Monday, January 25, 2010

Optimism, Forgiveness and a Victim no More!

I've been doing a lot of thinking-- and praying-- since my last post.  Fractal mom left a comment, in which a part of it said "for me, and maybe for others, i dont' know, i guess your optimism scares the willies out of me.".  I didn't take this literally, of course, and while I felt a little put off-- it was very short-lived. 

I was talking to my husband, and I want to share some thoughts on the direction that I hope is where God wants me to be. I also want to give a response to what Fractal mom wrote. Where to start, first?

This blog-- I don't want to give it up.  I have to say that my initial idea to start this blog was inspired when I saw David Sheff on the Oprah Winfrey show.  He had published the book "Beautiful Boy" (which I read).  I remember Oprah asking his son (Obviously the person who was the addict in the book) what he thought of his dad's book.  The son said that he didn't realize just how much hurt he had caused his loved ones.  For whatever reason, that hit home with me.  This blog will, when my son is ready, be something that I hope he will read.  I hope he will try to understand the other side of addiction-- the pain, the worry and the tears-- that I have shed for him, and maybe even myself. For the record, B knows about my blog. He hasn't asked to read it, yet-- and I don't think he's ready.  I'd like him to be sober for at least one year-- truly sober.

I have to say that I never expected to tap in to a family of fellow blogger that I have met via my blog.  Many of you I know by name-- Heather's Mom, Chai Latte, Barbara, Ron, Lisa C, Madison, Lou, Fractal mom-- just to name a few.  If your name isn't listed here, it doesn't mean that you don't matter to me.  I want to know your story , but I'll be honest-- sometimes, I just don't have the time to read each person's blog.  Sometimes, the stories are so unreal to me-- and I feel so sad. You've been a support system to me, and I thank you for you comments and encouragement.

So that brings me back to Fractal Mom (whose name I will leave out, out of respect for anonymity).

FM-- you have no idea how much I think of you and how much I pray for you.  Thank you, for sharing your story with me, via private email.  Your story broke my heart.  I cannot fathom the depth of betrayal that you have been through with your daughter.  I can only thank God that my son hasn't done the level of things to me, that have happened to you.

But, FM, I want to respond to your provocative comment about my optimism-- what you perceive as optimism, is what I know to be HOPE.  I thought of you, all during my church service, yesterday.   I feel so very blessed to have the kind of pastor that is at my church home.  Pastor M doesn't preach. He teaches.  He has a gift, and I take pages of notes.  Rarely, do I ever leave church, not feeling as though his message spoke directly to my heart.  It's quite the opposite, where I feel Pastor M has read my mind and my heart. I jotted a few notes down, FM, as I listened to his message called, "How to Control Your Anger".

I am not here to judge you, FM.  I've never met you.  You are dearly loved with fellow bloggers, I can tell.  You want to share your life experience, and I think you don't mean any harm. You have told me that you are a Christian, so please allow me to speak to you as a Jesus Loving, Bible Believing, Far-from-perfect Christian--  I feel your anger and your pain by the way that you write.  I pray, often, that you will be able to release your pain and your hatred towards what your daughter has put you through.  I really mean that.

You see, I have every reason in the world to be one angry and unforgiving woman.  My BFF reads my blog, and she would tell you that I'm telling the truth.  I have been terribly hurt and been the victim of some of these things--
  • I have seen my father hold a knife over my mom's neck, while he pinned her head onto a cutting board. I was about 8 years old.
  • I have been thrown against walls, beaten with thick leather belts until I wet my pants.
  • My mother was a willful woman, with a short temper, who could cause great pain with a wooden cooking spoon or a long reed tool used to beat the dust out carpets.
  • At the age of 19, I married a man 13 years my senior. He openly cheated on me, telling me I was ugly, stupid and would never amount to anything.  I stayed with him for 2 years, thinking I was unworthy of anything better.  For years, I believed the cruel things he said about me, and my self-esteem was in the toilet. He ended up marrying my best friend, 7 months after I left him.
  • At 24, I met the man who is my son's father. For a while, the marriage was blissful.  But, after 17 years, his passive-aggressive nature began to belittle me in front of my friends. I recently found old videos, where he is calling me dumb a** and saying hurtful things to me. How blind I was, that I didn't see my friends eyes looking down and how they felt sorry for me.
  • That man left me, for my employee and girlfriend.  While I was at Disneyland with my son, his cousin and my brother-- he loaded up everything in the house and moved into an apartment.  He cheated me out of our home. I unknowingly signed a Quit Claim deed (thinking we were refinancing our home).  Less than one year later, I was thrown out of my home and he moved in with his girlfriend, and her family.  My son would tell me all about the pool parties, and I'd cry alone at night. I felt so betrayed. My son was 7 years old. I received no alimony, no child support and I eeked by. I could not afford the attorey fees.  Fortunately, at that time, I found Jesus.  I tell people that God ripped the Cosmic Carpet right out from under me-- and he got my attention.  I had become an angry and bitter woman.  I lived a good life, financially. Little did I know my marriage was all a facade. He hid debts and money, and he was flat broke. Well, maybe. I suspect he had money hidden, but I will never know for sure.
  • Eventually, I had to file bankruptcy.  .  I was bitter, of course and missing my house that I was taken away from me.
  • Two years later, I had a Drive By Marriage.  I don't want to get into details.  Suffice it to say, he was a Con Man.  He was an alcoholic, but naive me... I didn't know. The truth finally came out, when he got arrested.  At that time, I was working to support three of us (son included), because he kept losing jobs.  He left me $50,000 in debt-- mostly taxes. I paid it all back, but it took years.
  • About my son-- he was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes, when he was 10 years old.  Now, he's a drug addict. In between that, B's father and I had different values in parenting.  I cried a lot.
So, you see, while what I've been through cannot be compared apples to apples and oranges to oranges, I have a right to be angry and bitter. Or, do I?

