Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The hard work begins

Checking in.... not much time to write because this week is really the busy week. Last week was wonderful, and not as stressful. This week has been a long, time-consuming, and serenity-busting effort to get her where she needs to be to cut through a tremendous amount of bureaucratic horse puckey red tape.

Apparently, despite the fact that she filed every form known to man relating to warrants, and despite the fact that her counselor in prison stated there were no warrants, and despite the fact that she rode the bus home a free woman, and despite the fact that parole says she is not "wanted".....

Probation still wants her for two violations (missing an appointment, and picking up new charges - the ones that resulted in the prison time). DD2 even found paperwork (minutes, online) from her felony settlement hearing that show she signed for all cases to run concurrently and for there to be no warrants or holds when she completed prison term. The probation office (the boss of her probation officer) still wants this persued.

She has kept her cool through all of this. Her probation officer doesn't want her on her caseload. Budget cuts are keeping her caseload at a crushing level and she just doesn't need more to keep tabs on. She has basically told my daughter what to do, what to file, where to file it, and told her that she will not arrest her at this time. She wants her to keep on doing what she's doing. She is taking her meds, looking for work, registering for her college class, going to court to meet with judge, etc. Her officer said she is writing a report summarizing everything and asking that the case for those two violations be dismissed.

LeBoyfriend's and his brother's probation officer isn't so accommodating. The boys are in jail, and could stay there for 60-120 days. And their officer is fine with that.

While she was trotting around the courthouse getting signatures and basically serving the DA notice that she has an appointment with the judge to settle this, five different court offices said, "what the heck - we don't see anything here that you need to be doing this for."

And yet, the boys, who had the same charges, same case and same sentence as she, are in jail. They may go back to prison over this. The DA could apparently decide to do the same to my daughter.

This comes under that lovely heading of Consequences, but I have not mentioned that out loud. This whole process can be serving to reinforce to them that they really want to leave this behind and work on their recovery.

In the meantime, against this backdrop she has gone on three interviews, and gotten a job offer. She is going out "in the field" on this job tomorrow at the boss's invitation, to be sure she wants to do it. Apparently the job is hers if she observes for an afternoon and wants the work. It's a marketing position that she thinks she would enjoy.

She's taking her meds. She's running miles every day. She's waiting for an email that says she can complete the registration process for the college class. She's making a quilt for Le Boyfriend for Christmas (which may be celebrated in March!). She's going to meetings. She's staying positive (though very manic at times, with this recent court issue). She's gotten a job and tested clean today for probation.

Her officer basically told her, "I'm going to bat for you. It may not work. But never the less, don't "f#%k me over, and abscond or get loaded, because I'll send you away for years." And she would!

We'll know more after we find out if the boys get given more time, and we'll know more after she sees the judge on the 27th. In the meantime, she's going to "keep doing the next right thing" (her words).

She says she is going to get going with this job, stay on her meds and stay healthy, and write LeBoyfriend lots of letters. She asked me to come with her for the Friday night meeting at the Crossing Church this week. It's a special comedy show for the first half. Then she'll head to her Women's 12-step meeting and I'll head to a Coda meeting. Next week should be calmer with her working daily and things settling into place.

We are grateful beyond words for this little interlude. We're soaking up the good times, letting her handle everything she can on her own, and stepping in to provide transportation when the bus isn't going where she needs to be. I've not reminded her about her meds, but I see her taking them. She gets a bit frantic at times but usually can self-calm, or be reassured that God is handling this just like He thinks would be best for her.

Thought for today, that the Crossing Church posted on the LifeLines facebook page:
Recovery is a journey between two stations. One station represents total chaos, and the other represents total serenity. What is important is not where you are, but what direction you are facing.

Prayers for all our children and families continue!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

"T -2"

Two days and she’ll be home. Her room is ready. Clean sheets, vacuumed, dusted….

The room had become a junk closet of sorts, over the past couple of years. In the last month or so, the room has regurgitated all over the house, a lot of junk has been thrown away, the house contents have shifted and resettled with a contented sigh, and I swear, even her dog knows she’s coming home.

Every time her little Shiba Inu walks past her door, she looks in expectantly and then visibly deflates when she doesn’t find her there. Each time the front door opens, she perks up, runs for it and then sort of yawns when she sees it’s just us…. And goes back to her spot by the sofa to snooze. I don’t know how she knows that her owner is on the way home, but she does!

They’ve changed my daughter’s medications once again. This time I think we have a winner. I’m not sure of the exact cocktail, but the recent addition of Lamictal has made a startling improvement. And the best part of that improvement is that DD2 seems to be appreciative of the results. She isn’t feeling the highs and lows of her bipolar cycles as sharply as she usually does.

We still have our NAMI book/resources handy and remain cognizant that medication compliance is a huge concern. Only she can decide if it is important to her.

She will board a bus Saturday morning. She swiped plastic bags from the kitchen during her last few working days, to haul her Bibles and her recovery books home in. I hope that works, but if not, maybe she can buy a bag along the way with her “gate money”. I have no idea what’s available in a bus station, but it seems like a bag dispenser would be a good idea. She will ride all day. And at 7:40 pm (if they get her to the starting point on time!), she will be home.

We’ll all three be waiting with bear hugs. :)

After the weekend, she starts the hard work of rebuilding her life. Parole meetings, mental health meetings, job search, NA/AA meetings, church, and hopefully some fun along the way with her sister and her sober girlfriends, all of whom are anxious to have her back.

I cannot wait to hug her and hear her voice and feel the energy she brings to our household. I’m scared. Apparently, that’s 100% normal! I am so very grateful for this opportunity to make more memories with her and to enable her to seek her continued recovery, on the way to stepping out there on her own successfully.

We plan to sit down regularly to listen to her concerns and plans, and after Christmas, she/we will decide if she may be staying longer (whether she has gotten a job she can actually reach easily from this house is a huge factor in that, and she is considering enrolling for a class or two), or if she might be moving to a recovery home, etc.

We have zero expectations, much hope, and boundaries.

(and peanut butter, coffee and hazelnut creamer!) We’re ready!

Prayers continue for all our families and beloved children!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

We have a plan, man.... with boundaries....

We’ve got options. We’ve got ideas. We’ve got additional information regarding her health issues. We’ve got a daughter alluding to willingness (that is yet to be proven. But it’s a start.).

We’ve even got back up.

All this to say, DD2 will be joining our household again in December for sure.

We’re crazy, I’m well aware (all of us in this house)….but hopefully we’re harmless. I know of at least two persons in our blogging community who would think we need to have our heads examined. That’s okay.

My oldest daughter and my husband initially wished to do this, and though I continue to be concerned that we are not the best place for her, we have jointly decided to at least seriously try it. We’ve weighed the advice and opinions of a wide range of voices.

What it all boiled down to, was whether letting her come here would enable recovery, as opposed to all sorts of other enabling (not good).

She paroles on December 4th. (Hopefully. Right now, she has a “hold”, but no warrants that can be found by her old probation officer, or the online info sites…if the "hold" is still in place when she is released, she’ll get transferred to the OC jail and released after a judge puts two and two together and gets “no warrants.” She hates the thought of that, but on the flip side, is delighting in the thought that they would bus her down here and she’d still get the full amount of “gate” money from parole when she meets with them…. Basically they’d have bought her fare home.)

We’ll meet the bus when/if she gets to O.C., or we will pick her up from the local jail after the red tape gets cut. She may stay with us for December, and during that time, she will “do what she has to do” per parole. Parole is insisting on mandatory mental health treatment, medications, doctor appointments, meetings, job search, etc.

Benefits of staying here will include a fridge full of healthy food, low rent!, a safe home, a drug free environment, the occasional ride, and a lot of love. There are negatives, and she will have to weigh things out.

We don’t have to try to map out her life for her. That’s not our business. Parole is laying down the rules and it’s up to her to follow them and accomplish what they want. If we can give rides, within the confines of our own work schedules, we will. I work from my home, full time, but it’s very adaptable and I can often be away for a bit, and make that up later. If not, we’ll get her to the bus stop (nearest one is three miles away).

