Monday, August 31, 2009

A Happy Story

If you have a few moments and a cool summer drink to savor, and want a happy story, I've got one today.

Once upon a time, we moved to So Cal for DH's new job. That job is old history now, but we have stayed here, and come February, we will have been in California for 16 years. During that time we’ve finished raising our kids (at least in that hands-on, homework impregnated, chauffeur to soccer practice, curfew-enforcing sense). We learned a lot, experienced a lot, and we’ve met and known some wonderful people.

One of them will always be “the best son I never had!” (His teasing words but I wholeheartedly agree!)

(a very old school photo....see why he always got picked to play Jesus at Christmas?)

He (S) came to be a part of our family about five years ago. We had known him since we first moved here, as he was the son of our minister, and he and DD1 were the same age/grade at the church high school. They weren’t very well acquainted, but they each knew who the other was. Though DD2 was two grades behind him, he and DD2 were good friends and got into a lot of mischief together……yes, I'm masterfully understating things!

One of our first real memories of S was the night we found him and DD2 sitting in her bedroom talking at about 4 a.m. He had climbed up a little hill on the side yard, leaped to the roof of the garage, scrambled up to her window, and crawled in……It was during the beginning of the turbulent years with DD2 and I was working downstairs that early morning, but kept hearing a young man’s voice laughing and talking, and went to investigate…..there they were just jabbering away, innocently enough, in her room. I remember my husband literally chasing him out the door into the darkness and bellowing something about not ever coming back…..

well, it WAS 4 a.m.!!

and well, maybe not so innocently. He's the one that turned her onto pot. She's the one that later turned him on to speed. Then he watched, horrified as she started mixing in the heroin. They took care of each other, in a sense, but things just got worse for both of them.

Fast forward a few years…….the years continued to wreak havoc upon our hearts and we all managed to get through them….. although DD2 was not with us for several of those years. She was learning some things The Hard Way and and we were learning The Hard Way that there was nothing we could do except wait. And pray.

S’s family was going through much the same thing. He, just like DD2, got into a significant amount of trouble, often committing crimes to enable more drug use.

At one point, DD2 came back home. We were hoping her first couple of jail stays would result in her working a bit harder at her sobriety. For a long time, she did pretty well. She worked, bought a car from us, paid back creditors, and stayed clean. Most importantly, stayed clean!

After she had been here only a few months, she found out that S was getting released from jail and needed a place to stay. His parents had moved from this area to pastor a new church out of state, while he was “inside”. He needed to stay in this area for Probation and he needed a place to call home. He had friends he could crash with, but DD2 figured he’d be loaded inside of 24 hours if he did that!

DD2 asked if S could stay with us, and we opened the door to the house, and just that quickly, the door to our hearts.

(My husband, surprisingly, was 100% behind this. I remember him laughing at one point when we discussed it, saying, "we already have everything locked up in this house, because of our own little ex-felon, might as well let Pastor's ex-felon stay here too!" This man confuses me, more each day!)

I’m so GLAD he came to stay with us. He immediately won over the biggest hurtle - Max the Wuss Magnificent.....(our 120 pound biggest rescued mutt who had issues with men and tends to bite them, due to a former life that included extreme abuse)… even Max sensed his good heart and after snapping at him for a few days, decided he was okay and regularly begged to be patted!!

He stayed with us about two months, was working, going to meetings, and then an old warrant surfaced. He went in to see his probation officer about it, and didn't come back. He was in prison for about two months, doing what he called a "turnaround".
He got out, took the money they spring you with, and took the long bus ride from upstate, right back to us! S immediately set about getting another job, growing out his buzzed prison haircut back to its original long hippie locks, and seeing parole, etc.

DD2 meanwhile, went to Ikea and with her tips, she got a metal bunk bed set and claimed the bottom bunk…..with creative arrangement, the tiny room that had seemed too crowded for just her, became big enough for both of them, as long as they were very careful moving around!The irony was not lost on him, I am sure, as he lived with DD2 in the same room my husband had once chased him from!!

Birthdays came around, and came around again! S's and DD2's birthdays are one day apart!

(buzz cut!!)

(my hippie "son" has his trademark hair back!)

Over the next two years and several months, he roomed first with DD2, then with DD1. This was because, after about a year, DD2 decided she wanted her space back….and S said something about “well, I guess I need to look for a new place to live….”

DD1 piped up with “why don’t you just move next door?” and so he did…..the bunk beds traded rooms with the single bed…..DD2 got her space back, and DD1 and S embarked on the creative arranging that was necessary to enable them to share an equally tiny room that had also seemed crowded with only one person in it….

And again, it worked really well! I likened it to them being on a space shuttle, or in a very small co-ed dormitory. Throughout those years, they slept in their clothes and learned to lock doors while changing. They learned how to coexist in a very small place. They worked out transportation issues, sharing the bathroom and budgeting. They grew close in ways only siblings can. S was a stabilizing presence in our home. He quickly became a big brother to them both. They call him their “brotha-from-anotha-motha”.

He helped DD2 see reason sometimes when she was frustrated and we couldn’t seem to explain things. He encouraged her, and carried her outside once, kicking and screaming, when a manic spell made reasoning impossible. He talked her down and they came back inside for dinner. She encouraged him in the rebuilding of his life, too.

