Saturday, November 12, 2011

An update....


“We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing. Consequences give us the pain that motivates us to change.” ― Henry Cloud on Boundaries

I saw this on the Facebook wall for LifeLines, a part of The Crossing Church that I love to attend, and that my daughter and LeBoyfriend attend regularly.  LifeLines has meetings for any and every addiction, and the family/friends of those with the addictions. 

Anyway, I digress.  I just thought this was a nice way to express what we've been saying around this house for the last decade.  Our first therapist commented to someone in our group (after making suggestions week after week about how she could extract herself from her current misery) that

"You are happy in your shit.  When you are unhappy enough, you'll try something new.  Right now, it’s a shit pile you are sitting in, but it's warm, cozy and familiar, although it certainly stinks.  When it stinks (pains you) enough….. when you are ready to do the hard work of extracting yourself from the shit pile, you will.  Til then, I have no more suggestions for you because you evidently don't need them - you're happy right where you are."

We've used that phrase many times since then.  "Happy in your shit."  I miss Jerry, our outspoken, but gentle family counselor.  I learned so much from our time in family group.  And I have mentally reminded myself many times that when someone is pained enough by their current situation, they will change it.  It goes for me; it goes for anyone in my family!

Warning!  Long post ahead.....

As for an update….  I am extraordinarily blessed these days.  I am aware that so many right now are not in a good place with their sons and daughters…. I almost hesitate to post.  But, for today, my daughter is doing well, and I hope this will give hope and encouragement to those who read it, whether your family member is doing well, or struggling.  So here's my update.

My daughter is blowing us away with her progress.  She waited tables faithfully for several months, and then was offered a job in an office for a construction company, with benefits!  She started that over two weeks ago.

She is off all psychiatric medications.  Her decision.  So far, so good overall.  Since she will have benefits with the new job, when I start to worry about the lack of medications, I remind myself that she can see a doctor as soon as the benefits kick in, and get a prescription if she isn't able to handle her bipolar mania episodes.

She's struggling with a history class at night.  I believe she has a C right now, and you know what?  A C is good enough!  Getting the credits is what counts.  Passing this class will put her within two easy classes of her associate degree.  She's plodding onward.  Last week she was the only person in class with the outline the teacher wanted done correctly and her outline ended up being a class example.  Plus she got an extra point of credit for having it done right.  In her usual impulsive fashion, she blurted out that she needed all the points she could get, and "can't you give me a few more!?"  Good for a giggle, but no more points were forthcoming! 

She qualified for financial aid based on her A and B from her two courses last semester.  That money will help pay for her books, classes, gas to class, etc.  She's bought a laptop on her Dad's charge card and paid for it successfully.  Before the financial aid came through, she bought a fancier cell phone and paid it off.  She is planning to bank any left over financial aid money for the day that her $900 beater car absolutely must have the clutch it kinda needs now.  She has about a significant amount saved toward the place she and Le Boyfriend plan to get around the first of the year.  He's saving for that too.

She put together a weekend birthday surprise for Le Boyfriend that just rocked his world.  He got off work the Friday of Halloween weekend and drove to the address she gave him (which turned out to be a hotel!), and then she gave him the room number (!) over the phone and he came up to the room.  Once in the door, he noticed the decorations and streamers and the extra beds….  It was definitely a family type of room.  We've all known about this for about two months, but he had been uninformed and anticipating a surprise.  He was pretty much nearing the end of his ability to handle being in the dark and began begging for more information.  She finally broke down and told him that later in the evening, they were picking up his 16-year-old daughter and the daughter's boyfriend, who had travelled by train, and were at that moment, traveling the last portion by bus to reach them. 

It was the first time in his daughter's 16 years that she had celebrated her daddy's birthday with him….. THAT HE WAS SOBER!

Once he got over his surprise and disbelief, they went to meet the kids' bus, and took the kids back to the hotel and stayed up late like teenagers, talking and laughing together.  The next day they did family activities with Le Boyfriend's family, his nephew's morning sports game, lunch at a favorite restaurant with the entire family, etc.  Normal family life!

That evening, my daughter surprised him one more time with tickets to KnottsScaryFarms Halloween, for all four of them, and LeBoyfriend's good friend G. 

(G is fresh out of prison, working hard at a construction job, staying sober, and has been friends with Le Boyfriend for several years.  When he got out, my daughter and Le Boyfriend paid for his first couple weeks of sober home charges until he was on his feet with a job and they are trying to encourage him and themselves, in their ongoing recovery.  He's doing great so far.)

The entire weekend was a huge success and I'm still amazed at how she did it.  She brought me some of her tips from waitressing every couple of days, and as she accumulated money for each portion of this birthday weekend, I'd make the online purchase she had given me money for (room reservations, Amtrak tix, bus tix, KnottsScaryFarm tix).  She's never planned ahead like this before.  It is so fun to watch her doing this sort of thing!

She even got her homework done in advance that week, so that if she was tired from the weekend after it was over, she could just crash….and rest before her night school class.  That is SO not her normal way of dealing with things.  Amazing!

Paying her contribution to us for staying with us, paying her cell phone bill and car insurance each month on time or early, making good grades, bringing the favorite pie home from her waitressing job for her dad….  This is the daughter we knew was in there somewhere.  And we are relishing every single moment with her. 

Life is not perfect, and she and her dad still clash from time to time over stupid stuff - his latest trick is to lock the front door when she goes out to smoke….  And then tell her she needs to start taking her keys with her when she goes up the street to smoke. 

(I still marvel at the fact that she has proven herself so trustworthy that she has a KEY!) 

She just blows him off and goes back to her room.  We all just try to ignore it when he acts like a buffoon.  Sometimes I fail at the ignoring and I engage with him but usually a couple paragraphs into the argument I just remind myself to step back and leave the skirmish.  It's not worth it!! 

On the flip side, the same dad who gives her shit over stuff like that, is the one who whipped out his Best Buy charge card and happily went with her to pick out her new laptop and let her benefit from the six months' interest free financing.  She has it to use for paper writing for this history class, and she paid him off in bigger chunks than necessary in case she runs into financial difficulties with her car, etc.