Big issue: She has a no contact order with Le Boyfriend for the duration of parole: 13 months. This makes absolutely no sense to me, and is, in my opinion, the one thing that could most likely trigger a relapse for her. He, she, and his brother were arrested together. They would normally all be under a no contact order, however, he and the brother may get to live together at their family’s home, because they are blood relatives. She and they are not supposed to have contact outside of public meetings (NA/AA), or church.

(Don’t think getting married by proxy hasn’t occurred to them to circumvent this, but as yet, they’re not investigating it.)

My personal opinion is that if they are going to go down in flames (relapse together), that’s what they’re going to do. Putting that kind of restriction on them is just going to make getting together that much more attractive. It’s human nature. And if they are caught together (even doing something as innocent as grabbing coffee at a Starbucks right next to a meeting) it’s twelve months prison automatically for violating, and then they start the 13 months parole over again.

Stupid, unnecessary, but it is, what it is! She can deal with it, 13 months, or 25 months, her choice! (her consequences!)

Back to the “living with us” issue
: We’ve tried leaving her “out there” to do it on her own. In the past decade, we’ve done that so often we can’t even count all of the occasions. And it did not ever result in her “getting” it. Her mania surfaced, she made impulsive decisions, she had a drink, she used, she nearly died, she got arrested.

Every single time.

She has occasionally lasted a couple months in a sober home environment.

We’ve tried having her here with us. There have been times when she came home to “kick it” and after going through detox, she couldn’t take it and she left. And the conclusion (on those occasions) was the same. She managed to live long enough to get arrested. (Once was after that memorial day where she walked through the front window.)

But there have been times when she came here, and she got significant clean time under her belt. The only time, in fact, that she has ever gotten any significant clean time was while living here.

In particular, after one lengthy stent in jail, she came here, took her medications, went to mental health counseling appointments, got a job, bought a car from us, worked full time, was an awesome sponsee and an awesome sponsor of several, and she came within one week of getting her two year chip. This particular extended season of sobriety is what fuels my husband and my oldest daughter’s desire to allow her to try working on her recovery here again.

To this day, I don’t know what made her relapse, and really, it isn’t important. It is her business.

But what if she could get that long again? Or longer? What if she could start out with us, and then successfully move out on her own? My husband mentions this, and then reminds himself and me that she’s done best here in the past, and then alternately reminds me that nothing really works. We’re nothing if not contradictory!

My husband has continued to remind her of the negatives of living with us. He wants her here, but he wants her to be aware that there are boundaries. She continues to request that she be permitted to parole home.

The letters I’m getting from her are clearly thought out. Her handwriting is precise, controlled, and the effectiveness of her medications is obvious. Medication compliance is going to be a condition of her parole. She seems to be significantly more cognizant of the importance of her medications for her bipolar illness. She mentions wanting to stay sober, get a job, go on walks with her sister, go out with her sister for movies or shows, go to church, go to meetings, etc.

It is possible we would be welcoming home the daughter who almost got two years. It is possible that we could give her an environment of encouragement and unconditional love, but with our own boundaries in place.

We will not live with drugs or smoking.

We will not live with theft.

We charge rent!

We will not knowingly participate in deceiving parole.
(Le Boyfriend will not be here if she is here. Not to do odd construction jobs for us, and not for family dinners.)

If she can be here and contribute to the household in positive ways, and we can enable her to more easily seek her own recovery and she uses this time to rebuild her life in a positive fashion, however she sees fit, then perhaps we can do this for a time.

It will be up to her. During December, she will get a chance to decide what she wants to do. After the ‘honeymoon period’, when the chips are down and things get monotonous, and the WORK of recovery is staring her in the face, if she wants to stay, and is in agreement as to respecting our boundaries, then perhaps we can continue to give it a go. Frequent, open, honest discussion is going to be necessary.

The end of the honeymoon period concerns me, because right now she has a rosy memory of living here. She has forgotten the chaos of Dad’s five dogs (some of whom do not get along and require strategic rotation in and out of areas of the house), and she’s forgotten things like the emotional hits of living in close proximity as a family. It can be good. And it can be hurtful. I think this is true of any family to some extent. Sometimes with us, it seems a bit more critical.

For example, she’s forgotten that every single night, you can’t even speak to each other in the kitchen or bang pots and pans because Dad is 20 feet away in the den area watching the news (not once, but several episodes, along with other taped shows he records), and he will snap his fingers and bark “keep it down!” at anyone who makes noise. Or he turns up the volume to the point that I can’t hear my music or the little TV I’m watching upstairs in my sewing room. One would think watching TV in another location (closed bedroom?) would be an option for him, but it’s not one he uses very often.

We’re a family with more than one person who isn’t as healthy or mature as they should be, emotionally (myself included). And the clashes will come. She needs that honeymoon period to reacquaint herself with this family that LOVES her oh-so-much, but like any family, is not perfect and isn’t always a rosy place to live. She, and we, will need to decide if we want to continue this past December. Clashes at home have been used as an excuse to relapse in the past. Only she can decide if she is going to truly seek recovery.

Our back up? Boy, do we have back up. She will be “on loan” to O.C. Parole, from Riverside Parole, the county that she was arrested in/sentenced from. If she screws up, she loses their permission to live in O.C. and has to move to Riverside and work through the Riverside Parole office for the remainder of the 13 months. If for any reason, circumstances lead us to not be comfortable with these arrangements any longer (plainly stated to me, three times, by the parole officer who came and “inspected us”), all we have to do is call them. She will be transferred back to Riverside parole office, and have to live there (30 miles away). Period. No questions, no negotiations. That would be a difficult step to take, but the option is there.

The opinions expressed by those I have talked this over with have been a little surprising. One treatment specialist of hers that I still talk with now and then, has said in the past that he thinks “the rent is too high” at our house. His comment is directly aimed at the price of her and her dad trying to coexist. And he states categorically that he knows how much she is loved by her dad; he just also knows this family well enough to know this may not be a good idea. He stated it would be up to her, whether or not it would work. He said her Dad’s not going to change; she will have to change how she responds to him. Also, one of her former closest friends (an addict with five years clean time) is skeptical. He thinks she will never “get it”. He no longer speaks/writes to her.

On the flip side, all of the others whom I have talked with about this during our initial consideration, have all been in favor of this trial arrangement, given the boundaries and the backup. These include another AOD counselor, therapist, several parents at my parents-only Alanon meeting, and a blogging parent or two. I feel like we have bounced our thinking off a good variety of other “thinkers”.

I may be scarce(r) in the future in the blogging realm, but will continue to follow blogs and hopefully throw up a post now and then. My DH is committed to helping more this time and will do a significant amount of the driving but I will be busier too. It is time consuming, helping her, even in a healthy fashion! I don’t mind that at all! But, it will be imperative that I take care of me (think Exercise!) and that I have time to get in my happy place and sew a bit. Creating things is just a part of who I am.

We’re looking for a bit of a fresh start church-wise, hoping to find a new church home where we don’t have such a history and one that also has an active Celebrate Recovery program, close to the house. Our financial situation remains tight, due to this supposedly recovering economy, DH’s part-time hours, and my business being about 50% of normal…. We’re not oozing money and can’t afford the time or the gas to drive all over heck’s half acre to get her places and get to church activities too.

It will all work out! In just the manner that it should. It’s in God’s hands, and it’s up to her!

At this point, we’re going to give it an honest try. I think it has to do with that four letter word…..

H O P E!!

Prayers for all our families continue!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back home and settled....

I’m just checking in. I still read blogs daily, and comment here and there. My prayers continue! I am busy with my transcription business and work has actually picked up a little.

I had a long boring post planned.... I scrapped it for this one. Believe it or not, this one is not as long.... Not sure about the boring part!

The night before I was to leave for my trip to Big Sky Country, my dictation system began to fail. I had to call my parents and tell them that the first trip in two years to see them was going to be cancelled. After I hung up from that sad call, I sat in a stupor for a bit, and then started looking for “work arounds”.

Eventually, it dawned on me that the perfectly good voice files still being phoned in by the doctors could be copied over to a flash drive and emailed to me at Mom and Dad’s, and I could distribute them by email, to the ladies that work with me. (Normally they log onto a website and download the work whenever they want it.)

