Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sins of the Father (...and mother)

I'm as ready as I'll ever be, to share my testimony to my readers (and myself). If you've arrived to this post, because you searched for "the sins of the father", or for whatever reason you are here-- this is my story.  It will be a series, because I'm 56 years old now.  There are several reasons that I want to share my testimony.  Primarily, if you know my story, then you will find out that I have survived a lifetime of pain, hurt, betrayal and sorrow.  God got me through all of it, but at that time I wasn't believing in Him. It wasn't until He brought me down to my knees, that I realized what was missing in my life. I was missing faith, and I had to learn who God really is.  I found the answers in his Word-- the bible.

In the bible, there is a passage that I want to share with you.:

John 9:1-3 (New International Version)

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

The sins of the father are not passed on to his offspring. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions and own actions and salvation. Just because the father is an alcoholic does not mean his offspring are going to be alcoholics, for instance, though it is a common misconception. The same goes for a parent who is an abuser. The child may have no tendency toward abuse and may even despise abuse. There were clearly two schools of thought in the Old Testament, but Jesus taught that each of us is responsible for our actions and that the message of God is love.

I've been writing this blog for close to four years.  It's my story of coming to grips that my son is addicted to opiates.  It's filled with pain, sorrow, anger, frustration and confusion.  As the posts begin to grow, so has my own story of acceptance and growing even closer and stronger in my faith in God. My blog's story, that begins in April of 2008, has also helped me to take a personal assessment in what kind of parent I was to my son.     My son has taken on some of my traits-- some are good, and some are the ones I wish I didn't pass on to him.   

My life was filled with its own dysfunction, and to this day, I still struggle with some of the ways my parents raised me.  Because of their traits they have passed on to me, I have a short-temper, can be over-sensitive and I battle to keep my controlling nature tempered.  So, I begin:

My family

I was born in 1955, the daughter of an handsome Army soldier. My mother was born and raised in Southern Germany in 1924.  She was the daughter of a master tailor. My mother didn't not have a good relationship with her mother. When she was very young, she went to live with her grandmother, who owned a popular and successful restaurant. My mother, and her family,  lived through the horrors of war.  She personally witnessed bombings in her own hometown, had been briefly captured (and let go) by American soldiers, as the war was ending.

My father was born in 1922, the son of a Spanish man who married a Mexican woman from Southern California.  His life wasn't very happy either. He joined the Marines when he was 17 (yes, he lied about his age) and fought in Guadalcanal.  I don't know what happened, but he later joined the Army and fought in the South Pacific, against the Japanese during WWII.  He killed, and also lived through the atrocities of war.  Consequently, he had a quick temper and had a black belt in karate. He later became a Marksman, and trained soldiers how to shoot. He was good at it.

My parents met when he was stationed in Austria.  My mother had an illegitimate son, from an affair with an American solider, who shipped out as soon as he found out she was pregnant.  (Funny thing is I found this out when I was about 11 years old. Until the day my mother died, she never admitted that my half-brother wasn't my full-brother. I never told her that I knew. She was a very private person.) My father married my mother, moved her and my half-brother to America (and he adopted him) and then the trouble began.  My mother, who thought that moving to America would be a glamorous life, quickly discovered that her mother-in-law and relatives were poor farming Mexicans.  She became bitter and angry, and the marriage went downhill from there.  My father, began to hit my mother and she became the bitter and silent wife.  My brother was born in 1954 and I then I came along, when my father was stationed in Honolulu, Hawaii.

My memories, for most of my childhood, is that I never saw my parents showing affection.  I can vividly remember some nights, sharing a bedroom with my brother, and hearing the screaming and the sounds of crashing and my mother being hit.  I recall crying, and my brother trying to comfort me.  To this day, I remember a night when I ran into the kitchen and saw my father holding my mother's head on a cutting board, with a knife over her neck and screaming at her-- while she was screaming back, with fear.  That horrible picture is something I have never been able to erase, since I was about six years old.

As I grew older, I began to receive the beatings, too.  I've been picked up and thrown against walls, whipped with his thick belt until I and welts all over me, and had wet my pants with terror.  My half-brother, received some of the worst of my father's temper.  My other brother (whom I adored)  probably got his share of beatings, but I can't recall. I always felt as though he was the "Golden Child" because he was gifted with artistic talent. He was very close to my father, and they did things together. When my father was stationed in Korea, I remember  that there was peace in the house. Somewhat.

