Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where do I go from here?

OK, I think I've climbed out of my dark hole after the ruthless encounter with the truth ("Fish bowl" letter-reading event at my son's rehab). I feel better for knowing more of the truth, for removing all lingering thoughts of denial, and for concluding I now need to take care of myself.

I have had only one phone conversation with Daniel. It was brief and I delivered the message that I'm working through my hurt and anger and need some time. I told him that while I may be distant now, I plan to re-engage with him in a healthier way in the future.

But what does that really mean? Some days I want to call him just to say "Hi". But then I'm not sure what else to say to him. How are you doing? How is rehab going? I'm not sure he will tell me the truth so how do I know what to ask? I don't want to cut him off, but I also don't know how to build this relationship either. I don't know what kind of relationship is possible given the lying, manipulation, deception, etc. He's clean and sober now, working recovery, but...?

For now, I'm taking it a day at a time. I've tried calling a couple times but with no success (he is kept very busy). I still don't feel like visiting but I think that will change in another week or two. Guess I'm feeling a little lost. I don't want to abandon him, but I don't know how to engage with him either.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Practicing Detachment

I just discovered a very helpful explanation of detachment. Here is an excerpt from a larger post titled, How can I help a drug addict?

Practicing Detachment

One of the key principles that will help you in dealing with a struggling alcoholic or drug addict is detachment. The idea behind it is to separate yourself emotionally from the damaging effects of your relationship with the addict or alcoholic. It is not the same as complete disassociation or abandoning the relationship. The idea is to care for them while detaching emotionally. You can care for them but not feel like you are responsible for them. In other words, you are specifically trying to not get all wrapped up emotionally by an addicts destructive behaviors.

This is difficult.

Practicing detachment should make it easier over time. Here are some things that you can do in order to practice detachment with the struggling addict in your life:
-Don’t do things that they should be doing themselves.
-Don’t bend over backwards to rescue them or save them from natural consequences.
-Don’t cover up for their mistakes or embarrassing situations.
-Don’t rescue them from crisis or financial situations.
-Don’t try to fix them.
-Let go of any guilt you may have about them

Detachment is not about denying your emotions. If someone close to you dies, for example, you will probably feel sad. You can’t choose this feeling. It simply is. But we do have the power to affect the intensity of this feeling, by focusing on the positive aspects of the situation. We can also change our thinking in an attempt to eradicate irrational beliefs that might be contributing to our emotional turmoil.The goal is not to go without emotions, the goal is to achieve some level of emotional stability. We are detaching from the negative, irrational thoughts that stir up our emotions–like the guilt we might have if we think someone’s addiction is our fault.

Detachment is difficult and takes practice. I urge you to find local Al-Anon meetings and get involved with them, as those are the people who can help you the most. For some excellent follow-up reading, I highly suggest “Helping Family Members with Addiction“, which is a short but helpful article written by a doctor from Harvard.

Good luck to everyone out there and God bless.

Coming up for air

I survived another valley of grief
not that I won't be visiting again,
but, for this most recent episode, I think I hit my bottom and am coming back up for air.

Whew, that dose of truth from the Friday family 'fish bowl' sure caused me to buckle.
One benefit is I think it annihilated any remaining denial and led me to a crystal clear conclusion: it is time to get on with my life.
Maybe that is why after 8 weeks of looking into our guest bedroom (where my son was staying)
I finally had the courage today to enter it and clean up.
Yeah, I think it enabled me to face that room without any fear.

Packing his things...since he won't be returning here after rehab
(nope, it will be a sober living community for you, my Danny-boy)
Checking pockets and any potential stash places.
all I found was Viagra.
Why does a 24-year old need Viagra?
Never mind, I don't really want an answer.
It went into the garbage along with a few other items.
Washing the bedding, packing his clothes, and doing a thorough vacuuming
will make my organized-self feel good.

Thanks for the encouragement you all delivered to my blog in the past few days.
Besides a big box of kleenex during those dark times,
I really need to know someone understands.
I regret that these gut-wrenching experiences are the thing that brings us together
And yet, I must say, it is a gift.

now, about that vacuuming...

Monday, July 19, 2010

After Truth Visits Me

My new favorite activity (if frequency is the measure)
It helps sometimes
It helped me today
Like a faithful friend
Willing to accompany me into the dark and gloomy places
Places where confusion, anger, and the deepest sadness dwell
She helps me let the sadness out, and out and out
Uncontrolled, unhindered, like a bag of beans spilling onto the floor
Tears spill down my cheeks, dripping and flowing onto the floor
For me

You discover who they are
Among the many who claim to be
The genuine ones show up when others avoid or don’t know the way
Holding, allowing, granting permission to unload
Soothing, accompanying me into the darkness
Listening, thoughtfully, empathetically, compassionately
A treasure
That is what they are
A treasure undiscovered until brutality forces itself upon you
The brutality of truth

Brutal, agonizing truth
Part of me would rather be left buried
Unbothered in the sand
Leave me alone
It is warm here
But worse than truth is living in a lie
Foolishly believing the wrong reality
Foolishly anticipating the wrong future
So hit me
Hit me with it
I will stagger, I will reel, I will wail
I will give birth to anger I never knew existed
And one day I will get past the anger
Past the grieving
One day
Not today
Surely not tomorrow
But one day
I will find my smile again
One day
After Truth visits me

So flippin' sad

no energy
fighting back tears
trying to work
not very focused

I know I'm angry but I don't know what to do
all I want to do is cry
but I don't want to spend my life crying
crying is a good way to kiss my day good-bye

I am so flippin sad
and thinking about it just makes me mad
can't wait for al-anon parent meeting tonight
it will be a safe place to unload

God, give me strength today.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Used, Abused, Exhausted

I am exhausted.
The ruthless truth slapped me in the face once again.
This time, it was a series of blows that left me wondering if I have any reason to hope.