So for a week, my oldest daughter started and finished her day doing just that! She’d copy any dictated voice files and email them to me from a different computer. Then she’d bolt out the door to a day of full time work and night classes at her college and come home and repeat the process before going to bed.

It worked! I called Dad from the airport the next morning and told him I was boarding the original flight plan. I’m sure the airline personnel figured they had a real dingbat in seat 10A. I was grinning from ear to ear, and crying. (I absolutely totally hate to fly – I am terrified of it!)

Despite the rocky start, I had a wonderful week with my parents and all of my business issues were handled on time, without a hitch. I am going back to see my folks in March.

Since coming home, the dictation system has been replaced with a new one (ouch!$$$!). My “peeps” are back to receiving their work when they want it, without waiting for it to be emailed. I named the new system “Mr. Hurrah”. Mr. Hurrah’s first name is “Last.” It is my fervent hope that this is indeed the last dictation system I ever have to purchase. I want to be semi-retired long before this one wears out. Hope springs!

I’m trying to get a fair amount of stuff done before my daughter’s release in December. I want to be able to be of some assistance to her, in a healthy way, without being bogged down in Christmas deadlines, etc. It is a bad time of year for me, emotionally, for many reasons. Our holidays haven’t been merry and bright in years – in fact last Christmas was the saddest and most horrifically stressful I ever remember. (and she was in jail, for Pete’s sake, so one would think it would have been fairly calm!) It culminated in a Christmas Day that was just nightmarish. I had a sense of unreality all day, and there was a fight amongst family members that was of epic proportions. I just realized I can’t remember anything about last Christmas Day except that fight. That is sad.

Anyway, in an effort to take care of ME, I’m eliminating as many of pressures these days as possible. It’s just not worth it, and life is too short! Simple may prove to be way better, for us, year round! I hope we can focus on only the reason for the celebratory seasons or events in our lives, and focus on the love we share as a family. I’m trying to take the time to jot down a gratitude list every morning and that helps!

My project for the crisis centers that my parents work with is continuing – my friendship group (which now also includes my sister in SC and my dad, bless his heart!) has made about 20 quilts. The women and children who find themselves at the centers will hopefully be a little warmer (hearts and bodies!) as the cold weather approaches. I have found this very personally satisfying and who knows if I’ll ever have another opportunity to work on a project with my sister and my dad, that means so much to Dad and Mom, especially! I’m looking forward to some of my own projects after this – We are only two quilts away from finishing the crisis center project.

(my dad, ironing the last square of a "string" quilt that he and I made entirely from scraps, while I was there)

(here Dad puts the last square in line on the floor.... and then we sewed them all together!)

(We stood on the front porch in a brisk wind to get this picture of the finished quilt top. I'll quilt it with batting and backing next week. I think we did pretty well!!)

Life is good! I continue to read, study, seek, learn, and hope! We (DH, DD1 and I) have some major decisions to make as a family, and we’re taking our time, weighing things, getting input from the professionals and other parents, and at this point, using “Dad and Mom’s” ( method of backing up from conflicting opinions until we reach a point or boundary on which we can agree.

The decisions we come to may seem ‘spot on’ to some, and may seem all wrong to others. We have to decide what our family is comfortable doing at this time. We have to decide from what point we can present a united front. And we have to decide from what point we could potentially face each other over a coffin and say with confidence, “after everything was considered and weighed, we did the best we could do to be there for her in a healthy fashion, and we will see her again.”

Finding those points is very difficult for us, because we would do things very differently if it were just me handling the decisions, or just my husband. It’s funny how far apart we are in our thinking. We’ll get it all figured out in good time. Our oldest daughter is finishing up her last semester of paralegal studies and is looking forward to some Sister Time.

Right now, I haven’t anything really important or very helpful to offer in a post. Just FYI, I’m getting awfully tired of the requests from treatment centers to post their ad on my blog. My opinion of treatment centers in general isn’t that great, so this isn’t well received. Like some of you guys, I’m still waiting for the parents’ rehab center to open. I’d like healthy and fairly expensive food choices, meditation classes, massage therapy, yoga classes, group therapy, recreational therapy, and an enforced lights out each evening, etc. Paid for by wallets other than my own, thank you! Sigh.

Praying for peace in our hearts and recovery for our families….

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Big Sky Country

I am in Wyoming this week, working from my parents' home. Mom and Dad are pampering me and I'm enjoying chickens, horses, clean air, big skies and yesterday I heard thunder for the first time in years. (We don't get thunderstorm very often in SoCal!)

A 'mare's tail' rain cloud moving through....

I've needed the chance to come and see them. It's been two years, and I do not intend to let it go that long again! I will not let my situation at home interfere with something this important: spending time with my parents!

I will be home next week. In the meantime, I'm praying for all of us, and will try to make the rounds and catch up with everyone! We've had a bit of concerning news about my daughter and are contemplating what we will and won't offer her upon her release. Again, it's that fine line between enabling recovery, or enabling her to not face her own responsibilities. More thoughts on that later.

I am so filled with gratitude for the opportunity to spend time with Mom and Dad. That's at the top of a full, grateful heart today. :)
These pictures loaded "small", but hopefully you can click and 'embiggen' them to see them better. It's so pretty here!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A voice from our past....

You'll probably recall the story of a young man I call my "son" and how he has moved back to live with his folks and is working in 'Bama.... (I'll call him S again, short for Son. His name actually starts with a P, but what the heck!)

He says he's relishing making up for lost time, doing normal little family things like barbequing for his parents (I called him the Master of our Grill!) and generally settling in.

I got an email from him today. A little background: He is the youngest of five siblings. Large span of years between the sibs. His oldest sister's daughter is his niece, but was only a little younger than him. This older sister is alcoholic and while he lived with us, she got sober and now is a certified alcohol and drug counselor! Her daughter R is the niece, and for many years, R resented her mother's lifestyle and hated everything about it. Then she ended up, while S lived with us, embracing all of it. Drugs, alcohol, sex, mahem..... R did it all.

We reached out to her, as did S and my daughter (who was on her way to two years clean at the time). She occasionally visited, but mostly, she would call S when she was in trouble, and he would attempt to act in an uncle-like fashion. Eventually, S detached. Really, completely, detached.

R went on to have twin baby girls with her boyfriend and continued using, with sporatic periods of sobriety.

Fast forward to today. I get an email from S today, and he was forwarding an email from R, that R wanted me to send to my daughter in prison. I cried when I read it because I've been asking him how R was doing for several years now. Finally.... We get some good news (warning: copy/pasted from her email, including the occasional F-bomb):

hey girl! long time no see. how are you holding up? i miss you alot, you know, you and "S" did alot for me. you two were there when no one else was and that means alot. i miss rollin around in your ride all cracked out on coffee blasting the radio. i will never forget those times. i love you!

i wanted to write you because i want you to know that you mean alot to me and let you know where i'm at. As you know i've had some rocky roads to travel, and sadly i had to make it as bad for myself as i could to get where I’m at today.

i have a little over three months clean and sober. it's a complete miracle and i couldn’t of done it if i didn’t take myself to that point of absolute and complete hopelessness. you know i have twin girls right? well i preferred to go to motels, get abused, and get fucked off than to take care of my own daughters. i basically abandoned them, i left them with their other grandmother. i never came back. i was literally on the street and worthless. i never thought i would be that person and i despised myself. i had nothing and no one.. not even my own girls. because of my doing i was not allowed to see them. of course it was his fault or your fault or their fault, i couldn’t accept that i became the exact thing i grew up resenting and hating.

even after all i had done to my family they were there for me when i finally surrendered. i had taken my last beating and i was on a street corner with a pillow case of clothes and a blanket. i called "S" because i had nothing and i needed help. he couldnt do anything for me at the time but i just remeber how i was crying about tyler and it was his fault again but "S" didn’t feed into it. he didn’t give me sympathy so i hung up on him.

i think its funny now but i was so pist off. didnt he know who i was? my mom and her boyfriend who usually give in, didn’t budge this time either. i couldn’t believe it, this time i really had to do something and i had to mean it.

so i went to detox and i went to treatment. i did relapse in treatment after i had 60 days, someone had heroin and i took some without thinking twice. the next day i wanted to die the shame was so bad. i came clean immediately though and surprisingly i had no consequences. That’s not who i am! i don’t want to be that person and live like that ever again! and the worst part of it is, i didn’t even shoot it.. i fuckin snorted it! how sick and sad that makes me feel when i think about it. I’m insane!

but now I’m out of treatment. and for the first time in my life i am satisfied with my life just the way it is right now. I’m trying to go back to school, i have a strong foothold in na aa ca whatever i can get. i don’t live with my daughters which does tear me up, but their other grandmother is taking care of them till i can and they come spend the weekend all the time with me. this is the longest 100% honest clean time I’ve ever had, and this is also the first time i wanted it.

