feel safe that he can call a sober addict when he wants to use-- someone who can talk him through it...take him to a meeting.

He needs to stop lying. Somehow, God always lets me know.

I'm tired. I've lost two hours of my 8 that I need to function at work.

Im getting angry, now.

I hate this. I hate this.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Afternoon

B went to church with us. He said he was doing it "for me". I responded by saying, he should do it for himself.

It was a great message, spoken by the youth pastor from our church. He's the same pastor I spend most Sundays as a volunteer, working with high school kids.

Afterwards, B and I ride to the market where he works. I treated ourselves to some beautiful rib eye steaks to make a special dinner I watched on Food Network. Cooking & baking is my hobby and therapy. It looks like a manly dinner. Funny, my husband is not my son's father. Somehow, I want to make a Father's Day dinner for this man, who has been so helpful and patient with his stepson. Does my son see this?

He's the man who married me, three years ago. He did not help raise my son. One month after our wedding, we found out my son was addicted to oxy-contin. We had no idea what that really meant...not a clue. We thought our son could just stop.

But, I digress...

My son asked me if he could earn some money, by doing chores.

My brain automatically kicked in to gear-- I reminded my son that I loaned him money to consolidate his debts. He is faithfully making payments to me, as agreed, from his weekly paychecks. Hence, he only has about $20.00 a week in pocket money as opposed to $100.00 a week.

So, I tell him that the answer is "no".

"Fine, I'll sell my watch".

Now this is where I feel I'm under spiritual attack. My first instinct is to tell him not to sell the watch... my tongue is aching to preach about financial responsibility. I resist.

Then, it happens. I can't stand it. I have to say something--

So, I say to him "This is how an addict think, B". You want something now (he wanted to hit golf balls, but his golf clubs are collateral for me and hidden away). I tell him that it isn't right to owe someone money, go out and sell something and spend that on pleasure when it could pay off the loan.

Now, you responsible adults... do you disagree with that?

I said the wrong thing. He got mad. I knew it, immediately, and I wish I had said nothing. My son felt backed into a corner...I had talked down to him.

I shut up, came home and got busy with my kitchen projects. I'm making jam and baking, as my therapy. Believe it or not, I don't eat most of it. I give it away. Somehow, photographing and blogging my recipes is relaxing and therapeutic for me.

B came out of his room, huffing and puffing. He started pacing. Now, you'd think he wants to use. That's not it. He wants mom to feel sorry for him, and offer to buy him a bucket of golf balls.

I focused on God. The devil is goading me into anger. I just know it. This is how he works. I am supposed to blow up at my son, and get angry. Instead, I focus on reading the instructions on how to make jam (I have no idea how, but today I'm going to learn how). He sits and scrolls through my laptop... looking bored and frustrated.

I ignore it. I just go about my business. (My husband left to run errands.)

B finally jumps up and stomps out of the house. I have no idea where he's going.

Is he going to use? I doubt it. He's bored, he's frustrated that he's broke and he blames me for it.

This is denial.

I have made a conscious effort to not let this rob me of my own joy. I have a day off work. I have a beautiful dinner planned for tonight. The sun finally came out. I'm going to move forward with my plans to work on my hobby. Hobbies are good. I might go for a swim, afterwards to exercise and clear my head.

My son will return. Hopefully, he'll find his friend M is home, and they can play video games. Maybe God will speak to his heart and my son will see that his behavior is lacking appreciation for all that I do for him-- because I love him.

My son is a very selfish person. So was I, at one time. Oh, those tendencies come up within me now and then...but being a mother usually teaches us to be selfless when it comes to our kids. I think God wired us that way. We are nurterers, by nature.

He's back. Hmmm...

This is when I blog the most. I can vent, here. I appreciate those of you who send me comments, and encouragement.

I'm going back to my kitchen to continue on with my project. My son will enjoy the olallieberry jam I've made and the peach turnovers. He'll bite into his rib eye steak with all the side dishes I watched Tyler Florence make. He'll moan over what a great meal it is...

But, does he really understand how blessed he is?

He's pacing. I can feel him ready to blow. If I handed him $20.00, he'd be thrilled to pieces. I won't.

I pray that my son will learn that joy and good times don't always come from having money in your wallet. It comes from seeing what you do have.

Happy Father's Day-- I really mean that.

It's Father's Day. B's dad has moved to Oregon (we live on the central coast of California). My father passed away in 1986.