Then there are the days where it all goes wrong - like yesterday when she was very sick and unbelievably irritable (spewing the kind of crap that always signaled relapse in the past).  She had coughed herself silly all night and kept her sister awake for the third night in a row.  She and Sister clashed over medicine suggestions from Sister and the F-bomb was flying.  She handed Le Boyfriend and myself our heads back on a platter when we suggested a doctor visit.  She and her Dad got into it over her refusal to take some savings and go to the doctor (even after she was sent home sick from work).  His comment about how she better not keep her sister awake again that night or she'd be told to sleep in her car, was met with her comment that if she heard that from him he better know she was packing her shit and not coming back…. They each repeated it to each other at least four times.  (That's an arguing technique I have hated for years and I was almost dumbfounded to see her using it back at the one she learned it from - it was textbook classic.)  This morning, she got up and all was well.  Everyone had slept.  She was actually feeling better and coughing less.  I was literally tearfully relieved.  I had nightmares last night and I think my unease was penetrating my sleep.

The new job she got is promising.  Full time and benefits very soon.  Wow.  I've tried to suggest to her that she needs to stay a year if at all possible.  She's been bouncing from job to job for years…. Time to put down roots and get a good stint of time to put on a resume.  But that's up to her too!

Le Boyfriend is working hard for his parents' company, driving tanker trucks filled with acid….  The acid is used to clean tanks at the oil refineries, I think.  That's the best explanation I can understand.  He's in and out of oil refineries and works long hours, for great money, and he's really putting in great amounts of time and effort since his parents have given him this opportunity to work with them again.  Someday, this company could belong to him, or to he and his brother.  If he chooses to start his own construction/handyman business, or his own cement truck business, his parents are hinting at major help with the upstart.  His brother is continuing to heal from the swimming hole accident that broke his back. 

We are blessed.  Beyond measure, beyond words.  I am so grateful.  She will have been living with us for one year, on December 4.  In our wildest dreams, not one of us thought this would go this well.  I'm planning to take everyone to dinner that weekend, if I can just come up with a place for two meat/potatoes guys, one vegetarian, one vegan, and one low carber to eat…. Under one roof!

Le Boyfriend has been an addict for 16 years.  He just turned 35.  My daughter has been an addict for over 11 years, with brief periods of sobriety (once almost two years).  She is 29.  As of last Monday, they have been clean for 17 months.  They don't really look at the time, but sometimes I do.  Briefly, I let myself revel in it.

Everything could change tomorrow, but other than reminding myself of that, just to keep myself from getting too relaxed….  I don't dwell on it.  If it happens, I know what to do.

But for now, it really seems as though they are tremendously serious at this time about sobriety.  (I also think they just might have gotten really, really tired of the lifestyle they are putting behind them.  The last run was not fun.  It was miserable.  And then it got worse: prison.) 

My daughter told her sister that sometimes she tells herself, "I can do that tomorrow."  (meaning, she can use)  "but for today, nah, I'm not going to do it today."  Not sure that's the best method, but it's HER method (combined with a few meetings and a lot of faith/church/prayer/family activities/work/school/gym/goals). 

This is why I personally will never give up hope.  Not for my daughter, not for Le Boyfriend, not for any of our beloved children.  It can be done.  Even she throws it away tomorrow and relapses,  it can be done.  It's up to my daughter if she does.

I pray that my daughter and her boyfriend will continue to do the things necessary to remain sober.  And my gratitude these days is just enormous.  I can be reduced to tears when she struts in with a good grade on a paper, or a compliment from a boss….  Hearing about these things is such a blessing to me!

My prayers for all our children continue. 



Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An open letter....

I received an email from yet another producer regarding an upcoming show that will deal with the subject of "losing a child to addiction." My oldest has assured me that this particular show is light-years ahead of the previous requests I've received, as far as responsible journalism. My response remains the same, as I just don't think this would be healthy for me right now, for a multitude of reasons.

This may be a truly worthwhile endeavor. If some of you get the same email and decide to be involved, my prayers will definitely include blessings on your efforts to raise awareness of the disease of addiction. Here is what I wrote back when I declined involvement in this particular project:



"Dear Producer,

Thank you for writing regarding the upcoming television show.

A few thoughts… These are my thoughts, my opinions, and mine only… "Take what you need and leave the rest."

I have not "lost" my daughter to addiction, thank God. As long as she is still alive, there is hope. Some parents in our blogging community have lost their children. This fear haunts us all.

I have no expectations. Zero. Not one. But I have hope!

My daughter is a heroin addict, and she will always be a heroin addict. Right now, she is actively seeking sobriety and recovery, and she has 17 months of clean time. Today, she is sober. Today is ALL I will focus on.

Many times I have mentioned the following to fellow travelers of this road of being the parent of an addict: I had 18 fantastic years before the disease of addiction entered her life. Many parents do not get that much time with their children!

In the last decade-plus that she has struggled with heroin, I have had both brief and extended further quantities of time with my beautiful girl. In between, I have known true anguish as I have watched her slide further and further into her diseases (bipolar disorder and addiction).

I have learned that this is not my fault: I did not cause it, I cannot cure it, and I cannot control it.

I have learned that I can love her with every ounce of my being, and yet not get in the way of the natural consequences of any relapses. As long as she is seeking recovery and sobriety, she has my support in many ways. She has my verbal encouragement, my prayers, my tangible support of a place to live for a while, clothing, food and rides to meetings, jobs, etc. If she relapses, she still has my love, prayers and encouragement, but until she chooses to seek sobriety again, she cannot live with me, or be in my home. These have been hard lessons to learn.

I have learned more than I can write here, certainly!

I have learned that there is a huge army of walking, wounded parents who trudge this same road daily. Whenever I am honest with anyone about my daughter, it never fails that I find out they have a child, a friend with a child, a coworker with a child, who is an addict also. The numbers are staggering. We have indeed lost too many of our nation's bright and intelligent, beautiful children to death from their addiction. This something I hope your program will be able to convey to all who watch it.

The war on drugs has failed. Treating our addicts with jail/prison terms has failed. Our children need desperately for us to come up with a better way for them to get long-term treatment and support. In the overwhelming majority of cases, this needs to include mental health treatment.