I’m trying really hard to do whatever it takes to make it work this time. i just want you to know i thought i was the most hopeless of all dope fiends really, but now there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. i also want you to know i haven’t forgotten about you, i couldn’t. if you need anything i’m here. i love you xoxo!!


As you can imagine, my husband and I were delighted to read this. I mailed a copy to my daughter right away.

I'm not sure what R meant by her family "was there for her", because it sounds like what they did was detach, and take care of the innocent collateral damage (the other grandmother took responsibility for the infant twins). I know the family is helping her now. I know she never ended up in jail or prison and that's a huge blessing. Anyway, I'm sharing it because I feel we need success stories, and examples like this to remind us to Never Give Up Hope.

However, I will say, this is more for us to process into the decision about whether to let our daughter come home when she is released from prison.

I still am doubting that we are the best place for her, and yet, I can absolutely see where my husband and oldest daughter are coming from, wanting to give her another chance and enable her to define and pursue her own recovery here. We have much talking and thinking and praying to do before we finalize the decision, but it seems to be leaning towards letting her come here, if that is what she continues to want.

One huge item is that she is medicated now. Her bipolar illness is truly stabilized and continuing treatment through Mental Health is going to be a part of her parole requirements. That is something I'm mindful of. The pondering and praying will continue! And any suggestions or input that you guys have to add to the mix will be gratefully accepted!


Friday, August 20, 2010

I heard her voice....

Sorry I’ve been scarce! I’ve not had a whole lot of anything meaningful to say, and I’ve just been reading blogs and commenting a little… I’ve been busy, which is a good thing! I’m having a lot of dog sits these days, and that gets my derriere out of the chair and away from my medical transcription business, and out the door to another house where the clients’ dogs and I get good walks and fresh air. School starting next week will definitely bring the dog sits to a pause, and that’s not a bad thing! We’re kinda pooped!

I heard her voice a few days ago, for the first time in about four months. I’ve never gone longer than a week without at least getting a phone call from her. She’s always been very thoughtful, even when loaded, about making sure I know she is alive. The phone rang this time and I got the familiar recording about “This call is from an inmate in blah-blah-blah” and I was crying before she ever stated her name. I got myself under control, only to listen as she dissolved into tears and just kept repeating, “I love you mommy, oh my god I love you so much!” After a few minutes, she brought me up to date on everything. She’s been endorsed to Chowchilla for the remainder of her time. I was hoping that she would get transferred closer to home (Le Boyfriend just got transferred to Norco which is only a half hour from me!). No such luck, she’s staying in Chowchilla. Because it took so long to “classify” her, and get her seen by a counselor (almost four months!) she is too close to the end of her time to take any classes. She may not even be able to get a job, but she’s trying. Anything beats playing hangman with a bar of soap on a window, she says.

I wish she could have gotten classes. She will have been there long enough that she could have finished two classes, easily, and that would have given her enough credits that she would have her two year degree from the community college she was in. That community college works with the prisons and the credits apply, etc. That would have been helpful in the job search but I guess it was not meant to be. She’s had no drug counseling or education. She’s only able to have a “meeting” for NA or AA when she has enough people in her room that want to do it. Every now and then, they get to have one out in the main yard. In the 105 degree heat.

I know she did this to herself. What I don’t understand is why, since there are classes there that are not full, why the system isn’t a little more effective in an effort to send them out more prepared for real life than they came in. She already knew how to sit around and do nothing. If there is space in the classes, and the teacher is being paid anyway, seems silly that she couldn’t get into the math class, etc. And it just seems like drug prevention/education and tools for staying sober would be classes/money well spent.

She’s doing pretty well on her medications. She is working out daily, before the heat gets too bad. She runs several miles and does a workout that is designed for the fire-camp women, but open to anyone who wants to participate. If I understood her correctly, it’s a strenuous workout designed to keep the firefighters in top condition.

We are still uncertain as to what we should do about when she is released. She wants to come home. My husband still wants her to come here. In his wildest dreams, he’d like her to just sit here and get a year under her belt, going to class on line, and working out and hanging around the house. (That scream in the distance that you heard was mine – I don’t think that’s a productive way to enable her recovery!)

My oldest daughter is neither in favor or opposed, and says she’ll deal with whatever we decide and that she’s 100% looking forward to taking her sister to some concerts and dinners out with friends, etc. She writes her every week. I write several times a week, postcards mostly with little bits of news, and about once a week a longer letter. My husband has not written. Even once. He did purchase some paper and stamps and get the requisite packaging to send them to her. And he has helped with getting her first quarterly package paid for. We split that down the middle, and got her a few things she was hungry for, and a few things like vitamins, and two running teeshirts and a pair of real running shoes (only $14.95 on the prison-approved site!). Her birthday coincides with the arrival of this quarterly package, so it made me happy to be able to get her a few candy bars, and some cheap shampoo, and lots of coffee, coffee, coffee! I’m glad he has done what he felt comfortable doing, and I made sure she knew her Dad was involved in the quarterly package.

The dilemma about having her come home is just lurking like the proverbial elephant in the living room. My husband’s big thing is that his one stipulation is she can’t smoke on our property, or even our street. Whatever. Not a field I’m going to die on.

I feel that we’re not the best option. There are no meetings nearby; she has no car, and we can’t take as much time as would be necessary to run successfully her around to job interviews or take her to meetings and work. (Letting people pick her up for that sort of thing runs the risk that if she relapses, then it’s not the “good” friends that are picking her up, and I don’t like the “bad” friends knowing where she lives, if it’s with us!)

Seems like a sober home located on a bus line and close to parole would be more appropriate, because she could easily get where she needed to be on her own. Then we could pick her up for family dinners, shopping, church (she has asked me to attend services with her), etc. We’d be seeing her in a more appropriate fashion for an adult child, that way.

Does anyone have any input, opinions, suggestions?

I’m not going to stress over it yet. She’s not getting out until December. She will likely have warrants here that will surface when she is released, so she may come back to the O.C. jails to handle those. And that is despite the fact that not once, but twice, she and LeBoyfriend have filled out appropriate paperwork requesting immediate trial/sentencing for violating probation, so that the times are served concurrently which is supposed to enable them to leave prison with all the outstanding cases resolved and a relatively clean slate upon release.

Her probation officer called me the other day to state that she had sent the paperwork on to the appropriate courthouse, six weeks ago (for the second time) and as yet, still not heard anything.

The same system that didn’t get her classified in time to take classes, is probably not going to manage to get the case here (a warrant for failure to show up for a probation appointment) settled before she is released. Instead, the system will go to the expense of transporting her down here on a prison bus, processing her into O.C., running her through the court system here, and then deciding that she’s already done time up there, and stamping her paperwork as “done”. Makes sense, doesn’t it? To spend all that money transporting her around and feeding/processing her when a signed piece of paper from the courthouse faxed to the prison, would eliminate the need for it. Sigh.

I personally don’t care, I simply point it out as kinda stupid.

