Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two steps forward, one step back

I'm back to "cranky and morose" today. It won't last, because I won't let it last, but my brain is sort of saying (in the words of another blogger I really admire) "Wait. What?"

I went to my first Alanon meeting last night. (Disclaimer: I went to one single meeting about five years ago that I thought was great, but then I never got back to it because my addict bounced back in the door and I permitted myself to get distracted, hopeful, helpful, guarded, and otherwise occupied.... by the time I got another chance, that particular meeting was no longer there. My bad, entirely.)

This meeting was for parents of alcoholics.... and since she is an alcoholic/addict, and alcohol is a drug.... and she starts with alcohol and jumps to heroin.... I figured it was a good one for me to try. Figured I'd slink in, listen, learn, and slink out.... I have never been good at being the new kid, not in school, not now.... but I was willing to try. Figured I'd work my way into feeling comfy, perhaps get a few phone numbers, and maybe become a regular if it was a good fit.

It was a bit overwhelming. I've never sat in one place with 50 other grieving parents. The largest group we had in family therapy at the hospital was about 20-25, and some of these were boyfriends, girlfriends, platonic friends, coworkers, sisters, brothers.... not all that many parents. At one point, however, this meeting became a room full of aching hearts. The grief was palpable.

The meeting started positively enough, though, with the familiar readings and format I am used to from NA meetings. Lots of people shared, in the middle of the meeting. Then it took me by surprise when they asked each of us who had identified as newbies, to share. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I went from snuggled in my hoodie, sipping my hot tea and enjoying the meeting and the positive shares, the challenging shares, the encouraging shares.....

to feeling like I was having some of my impromptu vacations in the tropics hot flashes, combined with a definite cardiac disorder. I sat there terrified as one after another, the six newbies before me tried to talk and fell apart.

When my turn came, the leader turned to me expectantly and said my name. It was comical, I gaped like a fish. It took me three tries to find my voice. I held it together long enough to say something along the line of:

"I'm not sure I can do this this week, but I'll try. My daughter is a 26-year-old bipolar, alcoholic/addict, whose most recent relapse to her drugs of choice, alcohol and heroin, have landed her in jail yet again. Our family has been dealing with this for eight years. Her rehab counselor is a man named Milton, whom I positively adore and trust implicitly. He said I needed to come here. My daughter, even when she is loaded, concedes that "Milton has never been wrong, Mom." Therefore, I am here."

I didn't take up anywhere NEAR the three minutes they alloted before the timer would sound and announce my final 60 seconds to wind down. I was done.

(insert usual end-of-share clapping here)

At that point, I commenced with the dreaded silent cry.... wherein my eyes leaked from then until looooooooooooong after I got home. And I went from feeling okay, to feeling angry for being cornered into speaking unexpectedly, and extremely sad. (In retrospect maybe I could have said "no, I don't want to", but my frigging "polite Southern Ladylike behavior training" kicked in. Thanks, Mom!)

And today, I'm a basket case. I was fine until I went to the meeting and now I'm sad, mad, and I have a back ache and I just found out my little trainwreck is unexpectedly going back into court tomorrow on her third case (which she had thought had been dropped). It could result in more jail time (60 days). And really, that's fine. I kinda hope she gets another 60 days. She needs the clean time. I, selfishly, am not entirely ready for the spinning to start again. I feel guilty for hoping she gets it.

(My DH likens her life as a spinning tornado. We love our tornado. We ache over our tornado. We treasure and enjoy every good time we are blessed to have with our tornado. But even sober, she is a bipolar nightmare tornado. And every time the tornado comes back into our vicinity, we start spinning too.....we get caught up in the storm.)

And yes, I realize Alanon or Naranon could help me not get caught up in the spinning. And I will go back next week to another meeting. I was listening, and I heard the admonishment to attend six meetings before deciding if this is a good meeting for me.

I can take direction, I really can. But I sure hated being put on the spot like that. And I'm not entirely sure that being shy, and wanting to open up in a strange group in my own good time, is a character flaw.

