Sunday, March 21, 2010

I'll Miss You

It's time to close ranks around our family. My deepest gratitude to all, you have made it an adventure.

As far as what I've learned about addiction/recovery,  I quote Mark Twain:  "Education is the path from cocky ignorance to miserable uncertainty." 

Truth is, my addict is not your addict, our family dynamics are not yours.  Al-Anon helped me learn to trust myself and my decisions.  It doesn't make my choices right, but it took away the paralyzing fear of making them.
Here is a two year time capsule of one family's story. 

I started the blog with a junky top ten list; I'll end with one.

Top 10 Truths after 10 Years

     1.  Heroin is mean and tenacious. Be prepared for the long haul.

     2.  Every junky tries at least once to clean up by switching addictions, usually (alcoholic) drinking.

     3.  Addicts/ alcoholics do not want to quit using; they want to quit suffering consequences for using.

     4.  Ten years of IV drug use leave irreparable neurological, physical, and emotional damage.

     5.  Long term methadone or suboxone maintenance is the best option for some.

     6.  Just when you're ready to give up on them,  Hope whispers, "Try one more time."

      7. Meet your addict where they are, not where you wish they were.

      8. When in doubt, pray.

      9.  Err on the side of compassion, but don't leave your car keys out.


     10. Recovery is a spiritual transformation.  Not using drugs does not equal recovery.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

On Break

Too much going on, too little time...taking a break. If I get a tan while I'm at it, all the better.

Friday, March 5, 2010


A free day, no responsibilities, house to myself.

Plenty of time to kneel, look inside, verse today is "O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to me cry for mercy, in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief".

Sit in the big leather chair, read A Purpose Driven Life again, fill my thoughts with hope and love, open the Big Book, I have highlighted "To conclude others were wrong was as far as most of us ever got".

Walk on the slippery earth trail, watch out for deep puddles, hold the tiny bud of the apple tree against my cheek, the first warm sun of spring in the sky.

Call my husband, pray for my children, tell my mother she is the greatest, later girl talk over coffee.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Changing Course

A friend told me my writing here had changed, that when I started blogging I was "all over the place".

I do remember being all over the place. Today I have faith everything will be alright. No matter what happens, I have a place of serenity; I know how to find support and comfort. Mostly, I can mind my own business.

I'm not writing a book, nor do I harbor illusions of being an author. I ignore the emails asking me to endorse products or websites. This was, and is, my sorting out place.

I'm thinking lately about how much information I put out about Andrew.  Addicts and alcoholics face an uphill battle for a long time.  Having his every move interpreted through me no longer seems right.  I'm going to leave him to his life; it feels like time to move on.

 AlAnon tells me I only have to deal with my feelings today, so there is no urgency in making up my mind.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sticking With It

Tonight I attend the fourth in a six meeting orientation at Expensive Cutting Edge Treatment Center. This is the same mandatory program family members of inpatients must attend. The goal is to develop a 20 minute intro to AlAnon, and present it once a month at family sessions.

So far, it's been disappointing.

First, family members are late. It starts at 6:00p, and people trickle in up to 7:00p. It's winter here, and the clothing associated with that does not make for subtle entrances. Then they must sign in, get name tags, take hand outs. Sure you have to work, but your kid is in inpatient substance abuse treatment. Could you make it a priority to get here on time?

Second, there is always one (or two) people who mistake "orientation" for "free therapy". Sensing an opening, they launch into long histories of their own tortured childhoods, or a litany of complaints about the family member. You are here for your loved one. Maybe you could be quiet, and listen?

Third, cross talk. Interrupting. Advice and opinions. Too much information. So you are 50 years old, a successful real estate investor, and still smoke pot every week end. What's your point in boasting about that?

I put out the AlAnon meeting list, and the booklet "AlAnon Faces Alcoholism, 2010". Attendance is voluntary.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Grateful

I remember a blogger game "where I blog".  This is my room, with my wedding anniversary roses on top. We got cards from Andrew and our daughter. It was a special week end.

Not your ordinary gratitude:

1) the love of Andrew's life is locked up till Nov, 2011
2) my daughter picked up, even though she saw it was me calling
3) our cat hasn't scratch me today (yet)
4) I didn't hit publish on three different comments I left on posts
5) I don't have to wonder if I made three different people mad
6) 33 years of marriage is like James Taylor's "you've got a friend" 
7) My lunch today is The Dad's excellent left over bruschetta 
8) Two words:  renewed intimacy....:)

 Where do you blog?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

They Said It Wouldn't Last

It's our 33rd wedding anniversary.  My daughter sent this card-


and inside it read:

We are going away for a few days. You guys behave!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I cannot handle whining blogs.  I'm appalled when your blog is all bitching about your family members (or friends or co workers), and then you post indignantly when they find your blog and call you on it.  