I am happy to report that she is sounding really good in her letters. Her writing is precise and neat (a great indicator of sobriety and a medicated mind, for her!) and her thoughts and statements seem well-ordered and thought out. She has reconnected with “the God of her understanding” and this seems to give her a lot of peace. She has been including lots of verses in her letters. She is in a very “Christian” room now, and all her bunkies are into Bible studies and she enjoys them a lot. I am really deeply happy for her that she seems to have found her faith again. I am not going to have expectations, or assume that all her problems are over. I’m just grateful. She says she’s looking forward to “family, church and meetings” when she gets out. :)

She is supposed to get to call us again soon. :)

I’m celebrating some good news with my oldest daughter this weekend. She was made salaried and given benefits at her law firm. She is a law clerk right now, but finishes her paralegal studies this semester and then they plan to make her a paralegal. :) She’s beside herself with glee and she and I are going to her favorite Indian restaurant for a lunch buffet Saturday. Yumm!

I’m wishing us all a serene weekend!! I have so many Glads today! I’m so grateful!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Pulling up another chair....

Our circle continues to grow... And we all know how much our little community can do to help each of us keep a grip on our sanity, our serenity, etc! Take a sec to visit her soon!!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Checking in...

'Son' arrived and is settled in with his family. The grill/smoker made it, all the way across the country, strapped to his bright blue 'burban, no more flats, no issues, just smooth travels. He immediately set up the grill and smoked ribs for his parents... He has a big interview today with some bigwigs in a company he has applied to... they will be lucky to have him!

All is well here. I’m reading blogs, commenting on some, and working on me. I’ve gotten much accomplished on the crisis center quilts – by the end of August I should have four more quilted on the big frame and ready to send up to my Dad to distribute at one of the centers.

My daughter, Le Boyfriend, and myself are perfecting the long lost art of letter writing. She says in her letters that she is remaining clean while in prison, though she is surrounded by those who are not. I’m choosing to hope that is true. It’s been well over a hundred degrees where she is, almost daily. She walks in the early mornings on a track; later when she reaches the final room assignment that she will have, she will get to run on the track. Apparently that’s a privilege? She’s looking forward to the exercise. She’s lost 15 pounds, and is on new psych medications. Her letters have gone from almost illegible, to fairly neat writing. That’s when I know her medications are working!

She wants to come home for a while after prison. Not a good idea in my mind. My husband says she can, but only if she agrees not to resume her smoking habit. Rather than get involved in the chaos and stress that will ultimately result from his ultimatum, I’ve decided that as long as he makes that a stipulation, that I can’t agree to her coming home. I will not live with the constant questions, accusations when she comes home from an NA meeting smelling like smoke, etc. It obviously is something between him and her, but I will not live in the war zone. Either we welcome her home with the previous rule that all smoking takes place outside under the “smoking tree” (as the kids named it), or we will simply have to love her unconditionally and support her as much as we can, from a distance.

I simply cannot believe that he wants to make remaining a nonsmoker a caveat for living with us. But since I really don’t think it’s appropriate that she live with us, anyway, it’s moot.

What did I want to do? I wanted to offer her a few days, maximum one week, that she could come home, decompress, get through to parole and get information about where she should live (supposedly parole will assist), and also get set up with mental health and get her medications, get to a few felony-friendly job interviews, and take in a few meetings. That’s all I wanted to do for her, other than just enjoy her presence and her smile, and hug on her frequently! She wants to do all those things, even the mental health part. She says her medications are giving her clarity and she understands her actions more. That’s pretty huge.

He says she can’t even come here for a couple of days, unless she is not smoking. I’m sure she will promise that, but it won’t last, so I’m going to have to make it abundantly clear to both her and LeBoyfriend, that due to his stipulation, she can only be here for a week even IF she is willing to accept his “rule”. I doubt she’ll make aboard the bus to come home without lighting up, but whatever.

Still, right now, I’m in a holding pattern. I’m taking care of me, avoiding conflict, getting my work done, getting sewing done on the quilts for the women’s crisis centers, and planning a trip to my parents in September. I’ll have to work while I’m there, but only half days. The afternoons will be filled with chickens, horses, wide open spaces, crafts with Dad, time to listen to and absorb my folks, soaking up memories with them. I can’t wait!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


('Son' has made it more than halfway to his new home! Yay! )

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reminding myself to look at the good side....

Sorry to have been so scarce. I’ve been reading on blogs, commenting on some, but haven’t had much to say. I have been a bit sad these last two weeks. My “son” (I told his story here) and his girlfriend, who coincidentally is my oldest daughter’s best friend, broke up. As much as I rejoiced in my “world getting smaller” when they hooked up and for the time they lived together….

boy, when they broke up, it pretty much left us ALL heartbroken.

It wasn’t messy. It wasn’t mean. He doesn’t love her any more. She thought he was “the one.” He hung on and tried maybe longer than he should. She’s accepted it. They are still “friends”. He was left in the position of having no one here except us, his California family, and since he is unemployed, he saw a chance to change his life for the better: He’s moving to be with his real family, in Alabama, where his dad is pastoring a church. Most of his family lives there now. He’s going “home”, even if it’s a new home for him!

He has four job opportunities lined up already. He will pay one-fourth the rent cost for twice the square footage he and the girlfriend and her small son were living in here. How can this not be a win-win for him!?

My head knows this is a smart move for him. My heart ain’t so happy.

We said goodbye yesterday, and he’s updating on Facebook as he drives cross country…. His grill is strapped to the top of his Suburban! We call him the Grillmeister, or Master of the Grill – he can do amazing things with charcoal and his grill! There’s a python buried in that car somewhere, in a huge tank.

And a good chunk of our hearts is probably in there too. I’m convinced part of mine has been torn out.

The hurt part of me is still thinking, “Damn, you broke up with the girlfriend, I get that. Why are you breaking up with the rest of us?”

The sensible mom part of me is thinking, “What a golden opportunity, and he’ll be with his real family, his aging parents (he’s 30, the youngest of five and there’s a span of about 15 years between him and the oldest sib!), and so, good for him!”

The codependent part of me is thinking “how do I tell my youngest, our addict currently in prison, that her ‘brother’ is gone?”

She was the one who came to us years ago and said, “he’s getting out, his folks have taken a new church in ‘Bama, and he needs a home….”

She was the one that took her tips and bought the bunk bed they used to coexist in her tiny bedroom.

She was the one that dragged him to meetings and took him to parole appointments and she was the one who gave me the best son I never had.

He's an amazing guy. He has more than five years clean!! His success gives me huge amounts of hope. My daughter has mentioned since she relapsed, that she looks at him as a role model, because he walked away from the drugs, away from the lifestyle, and he's succeeded. She so admires that.

This was a hard decision for him to reach, but I have no doubt it was not made lightly. He's grown so much in the last five years. I love him so much! We all do! My husband and I both cried at the curb, saying goodbye. :(

My oldest has already written the youngest a letter giving her the news. She’s heartbroken too. He roomed with her for a full year just like he did with my youngest. They’ve been so close, so much a sibling group, the three of them. More like siblings than many actual siblings I know.

My oldest is left, in her words, “to clean up the wreckage.” She is heartbroken, but every time she goes to hang out with the girlfriend and her little boy, she walks into "their" place and he’s not there. She can’t really grieve it in front of her friend, cos the friend has been devastated and is grieving too.

And the girlfriend’s little boy, who is my oldest’s godson, is completely confused.

Life just is sad sometimes.

My ‘son’ made it to Flagstaff before he blew a tire (retread). He’s fine, car’s fine. Four new tires later, he’s now passed Albuquerque. He’s going to be “home” in another two days. His mom and dad are so expectant and happy, and that is a huge thing for me to remember. They’ve waited a long time for this. He told me he wasn’t much of a son for a lot of years. He’s grateful for the opportunity to make it up to them!

He’s a good man, and I miss him. A lot!

Monday, June 28, 2010

When moms get involved?

Edited to add: Just calling attention to the fact that I received a comment from Partnership for a Drug Free America in the comment section, that you guys might wish to read. Thanks!

I was catching up on blogs this morning when I came across Anna's post concerning a recent ad she saw in an issue of Everyday Easy Recipies from Better Homes and Gardens. This ad made the statement "When moms get involved kids don't." (implying parental involvement will prevent kids becoming drug users/addicts). This ad was apparently placed by The Partnership for a Drug Free America.