*pout!* I'm off to take a rest and see if I can get my back to cooperate with me. This 'getting older' nonsense is not for sissies!

P.S. There were some really nice folks at the meeting, and I was welcomed afterwards with hugs and given kleenexes and a newcomer packet and a phone list and a homemade brownie's obviously going to be hard to stay mad at them! Deeeeeeep cleansing breath! I am going to try to go back next week!

Friday, February 20, 2009

20 years!

I took in a meeting tonight with one of DD2's friends in program, Big John. Got to see Milton take his 20 year birthday. He runs a fantastic rehab program here. It has the reputation of being "the toughest program in the county". Milton can do "tough". But I've seen his heart break over those he works with, too. He's a teddy bear inside; he just doesn't show it much.

I got to give him his quilt, and I got about six hugs! Hmmmm, I think he likes it!

He asked about DD2, and I was able to pass along her love and birthday wishes for him. He and I both hope she'll be back in that room one day, because in the walls of NA, there are answers and there is hope. She's done it before and almost got two years! She can do it again. It's up to her. I wish I could do it for her. But I can't. (I'm mindful of those 3 C's!)

Tonight was a good night. I was able to speak with a mom who was celebrating 7 years tonight.... with her daughter with her (who was celebrating a year!) and a son who is "out there doing more research!" Yeah, I could definitely empathize with her. She spoke a few words when she took her chip and I could hear so much of my own emotions in her words. But all in all, a good night - so filled with hope and optimism and celebration!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I do love me some weekend.

showed me some bloggy love:

Thanks Annette! (I hope you are all recovered from that snowstorm!!)

I had a really nice weekend. It was the most peaceful weekend I can recall having in a long, long time. I spent a great deal of time in my sewing room and that helps me more than almost anything. My DH and I took our DD1 out for dinner on Valentine's Day, and made a memory! I had a good visit with DD2 on Valentine's Day morning, and I was able to pass along good news to her regarding a residential treatment facility. It was not the one she initially wanted. But since that one isn't returning my calls, and the clock is ticking towards her release, I asked her ex-sponsor if she had any ideas concerning residential treatment facilities I may not be aware of. Turns out she is, as a counselor, associated closely with a facility she may be able to help DD2 get into. It's in an area outside "her playground", meaning an area she hasn't really used in, or dealt in. Several girlfriends who are very, very strong in program live nearby. The first 30 days are free.

The whole idea seemed very positive, and DD2 received her ex-sponsor's idea well. So now, she crosses her fingers. Apparently a third case that has been pending against her may rear its ugly head, but oh well! She agrees that if she ends up doing more time, this residential program will still be there. When it's time for her to get to a program, she will. She's already written her ex-sponsor, without any prodding from me, thanking her for the suggestion and asking for some direction.

I also spent a lot of time reading this weekend (books, Yahoo groups, etc, regarding Al-Anon, addiction in family members). I learned a lot.

And I learned I have a lot more to learn.

P.S. I got the quilt (binding and label) done for DD2's rehab counselor. I will take pix when I give it to him on his birthday (this Friday). Twenty years! What an accomplishment!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thank you

Thank you all so much for your comments. I have been reading your blogs, and I'm finding this whole blogging process very helpful. I have another blog that I have used for several years for my quilting and family "happy" events. My DH wanted that blog to remain a "happy" place, and since a lot of his friends view it, that is why I started this blog. It helps to vent. It helps to read others' stories that strike such a chord of familiarity. It helps to learn what works for some and what doesn't work for others. I'm really grateful to you all, and I will write more later. I have just a couple things to jot down and then I must get to bed.... Monday's almost here!