He once helped DD1 get a second job with the restaurant he managed and helped her get scheduling at that job that worked with her various studying crunches or thesis writing. That helped make THIS day possible:

(S, DD1 and DD2-graduation day)

He registered his opinions about the events in their lives…..and likewise, they checked out his girlfriends and teased him mercilessly about anything they could! They made him an honorary girl at the late night giggle sessions around the island in the kitchen. He gamely tasted DD2’s tofu creations and DD1's Henry's Market finds, and survived my cooking. He earned the title Master of Our Grill.

He had a niece living nearby who went through her own addiction issues, and S is kind of a “big brother/uncle” to her too, encouraging her and being helpful to her.

She relapsed recently and once again, he’s reaching out to her with his combination of tough love/good heart, trying to persuade her to choose life, and choose to be a mom to her twin babies!!

He was helpful, cheerfully so, around our house. There was nothing I asked of him, that he did not willingly do, and do well. Everyone had chores here, and my floors were cleaned weekly by S. They had not looked that good before, and have not, since!

Life with us included some really strange adventures for S…Some adventures took brawn (helping load my Nana's upright piano to travel to its new home!)......some of the adventures required brains.....He has built several computers from parts for us (two were for women who worked for me).

I loved having a live-in computer technician. I’ve restored or replaced my work computer at least three times during the time he was with us and each time, he helped me link my dictation computer (six phone lines going into it) to my work computer (which served as a platform to grab the dictation and fling it up on my website). We’re getting really good at that whole process at this point!

(He now has a great job working with computers!)

He built shelving units in the garage.

He repeatedly and more importantly, patiently corrected our errors in programming and got our electronic equipment and TV to work in the den…..

He helped me pick up a van load of plants from my friends Deborah and Joe one time….right before they moved. He demonstrated once again his sense of humor during the ride back home. Initially neither of us was really crazy about the fact that we were carting gorgeous plants, and likely a bucketload of creepy crawlies home with us….and at one point, I looked over at him, as we drove on the 91E in rush hour traffic and said, “so far, so good – nothing has crawled up here and gotten us!”

He glanced over at me and said, “yeah, I’m glad” and then let his glance slide behind me briefly. His eyes got big as he focused on something right behind me, and he gasped “Oh My God!” which of course caused me to grip the steering wheel, telling myself not to panic while going 75 mph in five lanes of traffic in our old VW van, as I screeched “WHAT??WHAT?? WHAT IS IT???!!!”

I envisioned a tarantula, at a bare minimum, crawling up my seat towards me….

Immediately contrite, he said “that wasn’t fair, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that while you were driving – I was just trying to scare you!”

And believe it or not, I was so relieved, I let him live….

Snicker! I always thought I would get even with him by dragging the hose around to the little window over the shower on a winter morning and firing it down into the shower while he was in it….but I never got around to it.

I LOVED having S be a part of our family. He has a sense of humor that is quick, and made me smile! He took on responsibility and thrived. He worked hard, he got to work on time, and he became indispensable to his employer. He advanced in job responsibilities and salary. (He also brought home fantastic tacos and salads on occasion! )

But somewhere along the way, the very reason he came to live us became a completed reality. He had needed a place to call home while he gathered himself and his finances for launching himself again as an independent young man.

And although I knew it was time…….I’m so sorry that time came. (and very proud!)

He got an apartment that he shared with two or three other young men. He did great!

A year later, he fell in love, hook, line and whole heart, for DD1’s best girlfriend – I love how my world is getting smaller! They now share a home and he is step-daddy to her son.

He’s off doing well, making his way in the world, making us proud …..

And our house is just Not The Same.

I miss my S!!

This is why I hope. I have seen what love, prayers, and a program and determination on the part of the addict can accomplish. This can happen for my daughter one day! This is the type of outcome I hope and pray for, for all of us!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bit of a stumble....

but "it's all good," she says....

DD2 didn't get far in that "felony-friendly" job. Once they got her in there, she was told she'd be subject to a full background check (despite the interviewer having told her no background check was required or sought). At which point, she apparently said, "Ummm, let me save you some time...." And five minutes later, she is back to pounding the pavement.

We have a hot date for a visit to Probation and dropping off resumes at restaurants in the area, early next week. She spoke with her house mom and the girls at her house, for direction and everyone is suggesting that since she's so good at it, she go back to waitressing. We'll grab some good coffee, zip in and out of Probation, and then hit a few restaurants on the way back to her sober home. A short but productive time together.

Tonight we will pick up the speaker meeting at The Other Place....

I'm trying to only get together with her once (and very occasionally twice) a week, and not be her problem solver. She asked nicely, if I had time to help her get to Probation and drop a few resumes that morning next week... Everyone in her sober home is working that morning and I understand she will occasionally need a ride.

I told her what time constraints I had that day and that I'd be happy to get together for a few hours.

I plan to give her a set of daily bus passes when I see her that morning. That way, I'm helping a little in my possibly-screwed-up-opinion, but leaving the vast majority of the legwork and investment of time, in her lap, which is right where it should be. Any thoughts?

I'm looking forward to some time in my happy place (my sewing room) this weekend after work.... I'm currently working on this quilt....

Only I'm doing it as individual wall hangings, one block/month per wallhanging. I plan to hang three blocks at a time, from decorative hangers, all lined up in a row, over the sofa in our den.

At one point I pinned January and February up on my wall to see how it was going to look as a quilt.... (pictured below) but later I decided I didn't want a humongous quilt from this pattern, and I'm going with the wall hangings....

Quilting is something that brings me some peace and I get something useful out of it too! Win/Win!