I'm on a roll...

if you got clean and sober your first attempt, it was by the grace of God, not because you hold some smug, secret will power others don't possess.

I feel a special bond with the blogs I read (and comment).  They are genuine, even if I don't always agree.

What about the awesome people who comment here? You are civil, empathetic, and I swear--psychic. You have the right words.  You have taught me to be less of a sarcastic steam roller (OK, that's a work in progress).

Andrew is ensconced in yet another institution. It bothers me, the resources spent on him, but I know a junky running amok costs society much more. He stopped himself,  he saw where it was going and made a conscious decision not to go there. 

It's a good day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So, today is one of those days I wish our family life wasn't so open to scrutiny (judgment?). I think, do I really need to tell all?  It's my hope you see an average, middle class family here. Lots of ups and downs, but sticking together in our own fumbling fashion.

Andrew went to his parole officer yesterday, and told her he has been using for two weeks (since his last drug test), and he needed help.  He told her he was days away from a full on run.  She called The Dad and said she was getting him into a 30 day treatment center within 48 hours.  Dad told her we really appreciated that.

Thankfully I didn't wait for the next crisis before I started going to AlAnon.  When I got the news, I had a sponsor to call. I had tools to center myself, and a deep faith that my loving God has a plan for me. And you. Andrew too.

"All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen"   Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 22, 2010

Off The Topic

 An AA lady in my home AlAnon group is a character.  When sharing, she is always interjecting the AA promises, referring us to pages in the BB, and such.  The RULES are a person is not supposed to quote non conference approved AlAnon literature at the tables.

Some AlAnons are very rule conscious (as I learned the hard way).  Depending on the table, some leaders cut the AA lady off when she starts quoting the BB.  If I'm leading the table,  I let it go.

Fellow AlAnons, please don't point out to me the importance of following the rules. The lady brings humor, and frankly that is sometimes lacking in AlAnon meetings. Anyway, it's my meeting, not yours:)

She always has some good AA slogans I've never heard before. Yesterday, on the topic of fear she  shouted out :


F**k everything and run... OR.... Face everything and recover."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A New Adventure

By way of AlAnon service work, I met a psychiatrist at a large, hospital based treatment center. They have inpatient treatment, long term outpatient, counseling--a comprehensive place, and based on 12 steps .

Family of inpatients are required to attend the six session family program (everyone else is welcome). I was asked to develop a talk on boundaries (from an AlAnon perspective) for one of the sessions, as that concept always generates the most questions.

I have to attend all six sessions first, as well as at least four open talks where addicts share their stories. Last night was the lecture on how drugs of abuse (of course, that includes the drug alcohol) affect the body and brain. I was expecting animated DNA with cartoon heads, and a laser pointer, but the counselor used handmade poster boards to explain the science behind addiction.

I sat around a table with shell shocked family members who looked like they wanted to jump from acetaldehyde and GABA receptors to "why won't they just stop".

I thought about the long process a family goes through; it's not over with a rehab, a few meetings, jail, or promises. Families get stuck in why me, why us, and other unanswerable and ultimately unimportant questions. We were given a nifty little chart that demonstrated how every stage of addiction was mirrored by predictable family behavior (a progressive and chronic disease).

At any point along the time line, any family member can step out of the diagram, and work on changing the only person they can-themself.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Yesterday's post reminded me when smoking was a rite of passage. I bought my first pack of Marlboro Reds in the box at age 13. They cost 21 cents at the base exchange (my dad was in the Army). No one questioned a 13 year old buying cigarettes. If they did, no problem, there were cigarettte machines everywhere!

I hated Winstons. If I ran out of Marlboros, I wouldn't smoke a friend's Winston. Kind of like diet Coke and diet Pepsi.

My husband started smoking at 13 also, and smoked Kools for 30 years. He used to fire up one of those suckers before he got out of bed every morning. I hated Kools. If I ran out, I would never smoke a Kool, but if he ran out he would smoke my Marlboros. One time he smoked my last one, and I was furious.

I also hated Lucky Strikes, Tareytons, Camels, Viceroys, Newports, Pall Malls, and Benson & Hedges (blech!). I would go without rather than smoke those. In retrospect, I was a cigarette snob.

In my 30's, I decided Vantage cigarettes (Rich Taste, Low Tar!) would be a healthier choice. You had to really suck on those with their weird filter thingy.

At 38, I quit cold turkey, I was tired of it. I had smoked a pack a day for 25 years without even realizing it.

It took a few years to get my lung capacity back, but after awhile I was running half marathons, then marathons. I'm trying to find a moral in that, but I can't.

How many years did you smoke?