I saw my daughter Saturday and we had a good visit. She got 30 more days when she saw the judge, and I don't know what will happen after that. There is one case still pending, and I have no understanding of what is going on with it. She has a public defender and it is her problem to work out. I'm continuing to try to keep her name on the waiting list for the county-paid residential treatment center she would like to go to. I will attempt to also organize all the papers that have come to the house in her absence. I'm trying to encourage her to at least contact the people she wrote bad checks to, or the hospitals that treated her, etc, and give them an estimate of when she could begin making payments. It's my fear that she will end up in the residential treatment (on probation) and these creditors will come after her (especially the ones to whom she wrote the bad checks).... it would seem to me like they could take action that would result in a violation of her probation, but maybe I'm wrong. If I'm correct, a violation would result in prison time upstate. Again, it's her problem. (She's already done bankruptcy once.) I will organize the papers, and she can decide what to do with the information from there.

Read a post on Lou's blog, regarding addicts who have traveled the road to recovery. "They are honest & no bullshit and they are kind & reasonable to their fellow man. I really like these people."

Amen! Some of my dearest friends today, I met in program, attending meetings with my daughter. I've never turned down her request to come and see her take a chip.... I still have her first (only) year candle.... someday I hope to add another candle, and then another.... That candle was given to me by Rick, who has multiple years of clean time. I met him when she first went into program, and he's kept touch with us ever since.... good times and bad. He is fighting lymphoma now. I've made him a quilt to wrap up in when he's feeling green from his chemo. He is a sweet, gentle man.

Her rehab counselor was a terrific guy named Milton. Per his words on her first birthday, "he and she went way past counselor and client, a long time ago." She completed his program and went on to get that first birthday candle, and then almost made it to the second one. He was as crushed by her relapse as we were. He still stands ready to help, when SHE is ready. I love him dearly. He has been so helpful to us. I always go to a meeting when he takes his birthday - and this month, he'll take his 20 YEAR! I'm making him a quilt just for that occasion. Maybe I'll post a picture of it here, when it's done.

These friends in program have a dignity and wisdom that is hard won, and they teach me so much. I could listen to Milton share for hours. And the kindness Lou mentioned..... During the last couple of wildfires here in SoCal (one of which was mere blocks away) I had calls and offers from friends in program to help me evacuate.... I didn't get that kind of concern from my work, my church, my "normie" friends.... but my daughter's fellow addicts in recovery? They kept tabs on our family for days.

I have always felt comfortable in a NA/AA meeting, because they made me so welcome.

Of course, that makes me wonder just why I hesitate to attend a F2F Alanon or Naranon meeting myself? Perhaps I'm scared of the work I think I'll need to do? I'll ponder that.... but probably not tonight. I'm pooped. I've been cooking all weekend. (I use once-a-month cooking strategies sometimes, and then I can spend more time in my sewing room - that makes me happy! This time, I was cooking extra for my friend who's husband has brain cancer. He's not doing well.... Hopefully having some meals on hand will help her while she's spending so much time going to and from the hospital.)

Again, thank you all for your comments. They mean a lot to me!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Cranky and Morose....

I warn you, I am making no sense tonight.

Back 8 years ago when we first found out DD2 was an addict and we put her in a rehab.... back when we were in full "we're going to fix this" mode....

We had to participate in family counselling, weekly, in group meeting style sessions where everyone sat in the circle and things got aired and exposed and we came away feeling raw and torn....

And we weren't the ones with the addiction....

Today, we refer to it as "being held hostage"..... We went through little exercises like "hurts and resentments" where we faced our addict and read off a list of things they had done to hurt us, and how we felt about each one. And they did the same to us.

We were "being held hostage" because we were made to believe that going through these exercises, some of which were horribly embarrassing to me as I am private and shy sometimes, were going to bring about the healing of all of the problems.... we were told the whole family is sick, not just DD2.

And that may be true. I know our family, like any family with older teens, had problems and challenges. But the exercises we went through? believing they would cure everything? We weren't told in the beginning just how dismal were the chances were that this would work.