I am thinking of dad's like Ron from "An Addict in our Son's Bedroom. Is your son/daughter with you, dads? Will your addict child send you a father's day card? Or, is your son/daughter incarcerated?

I wanted to say to you dad's, that I feel your pain. Sometimes I look at my son-- 6'3 of him. He's no longer a boy. He's a man. I see the stubble on his chin. His arms and hands look manly. His voice sounds so grown up.

Still, I see that little boy that is captured in the photos I've hung in our hallway. I see that innocent child, in his Oshkosh B'Gosh overalls and miniature sneakers.

Just the other day, I watched my son take a spit test (as opposed to a UA) test. He is standing there, with his stepdad, studying the results of the test.

"This is not the kind of test I envisioned my son taking", I thought to myself. "They should be studying the results of his AP tests."

Dads...moms... let's focus on the fact that we cannot blame ourselves for our child's addiction. There is nothing we could have done to prevent their brains from honing in on wanting the "high" that their drug of choice beckons to them.

Drug of choice... does an addict really choose a drug? Or does the drug choose them?

I pray for all of you dads, that your child will acknowledge today in honor of you. I pray that you will feel loved and appreciated for the tough job it is to be the male role model in your kid's lives.

No matter what lies or betrayals my son worked in our lives, as parents-- I do believe that my son regrets it. He knows he's burned bridges and bankrupted our trust in him.

My son loves his father. I'm doing much better in letting go of my anger towards his father. I can see how easy it is to fall into a co-dependent relationship with our children. I can see why his father enabled him with money. Ultimately, I know that my son adores his father. I have stopped blaming B's dad.

I never had a loving relationship with my own father. I was afraid of him. No matter how hard I've tried, I remember being thrown against walls and being smacked until I wet my pants in fear. His fists hurt. I remember the terror of watching him unbuckle his belt to punish me. I remember my mom's screams, in the night, and the sound of his hands slapping her around. I so wanted to love my dad. It wasn't until the last few years of his life that I made peace with my father. He had found Christianity and it mellowed him out a lot. Still, I could never say I loved my father. He died of cancer, at the age of 64. I think of him, from time to time. I pray he's in heaven and he's found peace from his own demons. God helped me to forgive my father. Not all of my memories are bad of him, but I wish I had felt like "Daddy's Little Girl". I never did. I think it's been the root cause of my insecurities with men.

Parents have such an influence on their kids. My father passed on his short temper to me. It's a constant struggle for me to temper my anger. I've come a long way, but I still struggle against it.

I can only pray for more opportunities to be a motherly role model to my son-- compassionate, wise and loving.


How is B doing? I think he's taking baby steps. He struggles with finances. He's spent hundreds of dollars on bank overdraft charges-- $15.00 checks end up costing him an addition $50.00. He feels frustrated. His car will cost $200.00 to repair (alignment problems). Each week, more expenses come at him-- DMV fees. License Fees. Tax penalties (for bouncing his I.R.S. check). He's closed his checking account, admitting that he can't balance his account, to save his soul. He forgets to keep a check register. He's asking me to help him learn to manage money. He's paying rent and savings to me, faithfully. He's slowly building up a savings for him to move out on his own.

He feels he's unable to stay out of debt and that he'll never get ahead.

I understand. I try to show him how to come up with a debt reduction plan.

Is he clean? I think so. I still think he's in denial about his addiction. I still think he's working his own program, and not the 12-Steps. He believes he can take pain medication (for his injured back), though he's an addict.

He wants to move into a place with a friend, next month. I'm trying to show him that he cannot survive on $400.00 a month, after paying $400.00 a month in rent.

I feel sorrow for my son. He feels his life isn't fun, because he can't make ends meet. I tell him that he's not alone.

I doubt my son sent his dad a Father's Day card. I didn't get a Mother's Day card. It's how he rolls...

I keep praying for my son to find joy and peace in his life, no matter what his present circumstances are. It's how I survived some of the most trying times in my life. I can remember my fear of owing rent for my home and business and no idea how the money would come. I kept praying and trusting in God. Somehow, the rent always happened. I give the glory to God for that. I didn't do it. He answered my prayers, by giving me the courage and strength and wisdom to make it happen.

My son is speaking more of wanting to reconnect with God. He says he wants to come to church with us, this morning.

God is my heavenly Father. Abba Father. Jehovah.