My son read a letter to Michael and me at a "fish bowl" family activity within a group-therapy setting at his extended rehab clinic. For him, it was a chance to come clean and own up to everything he has done to manipulate, lie, steal in support of his habit (summary: history of his use, how he used and abused us to fund his habit and keep us thinking that all was well so we would continue supporting him). For us, it was a brutal session of discovering that Daniel has traveled deeper into the darkness of addiction that we ever realized..

When he was done, I was so angry. He stood up and wrapped his arms around to hug me (thinking I would surely appreciate that he has finally been honest). It was all I could do to not push him away from me. I believe the only reason I didn't is that we were in the company of others and I didn't want to humiliate him. The last thing I wanted was a hug from the one who just admitted to deceiving me over the past 10 years (not 5 as I had been previously led to believe). It was the last thing I wanted to receive and the last thing I wanted to give. I just stood there, awkardly, as the attempt at affection traveled only one way.

Ten years of use and abuse (6 years under my roof) and I did not see it. Apparently, my home was also a marketplace, as users knocked on our front door during the hours I was at work, my son proudly supplying the neighborhood and his classmates with all kinds of pills and pot hidden secretly in our garage.

And I was enlighted as to the real nature of this "methadone detox". He had led us to believe that for the past two years, he was detoxing off methadone and working a recovery program. The facts: as the methadone got uncomfortably low, he started injecting it, buying additional supply off the street, and supplementing it with benzos. There we were, cheering him on and celebrating his progress, all the while he is living a lie.

Additional confessions of stealing money and prescription meds from our home, robbing others, extensive dealing, exerting violence that landed his dealer in the hospital, and dodging drug enforcement officers.

I walked away with two conclusions:
  1. My son is most certainly a drug addict, and any remaining denial has been put to death.
  2. I need to start focusing on myself and get my life back.
My life has been consumed with Daniel. I cannot even get out of bed in the morning without him being the only thing on my mind and in my prayers. I worry about him day and night. Well, the truth is, I really don't know if he is going to make it (to sobriety, that is). But my life has become hopelessly obsessed with this young man that has only used and abused me. It is time I start taking care of myself.

God, help me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Step 3: Accept Yourself!

Here is step 3 for how to practice Radical Acceptance. What do you think?

Step 3: Accept yourself. Don't listen to the little voice in your head that says you aren't good enough. Accept the way you are, right now, without judgment.

(referency my June "Radical Accepance" post for background)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Setting Boundaries ~ Looking for suggestions

We have a family session scheduled with my son and his counselor this week. I'm writing a letter to let him know how his addiction has impacted me. I am also supposed to include the boundaries I plan to put in place. This feels like an overwhelming assignment. like many of you, I suppose, I have struggled to set boundaries. And I have learned that I should not set a boundary unless I plan to keep it. Scary. Not to mention, just thinking of boundaries means I have to mentally visit all the ugliness of the past and imagine it recurring in the future (so I can figure out the boundaries I need to define). OK, enough whining. How have you set boundaries for your child? I am thinking I need to define them in these categories:
  • in the event he relapses (don't call me until you are sober and are back in a recovery program, working with your counselor or sponsor)
  • in the event he finds himself in jail (don't call me for bail or to ask me to solve your legal troubles; you need to solve them yourself)
  • in the event he wants/needs money (do not call and ask for money. Pay your own bills, we are done. ) - not sure about medical as they relate to his recovery??
  • After rehab (you cannot live with us; do not ask to come home)
  • School (do not ask us to support you returning to school until you have been sober and in recovery for one year and have demonstrated that you can hold a job, and support yourself. )
  • If you have other serious problems (do not expect us to solve it for you; we will be supportive as a Mom and Dad, but you need to solve your own problems)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Invitation Continues: Step 2

I'm relfecting on the 7 steps for applying Radical Acceptance (see my June 29th post for reference). I'm looking at each step individually to encourage myself and others to think about it, brainstorm how to apply it, and share ideas with each other. I enjoyed reading everyone's comments on Step 1, "Love and be gentle with yourself. Radical acceptance means treating yourself as you would treat someone that you truly love", but now we move onto Step 2:

Praise yourself. Tell yourself how well you are doing and stop criticizing yourself. Write down things you have done that make you feel proud and refer to it when you're experiencing feelings of self-doubt.

I don't know about you, but I am not one to praise myself. The fact is, I am very analytical and find it much easier to identify my flaws. Even when someone praises me, in my mind I might say "yeah, but what you don't know is...". So while I don't think I'm ready for the big step of praising myself my analytical bent does allow me to reflect on what I think I have done right and what I am proud of.
  • I was affectionate to my son and told him often "I love you"
  • I gave him a safe home, in a good neighborhood
  • I encouraged healthy friendships and lots of play time
  • We had countless memory-making vacations and fun weekends away from home
  • We rode bikes together, we skied, we camped, we played
  • Holidays were fun times together and with family & friends
  • I taught him financial responsibility, how to care for himself, his cat, and expected him to do regular chores
While this isn't a complete list, it's the start of a long list of things I did right and things I am proud of. God knows I did my best. I think I just need to remind myself more often. And one day, I am hoping, I will see the fruit of my efforts.

How about you?