It wasn't until weeks later, when we were getting fed up with the process and realizing that DD2 was treating this rehab as a 30 day pajama party, that a counselor told us that they thought that "maybe" 2% of their patients stay clean on discharge. Maybe 2% go on to live sober, healthy lives.

I could not wrap my mind around such hopeless odds. I just couldn't accept that DD2 would be one of those 98% who would use again. But she did. She was discharged to a sober living home run by that rehab. And she was loaded within a week.

Over the last eight years, she's had one stint of sobriety that lasted almost two years. She worked a program and had a good bunch of girlfriends in program that she did healthy things with, like snowboarding, hiking, etc. The rest of the time it has been one relapse after another.

Sheesh. All this to say that I'm cranky and morose tonight. Those words are an inside joke for us, because back in that first family therapy experience, we had to introduce ourselves and use two words to describe how we felt. I caught on quickly that I could get the leader to leave me alone by simply saying "Hi my name is ___ and tonight I am happy and sad." That pretty much did it. She'd move on and dig deeper with someone else who said "angry" or "fed up" or "scared shitless" or something along those lines. My husband, however, rebelling at being held hostage every Tuesday night for these family sessions.... he always identified as being "cranky and morose."

This of course resulted in the group leader trying to delve into his issues..... and while we both have issues like a news stand..... our daughter's addiction was not going to be addressed by grilling us with embarrassing techniques, while DD2 grinned and we squirmed and blushed.

Whatever. I learned a huge, huge amount from our time in that program. I gained an understanding of what I was dealing with and eventually, the fact that I did not cause, and could not fix, her addiction.

DD2 called from jail again tonight. She is upset because she is supposed to get out Wednesday night at midnight, if the judge reinstates her Prop36 status, or just decides to extend her probation. It was her hope to go into a 90 day residential program called the Villa. Someone had told her that since she worked last year, they could ding her disability from her last job, and get it covered for her.

Nope. Today we had to tell her she was not accepted, and of course, we can't cough up $5,000 a month for more 30 day pajama parties. Her only option is to be put on the county list for that facility - with an average wait of 4-6 weeks. She has to be clean to be accepted into the program. She asked me what I really thought the odds are of her being clean in 4-6 weeks? Something about her tone made me wonder if she maybe was hoping to get in the facility in order to even further delay facing the mess she has made of her life with this last relapse.

Thousands of dollars worth of bad checks, probation costs, hospitalization costs, mental health emergency evaluation costs, court costs, the list seems endless to me. No wonder she would like to delay facing it.

She had been, until today, voicing the hope that she could take the 90 day residential treatment to get time to focus on her sobriety, get clean time under her belt, work a 12-step program, get a job, and then transition into a sober home. That's all she's thought about while in jail, she says. Now that option is gone.

We can't afford to put her in treatment. She no longer has insurance. I don't think she will stay clean in a sober home. She's been unable to do it previous to this time. Every sober home she's been in, she's been kicked out of. I'll never forget the one we paid $800.00 up front for the first month, back in the beginning of all this.... Two blocks from the ocean and a beautiful house. She was kicked out in two days (dirty test) and we lost the whole $800.00. This was back in the first year when we were still buying the family therapy recommendation that we provide her with sober living while she re-entered the work force.

Today she was angry because we said, again, that she could not come home. I want to be in her life, and I want her in mine. I want to see her, laugh with her, go to lunch with her, have her over for dinner, celebrate her successes and commiserate with the tough times.... I want a normal, age-appropriate relationship with my beautiful, smart, spunky, exasperating, compassionate, self-centered, soft-hearted, hard-headed daughter. Not going to happen.

On the phone tonight, as soon as I said "no" again, her mood switched and she went from happy and hopeful to manipulative and mean. She has never been able to hear the word "no". She used to get in the car after school as a child, with a list of 23 things she wanted to do that afternoon..... and if I couldn't accomplish #17, even if the rest were doable..... little Miss Sunshine became inconsolable. We would stick our ground, and usually within 15 minutes of determining that we were not budging, she accepted things and was her normal bubbly self again.