Wishing us all a peaceful weekend and time to pursue something that brings us joy.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A bit of blathering on

DD2 got a job, first job interview out... She has such a confident presence about her when she is sober - she may not feel it, but she's got the act down cold!! .... The guy took one look at her resume, looked her in the eye and said "quit pulling down your sleeves, the tattoos are fine, and so are piercings!"

He said NOTHING about the expansive time gaps between her job listings. And they are apparently felony-friendly.

They then entered an "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" thing - he had very impressive full sleeving of both arms (with tattoos).... He liked her Hawaiian flowers on her right arm....

And she got the job three minutes later. Working in debt consolidation again, explaining debt reduction programs to in-bound callers (way easier than cold calling out-bound and getting hung up on, all day). Starts tomorrow morning, casual wardrobe, and will make enuf to cover her rent. Barely.

Boyfriend will keep her in cigs. I'll keep her in a few extra groceries, and the occasional bus pass.

I did a happy dance around my chair and wished her the best of luck with it.

I'm going to a meeting at Milton's place (The Other Place listed_here) this Friday night. If anyone is local and interested, it's an open meeting, (SK&SB) and a good one! A boy I've known/watched for about three years, a friend of DD2, is the speaker for the meeting, and he asked her to ask me to come. (Besides, I'll get a hug from my friend Milton!) The speaker's the guy that picked my daughter up from jail at 1 AM ("cos parents aren't supposed to have to do that shit, oops, sorry Mrs. X!") and he's a real sweetheart. Milton didn't give him "an ice cube's chance in hell" at sticking with the program, when he first met him, and is delighted today to call him a brother in the fellowship.

Anyway, I will probably go to the Lifelines meeting at The Crossing Church the next Friday night. I really enjoyed that one and plan to stay for the Women's codependant small group afterwards.

I knew you'd all like that peek at my social calendar. ;)

I've probably posted this before, but I love this thought and keep it on a sticky note, on my desk.... it bears repeating!

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." Carl Bard

(I Googled the phrase and apparently Carl Bard said it?.... if that is incorrectly attributed to him, I'm sorry!)

Wishing us all a productive and peaceful day!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I (we) did not cause this.

So many of us mention having feelings of responsibility for our kids' addictions.

I think we all share those feelings.... I tried so hard as a mom. I babysat kids at home so mine had playmates, I had income, and mine never had to go to daycare.

I worked in transcription from home, to afford private Christian education for them both. From kindergarten to high school graduation. Thatsalotta typing.

I drove for every play, every sport event against rival Christian schools, every after school activity, every evening football game. I had pajama parties, teeshirt painting parties, pool parties, after game parties.

I snooped. I found paraphernalia and assumed it was experimentation.

I saw her getting thinner and listened at the bathroom door after meals to rule out bulimia.

I home schooled the last two years of high school at her request, because the school we trusted was full of drugs.

What a surprise to find out years later, she was supplied by my pastor's son. He turned her on to marijuana and certain other items. She turned him on to speed. This all was before she was 18. (More about my pastor's son, later in another post.)

My point is that we do everything in our power. We try. These are our precious children. But they make mistakes.

They knew it was a snake when they picked it up (drugs) and it had the potential to bite (become addiction). With the naivety of the young, they assume it (addiction) will not happen to them.

One time. That's all it takes.

I'm understanding now, that it was not all about me. Or my job as a parent. That my kid took a hit of this, or a hit of that, thinking "yeah, yeah, say no to drugs, ha, ha"....

She'd heard it since the days of red ribbons on the playground - it was kind of like any other thing she heard from parents or authority figures - not really important, not really to be believed, yeah, yeah, whatever.

And when speed entered her body, ironically, her mania calmed and she felt more normal. For a little while.

But when heroin came along - the first time, the very first time, she turned to a friend and said "I am in trouble." She was "home". She felt so good, mellow, calm.... And she knew right then, she'd be back.

My husband still struggles with the fact that this happened "on his watch." This started while she was still a kid, and has continued for almost nine more years now, and he's been unable to "fix" it.

But not for lack of trying.

Anyway, for some reason I just felt like I had to mention this. We all think we should have somehow prevented this. But we couldn't. We are all pretty damn good parents. We have our faults, but we love our children and we want them happy and healthy, and we went into parenthood determined to do it "right".

I'm realizing, gradually, the choices she made are not our responsibility.... even if made "on our watch." She made a choice. A bad decision. She took a chance. And she got bitten.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Glad! not Sad!

It was a good day today, wrapping up a hectic but good week.

Ironically, nearly every idea on her discharge plan that she and a counselor came up with while she was in jail, was a flop:

residential treatment (either too expensive, or in one case, she was told she had too much clean time.....I knew you had to be clean to go in most of them - like fresh out of detox, but I didn't realize you could be too clean!),

mental health office visit (she's kind of enjoying the mania right now, and no longer in a hurry to get back on her meds....I could seriously bean that mental health staff person because I feel like we may have missed a good opportunity to get her back on her bipolar meds and that would have been helpful),

the MSI application (she may revisit that effort later - it wasn't a complete fail, there are just more convoluted steps to pursue, unless she manages to land a job with benefits!),

and food stamps application (sales conviction three years ago = no food stamps benefits)......

but she is moving on and trying not to get discouraged.