After I took a number of deeeep, cleansing breaths (yeah, that earthquake you felt was me hyperventilating and falling out of my chair!), I remembered a post I had written about three months ago, I think, for a guest posting on another blog. This other blogger asked me to write something for her to post in a specific portion of her blog and I wrote the piece you will find below. For whatever reason, this was never posted on the intended site (just verified, it is not there), so I am going to post it here.

We never know when a heartbroken parent is going to be googling and searching, a "newbie" so to speak, on this particular road we trudge as parents of addicts. Perhaps someone will come across these thoughts, and find them helpful.

And I hope and pray that The Partnership for a Drug Free America gets a better idea for their next campaign.

My Thoughts on Being the Parent of an Addict

I get sick to my stomach every time I drive by a grade school with the red cups stuck in the chain link fence or the ribbons tied to it, spelling out giant letters "say no to drugs". My personal opinion: What a pathetic waste of our tax dollars to take kids out there for several hours to put those up. My daughter participated in that stuff every year (except the two years we home-schooled, which she requested). And it may have only fueled her curiosity.

I think a more in-your-face approach in junior high school with exposure to the abused and scarred bodies of dead addicts and mandatory attendance at a dozen AA/NA meetings, and perhaps a stay in the hallway of a jail corridor, watching an addict “kick it” for about 36 hours would have more impact.

My daughter was told early on, and often, about her genetic predisposition to alcoholism, and the risks and effects of alcohol/drugs. She endured a close family member’s occasional drunken behavior.

But, it is just so basic, really. You tell a child not to touch the oven door because they will burn their hand. They don't believe you until they do it.

You tell them that if they pick up the snake (drugs) they may get bitten (addicted). But the same immortality complex that makes them think they can take other chances enters into the picture. They don't think THEY will get hooked. They don't think THEY will end up in the jail cell. And once they make that single bad choice to raise a little hell, experiment, etc, it is over for some of them. My daughter said the first time she tried heroin, she said to her friend, "I'm in trouble." She knew in that instant that she would crave/pursue that feeling for the rest of her life.

My beautiful, spunky, spirited, compassionate, smart, hard-working, butterfly girl….. is a bipolar alcoholic/addict. Her drug of choice is heroin.

Do not think that because you homeschool, work your butt off for private Christian school, are room mom, team mom, snack mom, brownie troop mom, girl scout cookie mom, church youth group mom, the mom who works at home and can hand out cookies and juice to the entire neighborhood at 3:20pm, the mom who drives for any and all activities, the mom who never let her kids sleep over without confirming with the other moms just what was going on and who was going to be on site, the mom who had skating parties, pool parties, teeshirt-painting parties, monthly sleep-overs, the mom who considered raising her children to be her God-given privilege and responsibility…..

Don’t think that those things will make any difference at all. By her own admission, my daughter has never been abused in any fashion, was privileged, was given every possible opportunity in life.

And she picked up the snake(s) as an experimenting, risk-taking teenager. By 18, she was an addict.

This disease of addiction is a non-discriminating killer.

We’ve been at this for ten years now. And now she is in prison 250 miles from here.

And if you’ve read this far, let me say that if for no other reason than your sanity, if you face this issue in your family, go to Alanon or Naranon. I know Alanon is supposed to be for family/friends of alcoholics. However, Alanon meetings are far more prevalent in my area than Naranon meetings. And most of the alcoholics that are represented by the attendees at my two favorite meetings are also drug addicts. Indeed, at any Narcotics Anonymous meeting, when they read their literature at the beginning of the meeting, a very pronounced distinction is made that they consider alcohol to be a drug.

So get to whatever meeting you can, and soak up the ESH (experience, strength and hope) of those other members. And keep going back! “It works, if you work it.”

You will learn important concepts like setting healthy boundaries for yourself. An example: It’s not that she can no longer live with us. It’s that we will no longer live with drugs in any fashion, and we will not live with the risk that she will again relapse and steal from us. This puts the focus on US. Not our addict.

You will learn the difference between enabling addiction and assisting with recovery. For everyone, this is just a little bit different. You will learn how to determine what is right for you.

And if at some point (I’m talking after several months!) you decide that Alanon or Naranon is not for you, or you do not wish to participate in a 12-step program of your own, you will have acquired a better foundation of education for dealing with this, in whatever fashion you deem appropriate for you.

For example, along the way you will pick up sayings like the three C’s:

“I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it and I can’t cure it.”

And, “don’t stuff your feelings”, “expectations are premature resentments”, “put the focus back on myself”, etc.

You will hear many of these slogans, and something will click on another day, in another place, when you are in the midst of a situation with your addict and you recognize exactly what a particular slogan referred to… because it’s right in your face at that time. Recognition enables you to choose to step back and appropriately take care of yourself, in a healthy manner.

You’ll take a great deal of comfort in being with others who know your pain up close and personal, themselves. It will help, seeing those who are further along in their journey, living lives of relative serenity and contentment, and you will realize there is HOPE, both for your addict, and also for you.
I’ll close with two little sayings I have found especially helpful. The first, I read on the blog of An Addict In Our Son’s Bedroom (

“I must learn to live in the world of what is, and not in the world of what ought to be.”

And I don’t recall where I happened across this next one, but oh how true:

"There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less." Kurt Hahn

Never give up Hope!

By Her Big Sad

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another one for Barbara!

Recently I read Barbara's post about her new little sweetheart, Sugar, being a Chiweenie. I had never heard of Chiweenies and I googled to learn more about them.

We've always figured our little Tuff Boy was a mix of chihuahua and dachshund. I had no idea there was a bunch of them and that they were actually deliberately being bred.

(Tuff Boy and Kimi)

I looked at several sites with pictures that were dead ringers for our Tuff Boy (a.k.a. Jerry)!! Even the coloring and the stance is identical.

And so is the jumping!

Here's Tuff Boy and his "wife" Kimi, trying to convince me that they are all done chasing each other around and are ready to come in. (They are inseparable. When one is taken on a walk, the other cries until they're together again!)

Disclaimer: Yes, Kimi needs to go on a diet. Yes, my windows need to be cleaned. Yes, I was trying not to laugh at points in this (which resulted in very rough filming). Yes, my backyard is a disaster.... but it's the puppy's playground. So be it! :) And yes, this is my first time trying to post a video in Blogger, so we'll see if it works.


Anyway, I've been busy trying to frantically make some decisions on kitchen appliances and YAY! After several years of opening my microwave with a self-made duct tape handle, we're fixing the place up a bit. It's time! We've really managed to kill this kitchen in 17 years! Plus, I'm looking forward to replacing the 4 inch white tile countertops with a smooth, more sanitary surface. There isn't a grout cleaner out there that really does the job. You can imagine how I know this.

Sorry to be posting so irregularly. I had a thought as I cleaned up my kitchen tonight - reminded me of making a pie, and that reminded me of a particular therapy session where I learned something important. More about that later this week!

Love, prayers and hugs!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I’m working on staying OUT of the referee seat!

Several of us recently have commented on our blogs about how we feel like we are constantly being the peacemakers in our families, or being pulled by differing factions and persons. I identify with this feeling. A lot!

There was a technique we participated in during family therapy nights, years ago. I can’t recall the name of the technique, and for lack of a better term, I will call it family mapping.

When we did family mapping, that is how my daughters "mapped" us.

My youngest daughter (our addict) “mapped” the family first. As a family, we stood in the center of the circle of folks seated at the therapy session. She had my oldest daughter and my husband hold onto my right hand and arm, and tug gently. She then grabbed my left hand and turned from us, and tugged as she "walked" away from us. That was how she condensed our family dynamics into one quick snapshot!

Next it was my oldest daughter’s turn to “map” us. She pictured us a little differently, but in strikingly similar ways. She placed my husband and I facing each other, him with his arms straight down by his side. She stepped between us and then she had me reach my left arm around her to reach him, in a half embrace. With her between us, then she had me turn towards our “open” side and she and I (only) extended our arms on that side, towards my other daughter, the addict, who she had placed several feet away. She had the addict sitting down facing away from us, burying her face in her hands.

Seeing it like that was life-changing for me.

Both daughters could see it more clearly than I could!!

I am pulled at all sides. I am trying to hold this family together while she is sick/addicted and while the other family members distance themselves from her, reach for her, fight amongst themselves, etc.