Her tone tonight took me back to one day in December, last year.

As background for that day's events, earlier in August, she had broken up with a boyfriend she shared a place with for a year. Boyfriend was a really great guy, although he too had some problems with depression. They sincerely tried to make it work and they have a lot of good memories of their time together. They are not hateful or angry; it just was not going to work out for many reasons. She moved out of their place after she had asked us if she could come home again. At the time we thought she was clean. He was big on supporting her efforts to stay clean.... although we found out he has a bit of a pill habit when things get rough. We negotiated our boundaries and flung the door open wide. Her plan was to come home and find a new job closer to our area, and then get a place with a girlfriend.

She said the end of the relationship with Boyfriend made her feel like she wanted to use again, but that if she could be with us, she would not. After she moved in, she again, calmly stepped over each boundary we had established. We found the spoons, the needles, and she repeatedly nodded off during conversations. She refused to contribute the agreed-upon amount of money to the running of the common household, and things went missing around the house. She admitted she was using but flaunted her honesty about it as if that should make it alright.

We started squawking about how we were not the best option for her and she needed to be somewhere else. She started staying with friends. She came over Thanksgiving morning to spend that day with us, and used my computer to look for another new job. The economy was continuing to tank, and she wanted an additional part time job. Every time I popped into my office she had a new and different job on the screen and was busily taking notes.

Bright and early the next morning, I discovered she had accessed my ebay/paypal accounts, changed the passwords, and deleted all evidence of doing so, and then politely removed $1200 from our bank account. The shit hit the fan and we told her she could not come home again. She had already stolen an expensive camera and my Ipod. I was really hurt by the Ipod, because I only used it for my exercise time on the Dreadmill....and she knew how important it was for me to exercise with my diabetes, etc.... She was always encouraging me with my fitness efforts. I stewed/cried over the theft for a day and then just let it go. Money was discovered to be missing, too....

Times like these, the memories of some of the things our counselor said in family therapy surface..... "your addict lied? your addict stole? Wow, now there's a surprise!"

Anyway, she called one morning in December, and announced she was coming over to pick up some clothes. I was up to my eyeballs in work (I work from home). I said the "No" word, and told her it was not a good time, and that she would have to come later in the day, when her father was home. She announced she was coming over now. I reiterated that I would not let her in. She laughed.

I bungie corded the double doors shut. She had a key, and I figured that would keep her out. I went back to work in my office. Letting go, detaching, I thought.

The doorbell rang, and the friend dropping her off waved at me when I looked out the front window. I shook my head and said loudly "No. She can't come in now." He looked at her, looked at me, gave her a quick, nervous hug and left. Smart guy.

She tried to get in the door and started screaming. She climbed on the bench glider under the front picture window, continued screaming about how "it doesn't have to be like this" and proceeded to kick in the window and walk right through. She fought me for the phone I tried to reach and I changed tactics and said "fine, go upstairs to your room and get what you want from it." She went into crying fits. "I just want to get clean Mommy, I want to be with you Mommy, I just need my family, Mommy, PLEASE."

She flung herself dramatically on the daybed in my office and while her back was turned, I opened an email and started sending out work to one of my employees. She demanded to see what I was doing, and when she saw the email, she relaxed and laid down again, and again turned her back to me. I instant messaged one of my employees who lives a few miles away and is aware of the situation. "Call 911, DD2 just broke in front window, is violent, bye". I got back the message "done". I closed that screen and continued doing my work. DD2 decided to go upstairs and change clothes and start packing up some of her stuff. About 30 minutes after my initial instant message to my employee, I thought I heard a car door out front. I raced for the door and went out to speak with the cops.

Long story short, she was 5150'd. It took seven cops, four cop cars, and the threat of a taser to get her to, two hours later, voluntarily get into the cop car and be escorted to the emergency room for an emergency psych evaluation. This was after she cut her leg in front of them, sitting in her underwear on the lawn.

Good times.