By the Grace of God, I learned to forgive:
  • I learned to forgive both of my girlfriends, who betrayed me, and married my ex-husbands.
  • I didn't become a victim to my dire financial situation. I got a second job, and prayed and prayed-- 11 years later, I am debt-free, with some savings and a great husband.
  • I learned to forgive my father, and to make peace with him,  for the beatings.
  • I learned to forgive my mother for her willful ways and to appreciate the life skills she taught me.
I have, truthfully, forgiven every single person who hurt me. I mean that. I believe that, like Job, God restored my life tenfold because I gave forgiveness. God healed my anger and I have peace.  My husband loves me and accepts me for who I am. I told him everything, before he even proposed to me. He is an amazing person, who makes me very happy.

How did I do it--- learn to forgive?  It was when I finally got this:

I am a believer in Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.  If Jesus suffered and died on the cross-- humiliated and beaten beyond recognition-- to die for ME,and for my sins-- then who I am I to not forgive those who hurt me.

Period. No ifs, ands or buts...

It was through that revelation, that I changed from being a victim, and blaming everyone else for my sorrows, that I became Victorious.

One more thing, I jotted down yesterday--

"Because I go to church, I don't think I'm a perfect Christian nor a better Christian.   I go to church to become a BETTER person.  I don't sit in church to be seen. I go there to LEARN. The more I learn to read the Word of God, the more I understand that God commands us to FORGIVE.  Once I learned to forgive, my flames of anger were extinguished.  I am a work in progress, and I'm no better than anyone else.

So, Fractal Mom-- and anyone else who reads this-- my optimism is really me trusting in God's promise that he will never forsake me.  Fear = not trusting God.

It is so hard for non-believers to understand this.  It took me 40+ years to get this. 

I live each day in hope.  When I am angry, I pray to God to help me to not go into a rage.  When I am afraid, I pray for God to fill me with his presence.  When I sin-- and I am weak, and I sin more often than I want to-- I ask God to forgive me.

I will never be perfect. But, I refuse to fall victim and to sing that long forgotten tune "Oh, Woe is me!"  I hate that song. I thank God that through all of my trials & tribulations in life, that I have learned to be strong in faith.  While my heart broke, when I first discovered the truth about my son's addiction-- I have a support system that keeps me moving forward with hope, and joy.  I have wonderful friends, and family. #1 - I have God, my church and many prayers being sent for me and for my son.  I am thankful for that.

I have learned so much about addiction, in 19 months. I am not stupid, and I know that my son could relapse at any moment. He could die. I could die. I could get hit by a car, or suffer a heart attack. My son might be killed in a way other than drugs. My son could even go the route of stealing from me, or jail, or...or...

I refuse to become a victim to my son's plight. I want to laugh. I want to love. I want to feel joy. Know what? I am happy.

The next time I post-- the direction I pray my blog will go. I've prattled long enough.

James 1 (New King James Version)

2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.


Tom said...

There was a lot in that post to inspire other emotions, but what came through for me was hope, joy and the power of your faith.

If your son has half of your strength and grace, he's in good shape.

And let me say, I want to go to your church some time!

I understand that sometimes it can feel like it is tempting fate to risk a little hopefulness. I think that this may be what Fractal Mom was getting at.

I know a lot of people living with opiate dependence who feel this way. They don't want to hope too much because they don't want to feel disappointed...again.

But when the feeling of hope is accessible, go for it!

I hope people can be free to "hope for the best" without feeling like people think they are being naive.

Must people always be made to feel that they have to add a disclaimer to their hope?

Must they always be made to feel that they have to add, "I know this can change at any time etc.?" or risk being called naive or worse?

Let's just say from now on it's implied!

I also hope that people can feel and express their joy and relief when things are going better, without feeling guilty (knowing that for others things don't happen to be going as well at the moment).

The best support is support that is constant in good times and bad.


Barbara aka Layla said...

(((Debby))) Thank you for sharing so openly your thoughts and your history of pain and abuse. I am so sorry you had to endure that. It never ceases to amaze and sadden me that so many of us have such horrific pasts. I admire your faith and hope very much and always have. I like what Tom said in his comment and relate to feeling like I have to add a disclaimer to my hope.