While I applaud any efforts to get the message out to our citizens, you sound as if you are trying to do this under a fair amount of pressure due to time constraints, etc. Might I suggest that you try to somehow find the time to delve into the subject deeply and carefully?

At this time, I am hesitant to speak personally with you or the other producers. I have been at this for over ten years, and it takes everything I've got to be there for my family in a healthy way, and to try to take care of myself. Right now, participation in activities that would increase awareness would be stressful for me. I am glad there are others who are doing this at this time. Maybe someday, when she's got way more clean time under her belt….

I do encourage you to search among our blogs. Read blogs of addicts and alcoholics ("Sobriety is Exhausting" and "Being Sober"), as well as those of parents ("Lou", "Annette", "Mom and Dad", "Barbara", "Fractal Mom", and many more), siblings, and spouses (Syd, from "I'm Just F.I.N.E. -- Recovery in Alanon").

There are many more than I can list here and each of us is in a different place in this nightmare. Many of us have found a way to live full, or content (and some say "happy") lives while dealing with it. Each of us has something to offer those who really truly wish to understand what living with a loved one with addiction is like. Just plow through the names on the sidebars of the blogs. You will find us!

Some of us have a child who is "out there on a good one" right now, and we are trying to find the strength to carry on with our responsibilities to the rest of our family while agonizing over the choices our addict is making. These parents are praying for an arrest, and most of us have been there! That sounds so normal to wish for, to us, and yet the world would think we were nuts.

Others like myself have just welcomed a child home from jail or prison and are trying to enable recovery, and yet tempering our involvement with efforts to not do for them what they can do for themselves, and allowing them to realize that they can do something, and allowing them the satisfaction of having accomplished it (Annette's words, very paraphrased, from a long-ago post or comment, I believe.)

Please, do not rush your "story" on this subject. Our children's lives are at stake with the disease of addiction, and you could do so much to spread awareness.

Just for today, I have my beautiful, stubborn, compassionate, feisty, tender-hearted, hard-working, risk-taking, ambitious, impulsive, bipolar butterfly-fairy girl in my life. I am grateful!'

And just an update: All is well here. DD2 is deeply involved in her history class at the college, working two jobs, and trying to keep her little beater car on the road. It needs $1200 worth of work right now, so she/we are basically praying it lasts until she can save enough $$ to get it fixed. If not, I'm 100% willing to resume chauffeur duties in the interim. LeBoyfriend got back his driving job and will be transporting unhealthy hazardous materials for a very healthy salary. LeBrother's back is healing and hopefully, in about six months, he can go back to work. I'm taking off for my yearly visit to my parents' little ranch next week and I will be gone for about 9 days. Y'all be good, and I'll check in when I can!

Prayers for our children continue, as always!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Staying Sober in College

My husband found this article in the Wall Street Journal - thought I would share the link for it:

SoberOnCampus


This is a great idea, I think. Seems like it would be a worthwhile effort, to get a center or a designated room(s) for recreation, meetings, etc, on every campus. Just a thought.

Update on the med situation: We were blessed this week to have two persons in our blogging community donate to us the exact medication my daughter needs. I was just blown away by the thoughtfulness and the generosity. She has enough to go about two months, and she has an appointment with the school doctor, to see if there is mental health help there which would include medication prescriptions. I have located a number of online resources for cutting the cost of the meds also. We have a plan and she is very grateful for what we received this week! Lou also gave me ideas for places to contact regarding medications that I would never have thought of! Thank you, one and all! I appreciate you all so much!

She's registering for at least two classes, possibly three, but I'm thinking she will probably stick with just two. She is on the verge of finishing her two year (Associate) degree. She is supposed to qualify for financial aid this semester, because she nailed her two courses last semester with an A and a B+. After this semester, all that is standing between her and the degree is some on-line math classes.

She's changed jobs successfully. She'll be working in a family-style restaurant in the mornings waitressing, and then she is an on-call employee for a catering company in south county (which she LOVES). She worked the US Open (surfing championship) last weekend for four straight days and can't wait for her next event.

Things have been a bit tense around the house.... while her med levels were low, she was a bit manic, and her dad has been, well, cranky. We have a lot going on with my business dying, and his part-time job becoming increasingly difficult (he feels they are trying to run out the old guys, and I can't make a judgment call because I'm not there every day). Finances are tight but sufficient.

What I can see, is his behavior around here which has me a bit concerned. He has always been outspoken and opinionated, but lately he has seemed more intent on having things go his way (even if it means breaking some promises), and at times, downright hurtful and mean.

Since my oldest daughter (DD1) has astutely targeted some of these behaviors and spoken to me out of concern for him, now new things are coming up on my radar screen. Is he well? Is he just turning into a cranky old fart? Or is this possibly indicative of something more?

Heaven knows I can be a cranky old broad. I am determined to try to stay calm and ironically, a lot of what I have learned in Alanon is coming to my aid. I don't have to participate in activities that might result in my being insulted. Every now and then he surprises me with behavior that is so nice/thoughtful that I almost can't believe it is the same person. Then it flips again.

I am trying to walk a fine line between not arguing with him over decisions being made regarding DD2, and trying to encourage her and applaud her accomplishments while insisting that both daughters respect the position he holds in their lives, if they are not able to respect him (his behavior) at some points. I have encouraged both of them to stay focused on their goals to get moved out - that will solve a huge amount of the problem, right there!

We still talk of moving to Tennessee. It all hinges on making sure that Tennessee's guaranteed-issue insurance is still available to me once we arrive. Fifty medical conditions qualify you for that guaranteed issue coverage which I will need for several years before reaching MediCare years. I have one of the fifty conditions.


Much will have to be accomplished around this house (painting, some renovations) to get it ready to sell in another 18-24 months; and I welcome the lightened work schedule which will permit me more time to do some of that preparation for selling, and of course, some sewing and quilting!

LeBoyfriend's brother is still hospitalized, complications include lack of motility in the bowel and an as yet unlocalized infection which has his white count soaring. Once they get his digestive system functioning properly and the infection handled, he will be transferred down here, and begin working on regaining his range of motion, etc.