I am the buffer, the peacekeeper, if I don't force myself to step out of that role. The therapist told me to drop all their hands and step out of the circle. To take care of me. And to let them find their way back to each other. Or not. It isn't my job to shield them from each other or to pull the family together.

This is the direct opposite of what my mother-in-law had been telling me for years. For years before she died, she had told me I was the center of the wheel. The family revolved around me. If I didn’t “keep it together”, the wheel would collapse. That was my purpose in life, to keep the wheel turning smoothly.

I will state emphatically that I loved my mother-in-law. She was such a sweetheart, a treasure to all her knew her. There was not a birthday, or celebration of any sort that came around that she did not remember with a card or a small gift. She was all about Christmas, and to this day, I think that is a lot of what is behind my husband’s drive to make many cookies and deliver them to clients/coworkers each year. It brings his mom’s memory closer to him.

She held her family together as best she could. She covered for her husband when his alcoholic behavior surfaced. She worried about the two sons, wondering if they would remain close. As they drifted apart for many different reasons, she tried to pull everyone back together. When my father-in-law was dying, I was told by someone that she grabbed both adult sons (in their 40s) by the hands and took them in the ICU together to see their dad and announced something to the effect of “look who’s here, and together!”

She stood with tears streaming down her face one night twenty-some years ago, when I had to leave the house with my oldest little girl because Grandpa had a few too many and wasn’t just a little drunk - he was getting mean. He was grilling my daughter on counting in Spanish and he slammed his fist down and frightened her, and I told him we needed to run out to the store and we’d be back. We left and didn’t return until my husband, his mom and our youngest returned from their errands. She was mortified, embarrassed, and stood crying silently in the kitchen as he fell into the Christmas tree in the den. He caught himself just in time and continued “decorating” it for us and then went off to bed. I had to redo the tree with her after everyone else went to bed.

I never understood why she let him act towards her the way he did sometimes. For the most part, he was a truly wonderful man. But when he had been drinking, he was not a happy drunk. I did understand why she continued to work well into her seventies! She enjoyed being out of the house and she loved interacting with her customers at the dress shop, and having a bit of spending money that she earned herself.

I learned many wonderful things from her. But I think that I learned one thing that wasn’t true.

I’m NOT the center of this family. It’s NOT up to me to keep them civil, close, loving, or communicative. When my husband is cranky and morose (his personal emotions he identified himself with, in family therapy), and he takes it out on me, or especially my oldest daughter, as he has done more frequently lately, it’s NOT up to me to soothe her, or attempt to point out to him that his behavior sucks.

All I really AM responsible for is making sure I’m not incarcerated for bonking him over the head with the frying pan. To make sure that doesn’t happen, my proactive behavior now, is going to have to be to politely and respectfully leave the conversation and let him sputter to a halt all by himself.

He is a master of walking away from a conversation when he decides it needs to be over. I think that is rude. But I guess I will take a lesson from him. I’ll start holding up my hand and announcing I have to run to the bathroom, or let out a dog, or the ultimate “I’m just not going to deal with you any more on this.” Only I’ll say that last one a bit less hurtfully.

I’m in this (marriage) for the long haul. But I’m so tired of trying to smooth things over when he says things that are hurtful or unnecessary to myself, or either daughter. And it’s really NOT my job. Like his father, most of the time, he is a wonderful man. And he never drinks a drop of anything (partly, I’m sure, because of the memories he has of verbal and occasionally physical abuse by his inebriated dad). But he still has behaviors that remind me of his father while under the influence. That confuses me a bit.

I guess if he alienates the girls, or if an argument between he and my oldest escalates (without my interfering to prevent it) to the flying “f**k you” levels, they will have to deal with it, and any damage to the doors! And they will have to find their way back to each other, or not. His loss if they don’t, not mine. All I need to be responsible for is my relationship with him, and my relationship with my daughters. I can maintain my relationships in a healthy manner! When he gets cranky and morose with me, I can simply politely excuse myself and offer to talk more later when he is feeling more like a gentleman.

As the years pass, I have no doubt that I’m getting more cranky and morose too. So, I’ll work on me. ME! That's my business!

And I’ll work on making sure that those I am in relationship with, do not get my permission to treat me disrespectfully or in a mean fashion. Kids, husband, coworkers, friends, etc!!

I asked our family therapist one time years ago, why my addict treated me in a certain fashion. Her answer? “Because you gave her permission to do so.” (Her meaning: I let it go, uncontested, the first time it happened!)

By not holding OURSELVES in high regard, and ALWAYS insisting on fair and polite and respectful interactions, we give permission to others to commence and to continue to treat us in an inappropriate manner. I’m going to work on insisting on fairness and respectful interactions.

Easier said than done. Progress, not perfection!

Friday, June 4, 2010

For Barbara, Ten Random Things...

Ten random thoughts:

1. I survived another hike in the hills around my house. Go me. I mapped out a two mile route through the neighborhood and this is the second time I’ve done it at 6 AM. Through early morning mist, past about 500 houses with varying landscaping ideas presented to me as I huff and puff, and oddly, a few coyotes, a school bus, and a fire truck… I made it! The first time I did it, I swear, it was uphill all the way around. Had to have been. My legs were screaming! Today, I had the presence of mind to notice there were a few downhill portions and the “all uphill” thing was just a hallucination.

2. Coyotes are magnificent, sleek, scary, and cute. All at once.

3. I need to finish the billing for my clients today – another month has passed and if I don’t bill, they don’t pay, and we don’t eat. Funny how that all works.

4. If I focus on my typing and my billing, I have a good shot at being upstairs in my sewing room by 4 – and that means a possible five hours of sewing before I keel over at 9 PM like the old lady I am!

5. I have plans….. too many plans. Plans for quilts, plans for valences sewn for my windows, plans for patches of flower gardens planted outside my office window, plans for fairy houses amongst those flowers… plans for another area of planting outside my dining room window – to cover the fence that’s a mere six or eight feet away… and a fairy door on that fence, peeking out from the jasmine that I plan to cover the fence with…. Plans, plans, plans!

6. I need to bake some bread today.

7. I am trying to perfect my own veggie burger recipe too.

8. Despite #7, a steak sounds good right now. So does barbecued chicken. Chicken wins. Will thaw some for dinner!

9. I love my blogging community!

10. The weekend looms!! Yay! I have a dog sit to bring in some extra $$$ and perhaps some time for #5!!

Happy weekend all!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

On a late night ramble with my dog….a Friday 55!!

Ranjit’s house, brightly lit, with Indian music spilling out the open doors.

Partiers in exquisite traditional outfits dance on the lawn.

He sees me wave as I pass by, comes over and laughingly takes my hand. Briefly, we dance, him graceful, me awkward, as his wife pats my dog and claps her hands with delight.

I've been checking blogs and commenting, praying a lot, but not posting anything here.... I've not had anything much to say. We're all doing fairly well here, and I finally got a letter from my daughter that stated our mail is now getting through to her. She got a pile all at once and it made her cry. I communicated with the prison medical department regarding her disposable contacts she is keeping in her eyes 24/7, and they have officially sent me instructions for getting Rx glasses to her. I am very grateful for that. I want her to be able to see when she is crossing the yard from the mail area to her cell; it's easy to get jumped for what you might be carrying and vision is important. (Plus she did irreparable damage to her eyes during one of the more recent incarcerations by keeping the same pair of disposable contacts in for four months. This is one of those times when I know I'm doing something for her that is really for me. I would hate to think she went blind just because I was worried about my boundaries, and in one eye, she is now nearly legally blind.)

I took a walk last night with our pit bull. She is getting older and is content to amble and very people-friendly. I could hear Ranjit's party up the hill, and I love to hear the music and see the beautiful party dresses.... So I took a moonlight stroll with our old dog, and the aboved described moment was the result. Ranjit is a really sweet man and his wife is even sweeter. They're always talking to us when we pass by on a walk, always asking after our girls, patting our dogs, etc. They were celebrating their beautiful daughter’s academic achievement. I was happy to share in their joy. In fact, I still feel like dancing!