My mother, likewise, hit us with wooden cooking spoons, a belt and she could swear like a drunken sailor.  She had a quick temper, too, and she was really strict.  I became a rebellious adolescent, who would back talk her while my father was in Korea.  Like many teenagers, I grew to hate and resent her.  We did not have a loving mother-daughter relationship.  I was not allowed to host sleep-overs, yet alone go to any.  I could not have friends over for dinner.  She didn't understand this "American nonsense".

My parents finally divorced, I was so relieved.  It was a bitter divorce, and my brother moved in with his dad and I lived with my mother. My mother's bitterness worsened my already troubled  relationship with my father, and the camps were divided.  My oldest brother moved out of the house when he was 17 years old. Years later, he told me that he left because my father threatened that "something bad" would happen to him if he stayed.

My High School Years

I recall that in my freshman year of high school, that I isolated myself in school.  I was at a small parochial school, and miserable.  I didn't feel as though I fit in.  My parents weren't religious, and we did not practice religion at home.  I was told I was Catholic, likes it's a genetic thing.  Now, I realized that I would sit alone at lunch and breaks, hoping that someone would notice me. They didn't.  The school closed down, due to lack of funds and I was so happy. I could finally go to a public school.

At the public high school, I smoked my first joint.  I'd smoke weed, but truly more as a recreational thing to do with friends.  I never tried acid, which was big in the 70's.  I dabbled with cocaine, but more out of curiosity. I never bought it, and fortunately, I don't have that addictive gene for drugs.

I didn't get into much trouble as a teenager, because when I wasn't in school, I had to work at my mother's German Delicatessen and small restaurant.  I hated her for making me learn how to run her business, and for having to wear dirndls-- but I soon caught on that boys began to take notice of me. Ha!  My mother kept a really close rein on me, and I was forbidden to date until I was 16. Even then, I was painfully shy.

The Beginning of my Adult Life

Shortly after my 18th birthday, my mother brought me a suitcase and said it was time to move out of the house.  I had a job at a resort, I found a cute apartment, and I left. My mother told me that I was to never ask her for money, but if I was hungry that she would give me food.

I partied it up! My brother moved in with me, and let the good times rock and roll.  I was 18 years old, and had worked my way up to the secretary of the General Manager of the resort and country club.  He was a handsome European, 32 years old, highly educated, spoke five languages and had a very powerful personality.  One day, he asked me on a date. I was so nervous, and was told to keep our relationship secret.  I fell in-love, for the first time in my life.   He took me to fancy restaurants, parties and five-star hotels in big cities. I wasn't old enough to drink, and I was so nervous being around these wealthy and older people.  My mother was so excited for me, because she wanted me to be with a European with all of this man's background and financial/social status.

My Young Marriage

One day, X went away on a trip to visit his father in Canada.  Apparently, he got busted by the INS for having an expired student Visa.  Stupid (and naive) me, said "yes" when he told me what happened and he asked me to marry him.  Six weeks later, we were married at a famous Catholic church. He paid for, and planned everything.  I wasn't allowed to invite my friends-- only my immediate family.  I remember being very scared, and my mother was so excited for me.  It was a beautiful wedding, and my dress was gorgeous (I still have it, vacuum sealed. I have no idea what to do with it. Gosh, I was tiny in size, then!) Shortly before the wedding, I wanted to call it off.  X was being a jerk-- controlling, jealous and far too old and mature for me. But, I was in-love, and I wanted that white gown and chapel wedding.   I was too immature to realize that I was making a big mistake. The invitations had gone out, and that was that.  I had to quit my job, because I couldn't work for my husband.  So, my father walked me down the aisle...

On our wedding night, I remember a group of his drunken friends came to our suite. I remember crying, as one of the wives helped to remove my veil, gown and undo my fancy hair-do.  I remember crying myself to sleep, while I could hear the sound of a poker game, and the smell of cigarette smoke.  The men played poker into the wee hours of the night.  My wedding night wasn't romantic at all. It was lonely and I was scared.

We left for a six-week honeymoon to Europe.   I was mesmerized by the sights and sounds of Iceland, London, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania.  In retrospect, those are the best memories I have of that marriage.  I was homesick, though, and ready to come back to America.  My experience visiting the "Iron Curtain" gave me an appreciation of what it means to be an American, and I still feel that way.