LeBoyfriend took it upon himself to go to a former employer and apologise for the events of last year, and request that they consider rehiring him to drive for them. He prayed about it, he was honest and open with them, he offered to be drug tested at his expense any time. He was met with understanding, acceptance and a promise to seriously consider his reapplication.

Yesterday he found out that it is almost a certainty that he will get that job back. Driving for an oil refinery is an excellent paying job. One more step in rebuilding his life. I'm so proud of him!


I can't remember whose blog I saw this on, but I have printed it and stuck it on my monitor because it is Oh So True:


"I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to." Amen.

My prayers for all our children continue. :)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Looking for the Wisdom

At her most recent parole visit, my daughter was informed by the psych office that they will no longer be providing bupropion (generic for Wellbutrin). They will still cover her other medication, but he didn't recommend she take the other one alone. None of the medications they will still cover have proved effective in the past.

Their reason? The parole psychiatric board has decided that bupropion has been abused by some parolees in the past. Apparently by whatever means (crushed, cooked and injected? crushed and snorted? I dunno!) it gives a somewhat methamphetamine-ish feeling. Speed was not my daughter's drug of choice, though she has done it in the past. Heroin is her drug.

That's it. The end. No detox or tapering down. She's just going to be out of meds. And she's feeling the return of the bipolar symptoms. We're seeing them.

I'm trying to locate the best price and then I will approach both my personal physician and a neurologist I actually work for. Both are familiar with my daughter's situation. Perhaps one of them will continue to write her Rx.

In the meantime, she's trying to work hard, taper the second med and face the possibility that she may not be able to get her meds for a while. It took us a decade to get her willing to take them. She did it as a condition for coming home. I'm at a loss to understand why this has happened, but I'm sure there is a reason. Maybe she will be able to stabilize and maintain both her sobriety and living with her manic depressive symptoms. Time will tell.

Update on LeBoyfriend's Brother: Surgery went well, and after he is fitted with a back brace, they hope to transfer him home (five hour journey, I think) for recuperation.


And I found out that the swimming hole they had found was one the boys jumped as kids, when they were as young as 8 and 10. The family camped there every year, and this was a spot that LeBoyfriend had written to my daughter about when they were in prison. He described it as heaven on earth, with endless stars at night and beauty everywhere you looked. He told her if they did well when they got out, he would take her there.

He worked so hard to put this trip together, saved his money for camping equipment and food, bussed in his 16-year-old daughter and her boyfriend to go with them, and brought everyone together for a fun four day camping trip. He's so sad right now that his brother was hurt. He feels so responsible! He's already making plans to help with brother's financial responsibilities until he can work again.

He just never thought about getting older, bodies not being able to take what they used to take, etc. I still think it was more remote than it needed to be, but the fact that his family had been there for years makes me understand it a little better. It was just a fluke, I guess.

Prayers continue for all our children, and especially
Beth.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Oopsie

I'm a little cranky about this, so excuse the snarky attitude displayed in my writing today.


So LeBoyfriend and DD2, and his Brother and Brother's wife, all went camping in some remote area by a river, I think way outside of Fresno, and since I am not from this area, I have no clue really, where they were. I suggested they do something more local, with maybe a touch more civilization involved. Like maybe at least near a KOA campground, if not in it? I suggested that remote wasn't necessary. I suggested that there are things like bears. Snakes. And the occasional random injury that might require attention.

Nope, the immortality complex being what it is, they gleefully loaded up the two speed boats, and drove the boys' two big pickup trucks full of camping gear and off into the sunset they went. They have been there several days, and have had a ball.

Well, I presume they've had a ball. They are so remote there is no cell phone coverage. It's been nice and quiet here, and I've assumed no news was good news.

I got a call from Brother's Wife tonight, because "DD2 can't talk cos she's driving LeBoyfriend's truck and the boat." Huh? She has never driven anything like that.

Or maybe she has, and I just don't know that, but anyway, my comment remains. Huh?

Well, she had to drive the truck, you see, because LeBoyfriend was driving Brother's truck and boat.

Why isn't Brother driving Brother's truck? Oh, because Brother is in the emergency room.

Really.

Finally, I got some answers.

Seems they were jumping into a portion of the river that formed a sort of swimming hole. Brother jumped. He somehow hit the water wrong and had to have help getting dragged out. He was in tremendous pain in his back. He impulsively tried to get up and walk and that resulted in him becoming white as a sheet, dropping like a stone, and starting to shake and being diaphoretic and disoriented.

I'm sure I'll get more details later. At this point, the story delivered by Brother's Wife was a chaotic swirl of "hiked out to the trucks to drive and call for help, EMT's came and hiked in, radio call sent out for helicopter, firefighters called in to remove TREES so Med-Evac could land, and Brother was Med-Evac'd out to a hospital in Fresno."


After Brother was successfully airlifted, the rest of them had to break camp, load the boats from the river onto the trailers, and then my daughter began the adventure of creeping down the mountain driving a truck and trailer with a speed boat on it. With LeBoyfriend driving right in front of her biting his nails as he watched her drive his monster truck and boat for the first time, while he drove Brother's truck and boat.

This all took place at 1 pm? Or maybe the adventure began at 1? All I know is that it was almost 9 PM when they called to tell me this disjointed story, and they had arrived at the hospital and were with Brother. Neurosurgery was at the bedside doing a consultation for a compound fracture of his back, revealed by the MRI.

Apparently he is still moving arms and legs, so I find that positive. He will need a lot of treatment, immobilization perhaps, or quite possibly some surgery. More will be revealed.

Addicts just can't do anything the safe or simple way. I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, I'm just saying this is how it seems to go. Their "thinkers" seem broken to me. Or maybe it's the immaturity that persists because the drug use got in the way of the maturing process. They had choices that would have been safer or closer to facilities in case of need. Bears and snakes turned out to be the least of the issues. Brother was brought down by a swimming hole.

Of course, it wasn't until my third phone call from them that they let it slip that the jump into the swimming hole was off a river bank from a height of about thirty feet.

Not smart.

I wonder if there was an officer of the law anywhere around during all of this? That would count as police contact, and oopsie….

None of them had permission from parole officers to be out of the county.

And the lessons continue!!