I guess not qualifying for food stamps comes under the heading of Consequences but I refrained from saying the "C" word. I like having my head on my shoulders, thank you very much. I heard her mention consequences herself, later, on the phone to a friend. It would have been a huge help if she could have gotten the food stamps for a few weeks, at least, but, oh well. She'll deal. We'll keep sharing what we can when we buy in bulk, and hopefully she'll be working soon.

This morning, she packed up everything she wanted to take to Agape House (sober home) and we drove over to meet with the house owner. I see why she loves it so much. There was a sign up, welcoming her back. The house owner greeted her with a hug and a kiss on the cheek and told her how proud of her she was, for going into jail sober for her sentence, keeping faithful to her program, and making plans for coming right back to the house as soon as she got out. She's back in her old room. She is home.

I left and returned to our home to find that she had left it quite neat. Her old room is spotless and she left not one thing in the bathroom. There are a few boxes downstairs to stash in the garage for her. The phone has quit ringing. The silence is awfully noticable.

I worked all afternoon, and at her request, my best friend (her "auntie") and I joined her and her Boyfriend at The Crossing Church for the Lifelines recovery meeting. I think I would like to go back and also attend one of the women's small groups after the main meeting next time. They have several small women's meetings, each with different recovery focus. The main meeting was really upbeat and I enjoyed hearing the speaker discuss his insights on the 12th step. My best friend was particularly touched by a young woman who also spoke, interview style, during the main speaker's portion of the meeting. I am hoping she will come to another meeting with me in the future.

After the meeting, and after she and Boyfriend hung out and smoked with some friends, we dropped her off back at the sober home. I am so grateful for where my daughter is right now. When we picked her up, the girls were all home and they all introduced themselves and talked about how glad they were that she was back with them. She is comfortable, safe and sober. She already has several job possibilities and will be following up on those.

I'm going to focus on keeping myself out of her way, giving her the opportunity to discover just how well she can do on her own, watching her grow. Hope and prayers, love and wings, that's probably all I can/should contribute.

It was a good day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Long post - mostly happy progress report!

Tall Karen, thanks for those suggestions!

She's been through SPIN before, unfortunately, and failed mightily (her words) and doesn't qualify.

Lynn House is (if she understood them correctly) not taking anyone on meds, and also said she had a lot of clean time and they were not probably the right fit for her, that she could move on to a different type of program.

Great Escape told her the Friendship Shelter was way backed up - the wait list was pretty long - and she needs something sooner.....

She also considered something called "Reach" which she said was an old hotel, converted into (loosely translated) a commune - everyone is in recovery and works together to stay clean, etc, but she wants more structure than that. She says she isn't ready for that much freedom yet.

Thanks for those suggestions - I mentioned that a fellow-blogger had sent those to me and she said "Awww, please thank her Mom, that's really sweet."

I'm trying hard to let her work this out.... The phone is ringing constantly and she's getting input from others she respects in program, and her sponsor, and she's going to meetings. It's looking like she may be going back to Agape house, her previous sober home.

My part right now (at least I think this is a healthy part to play) is to be wheels, and a cheerleader. One of the guys who picked her up from jail is taking her today to apply for MSI. I'm taking her to apply for the food stamps tomorrow, and if she finalizes her decision on a place to live, will take her to put her deposit on it. Friday will be the day she moves in. We hope to squeeze in an eyedoctor appointment before then, and get her a box or two of contacts to run on until she is established with a job and starts paying for her own.

Day Two of Re-entry went really well. She went to probation (who was not there – it was field day and her officer was out banging on doors and checking up on people). She was duly entered into the system as having shown up on time and she was told to come back in two weeks.

In the car she laughed, and said, “Geez, I thought she’d have been there. She knew I was getting out and had to see her in 72 hours. I expected her to be sitting there waiting for me, cos, you know…’s all about ME!”

I love her sense of humor.

(Then she asked if we could find a restroom nearby FAST, cos she went prepared for a pee test!)

She has investigated, called, questioned and basically taken direction from all parties about residential treatment versus going back to her old sober home. She went to a meeting last night and after the meeting, one of the girls took her to that old sober home to visit briefly. A bed is available…. She said she walked in and it felt like home. Even more than our house! (Yes, that stings a bit, but I understand that there is tension in our home and that this is not the best place for her.) She took all of it as a good sign. All the girls who were there before she went in for her sentence, are still there and sober. A steady house is a good house for her.

She’s observing the “no contact” rule about Boyfriend….they talk on the phone, and I believe they will see each other at a meeting tomorrow. Good for them!

Due to the financial condition of our great state (read that: in the toilet!), the cost of the residential program she really wanted has changed and is $1800 for 30 days. That’s way less than most treatment programs, but still, so not going to happen.

She said that’s a further sign she should just go back to her previous sober home, look for a job, and develop her own program of meetings, working with her sponsor, working the steps, and “doing something different this time.” She read a lot while she was in jail, and several books gave her some direction that she wants to explore about her own self image, and self destructive tendencies. She has a connection with a therapist who saw her in jail and will see her outside at significantly reduced rates. She plans to start seeing her once she gets in her sober home, has bus passes, etc.

After we made the run to probation and returned, I worked while she made phone calls and organized things. I think she’s aiming for entering the sober home on Friday evening, after we attend a recovery service at The Crossing Church together, she, Sister and I.

So much is going well. But, Aaauugh! DH is being his usual confusing self. I got pretty steamed yesterday when he came in from the front porch brandishing the grill lighter we use to light our kitchen stove (the automatic lighter broke, but the four burners work perfectly if you just light the gas with a lighter).