My Divorce

Two years later, I divorced him. I grew tired of his flaunting the women he was cheating with on me. I grew tired of having to be inspected if I passed his criteria for what I wore, or how I looked.  I did not belong in his world of country clubs and wealthy people.  When that marriage ended, he had broken me.  I felt worthless. He once asked me why I couldn't be as beautiful as his (new) secretary...or as smart as her... he'd tell me I was ugly and stupid, and would never amount to anything.

He broke my spirit, and it took years for me to recover from that.

So, there I was, 21 years old and divorced.  I discovered that I was pregnant (by him).  I quietly had an abortion.  To this day, I often wonder what my 35 year old son or daughter might have looked like.  As a Christian, I regret this chapter in my life a great deal.  I have asked for God's forgiveness, that I killed a child, and I was a lot more careful about birth control.  I never told my mother about this, because I was too ashamed.

Now that I think of it, Mr. X never told me he loved me.  Neither did my parents.

For the next few years, I had good times. I worked, as a travel agent, and visited all parts of the world.  I dated, but never had a serious relationship with men.  I didn't trust them.  I used them and I'd dump them. They used me.  I now realize that I wanted to hurt them, as much as I'd been hurt and rejected.  When I was 24, I met a man who owned a business next door to where I worked as a travel agent.  He'd wave at me, and I'd think to myself that he was attractive.  He was to become my husband of sixteen years, the father of  my son...

End of Part I.  More to come...

For today:  My son has been off work for two days. Just the other night, it was raining outside. My husband was on his laptop, my son was curled up on the couch reading. I was on my laptop.  I recall looking at my son, and feeling a sense of gratitude that I know where he is.  I have to say, that I am dreading the day he has to move out. He's 23 years old, and it's time.  I feel a sense of peace, that I know he's home with us alive and well.  He's still taking suboxone, feeling fine and he loves his job.  I am thankful for that. I pray that my son will be able to earn enough money to survive on his own. He will need to learn how to manage his money, because he is used to the comforts of home that my husband and I have-- from years of hard work, scrimping, saving and managing our finances. It isn't easy, and I am thankful for where my life is today.  I give God all the glory and thanks for this.

NOTE:  I have not continued on with this story-- someone who knows who we are, has tried to use this blog to hurt my son.  I don't feel ready to share the rest of my personal story, for a while. When I am ready to-- and I believe this person is no longer reading our blog, and won't try to hurt us, I will is mean to be my personal testimony as to how God changed me for the better.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thank you for your comments. My thoughts and prayers for today...

I am deeply touched by those of you who have left comments on my previous post.  I truly am.  I've had a pretty rough week, at work, but I want to spend just a few minutes to say that I've read every comment.  I feel your pain.  I will dive deep into sharing my testimony, but not until the weekend. That will take time, and I'm still stressed out from today's work day.

Tonight, I am particularly touched by this comment, and I just have to write with what I hope will be some encouragement:

Thanks so much for starting this website. I am at such a loss as how to help my 27 year old son. My only defense is to pray for him and have faith that The Lord will ultimately work this all for the good, but I must admit that there are days when my faith is very shallow. My son has had this addiction to opiates for almost 11 years now. In the past few months he has gone from hydrocodone to oxycodin. He is injecting it in his arm. I am so terrified that he is going to overdose. I don't know what to do. He saw a doctor and received a rx for suboxone, but he is not taking it as perscribed.He lives at home with me at the present time. I am thankful that I have found this website and for your kind support. My hands shake as I write these words. Please pray for my son, all of our sons.
 Dear "D".  I think that most of us are at a loss as how to help our addict.  Especially, when it's our own flesh and blood.   Prayer is, of course, what helps a believer to find the strength to live through this.  I pray, every day, that my son will find true sobriety.  I encourage you to pray for your son, but please remember to pray for yourself.  Pray that you will be led to the resources to help you to learn how to help yourself.  You see, as parents, it is so easy to want to fix this.  We feel that we must protect our addict from harm.  We cannot bear to see our drug addict child (or young adult) throw their life away.  We fear they will come to harm, or even worse, death.  I truly understand that, as I've lived those fearful moments.

The reason your faith can become shallow, is that we wonder why God doesn't fix this?  I mean, if God is so great, then why does he let my daughter/son suffer?

There's the million dollar question.  This is, most likely, why a lot of people give up on God. Why many believe he's a lot of "hooey".   I won't go into a lengthy theological discussion on this.  For tonight, I will simply say, that perhaps he is-- but not the way we want him to.