I think my crankiness is due to concern that she will lose her job(s) if she lingers there at the hospital, with the rest of the family. I suggested she hop a greyhound, come back and get back to work on time and then plan on spending a lot of time visiting him on weekends and helping out once he is transferred down here. But, her decisions are hers to make. If she wants to risk losing her income and the ensuing arguments with her Dad over her inability to pay her bills, that's on her. I will just pray for wisdom for her and healing for Brother. And maybe some maturity for the lot of them and some understanding of the fragility of the human body and life in general!


......sigh......


Edited to add: the boys' parents are at Brother's side; my daughter and LeBoyfriend are returning home tomorrow to resume work schedules on time. Surgery for Brother is Thursday morning (spinal fusion with rodding (2) and fixation, possible Allograft). If all goes well, once surgery is complete, discharge will be rapid, likely Saturday or Sunday, because once the fusion is done, the fracture can't really move or displace. They had Brother and Wife's five-year-old son with them for the camping trip and he's understandably worried about daddy since he witnessed the whole thing, but the firemen/paramedics/helicopter were both exciting and reassuring for him. Looks like this adventure will have a happy ending, and I am grateful!



Friday, June 10, 2011

Six months at home, and all is well.

Just checking in.... All is well here. My daughter is doing well. She and LeBoyfriend went to Modesto (48 hour travel pass granted by their parole officers) to see his 16 year old daughter. They're having a ball, away from work, relaxing, etc. She's due home tonight.

She seems to be doing okay. She appears to be sober. She is working. She isolates a lot, which makes DD1 and I sad. She talked all the time, like she always does, in prison/jail, about wanting to come home and just be with her family. She saturated herself with us the first month. She sat in the living room/dining room area, which is the central portion of the house, and painted for a month when she first got out. She painted, she listened to us, she smiled at us, she talked to us..... She soaked us up. Now, she's back to normal. She works and comes home, does whatever chores we ask once a week (usually!), and then makes food and goes to her room and watches TV and sleeps. (Partly, that is because her dad is a cranky guy and no one can interrupt his viewing of the daily news (times three shows at least) and his TV favorites or his 1950s netflix movies. Yuck.) She passed both classes she took at the local college, with B's! Sometimes she gets in my sewing room and makes a jeans skirt or a pair of shorts. Sometimes she gets creative in the kitchen and sets off the fire alarm. I'm savoring all of it! (Literally! The kung pao shrimp she made last weekend was to die for!)


She gets to work on time. Every single day. She pays her "contribution" to us, and she pays her bills. She lives for the weekends and the church services at the Crossing and her activities with LeBoyfriend. Sounds like a normal young adult, I guess! And I am grateful.

I'm busy with my work, and whatever spare time I can finagle gets used gardening and in my sewing room. Life is really good right now. I am enjoying it, tempered with the realization that addiction is a sneaky disease, and that one day at a time is the only way to live, for me.

I continue to pray for all our children. I wish us all a peaceful weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The chinks in the armor ....

That's what we used to call it when my husband went to start a new job (in his former life) in his marketing career. He was wined, dined, treated like royalty until he accepted the job offer, moved, unpacked, introduced, welcomed, put to work, and then the situation would start to fall apart. He'd start coming home from work saying "Lions 3, Christians 0." And talking about the chinks in the armor starting to show.

Edited to add: I apologise now for the length of this. I got a tad rambly very extremely longwinded. Also, I'm sorry it's been so long since I've updated.

All in all, I think things are going well. I think chinks have shown up here and there, but overall, we're intact and doing very well!

She's passing both college classes, with a B and a high C right now.

She is working.

She probably is not taking her medications. The bottle never seems to go down.

She is seeing parole and psych at parole.

LeBoyfriend is working hard at odd jobs, construction jobs, and has recently started a part time job driving a cement truck which will grow to full time very quickly. He is attending a Bible study each week and has a good support group.

They have missed a few times of going to the Lifelines meeting on Friday night. She didn't want to have to speak on birthday night, for one of the meetings, so talked him out of it. She has never enjoyed chip-taking if speaking was involved (for the yearly birthdays, etc). I would have like to have seen/heard it, and she was fine with me being there, just didn't want to do it. I bowed out early to make sure my presence was not weighing on her at all, and she still didn't want to go, when it came down to it. They spent time with his family, enjoying his sister's family and kids, instead.

They continue to go to church Sunday AM and spend Sunday with his family. Saturdays they spend with us. He is doing odd jobs for us also.

Husband left water running to fill a ginormous dog bowl upstairs (bowl so big it hung out over edge of cabinet) and then forgot about it when he came downstairs for something. Forty-five minutes later he's down here watching the Eternal TV News and starts screaming, "I think we have a leak, I think we have a leak!" LeBoyfriend happened to be here and within seconds he was barking orders that we were scurrying to carry out. "Babe, I need the (insert random tool name here) from my truck", etc, etc. Carpet ripped out, padding ripped out, and holes poked in ceilings and buckets in place…..


Once the immediate crisis was past, LeBoyfriend had quite a few hours work with us last week! For a time, communication through the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen took place through a gaping hole. I haven't stopped smiling (privately) to myself yet. Husband never screws up. It's not something he allows himself and he does his best to make sure no one else screws up around him (constant reminders and unsolicited advice, etc). But this time he pulled a doozy. He has yet to acknowledge that he screwed up. But the rest of us are relieved to see a bit of humanity in him. Not humility. But humanity.

Never the less, I have simply mopped up, acted normal and I'm very grateful that it was not any worse than it was. (LeBoyfriend's hourly wage ain't cheap and I refuse to take advantage of the relationship - he gets paid!)

She got a car. $970 and 175,000 miles on it, a few leaks and a few quirks, but she now has "her freedom". After she unlocks the door on the passenger side each morning and reaches over and opens the driver's door from inside - she's good to go!! And the bullet hole in the left rear panel is extra ventilation, right!?!

Seriously, it's a really cute car (even has a little spoiler on the back) and it suits her. I bought her a sticker (she picked) that says "Faith, hope, love" to go on the back window. It will take all three to keep it on the road, but she's proud of it, and I'm proud of her!

Getting the car was a big issue with her dad. He wasn't opposed to her having a car, just not his, and not yet. She scrimped, saved, chased down ads on Craig's List, and LeBoyfriend checked out the ones she found and loaned her a bit of money so she'd have enough to get the one they finally decided on.