I also admire Fractal Mom and all of the parents I've met through blogging - we are all so different yet have this common bond. Its unique for each of us, but the bottom line is the same: we love our children. Sadly some of the parents, like FM, have had to endure way more pain via their addict than I think I could bear.

I remember reading "Beautiful Boy" and thinking "I am so thankful my son will never be an addict" LOL, its actually funny to me now that I could have had such a thought. It can happen to anyone. I really like that kid, Nic Sheff, I wonder how he's doing these days.

Fractalmom said...

Debby, I didn't mean to insult your hope at all, or your faith. All I meant is that it is kind of dangerous to um, feel such hope so soon in a recovery. There are many, many of us who have seen our children in recovery, only to relapse a year, or two, or three years later.

You just seemed so optimistic and I am scared that IF, only IF, your son relapses, it will hurt you that much more, set you back that much more, and devestate you that much more.

It's okay to hope, to pray and to have faith that God will encircle your son in His loving arms and everything will be okay.

Just realize that it may not is all I say.

Then again, it might :)

clean and crazy said...

you speak of your church the way i speak of NA recovery meetings, i go to become a better person..

hope is awesome, i remember coming into the rooms and looking up at those steps on the walls, members telling me to work the steps that is where i would find recovery. i wouldn't do it for a long time the first step was easy i knew i was powerless, the 2nd step coming to believe in a power greater then myself and that power restoring me to sanity was much more difficult then you ask me about step 3 turning my will and my life over, oh hell no. not no but hell no!! see i hated God i hated him for a very long time and what's more is i KNEW He HATED me right back. that was very much ingrained in my person.

so how the hell were these steps going to help this little addict!! i don't know what happened, a miracle maybe but i found myself writing and working out of the step working guide and i found the more i wrote, the better i felt. and when i got through the 3rd step that knot in my stomach that tight knot of fear of life loosened and it wasn't so tight any more.
i cannot explain it but today i have faith, today i have hope, today i see miracles in life that i never saw before. and here is the big part nothing has changed. NOTHING in this world has changed in fact some say it has gotten worse, children still get kidnapped and murdered, junkies rule the streets, good people still get robbed bad things happen all the time just watch the news you will find the bad if you want to.
my miracle today is that i can find the good. i don't have to be a victim of my life today. there was a workshop where a woman talked about the difference between being a victim and being a volunteer. i don't volunteer to be in pain today. when something happens i share about it a call my sponsor i pray about it and i let it go and move on.
i don't know how i got from Hating my higher power to loving Him but I did I cannot explain how i went from point A to point B other then working the steps but i did. today i have been clean 5 years now and i only ever quit one time, it is possible to get it the first time.

Deb I believe you and i share the same faith, even though we don't share the same church or probably denomination. i don't even go to church or read the bible, my bible is the NA basic text and it goes with me everywhere and when i am upset i can pull the car over and pull out my BT and read and feel better, much like you do with your bible and I too take a lot of notes, we definitely have that in common.
i must say i really appreciate you and fractal mom and all the other parents out there going through this, my little ones are not there yet and i hope they never will be. my middle child is so much like me i feel she may head down that path. reading your posts and your strength and knowing it can be done i feel i can get through anything clean. should i reach a time in my life where i find it hard to detach from my using child, God Forbid, i know where to get my strength and willingness from. so thank you to all mothers who have found the strength to reach out and try to help each other through this venue. Dad's too. that's all i got

A Feast for the Eyes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

Tom, I liked the part of your comment about many of shouldn't feel we need to leave a disclaimer when we share our hope.
C&C-- Amen, sister. You understand.
Fractal Mom-- I don't think you received my message, lengthy as it was. I accept that son's life is in God's hands. I have no control over it. What happens, happens. I have God, family & friends who support me. I have a church. I don't need to prepare myself. I already am. I refuse to horribilize or what if. One day at a time.

Dad and Mom said...

I do not beleive that hope and realism are mutally exclusive of each other when dealing with an addict. Without both there would be no surviving as a parent of an addict.

Disppointment and heartaches are a part of being a parent of an addict or a clean child. Yes, they do hit hard when we invest ourselves so emotional with our addicts recovery but that is an unavoidable reality with being the parent. I'll never give up my hope for that is what sustains me during my healing periods.

Debby never give up hope and savor every day of recovery. I have said it before but now am beginning to grasp it that we must live one day at a time as it relates to our addicts. Just as they do. That means hope can be a day long a hour long, a minute long. Whatever it is it brigs joy to your heart and that is all we can ask for at times.

Heather's Mom said...

FEAR seems to be the worst thing that overrides everything we may rationally think. It's true what you wrote that it means not trusting God - and I'll add, for me it can be a daily struggle, that FEAR wants to creep back in.
Sometimes I give things to God daily - b/c I had taken them back the night before!
I appreciate your post, I do see it as one of hope, as something to think about in an effort to see the bright side. Today, I think the term "cautiously optimistic" is what's applying to me right now :)
God bless.

Angelo said...

Your a special and an amazing person.