I'm busily clearing my desk for a rare light work weekend. My doctors seem to have taken off early for Memorial Day. Very few are dictating, and if I stay focused, I just might have several hours each day to spend in my happy place (my sewing room!) Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How I explain that missing family member....

Madyson007 posted about the difficulties we all encounter when we have to go to some sort of family or work "event" and we get asked how our addict is....

Family members might or might not know about the addiction (depending on just how close they are to you), and may or may not be privy to all the gory details. Work picnics/awards events might include folks who've been used to seeing your family include one more person in past years....

For instances like these, where I'm not THAT close to the person asking the question, I've gotten better at choking out "oh, she's FINE!! just BUSY!! (give a big grin) You know how hard it is to get everyone's work schedules coordinated.... You must be so proud of (insert celebrated family member's name)... Didn't he/she look GREAT up there taking that diploma/award/etc????"

Within one paragraph, I endeavor to turn the attention back to the other person. Because sometimes, I just don't want to go into details, or run the risk of ruining my mascara.

It gets easier to pull off, with time, I promise! I've even told a couple of busybodies at church that I don't get along with "oh she's fine! She's living and working out of the area right now! How is your (insert another successful family member's name here) doing? How are your roses? Have you planted your vegetables yet?" WHATEVER.

(and yes, she is working at the prison in Chowchilla to reduce her time - not a complete lie! No lightning will strike!)

Just turn the tables and questions back to them. Most people are so glad that you are interested in THEM that they don't realize you may have skillfully deflected the conversation away from a sore point.

I go to any event now, even a quilting bee, prepared to be on stage. Paste on a smile. ACT AS IF!! Pretty soon, I am having the fun time I wanted to have!!

My quilting group is actually a "safe place" for me, as my dear friends know my situation and I know about a lot of their dirty laundry too.... but, sometimes there are a few guests, so I always ACT AS IF. If it's "just us chickens", I can be a little more forthcoming and share my heart's concerns or pain which is helpful to my soul, but if not, I still have a GRAND TIME!

Hope this helps! Seriously, try rehearsing before you go...stand in front of the mirror and casually toss off the question and come up with a question for the other person to answer and PRACTICE until it feels more natural!

(it's okay, I know I'm weird, but this is what gets me through situations where I just don't want to give out a lot of details or talk about yet another relapse, so if it's helpful - cool..... Take what you like and leave the rest!) Have a great day everyone!

Friday, May 14, 2010

I got an award! :)

I’ve been visiting blogs but not posting on my own…. I’ve had nothing earth-shattering to say… :)

My daughter did surface at Chowchilla and got a letter out. That made me smile. She has apparently hooked up with the other O.C. girls there and is making the best of her situation. They’re sharing shampoo and stuff until she gets access to the money she had put on her books in jail which should follow her up…. At that point she can shop commissary and pay her friends back or barter with other things, etc.

She has been told she may be able to finish her basic two-year college degree there, since she only lacks 6 credits. She’s trying to get more information about that. I REALLY hope that happens. She has difficulty with math and that is one of the subjects remaining – so maybe she can tackle that and get it out of the way!

DH has softened a bit. He went out and took the list the prison provided of allowable stuff, and bought her two pads of lined paper, some plain white envelopes, simple plain greeting cards/white envelopes, and 40 stamps… He even found one of those “can’t be torn” envelopes and it’s all ready to go (padded envelopes are off limits.) We’re not sending much else.

We’re debating the glasses situation. She is currently wearing disposable contacts (not legal there) and not taking them out. BAD. She’s done damage to her vision in the past by doing that. She’s close to legally blind in one eye anyway, and very, very near-sighted.

California in its wisdom insists that she have an examination there, and then we have to put money on books for her to pay for glasses to be shipped in, or perhaps she can ship their prescription out to us and we can have glasses sent in. The fact that she has a legal prescription right now, in my house, is irrelevant to them. I don’t understand that, especially since some people I know wore their wire-rims in, and others have had family mail in a pair. Consistently inconsistent, just because they can! That seems to be the motto of the prison. I will tackle that issue next week, by calling the prison myself to get a straight story.

One high note: Her letter stated she is required to see Mental Health. AND, continuing to see mental health will be a condition of her parole. So for at least a year after she gets out – she has to accept and cooperate with medication/mental health treatment. Or she is violated. Yay! This was rumored before she went up, but she said in her letter that for sure, this is fact.

It has taken innumerable incarcerations and one prison stay to get my state to recognize that she can’t be trusted to make good choices regarding her mental health care. FINALLY. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. It gives her a fighting chance for at least a year after release. Release date is still up in the air, but she should be given an official date soon.

In the meantime, I’m continuing to TAKE CARE OF ME. I have made myself face the fact that wallowing in depression and eating inappropriately are no longer an option (that’s what I do after detaching…. I let go, let God, and head to the pantry!).

My life is whizzing by, and obviously, all our days are numbered. I had better get myself in shape and treasure my health, by taking care of myself, or I’ll have even fewer days! Plus, as my transcription business is continuing to slow down, I am looking forward to getting additional part time work, next year, outside the house at night or on weekends! I need to be able to look competent and fit, next to those spring chickens I’ll be competing with!

So, I’m trying to stay on my eating plan and I’m plodding around the reservoir, sometimes twice daily.


Sometimes not at all. But the goal is once and hopefully twice daily! My efforts are paying off, as my blood sugar is normalizing and my scales have begun moving in the right direction! Actually, the left direction…. But you get my drift!

Progress, not perfection!

Sherry from Awakening through Love
( gave me an award!

And here are my answers:

1. What would your perfect day consist of?

Good coffee, a walk on the beach, lunch with my daughters, an afternoon quilting with my friends, a dinner with the whole family, and either games around the kitchen table, or talking with everyone on the back patio by candlelight.

2. How would you describe yourself if you were an item of clothing?

A favorite teeshirt, somewhat worn around the edges, but comfortable!

3. What hobbies are you currently working on?

Quilting (always!), sewing for the house (valances, small appliance covers, dog beds, etc), and after I got to the cash register and found out the Mother’s Day card I had thought was so cute and simple cost a whopping $5.99, I have begun making my greeting cards again with my scrap-booking supplies.

4. Walking in the woods in wellies or bare foot on the beach?

Barefoot on the beach, just inside the edge of the water!

5. Have you ever hugged or sung to a tree?

I have hugged and kissed a tree! It had gotten too big, was tearing up our sidewalk, had completely killed the lawn with roots running along the surface, and the only way to fix the situation and have a bit of grass was to remove it…. Since it shaded my living room, I was rather fond of it, even if it was the gangliest, ugliest tree around…. I have a picture of me kissing it right before they started whacking it down. Cos I’m weird!! :)

6. Growing your own veggies or nipping to the supermarket?

Growing my own!!

7. Have you found anyone exciting in your family tree?

Cyrus McCormick! Come on, now, you remember your U.S. History don’t you? Here’s a link to Great-great-great-great-etc-etc-granddaddy Cyrus…
He invented the mechanical reaper which allowed farmers to at least double the amount of crops they could handle…. I know, too cool! (yes, I’m kidding!)

8. Slap up meal in a posh restaurant or fish 'n' chips from the wrapper?

Neither – I prefer making dinner at home with my extended family and keeping the ingredients simple, fresh and sending them all home with leftovers for the next day.

9. Which element do you most resonate with, Earth, Air, Fire or water?

I guess earth, since I like gardening.

10. Do you believe in fairies?

Fairies are becoming an interest of mine. My daughter always loved them, but what got me started was little Gnome doors. I was looking at some of those in a magazine and saw fairy houses. They are horribly expensive, so I plan to make my own, but I think it would be really cute to have little houses mixed in with the flowers in the borders, just for fairies…. I found some fairy doors too that I would love to put in interesting places and I’ve found solar things that light up little fairy statues….

Be warned! Stay away from Plow and Hearth’s web site, seriously! (

They are responsible for my new fairy interest and it’s dangerous!

Thanks Sherry!

I’m thinking by now that a lot of you have also been tagged with this award, so I will just put this up for grabs and say, please do this if you haven’t already, and post on your blog! I’d love to read your answers!