Her dad admitted to me that he is afraid she will use it to get heroin. I am afraid she will get heroin from a fellow employee, or someone who meets her at the gym after I have dropped her off, or in the parking lot after a meeting. Having the car doesn't make it any more likely, I don't think. Easier maybe? But if she's not done, then she's not done. And she needs to find that out, make her decisions, and learn what she has to learn. We can't continue to try to come between her and her lessons. That's my opinion, anyway. Her dad says we still have an obligation to try to fix this. Ummm. No.

The honeymoon period is certainly over, but thankfully, I can't point to anything that is wrong. She is cranky at times, but she is starving herself and has lost 25 pounds with a stringent diet and a LOT of exercise. That would make me cranky.

So would being chased down the street in her jammies by a mad man who found her at the end of the driveway smoking when she thought he was in the shower. Oopsie!

She is a bit edgy. Le Boyfriend has noticed. The edginess started when the meds were changed a few months ago. Seems to be getting worse as fewer pills disappear from her bottle. But it is her unmedicated, bipolar "normal", that I think I am seeing/hearing.

She is paying her bills to us, and she has gotten car insurance and is paying for her cell phone, gas, etc.

Her father is often cranky also. That is his modus operandi, or whatever the word is. He actually used the words "cranky and morose" to describe his feelings in the one family therapy group we attended back in the days of the first rehab. He is sometimes the spitting image of his own father. It can sometimes be a sad image, hunched over the newspaper or the news show, frowning, muttering. I wish that he could be happier. I can't fix that either. Damn.


He and DD2 clash now and again. He's still harping on the cigs. And he told her the car was going to be a problem, as far as parking around here.... We have six cars here now, for 3.1 drivers.

He wasn't willing to let her drive one of his "ever again", so duh, she got one of her own. I work at home and never go anywhere so I am the 0.1 driver. I kind of like having to only deal with three other people on the job: Me, Myself and I. We usually agree on things like naps and breaks.

I guess it's a guy thing, but his "problem" could be alleviated if he would get rid of some of his cars. Two are never (hardly ever) driven, except around the block to recharge the battery. Otherwise he pats them lovingly, pays for the insurance and registration, and that's it (a big 2006 Chevy van and an old VW Vanagon). In all fairness we have occasionally used the Chevy van to bring home long boards for fencing, or bags of dirt…. But we could have rented a van when necessary and been money ahead…. That car payment was steep, for several years! Oh well, he has his Flee Van in case we have to flee because of terrorism or earthquake, five dogs in crates and maybe me and the kids in crates too - who knows!?!

The other two cars, he takes turns driving to work. They are beaters with high miles and refuse to die. Four cars, for he and I. Our oldest daughter bought a car she is paying off that is hers and hers alone. So DD2 bought herself this beater. And SHE is causing a problem with the parking around here?

I have made it clear to the girls that when it's just me and their dad, life is very okay for me. They worry when he's cranky and morose, and they tend to forget the flowers he brings me, the little surprises from time to time that he leaves in their rooms, the "you're beautiful" he directs at me at the oddest times (like when I'm covered with sweat and mud from the garden), etc. He and I can live quite contentedly and happily here, and (importantly) we don't push each other's buttons. So I don't need to hear about what a pain he can be.


I certainly can be a witch with a capital "B".

But, I can keep my promises to have and to hold, and I truly am content with my life and with him, as long as he's the only one I have to deal with. But add them to the mix, 24/7, and there come the arguments. His mouth gets into gear before his brain, hurtful and unnecessary triggering things are said, and they're off in another skirmish.

And when it gets right down to it, at the ages of 28 and 30, they should not be here. But with the economy and housing/rental prices in O.C., and the job market? It is what it is.

She's really doing very well, all things considered. I am oh-so-proud of her and I pray her efforts continue. I pray, pray, pray that we are able to hold on until December when she and LeBoyfriend are off parole, because that is when they want to get a place together. One of my friends is downsizing in July and has suggested to them that they get a small storage unit by then, cos she will be giving them a lot of nice things like pots, pans, tables, shelves, etc. They are THRILLED!

I've been working very hard on my garden. With gas prices so high, it's no wonder produce prices are at an all time high too. I don't really enjoy the gardening as far as the digging, spiders, etc. I have dropped hints that This Mama would love a Baby Rototiller for Mother's day, or Flag Day, or the third Friday after the full moon. I'm thinking those Mantis tillers are just my speed! (well, all but the price! although it's less than one month's payment on a Chevy Van.... heh heh!)

But I really really like picking my dinner 30 minutes before I cook it, and knowing it is pesticide-free, and after the cost of seeds, amazingly inexpensive! I'm trying to balance a couple hours in garden digging, with a couple hours in my quilting/sewing room, both after a full day's work, every single day, in the home office and half days on the weekends.

Actually, the problematic car is a bit of a good thing to me. I was pretty tired of the increased driving, though I counted it a blessing to have the opportunity!

I told her before she came home from prison, repeatedly, that I did not think we were the right place for her. As much as I love her, and oh I love her so much!, we are not the healthiest place for her.

I say this each time, and then I get behind the majority vote and try my best to be supportive and encouraging. More often than not, I end up trying to restate hurtful things that are said, in a less hurtful way. "He really means that there will be times when all the cars are too much for the parking space we have, and garbage day is one of those times" I chirp, when he blurts out "I told you that your car was going to be a problem."

Hi, my name is Joy and I am still working on my codependency issues!

My prayers continue for all our children and loved ones…..

P.S. Happy Mothers' Day to all the moms!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

She's every bit as awesome as I expected!

I met Barbara last night at the Lifelines meeting! I walked over to the coffee area outside the facility, where they have "the meeting before the meeting" and there she was! She's warm and compassionate, and even more pretty in person than her pictures and Yay! for finally getting to meet her!

We were able to talk a bit while the kids participated in the Smoking Ritual that precedes and follows the meetings. The meeting itself was great; I get an infusion of hope each time I'm there and see some of the old timers with multiple years of recovery, and watching the distribution of chips, etc. It can be done!