You see, with my son, I can see God's work in all of it.  I believe that God's Grace was poured abundantly on me and my son.  The miracle of being led to finding a drug treatment center took our health insurance, just happened to have a bed available-- and being handed a piece of paper for a drug interventionist who just happened to answer his phone, was all answer to prayer. I just know it.
That the interventionist happened to have an appointment within two hours of my calling, that my son agreed to go, and that this man reached into my son's heart and soul and talked him into going into treatment is a miracle.

The treatment center that my son stayed at (two hours away), provided education that family members were required to attend. Four weekends in a row, my husband and I drove four hours, round-trip, to attend classes.   My son, and all the resident addicts, eventually joined our class and we had a chance to listen to them talk-- and we also got to speak. It was all run like Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meetings.

I learned so much!  Dear "D" and those of you who say you don't know what to do-- I cannot give you all the answers.  What I can tell you is that knowledge is power.  Please educate yourself about the drugs your addict is using.  Read.  If you can afford it, please go to a counselor who specializes in addiction. Ask lots of questions. 

You need to learn a world of lingo that you never thought you would.  There are two very important words that you need to learn--  #1  Codependence  #2 Enabling    If you son is 27 years old, and living with you, and he is still using drugs then you need to understand #1 and #2.

Believe me, I fully understand how difficult it is to be counseled that allowing a drug addict to live in your home, who is using, is not helping them and not helping you.  Oh, how I know that pain. Kicking my son out of my house hurt.  I felt, in a way, that I had lost him to death.  I felt such guilt, that if anything happened to him that I would never forgive myself.

But, that is what I had to do. It was the most painful, and yet what had to happen.  My son needed to run out of options, and resources to be able to have money to use. 

I am not saying that you need to kick your son out. I'm saying, please find professional help so that you can understand that the addict must make that choice to want to be clean.   We can be making things worse, if we give an addict a safe place to live and to use.   What we think is helpful, may actually be harmful. 

If you are at the beginning of my journey-- new to the world of having a loved one in your family who  is addicted to drugs, please know that you are not alone. Please try not to blame yourself.  I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take care of YOU.  This is a very difficult situation to be in.   What took me a while to understand is that I had absolutely no power in making my son choose sobriety.   There were times I'd yell, threaten, use guilt, beg and even try to bribe my son into seeing what he was doing to himself and to us.

It is a miracle, today, that my son does not have a crime record.  It is a miracle that my son narrowly escaped being shot, stabbed and survived being car jacked.  It is a miracle that my son survived overdosing (and I never knew about it). 

I do believe that God wants to help us.  But, unless we come to him with our heart's desire to trust Him, he allows us to suffer the consequences of our own choices. 

I will explain this, more, when I share how I made some really bad and stupid choices, in my past and how God let me stumble and fall.  He finally brought me down to my knees, and I had to humble myself.  My life has never been the same, since.  That's because I became a Jesus-Loving Christian.

Had I not suffered the way that I had, I would not have the faith and strength to endure the pain of being the mother of a drug addict. 

For that reason, I hope to pay it forward, with this blog.  If I can speak to just one person's heart, and encourage them, I am doing God's will.

Heavenly Father, I lift up those who read this blog and who are feeling pain and fear over their loved one.  I pray that you will give them strength and courage. Please reveal yourself to them, so that they would know that you are there with them.  I pray for those who are addicted, that they would want to be helped.  Please, guide them to the resources that will help them cleanse their body of the poisons that are making them so sick.   You are the God of hope, and pray that you will bless them abundantly with hope for a new start and better life.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Is God Using Me to Help Despairing Parents of Drug Addicts? My Story... Part 1

It has been almost four years, since I first discovered that my son was addicted to drugs.  Three of them were pure hell.  Scratch that. The first year was totally agony for me. It was heartbreaking, and I was scared for my son-- and myself.

I can clearly remember the day that my son's addiction hit a wall.  It was the day that his father called me, because his car had broken down in the East side of town.  His father was taking my son to buy heroin. Only his father thought he was helping him to buy "hash".

Did your jaw drop, reading this?

In looking back, I can understand why his father (we've been divorced since my son was eight years old) felt he had to help my son buy drugs.  I'm not saying it was right.  But, you see, when you love your child more than anything on earth-- it makes you do things to protect them from harm.