She used that grill lighter to light a cigarette on the front porch and forgot to bring it back in the kitchen after she went to the far corner of the property to smoke under the tree in the only spot he’ll allow it.

He was freaking out, yelling that she knows better than to use that and not to do it again. (I do not understand why she cannot light a cigarette with the kitchen lighter….because then that lighter lights the burners that cook our food....he’s a bit compulsive about things sometime – like “don’t put mushrooms or extra stuff on your side of the pizza we are sharing; I might get mushroom juice on my side.” A fate worse than death, I’m sure. Sigh. I make homemade single-sized pizzas now…. There are ways to deal with all of it.)

She handled herself well. She apologized, and tried to joke with him that she “figured all the rules had changed since she had been gone a while, I'm just teasing Dad, I’m sorry”, and she said she wouldn’t do it again. He continued to sputter over and over about it and she just continued getting ready for her meeting, while saying “yes Dad, yes Dad, I will Dad.” She's been so damn careful this time, keeping her stuff out of his way, cleaning up after herself in the kitchen, thanking him profusely for anything he got for her, for letting her stay, etc.

I didn’t get in the middle of it (though I seriously wanted to take a frying pan to his head). When I drove her to the meeting, we stopped to pick up a drink for her and I purchased two lighters for her.

Next morning, I went to light the stove and he’d hidden the grill lighter.

My older daughter needed to make breakfast before her morning of classes. We decided to just laugh, not get riled up. I went to the pantry and got out the box of 500 matchbooks I’d bought the LAST time my addict had stayed with us. We went through this same situation then. She is the only smoker in the house and he is extremely anti-smoking. Breakfast was made, and I left the matches out for us to use until he could get home to tell me where he had hidden the lighter.

That’s where I lost it. When I asked him where he’d put it, when he got home from work. He insisted it was in a really easy place and opened a random cupboard and dug behind a lot of stuff to get it out. I just looked at him and I admit, I got kind of bitchy.

I just said, “There was no call for this. Had I not had matches, your solution would have made us all late, or breakfast-less this morning.” (We don’t use dry cereal, we're out of bread, and hot cooked cereal was all I had on hand.) He started in about how SHE knew better, the day before, and this way, SHE could not do it.

I said, “I know you love her, but I feel this is an example of one of the many reasons we are not a good home for her now. That was uncalled for in my opinion, and it inconvenienced all of us this morning. I am not going to try to change your mind. We used the matches I had buried in the pantry and I have bought her more lighters.”

And I walked away back into my office. He continued to sputter but I just didn’t hang around to listen. I know she should not have used the kitchen lighter if he said not to. I haven't told her it was okay to go against Dad's rules. I just showed her where we keep those matches, and bought lighters for her.

If I'm off base here in how I handled it, I'm open to suggestions.

I can only deal with one sick person at a time. (and sometimes I'm the only sick person I can handle!) But this is why she needs to go to the sober home (or somewhere). She is doing really well and is very positive. To stay here is to invite repeated, constant conflict like that little episode. If his methods had only affected her, it would have been one thing, but I’m a tad sick of being affected by his micromanagement of everyone else’s life in addition to his own.

And to his credit, this is the same guy, who when he found out she wanted to play with an old juicer we had and make some juice, bought her a huge bag of apples and a huge bag of carrots.

I don’t understand him and I don’t need to. He’s a good man, with some problems. (Maybe related to being the son of an alcoholic who on at least a few occasions, beat the crap out of him?) We all have problems. I’m crazy in my own way too.

What I’ve tried to do in recent years (after we nearly divorced and I decided to try yet again to honor my vows, in sickness (mental) and in health) is tell him that I’m going to have to be treated with respect in order for it to work. I speak up, like I did today, when I feel that I’m not being treated with respect. Other than that, I try to get along, try to aim for giving 100% or more to the relationship, try to act in a respectful manner to him, and live my own life and try to fit in time to do the things that bring me happiness. I try to remember not to try to change him. That would be futile. I am trying to change my responses. That seems more productive. We’re doing better than we were five years ago, but we have incidents like this (more often than I like).

Whatever. I’m going to focus on the fact that she is doing well, my work schedule has permitted me to be of some assistance to her this week (that's the positive side of my current business slump!), she is going to the sober home this weekend, and for now, I’m very grateful for all of it!

Last night, I sat in my office working and straightening up after the day, and listened to the “music” coming from upstairs. My daughters were catching up on each other’s day, laughing, talking excitedly, and I just sat here and soaked it up. Couldn’t hear what they were saying – it’s far enough away that it's just music to me, different low even tones, sudden bursts of higher phrases, and giggles interspersed. I loved it!

I AM HOPEFUL! And I'm continuing to pray for "mine" and "yours"! May He bless each of us, and especially, each of our addicts, today, in an unmistakable and "God thing" kind of way!

(sorry for the long post.... if you stuck with me this long, hugs to you!!)

Monday, August 17, 2009


She is tired, but happy. They released her at 1:30 AM, I think, and two friends with multiple years of recovery met her in the jail lobby and took her for a veggie burger and then brought her home around 3 AM.

First order of business, happy hugs.

Second order of business, hair dye and toe nail polish... and a long shower!

At 8 AM, she and Sister met her Boyfriend at Starbux for a quick hug.....

And a coffee fix.