The speaker was excellent. I would love, love, love to just sit in more situations like that and absorb more knowledge. I have already read Barbara's post about it, and I was struck by the comments the speaker made about love also. I tend to have the same reaction to an expression of love, or even a compliment. Sigh. I must work on that.

In addition, the speaker mentioned that 80% of addicts carry the damage/hurt/pain of some sort of abuse with them. Not all who are abused become addicts. But 80% of those who are addicts have been abused. I commented to Barbara afterwards, that THAT is one of my biggest confusions. We have it drilled into us as parents, that we DID NOT CAUSE IT, can't cure it, can't fix it, etc. And yet, for 80% of the addicts, something happened "on our watch" as parents, either by our own hands/voices or someone else's that our children were entrusted to, that deeply hurt our kids. (Of course, it's probably the codependant part of me that is assuming that my daughter is in that 80%? Had to be something I was responsible for, right?!! Hmmmm.)


I mentioned this to DD2 as we drove home. That I am so sorry for whatever part I may have played, by omission or commission, in her life that led to her pain. I know I can't fix it now, but I really wish I knew exactly how we screwed up. I'm not saying I caused it. But I know and she confirms (on multiple occasions to different therapists and treatment specialists and to me) that she was not abused, molested, beaten, etc. She never suffered the rants of a drunken parent. We were, and we are, FAR from perfect. I'm thinking perhaps there was something more subtle. She thinks it was more verbal, and involved her dad's verbal treatment of both her, her sister, and me, and my remaining with him in spite of it. She reiterated, "I don't think it's anything you did, Mom, I had everything I needed or wanted, I don't think you guys are responsible."

So we're back to the full circle. I may never know what it was. I'm over feeling guilty about it, because I carry crappy baggage from my own childhood that has shaped me and caused my own mental health and self esteem issues…. And yet I fully believe my parents, who were damaged themselves by their well-meaning but dysfunctional families, did the absolute best they could and loved/love me fiercely.

I didn't cause it, can't cure it, can't fix it. But still, something happened on "my watch" as her dad calls it, that left a gaping painful void that she tried to fill with drugs. Ugh.

At any rate, I am back to my gratitudes and my focus is on the positives. There are many, but in particular: My daughter is sober and continues to plod forward, rebuilding her life, and I got to meet a beautiful woman named Barbara last night and I hope we get to see each other again soon!


P.S. My name has slipped out on several occasions on this blog in comments, etc. I'm fine with that - Hi, my name is Joy, and I'm a codependant and a funloving, crazy, but harmless one, at that! :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tonight

I've missed the Lifelines meeting for a couple of weeks due to this thing called Life, and this other thing called Work.

But tonight, I'm going, meeting daughter and LeBoyfriend there,

and....

drumroll...........

If all goes well, I'm meeting one of us!!

I won't say any more in case that pesky Life stuff gets in the way. But I have my fingers crossed. I'll be waiting. By the coffee pots.

And since I just helped LeBoyfriend offload 30 two-cubic-foot bags of well-cooked compost (from a stable, a mixture of manure and sawdust from an area sawmill!) out of the back of his truck....

Yeah, that'll be me. The one that smells faintly of horse poo! Waiting with a big hug!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

One day at a time, one year!

My daughter, LeBoyfriend and LeBoyfriend's brother all have one year clean today.












All are working. All are attending The Crossing Church.


My daughter is impatient about having wheels. But this too, will come. She's trying to save her money, and her dad helpfully (?) reminded her she'd need insurance and that gas costs may keep the wheels parked in the driveway from time to time.


She is passing both classes she is taking at the community college. One with a C, one with a B. She has plans to take two courses next semester. One will be a business class, as she hopes to someday be the "office staff" behind LeBoyfriend's construction/driving company.


I'm not convinced she is taking her medication properly and I AM convinced it is not as effective as the one they initially sent her home with, from prison. LeBoyfriend has noticed and commented to her that there is a difference in her "edginess" but this seems to be slowly resolving. This comes under the heading of "not my business". So I won't move it into my hula hoop!


The needling from the Dad about the cigarettes continues. She ignores his comments, or answers calmly and then goes right out the door and up the street to smoke. He seems to be wearying of the efforts to engage her in that conflict. Yay!


We've been a party of four in this home again, for four months. It is a decision I do not regret. I treasure each moment that I have with her, seeing her interact with her sister and playing with her dog, driving her to work/parole/psych, going shopping with her on her payday for a new shirt for her datenight with LeBoyfriend. I am revelling in the beauty of having her in our lives, clean, sober and healthy. We have our not-so-pretty moments here, but I am amazed at how well this has gone, thus far.


She's not doing 'meetings' so to speak, except the one 12-step meeting at Lifelines every Friday night at the Crossing Church. The last Friday of the month, the year birthdays are celebrated. I'll be there with her sister, to see her take that chip at the end of this month.


I'll be the one with the box of Kleenex tucked under one arm. My emotionalism is still at an all time high, but I remain,


one very grateful,


hopeful,


Mom of a Beautiful Young Woman who just happens to suffer from the disease of Addiction.


Prayers for all our loved ones and their families continue!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Hard work continues

She's getting her butt out of the bed at 4:45 every morning, smoking a cig on the front porch (while The Dad still sleeps) and sipping her coffee while psyching herself up for the day.

She's at work on time daily (I give her a ride but I do not get her up, or insist that she get in the car by a certain time - I just get myself ready and work at my desk until she says she's ready, grab my keys, and off we go).

She's making just over minimum wage and grateful. She's thinking about taking on a another job to help save money for a car. She's trying to be an Avon erep, but money is tight for everyone! She has to sell $80.00 worth of Avon a month just to cover the cost of the website, so I think she may stop that soon. The whole reason she wanted to do it was to put the profit after costs into a "car fund".

She's taking her medications. The parole psych doctor changed them recently and she seems less stable on the new combination. But that's for her to discuss with her doctor, I guess.

She is taking one class on campus at the local college and one online (at same college).

She paid "rent" immediately, for the whole month, with her first paycheck.

She lives for her weekends, which is her time to get to a meeting at the Crossing, and also to spend time with LeBoyfriend either at his family's house, or ours. They are very low key on the weekends, preferring to go to a movie, fix pizza at home, and attend Sunday services with his family.