When I go back to read my first entry on my blog, I can clearly remember how afraid and confused that I was.  I honestly and truly had no idea what oxycontin was.  Nor did I know much about heroin.  Sure, I've seen pictures (and movies) of junkies shooting up heroin.  But, I had no idea that one could smoke it.  Neither did my son's father.  He had found the crumpled up pieces of foil, with the tell-tale traces of that ugly black stripe. It's called a "trail".  B's father bought my son's lie that it was "hash".

So, here I sit, with a heavy heart.  It's not my son who is the cause of it.  It's that I'm starting to get daily private emails from parents who are just beginning my journey.   When I read them, I am filled with deep sorrow for them.  I can read their pain.  They ask me if I can help them. They don't know where to start, or where to go.

If you are new to my blog, then I am glad that you found me.  Who am I?  How can I help? Do I really have enough wisdom that I can give them good advice?

I am a mother of a 23 year old son, who has struggled with drug addiction since he was in middle school.  He is my only son.  I have no college degree. I have been working since I was 11 years old, because my mother owned a business that was food-related.  I am the child of parents who divorced when I was 14, and I could not have been happier.

I will stop right there. I'm going to jump into a new direction, but I'll return here.

I have always loved to write. Writing has been my way of expressing my feelings.  I've always been an avid reader.  Reading fiction, as a little girl, was always my way of escape.  I've been told that my writing style is very raw.  In some ways, it is.   I type faster than I can write, from years and years of jobs related to the secretarial field.  That's why I jump around, so please bear with me.

I want to share my life story with you, and it might take a few entries. There is a reason why I feel I need to do this.    I want to share the story of how my life was a total mess, until I became a Christian in 1996.  There is a purpose to why I feel so compelled to do this.  I hope that by sharing my own story is that you can better understand why I believe that God carried me through this entire painful process of my son's drug addiction. 

I have a testimony to share, and I want to do it.  I'm quite sure that I'm not some lunatic who claims that I hear the voice of God.  I don't believe that I'm a religious fanatic, who wants to climb up on a pulpit to try and convert all of you to becoming a Jesus Freak.

I am a woman, in her mid-fifties, who has survived through physical child abuse, abusive relationships, three divorces (there, I said it).  As a result, I have battled against insecurities about myself, low self-esteem, anger management issues and honesty.  It wasn't until 1996 that my own life had hit rock-bottom, and that's when I went to church for the first time in 20 years. I had turned my back on the hypocritical Catholic upbringing I had been raised with.  I finally found out who God really is, and I became a believer. That journey has been equally hard, and I still struggle with living my life according to God's will.

I wanted to be a mom.  I wanted it desperately. I loved the first years of raising my son.  I loved being the center of my son's universe, during those toddler years. He was such a perfect little child. 

I made plenty of mistakes as a parent.  In looking back, my anger issues and child abuse, made me lose patience with my son more often than I should have. But, I cannot blame my mistakes on his addiction.

I'm  going to stop right here. For now. I have led up to one very important point, in this brief intro do my life.

No matter what mistakes I made, as a parent, it is not my fault that my son is a drug addict.  I'm leaving to take my son to get his car fixed.  While we're in the car, on the return trip, I'm going to tell B that we need to sit down and I'd like to start sharing his side of the story. 

I do believe that God wants to use my story to help others. I feel it so deeply, and only a believer in Christ can understand exactly what I am saying.  I don't hear God's voice, audibly.  But, I can feel his prompting to do something.  I've thought of abandoning my blog, because I got tired of reliving all the drama of B's story.  My readership had declined. 

However, my readership is going up again.  I'm getting the emails that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. 

I have a story to share, and there are so many hurting parents who don't know what to do.  I'm not a licensed counselor. I'm not a medical professional.  I'm a God-believing, Jesus Loving  mom, who has found acceptance in my son's situation.  Today, my son is not using and I thank God for that. His battle isn't over.  He has good days. He has bad days. 

My son reads my blog now, and I share the emails with him.  I pray that God wants to use us both to share our story. 

May those who are reading this, find hope and comfort, by the Grace of God.  You are in my heart. I read your emails, and try to respond on an individual basis.  Please subscribe to my blog, as my time is so limited to write to each and every one of you.  I  pray that I can increase how often I blog, and that what I write will help you to find encouragement and support.

Please leave a comment, if you would like. You can leave it anonymously.  I will try to address your questions and issues. 

I have to go. I'll be back.

In Him,