And then Boyfriend went back home, and she and I went to take care of some business. (This was the only almost-violation of probation's "no contact" order they plan. Probation said "contact inside NA meetings" and "public get togethers such as coffee or meals before or after NA meetings", was fine, so they will be at a lot of meetings for the next 30 days. Not a bad thing. Boyfriend reiterated to her he was not willing to push this. He kept telling her, "I'm waiting for you, you're worth it.")

I was her wheels..... and she chose her business to tackle for the day. She saw Milton (rehab counselor) for a hug and some direction. She went to Great Escape (a program that had told her, in jail, that they could facilitate admission to a residential treatment) and is weighing options for one or two. She has wanted to get in the Villa (women only) and concentrate on her recovery without the distraction that seems to come with co-ed programs. She is considering another one that is co-ed, if she can't get in the Villa.

The only frustrating part was going to Mental Health. It was huge for her to decide to go back on medication for her bipolar disorder while she was in jail. It leveled her mania and really helped her sleep regularly and normal amounts (instead of being up for five days straight, manic, and sleeping for a day or two, depressed).

Today she followed the instructions on her discharge sheet from the mental health worker in jail, and went to the officer of the day, to get her medications and sign up for whatever they wanted her to do for treatment.

An obviously disgruntled employee barked out a few questions, told her that "all they do is drug you up in jail whether you need it or not, for population control", and that he thought she was fine without the Seroquel (which was NOT either of the two medications she had been taking in jail). He then said that as far as he was concerned, she didn't qualify for treatment. With that he slammed a drawer, stood up and showed us the door.

She said "Thank you and have a great day."

And then cried in the elevator. She considered 5150-ing herself to the ETS unit of the psychiatric hospital so that she could get her meds. This guy would not listen to me when I told him, "please, she is homeless, jobless, assetless, and now getting manicy due to having missed her 4:30 AM jail meds". He had no idea who I was, just "her ride". He had no idea she was staying briefly with us. It was just over. And I had paid the fee on her last visit there, six plus months ago, that was supposed to cover her mental health expenses/treatment for a year.

She calmed herself down in the car, and asked me if we could visit a different location and a different officer of the day tomorrow. And could she please go home and take a nap, and go to a meeting tonight.

The nap idea sounded good, so we both crashed for a little while.

So that's what she's doing today, her first day out. Tomorrow, I'll drive her to check in with probation and she's going to see if probation will assist in getting her into any of the treatment places. If not, her boyfriend is offering to pay a huge portion of it. Enough to get her through to the portion that she begins working and paying her way. We may assist a bit, as its actually cheaper than sober home charges, and we had planned to help a little until she had steady income.

We're trying to stay out of the way, assist with rides, and keep our mouths shut, and not volunteer our two cents' worth. She has to work this out for herself.

I am proud of her efforts and her determination today. I hope she is able to work out the Mental Health issue. One of the friends who picked her up from jail is taking her Wednesday to try to get her on MSI, public health coverage, and that may also be of assistance for her psychiatric meds. I don't know....She'll just have to see what she can do.

I remain hopeful!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stress Reduction - My Friday 55

I’m feeling restless; my thoughts are somewhat scattered.

Self talk: “Breathe deeply, move on to something constructive!”

I enter my office with a fresh steaming mug. Bingo! Today’s the day. I will clean this office, top to bottom, before the day is done.

I’ll create order in at least this one part of my life!

I've noticed I tend to attempt to clean something when I get too "thinky" about things. Creating order amongst some of my clutter seems to help me focus on positive progress.

My husband and I are a little alike in that respect. In a former life, as an executive business man type, he would occasionally lose his job. Oddly, this happened because he did his job too well! He was in brand management. He would be hired to handle several product brands, and he would dream up a magical Five Year Plan that would pretty much orchestrate the products' appearance, price, advertising, coupons, TV commercials, special deals to grocery stores, etc.

Once he submitted that Five Year Plan, it seemed to me like he'd become expendible.... I don't know that that was the reason, but he'd find himself unemployed, he'd find a new brand management position, and we'd move again. Like every two years, sometimes.

The day he got fired, he'd always come home and do two things: Tape down the light in the refrigerator so it would not turn on, and clean the garage. I'd come home from whereever, walk in the kitchen to put groceries away or make a snack for the girls after school, and open the fridge and BAM. I knew. It was just our little joke; "Lean times are coming, let's turn out some lights around here!" I always knew where to find him after I found that light taped down. He would be in the garage, cleaning, reorganizing, throwing stuff away, attempting to create order in his world which had just been turned upside down.

He left brand management years ago, and now is a courier driving a delivery truck in what he calls The Land of Lost Packages. He makes a fraction of the paycheck he once had, but for his part time hours, he gets benefits and that is GOLD to me. Our garage isn't getting cleaned out very often these days. I'll take the part time hours and the benefits and living in one place for a long time....

I'm grateful that even with this stinking economy, I've found that light on every time I've opened the fridge. And today, I made my office a place of neatness and order. It won't last, but for right now, I like it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Five Days

Disclaimer: Rambling and long….and a bit “down” in spots….Sorry! Any ESH you might think applicable would be gratefully accepted!

I’m not visiting this Friday, because she gets out next Sunday night/Monday morning. So last Friday was the last visit.

Last time hustling madly to get out the door.

Last time remembering to pack toilet paper….. (hey, we are in financial distress here in California – they can’t afford to keep paper in the lobby potty, apparently.)