Father, you see all of our tears. You feel our pain. Sometimes, you allow us to drown in our own troubles as a way for us to look up to you for help. When I trust in you, believe in you, ask for your help and seek to know you-- you are there for wipe my tears, fill me with your presence.

Thank you, Father, for loving me and forgiving me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

How I found joy for free

Dear B:

Your step dad and I have taken into consideration the recent events of finding drug paraphernalia in your room. We have listened to your explanations on how these are all old things.

OK, some of this adds up.

Still, there are too many mysteries that can only leave us to conclude that you are not being 100% honest with us.

Yes, some of the foils we found didn't have the tell tale black line of heroin. Sure, some of the foil might have had hash in it.

Still, these are drugs.

You looked 100% sincere when you said you had no idea what the smelly bottle of what appeared to be old urine was found in your golf bag. The tell tale residue of what appeared to be burns on the lid could only make us ask a simply "why"?

You have passed your last two UA's, except you are testing positive for THC. Breathing in weed, while someone else is smoking it doesn't wash with us as a viable explanation. Even if this is true, why be in the cab of a truck with a friend while they are smoking weed?

You're an addict. You should not be around any kind of drugs. Period.

I have to inform you that the way your UA's are going to be done will be stepped up a notch. Your stepdad will have to monitor the way you provide a urine specimen. We are all to savvy to know that you could water it down, switch a sample -- and a multitude of ways you can fake your UA's.

I just had to let you know that we have saliva tests, now. We don't want to make you paranoid-- the two of us are worried enough about you.

There are other big red lights that make me wary of you sobriety. Opiate addiction is a very strong demon. You have only been clean for five months, as far as I know. Again, I have a lot of doubt that you haven't slipped and been chipping.

Why did your suboxone fall out of your pocket? I am a math whiz, and it makes me wonder if you're skipping your soboxone to get loaded on heroin.

I see other signs, B. You are always in debt. If we hadn't taken your golf clubs away, and locked them up, they would be sold.

Let's assume I am wrong-- and I would gladly get down on my knees and apologize if you could prove me wrong. But, let's say that I'm wrong and you are staying clean...

I see that you are completely incapable of staying out of debt.

It's time to surrender to not having a bank account. You just can't seem to find a way to write down what you take out of the bank. Don't you know that banks charge huge fees for overdrafts? You are overdrawn again. Why? You forgot you had written a check to the IRS. Checking your balance and taking out money doesn't work-- unless you have excess money and can afford the risk.

I see other traps that you fall into, and dig a bigger hole of debt:

Getting up too late to pack a lunch or eat breakfast-- you borrow money to buy fast food.
Smoking - Addicts typically use cigarettes as a crutch. You're trying to quit smoking, and I commend you for it...but every time you feel stressed, you desperately need a cigarette. I quit smoking 11 years ago. It's hard, but I'm glad that I did.

The biggest trap you fall into is equating happiness with money. When you are broke, you fall into an emotional despair.

I understand that, B. Welcome to the real world. Life sucks, sometimes. It's a matter of how you look at life's twists and turns. It's in the serenity prayer... accept the things I cannot change.

My point is that I know, first hand, what it's like to be in debt. We're talking tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I know what it's like to work a full-time and a part-time job, just to pay off debt.

I know the mental hardship of worrying about collection agencies. Being in, over your head, in debt can feel like you're being choked to death.

Remember, I was a divorced mom who had to provide for you and me. I prayed, on my knees, for God to do miracles and help me out.

God helped me, but not as fast as I wanted. You see, B, I had to learn how to view the world according to God's will.

I had to learn how to humble myself. I had to learn how to count my blessings.

I owed a lot of money in tax debts. I was looking at climbing Mt. Everest. Did I give up? No.

I started, one step at a time.

God didn't give me patience. He taught me patience, by letting me make a lot of mistakes. I finally got it!

Happiness is short-lived, is what I had to learn. Whatever I bought gave me happiness, but it was short-lived. I was still haunted by knowing I had debt haunting me.

Finally, I learned to be thankful each time I paid off a debt. I learned to wait to buy something I really wanted.

I learned the difference between WANT and NEED.

For ten long years, I had to make a list of what I dreamed of doing or buying. For ten long years, I climbed Mt. Everest. I got knocked down along the way, too. I cried. I got angry. I felt that life wasn't fair.