She followed up on her financial aid applications this past week and discovered she qualified for fee waivers resulting in a complete refund to her dad for class costs and registration fees. Yay!

Against this backdrop of continued effort and positive results, I feel like I have no room to gripe! It's not the rosy picture it seems, given that The Dad continues to needle her daily about her smoking, and is trying to insure that we only drive the 20 miles to the Friday night church recovery meeting every other week. Gas costs are painful, and he "doesn't see the need." (Her commute to work each day is 1.3 miles - what a blessing!)

You can imagine how his lack of understanding of her need to get to a meeting of her choice once a week is impacting my serenity. She took the bus down there last week - the trip took an hour and a half, straight through the areas where she "connected" most often when using. Yes, I know it is codependent of me to be concerned about this. But really, wouldn't spending $8-10 a week in gas to get her to a meeting be "enabling recovery"? His constant needling about her smoking isn't helping her OR me either. She is dutifully walking up the street four lots to smoke at a vacant corner as per his wishes (except for that morning cigarette that he sleeps through), and still, daily he tells her "too many, too many, you promised you would stop", etc. She takes it in stride, but geez.

If you read about some crazy woman in SoCal taking a garden hoe to her husband's head, you'll know it was me.

She's doing SO well. I look at her efforts and her successes (high praise from her bosses, making the choice to skip an optional free drinks/food celebration with her coworkers at a bar because she thought it might be a trigger, voluntarily picking up extra hours on Saturdays, carefully budgeting to start paying probation and back taxes, and unbeknownst to The Dad, purchasing his birthday present two months early because she saw something that he will love…..) and I think she's really doing an AWESOME job working on her recovery and rebuilding her life.

I don't understand my own state of mind right now. I'm positively schizoid. I'm profoundly grateful and at the same time, exhausted, stressed, and emotional. I think I have had tears in my eyes about ten times already today. What's up with that!

Maybe its hormones or menopause or something like that. Maybe it's the financial strain of my economy. Note I did not say The Economy. The only economy that I'm really worried about is mine, and mine sucks.

But really, it's all good. She's clean, productive, and willing (98% of the time!). That pretty much outweighs everything else! I am so proud of her.... love her so much!

At any rate, I am just checking in, and thought I'd post an update. Now, I'm going to take my grateful self off to take a nap!

Continuing to pray for all our families and our precious children…..

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Seven weeks of hard work later....

Some good things to report!

I’ve been scarce and I apologize. I’ve been peeking at blogs now and then but for the most part, I’ve been busier than I would have believed possible.

DD2 is doing pretty well, all things considered. Really well, in fact.

1. She is sober.
2. She has been taking her medications.
3. She has been wallpapering the internet with her resume, and we’ve been out almost daily, for interviews, often dropping off additional resumes along the way.
4. She has seen parole, and the judge, when scheduled.
5. She is attending meetings at The Crossing Church.

It’s all finally paying off.

She went before the judge and this was the first and only time I’ve been to court with her. Her public defender failed to show up! The judge (along with everyone we encountered along the way, making the court date, getting paperwork, etc) had no clue why we were there.

When told that the Probation office wanted to violate her for an offense that the courts say they did not want her for….(long story)……the judge told her he had nothing to say to her. She begged him to give her something in writing, stating that Probation was telling her to turn herself in for arrest, if this was not “squashed.” The judge peered over his glasses at her. He listened while a side bar probation representative piped up and confirmed that the on-line records she had pulled up on her screen confirmed this, and then bellowed “Is Probation really going to try to tell me what to do in MY courtroom?!”

Everyone snickered. The Probation representative said she was calling DD2’s probation officer and telling her it was squashed.

DD2 walked out of the courtroom with everything settled. No violations, no jail time, no additional prison time. She had done the leg work and paper work in prison, and she was free to get on with her life. She reports only to Parole, who immediately put her on “informal”. They talk once a month. The end.

LeBoyfriend briefly was jailed and then his judge did the same. He’s out and working. Yes, WORKING!

LeBoyfriend’s brother did not fair as well. Four months more, in prison, for the same violation that my daughter’s judge refused to weigh in on.

Did my daughter get Justice? Not at all. Grace? You bet.

She has kept putting one foot in front of the other. The job search has been dismal. One company called her back for FOUR additional interviews and then sent her a rejection letter. Ugh.

She's settled in well here at home. The only real problem we are having is the smoking issue. I can deal with everything else that has come up. But when her dad starts in on the smoking, I literally get dizzy. She trots down the block several times a day to smoke. He is furious that friends are giving her cigarettes. I mentioned once that his mother smoked til she died (of some type of stomach cancer) at 77, and I'd be grateful to have DD2 that long..... Cigarette versus needle. Give me a break. There is just no comparison. He is irrational on the subject and I have left that up to the two of them. I am not coming between them, not negotiating, not trying to change anyone's mind. Not my battle.


She’s taking three classes at a local college this semester. Two online (a history and a sociology), and one on campus (a Microsoft Suite class I’m taking with her). We will conquer Excel, Outlook, Access and Word together – because my days in the transcription biz are dwindling, as proven by my disappearing income!

She’s applied for a grant and we should hear about that next week. Every little bit helps. If she gets the grant, she plans to pay her dad back for the classes/books and then try to get a cheap laptop, as the classes are online (history and sociology), or word processing (Microsoft Suite).

On recommendation of Parole, she decided to pursue SSI, and started the process (four months long) on Monday. If she gets a job, she can stop that process at any time, but she figured it would be better to get it started, than find out four months from now that she still was unemployed.

Today, she had another interview and we stopped at the library on the way home to pick up a few more books for her to read. When we got home, she had a message from one of the jobs she had applied for that she really wanted. The guy she had interviewed with said “he was really excited about talking with her again and to please call him as soon as possible.”

She went upstairs to make the call and moments later the screaming started. “I got it, I got it!”

It’s a customer service job, phones, dispatch, paperwork, small office, auto collision repair company, business casual dress code, 30 hours a week now, 40 hours a week soon, and she thinks there are benefits.

One and a half miles from our house.

We haven’t stopped dancing yet.

Prayers continue for all our beloved children and families!