Last time fighting the 91West traffic at 10:40 AM. And wondering why there is such a mess at that time of morning!

Last time getting “carded” to get in….. twice….

Last time putting money on her books. We’re so tight around here with this stinking economy that I was never able to put much on her books, and I really didn’t think it was up to me/us to keep her comfy in there….

But we did keep her in lukewarm instant coffee! And she thanked us every time she saw us.

Last time showing the newbie parents where the lockers are, which way to face going up in the elevator so that they don’t get trampled when the back door opens, which way to go when getting off the elevator, etc…..

Last time fighting the tears on the ride back down to the lobby.

Last time dealing with one of my personal phobias (parking garages…. Think earthquake!) while still emotional and on edge already from the visitation process.

Last time…… I hope and pray.

She speaks to me and Sister with enthusiasm, alternating with tears. She is so full of plans and promises. She is taking direction from several counselors inside, and wants to go to a county-funded treatment center. She finally thinks she’s finding answers to her counselor/friend/mentor Milton’s eternal question: "Whatcha gonna do different this time?!" She has several answers, actually, and one of them is that she thinks she didn’t do the “God thing” right until this time. She’s “spending a lot of time praying”.

I’m making all the appropriate responses to that….. But I sometimes feel sort of hypocritical when I do. I pray for my daughter. I pray for your child too. And your husband, your wife…. I pray for the loved ones of all those I have met here in this blogging community, who are fighting addictions of any kind. I hope my prayers are heard. I hope that what I’m pleading for comes to pass. I think, every now and then, about how I was taught that if I’m asking for Him to do something that is His will, that it will come to pass…..and how could it not be His will for an addict to get clean and stay clean, find Him, find His help/love/peace…..?

so it should come to be.

Makes perfect sense.

Doesn’t always work that way.

Is it a case of “It is what it is?”

I read how some of you are so very trusting. So able to let go. So absolutely certain that God will take care of your child. And right there, where it counts, I flounder. I don’t trust that He will do that. I beg that He will.

Or, more accurately, I beg that He will not take her, or let her die, whatever…. before she finds her way back to Him. Not before she grows old, not before she gives me grandkids, not before she is happily married, employed, independent, etc. Please don’t take her before she finds her way back to You.

That’s all I can really seem to ask for, for my daughter.

I have Step One nailed. I’ve said that before. I know, without any doubt, that I AM POWERLESS in this situation.

And that what will be, will be.

But I don’t trust that He will keep her safe.

I don’t think that I can keep her safe. I don’t think that she can.

But I am not certain that He will.

When your child is found lifeless in a storage unit somewhere with a needle hanging out of her arm, like one of my daughter’s friends was two years ago, what is the answer for the brokenhearted mom who was trusting Him to keep her beloved daughter safe? I’ve watched that mom go from a strong, positive, faith-filled mom, to a shadow of herself. She goes nowhere now. She feels betrayed. She is unable to pray. She is going through the motions of living, in a minimal way, and I have no answers for her. No one does.

I’ve learned a lot in Alanon. I’ve learned a lot in books I’ve read. I’m getting the parts about boundaries, taking care of me, I deserve a life, and I deserve serenity, and she has to do this for herself, and she needs to do this for herself, and she will be better for having done this for herself….and I can’t do it for her. I get all that.

But bottom line, for now, I’m just still back here with HOPE. (and a fair amount of terror!)

I don’t have faith. But I have HOPE. And I will have HOPE until the day she breathes her last breath. I envy some of you your faith, sometimes.

Other times I just acknowledge that this just may not work out any way except excruciatingly painful for me for the rest of my life. I may lose her.

Into everyone’s life, there comes some Big Sads. I have so many Big Glads. I’ve been so fortunate. I still have both parents, have never had cancer, have been married for 30+ years (not entirely happily, but we’re a work in progress, I guess), I have pretty decent health, I have vision, I can hear….I have not lost either daughter to a car accident or illness or drowning….

Maybe I need to just accept that that gut wrenching sorrow is a normal part of life. Some of us will lose our kids before we die.

(And yes, maybe she’ll lose me. None of us are promised tomorrow.)

I think I’d throw away all I have, if I could know that by doing so, I could be certain my daughters would be sober, safe, content.

I don’t care if they are super successful in the materialistic sense of the word. But if they can live independently and with honor and integrity….and know a sense of peace? I’d say they were really successful. I’d be so grateful.

If my daughter doesn’t learn how to handle the bumps in the road of life without using, I likely will indeed lose her.

I will continue praying (begging), for your addicts and for my addict, and I HOPE my prayers are heard. It means a lot to me when others pray for my daughter….I hope their prayers are heard too. The low self-esteem part of my brain tells me “maybe He’ll listen to them, if not to you.” (Stinkin' thinkin', I know.)

But with all this top of mind, I try to savor the good moments, file away her laughter, her smile, her touch, in my heart. Because my begging and my hope may not be enough.

I’m sorry for the “down” post. This has been bothering me for so so long. I’m so tired of being terrified that my daughter will be the next one found in the storage unit. She almost died several times before (the last time, right before her most recent arrest) and had her boyfriend not realized her breathing had slowed so dramatically, and had he not thrown her bodily into a cold shower and then literally kept her awake, talking and walking the next few hours, I’m not sure she’d be with us today. That was a huge turning point for him. It’s just another good story for her.