But I continued to climb that mountain. Sometimes I felt God had abandoned me. Sometimes I felt hopeless and I'd start to backslide. But I was determined to get out of the mess that life had created. A lot of my debt wasn't my fault. I had to accept it and move forward.

Ten long years later, I could see the summit. I stopped creating debt, because I learned to accept that I could no longer afford the lifestyle I once had. I found ways to save money, cut corners and I made it my personal challenge.

I began to feel happy, even when I could not afford to buy things in catalogs. I learned to toss out the catalogs, without even looking at them. Why tempt myself with things that were out of my financial reach?

One day, I realized that I no longer felt that burden of weight on my shoulders. I no longer feared collection letters. I was making regular payments and I would look at the debt total going down.

I had found joy!

God led me to find that joy surpasses "happiness". Joy is that wonderful feeling that comes from integrity. I felt joy in being honest with myself and with God. It felt good to pay back debt.

I understand your feelings of discouragement-- that as soon as a paycheck comes, it's gone to pay off debt.

Once you learn how to stop spending more money than you make, you are on the road to financial peace.

You are so young, that you have plenty of time to learn how to live within your means. Count your blessings, son.

You live in a home that is clean and cozy. You don't have to worry about paying rent, utilities, phone, cable, internet. You don't have to go to a have just to walk into the garage and clean your clothes to your heart's content.

You have medical insurance. How else could you afford rehab or suboxone, or insulin to keep you alive?

You live in a safe neighborhood and sleep in a comfortable bed.

You have a job, while thousands of people wish they did.

You are alive, and not waking up in a jail cell.

You are no longer a slave to having to buy drugs, on a daily basis, just to keep from going into withdrawals.

Most importantly, you are loved by your parents and by God.

Think about these things, when you feel that life isn't fair.

You are a drug addict. I don't know why some people are, and others aren't. It's the way it is.

I have made many mistakes, in my lifetime. I have learned from them. I still struggle with personality traits in me. I still struggle with procrastination issues if I don't enjoy doing something. I hang on to knowing that God loves me, no matter what.

If I was given $1,000,000 to spend I would certainly find happiness in that. But life would still have it's way of turning on me, and the happiness would be replaced with worry on how to invest or spend it. I'd probably worry about blowing it all. The money would not solve my life problems. If it did, I would cure you of diabetes and drug addiction.

What I have learned by my years of financial struggles is to feel joy in my life, no matter what my circumstances are.

You are living under our roof to try and help you learn life skills, and to help you work on your sobriety.

Please don't blow this opportunity. I might be old, compared to your years. But my wisdom helps me to listen to what you are really saying. I'm a lot smarter than you might realize.

A lot of things you say don't always add up. I'm learning to listen and not say anything. But I do remember.

You are a joy to see when you're awake and talking to me. I adore your company, when you appear sober. You make me laugh. I want to do so much for you.

Still, there are times when your behavior makes me worry. I'm watching you, son.

Most importantly, God is watching you. I pray that you are being honest with yourself and God.

I love you so much. I so want for you to find peace and joy in your life-- no matter what circumstances you are going through.


Monday, June 1, 2009

My son's finances, drama

1 Timothy 6:10 (New King James Version)
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

This scripture is often misquoted to be "Money is the root of all evil". As you can see, the correct quote is that LOVE of money is the root of all evil.

I witnessed behavior from my son, yesterday, that gave me a crystal clear awareness that my son equates money with happiness. Yesterday, we took B and a friend of his to see the movie "UP". I needed some light-hearted humor after the drama that took place this weekend (I'll talk about that in a moment). Apparently, his friend "A" owes him some money. "A" suggested that the two of them go to the movies (again) that night with "A's" girlfriend and a girl that my son likes.

I could see it coming... sure enough, B hinted around that he didn't have gas money. I dug my heels in and said that I had helped him enough, and I wasn't willing to give him money-- all the while, I'm "A" is standing right there. I am not fond of being put on the spot...

The next thing I know, B is sayng he'll sell something. I rolled my eyes and gritted my teeth.

B started in with his classic manipulation. Exasperated, I asked him what could he sell?

"My watch". That was a graduation gift from his dad. It's worth, maybe, $100.00 brand new but knowing him-- he'd sell it for $20.00.

B said he HAS to have money. He said he hates being broke.