She told everyone in the ER that she knew what to say and she'd be out in a matter of hours.

She was transferred to the county unit for evaluation. And transformed into a docile, cooperative, quiet patient, well-spoken and apparently cognizant.... and was indeed, released in a matter of hours. This was her third 5150.

She did come by later, at a time we mutually agreed upon, and pick up some clothing. She walked by the boarded up window and expressed surprise that she had done it. No apology, just surprise. She was arrested a few days later. And again a few days after that. She apologized sincerely a few weeks later, when sober.


I want her in my life. But I don't want to do it 24/7 inside these walls. I can't. She is exhausting. Her bipolar disorder has her bouncing off the walls one minute, and in the depths of suicidal dispair the next. She does not want to take medication, but self medicates with heroin.

And of course, to get the heroin, she does illegal things: stealing, bad check writing, etc.

For these illegal activities, she can be tried and sentenced just like any person with a sound mind who just decided to do something illegal. I don't get it. The state just can't have it both ways (well, actually, I guess they can).

They give her the right to (with an impaired mind) refuse medication and treatment which would help her make decisions that are NOT so self destructive. And once she refuses the treatment and consequently, with her impaired mind, makes unhealthy decisions..... and commits crimes along the way.... It's jail time, probation, violations, and more jail time.

The Lanterman-Petris-Short act, signed by then-governor Ronald Reagan, is responsible for the mental illness merry-go-round portion of our situation. I found these statements in some materials being circulated in the hopes of changing the law.....

One of the difficulties in providing continuous treatment in the community is that since these illnesses are brain disorders that affect the ill person’s reasoning, some individuals do not recognize that they are ill or that the symptoms of their condition will respond to medication. Therefore, they do not seek treatment. If hospitalized, they may be unable or unwilling to comply with treatment plans after discharge. When this occurs, the person may require involuntary treatment to protect their lives and avoid tragic social and personal consequences.

The current California law regarding involuntary treatment for mental illness -- the Lanterman, Petris, Short Act (LPS Act) -- was written 30 years ago before scientific knowledge advanced recognizing mental illness as a physical disorder of the brain. Its purpose was to depopulate state hospitals. It was not fully realized at the time of its enactment the structure and support some people with mental illness would require to successfully participate in community life. Furthermore, over the years the act has been piecemeal amended to make it one of the most adversarial, costly and difficult to administer involuntary treatment systems in the United States. Lack of clear definition and common misinterpretation of its provisions have caused inconsistent application from county to county.
The law must be revised to incorporate modern scientific knowledge regarding the nature and treatment of mental illness in the community and to streamline its efficiency in today’s managed care environment.

This is my dilemma. If she isn't well enough to decide what is good for her, how can I expect her to make good decisions. I know I did not cause her addiction. I cannot fix it. It is not my fault. But does her mental illness mean that my responsibility in this is different than what it would be if my qualifier was "only" an addict? And not mentally ill and an addict?

It's not healthy for her to be at home. For us, or for her. I can't afford to pay for a sober home. She started taking psychiatric medication in jail, but the dosage is so low she is only sleeping one hour at night. I can't babysit someone 23 hours a day, run a business and take care of me.

Grrrr. We're not her answer for housing. We can be of assistance financially, but we're not her answer. She needs to learn to take care of herself because we are not going to live forever. Or, she needs to fail at it so miserably that she is awarded a conservatorship and gets disability. Because again, we are not going to live forever. DD1 is willing to take care of DD2, in a supervisory capacity, someday, and wants a healthy sister relationship with her.

Okay, headache is now full blown. Off to get some ibuprofen, a bit of tea, and I will contemplate this further tomorrow. Many apologies to any who read this, for the incoherence. My mind is in a bit of an uproar tonight.

Whines: It's toasty today..... I love cooler weather and today was way warmer than I think February should be!

Gratitudes: It's toasty today. I love cooler weather.... not the deep freeze that has most of the nation in its grip!