I will forever be grateful that he was alert enough to realize what had happened, and oddly, I am not at all upset that he was using with her. She was going to use. There is no point in getting pissed that he was using with her. I’m so glad he’s sober now. I’ve told him repeatedly, and he makes promises of course, not to let her bring him down. I think he’s a bit stronger than she is. Time will tell.

They both had seven months clean, last Sunday.

Bottom line, I’m going to shut up and get back to work. Sorry for the length of this post, the disjointed nature of it, and the display of abject terror!

I’m still praying…. For my addict, for yours…. And hoping…. Thank you for your prayers!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ten Days

So DD2's plans for Boyfriend and Sister (DD1) and mom (me) to come and meet her at 1 AM and have pancakes at Norm's upon her release....

Got squashed.

Probation-1 (Boyfriend's) told him that she talked to Probation-2 (hers) and they want them on a "no contact" order for 30 days, to see if my daughter will "fly right" during that time. Lots of meetings, getting established in sober home, getting in touch with job placement person who visits jail and formed a relationship with her, lots of meetings, some job interviews, some clean tests, and did I mention, lots of meetings?

We're already dreading eagerly looking forward to the 4:30 AM visit that first week, pounding on the door, "Orange County PD, open up!" followed by chaos with our barking dogs and a quick confirmation by the police officer and the probation officer that she is indeed here, in her own bed. Alone.

Good times!

She wrote me that Boyfriend told her he will not go against Probation. Good on him! He told me "We've come this far; I don't want to screw it up now!"

Probation says they can see each other at meetings and talk on phone, etc. I think the "lots of meetings" thing will be easy for her to talk herself into.

She wrote in the letter I received today, "I am surprisingly okay with Probation's decision and our decision to obey it. I love him even more for us doing what we are supposed to do and following the rules. Please tell him I said that too...."

She's worked her first and second step by mail with sponsor. She's anxious to continue on the outside. It will be a busy week. We are letting her come home for about four days. Those days will include her going through her bins in garage to organize her stuff and get packed for sober home, visits to sober homes (and reservation placed for Friday night at the one she finds with a bed open), an eye exam/contacts, a visit to Probation, a visit to food stamps office, a visit to Mental Health office, filling her psych meds prescription, and time to hang out with Sister and pat her dog and go to lots of meetings. I expect my house line to melt from overuse when she starts calling her friends in program.

If she calls anyone else, that's on her. I'm just glad my home office has ten lines coming in here - I should still be able to run my business!

I took a picture of the back of her letter. Even though the no contact order has sort of squashed the idea of the pancake breakfast at Norms with Boyfriend, Boyfriend's mom, and me and Sister.... She still wants to go with just me and Sister.

(click pix to embiggen)
Then look at the comment about the dates on the milk cartons. I had to explain it to my husband (that they got cartons of milk with meals), but I thought it was kinda cute.

"so the date on the milk cartons, the expiration, is AFTER I go home :) "

We're anticipating lots of hugs. And lots of joy. And lots of tension.

The spinning in our souls has already begun. I can't wait to see her, hug her, hold her close, and hear her laughing with her sister upstairs. We've stocked up on peanut butter/jelly, pretzels, raspberry chocolates, shampoo, and other things that she loves/might help her in her sober home.

We've locked up the cameras and small valuables. Even my cheapie little knock-off ipod that I got to replace the real Ipod she stole from me.

What a frickin' comedy of contrasts.

I have cried more in the last four months than I thought was possible. I have slept more than I ever thought I needed to. I still feel like horse poop. I was exhausted emotionally and figuratively when she went in, even though she didn't live here at the time and had been sober, in a sober home, for several months before her case ended and she was sentenced.

I am so proud she went in sober. I can't wait to attend a chip meeting with her. (I only go if she invites me, but she almost always remembers to invite Sister and I.)

I went to see her in jail every Friday because some part of me feels it was the right thing to do (scripturally, and I was raised on extremely heavy doses of scripture), I have written letters, I have accepted one collect call weekly. I have tried to reach out and be supportive and demonstrate that I love her, even if she cannot live with me full time. I know, these are things I wanted to do.

I have watched my husband do nothing except occasionally talk to her on the phone, after which she would cry. I can't fix that...... deep breath.......

He did at least contribute $5.00 a week for the last two months, towards her books. I have to stuff down some resentment because I feel that was the easy thing to do. He made a promise to her years ago that he would never visit her if she ended up in jail. He says he's keeping that promise to teach consequences. Funny, it's awfully convenient to play it that way. He promised she could never come home again, either..... and he brought her home over and over. Each time I objected because I don't think we are a healthy place for her, psychologically, despite loving her more than my next breath. Each time, I let him because I never wanted to face him over a coffin and hear that it was my fault.

(He promised me we'd never have four dogs again and we now have five......sigh. I don't have a huge problem with the dogs, believe me. It's the number of dogs! principle! )

But the promise-breaking that would require him to give up 3-4 hours of his time, and see his daughter behind glass..... nah, ain't gonna break that one. Whatever, moving on..... (trying to anyway!) Yes, I'm a bit of a bitch. Betcha didn't know that about me.

I have a to-do list a mile long of things I need to do in my own life and I haven't made much progress. I'm trying very hard to let go, and let her walk her road. It's not my road. It's hers. I am scared shitless so hopeful that she will do well.
In the meantime, I'm continuing to work on my own stuff.....

I'm working in my garden, trying to exercise often, run my businesses well, go to Alanon, and sneak up to my sewing/quilting room whenever possible.

Ten days!