At that moment, I looked at him and said with a soft voice (as opposed to my angry voice)--
"it's so disappointing to me, B, that you seem to focus on what you don't have-- instead of what you do have."

B grew silent.

Living with a drug addict seems to attract daily drama. Does anyone disagree with that? It never fails that my son has some sort of crisis-- he lost his wallet, he can't find his car keys... he lost a $20.00 bill. Often times, his cellphone rings and I can hear him saying "Oh, Dude! Are you kidding me?" Inevitably, he'll tell me some horror story that's happened to a friend.

Last night, his sponsor and his girlfriend had their zillionth fight. I've met them both. B's sponsor seems like a nice guy. He's a little spacey, but I attributed that to years of drug abuse. I'm guessing that he's 30-ish. I've met the girlfriend. I've heard my son, and the sponsor ("D") discussing the stormy relationship those two have. Actually, I'd call it more dysfunctional.

My son was pacing around, wanting to go rescue "D". Apparently, the result of the two Lovebird's fight resulting in her taking his wallet and dumping him in the middle of nowhere, with no money.

B wanted to rescue him. Me, being the compassionate (and sometimes enabling) person that I am, immediately thought I should go and get him and help him out.

Then it started-- my son frantically making calls to figure out how to borrow money to get gas to go pick up "D". B was worried that this latest fight would lead his sponsor into using. I"D" could not get a hold of his own sponsor, so he was starting to become despondent. It's a valid concern.

I could feel the knots in my shoulders tightening and my pulse rate going up.

Why do I allow myself to get sucked into this drama?

Finally, I told my son that I'm sorry that those two are having another fight. I set up my boundaries forcefield and told B that I wanted to end the discussion. Period. Over and out.

He actually left me alone.

My point is that it seems my son lives his daily life in crisis mode. Is this common with addicts?

Yesterday, I wrote a diatribe on how and why I became a Christian. If you want to read it, just scroll down to May 31st.

One of the biggest lessons in life that I learned, through my spiritual rebirth and journey is this-- Money does not make anyone happy.

I'm serious.

I lived, for ten years, as a single mom-- on the edge of poverty. I raised my son on my one meager salary as a self-employed person. I didn't have a corporate job, but I bought medical insurance anyway.

I did not get paid vacations or sick leave, so I tried to stay healthy and not miss any opportunities to earn money.

I also learned incredible survival skills. I shopped at Goodwill. I bought marked down meat.

Most importantly-- I learned how to do things, with my son, that were free. Parks, hikes and farmer's markets. I'd buy my son a treat and forgo mine.

It has been thirteen years, since I began to seek to know God. I can honestly say that I am truly happy. I am filled with joy.

Even though my son is a drug addict, who is struggling with not quite five months of sobriety (and that is questionable), I still have a thankful heart for what I have.

I cannot afford to buy the things that I would like to have-- a new car, a new refrigerator, a new camera and a trip to my mother's homeland of Germany (to return her ashes).

Still, I am happy. I am content. I am not envious of those who have much more than I do.

I know that many folks who have a LOT more money than I do have deep troubles.

I see that with my son's friends. One girl, he ran with, comes from a very wealthy family. She just got out of rehab. Her mother is a drunk.

My point, today, is that my son clearly hasn't found joy.

He needs a prescription pill to counter-act his depression.
He needs cigarettes to deal with his daily stress.
He feels angry and frustrated when he doesn't have money in his wallet-- hence he borrows and starts the crazy cycle of debt.
He used/uses drug to deal with the trials and tribulations of life.
My son cannot see his own blessings.

He is alive.
He is sober.
He has medical insurance, and went to a great treatment center.
He has a roof over his head, plenty of food.
He is loved by his parents.
He has a job.
He has cable TV, a cellphone and a car.

Still, he believes that money will make him happy.

He has an empty void in his life. To me, this is where I give glory to God and to my savior, Jesus.

The Lord has filled my empty void.

****I have run out of time, from my lunch break. I don't have time to proof-read. Forgive any grammatical errors or typos. I'll fix them later. (Yes, I am a perfectionist. It's a curse.)

I leave you with a scripture that is posted on my refrigerator. It speaks volumes for what I've learned in the last 13 years-- and I continue to struggle against envy and lack of gratitude:

Phillipians 4:4-13

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your
gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about
anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is
pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or
heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be
with you.
Thanks for Their Gifts 10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that
at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned,
but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in
need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what
it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the
secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives
me strength.