Cross the Line…


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Yesterday I had the privilege to volunteer to take part in the program “To Be the One”.  A Non-Profit Program that travels to Jr/Sr High School’s and works with a wide range of students.  Their focus is to capture as many of the students in crisis as possible without singling them out.  Mixes of both strong student potential mentors, as well as those in crisis were brought together for a day of social/emotional exchange.  As an adult participant/facilitator I would be responsible to lead a small group of 8 of these young people.

We began with a few games then broke off into our small groups to get to know each other… But it wasn’t until a very profound “game” took place would they begin to open up for real…

That “game” that took place was called “Cross the Line”.  We were all placed on one side of a line in the Gym and asked to cross the line if the thing the Moderator was calling out has affected you in some way. (this game was played in silence, the side that didn’t cross over were to hold up the universal sigh of love to those who crossed… powerful… just powerful) The Moderator started out with simple things like “Who has blue eyes…cross the line… Who had breakfast this morning… cross the line.  As the game went on the things being called out became more difficult to “cross the line for”.  As adults we were told we too needed to cross the line for each called out thing so the kids would know they were not alone, adults also have to deal with these things.

As the Moderator called out; “If you or someone in your household has been affected by addiction to drugs or alcohol… Cross the line.   As we crossed the line the silence nearly tore me apart as I looked to see well over half of us had crossed the line. 

After this very difficult game we moved back into our small “family” groups.  My group of 8 brought me to tears as I heard of the heart ache 5 of them have endured at the hands of a parent, 4 of which were addiction related.  Two of them have been removed from their parents as both mom & dad were addicts.  One was placed with grandparents, the other adopted by a new family.  Their seeing that over half of their classmates and almost ALL of the adults in the room had somehow been affected by addiction they became empowered to share their personal heartaches. 

I know my life is forever changed on so many levels because of yesterday.  It’s my hope that their lives were changed too.  That they no longer feel alone in their struggles.  May I challenge you to “Cross the Line”, let others you feel safe with know of your struggles so that you too can begin to experience the empowerment and never feel alone again.

 

When Clean isn’t Enough…


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For YEARS I have waited to say “My son is Clean!”  And I can say it now.  He is CLEAN!  And he has been for quite some time now. There is certainly something to celebrate in that.  Knowing that he is no longer putting a needle in his arm is a deep relief to me as his mother.  And I know there are many of you who will read this and be glad with me and maybe even get frustrated with the title today.  That I’m saying it isn’t enough. 

It’s not enough…

Nine long years of use, abuse, homelessness and the bad behaviors that come along with it now need to be unlearned, removed from his vernacular and chased away just as much as we pray they chase away the demons of abuse.  During those long years he became a master of manipulation and the king of blame.  And just like I had had enough of his addiction I’ve had enough of the manipulation and blame.  Both of which seem to rear their ugly head every now and again and each time they do I back away out of his life, just as I did when his drug abuse got out of control.

My son isn’t doing any 12 Step work, He’s not involved in a Sober Community, or has a mentor of any kind.  He sees a Counselor at the Clinic once a week, but I’m not so sure they are helping him process through the behavior piece.  This is why I say being Clean isn’t enough.   It needs to be a both/and deal.  One without the other will never do.  Staying Clean, but all the while living like the world still owes you and everyone but you is responsible for your lot in life will not move you forward.

Clean isn’t enough, but I keep praying that he will get to the place that he is willing to do the work necessary to let go of the rest. 

 

No Counting


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My last posts have been about the process of restoring my relationship with my son.  The Holidays always seem to force us to move forward with relationships even if we are not quite ready.  Mostly out the nostalgia of Christmas’ past.  We all long for those fireplace lit, warm cozy, snow falling kind of picturesque moments during the holiday season.  I’m no different. 

I saw many pictures and posts on the social media pages I belong to showing off sons and daughters that were 2 weeks clean, 46 days clean, 90 days clean running up to Christmas Eve.  I remember well counting every day and adding them to the “Clean Calendar” I was keeping for my son.  Those days were important; they were part of the process of keeping myself sane along that part of the journey. 

I stopped counting months ago, as much hope as I received during the clean days, I also endured just as much of a let down on the days that ended in relapse. I somehow came to the place where I knew recovery and relapse are all part of the same journey.  And if I were to keep myself in the reality of the moment I had to except that both will be part of whole.  Over the last year he’s had both.  And though I have been elated for the one and devastated by the other, I have stopped counting completely. 

I have no idea how many days he’s been clean to date.  But what I do know is this…

 the young man that I see before me as of late looks healthier then he has in years, speaks clearly, loves deeply, is fighting hard to regain all that he lost, is making every effort toward change; battling with his demons along the way as well as working hard to regain his trust with his family.   Counting the clean days has lost its importance but what will remain important to me is the slow yet steady march he persists at to regain his life.

For 2014 I will not count days, but I will count on the hope of a regained life!    

Restoration Pause


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It’s been about a month or so since I last posted.  I’ve had to step away once again from the relationship, not due to relapse on my son’s part, but due to other factors that addiction has caused.  Each of us I’m sure has experienced the manipulation and if you like me been on this road for a while (for us it’s been 9 years) our addicts have come to expect that we “take care of them”.   

Mine certainly does.

Many times I have reminded him that I have “cut him off” from ‘borrowing money’.  And when I had finally got to the place of being willing to once again enter into a relationship with him after months of having the doors closed I told him…”Do not ask for money, I will not give it to you.”  It wasn’t but three weeks…

He asked.

My fragile state of relationship with him shattered once again.  I let him know that when he wanted/was able to have a relationship with me based on the fact that we were mother and son and not based on his needing me to be his bank… let me know.  The car door closed when I dropped him back off where he lives.  He said “I love you mom”… I said

Nothing

Just before I left for a trip to California I text him with these simple words “I forgive you”.  As a mom, my heart will always love him and want the best for him.  I would never want for me to pass from this world and have him live with the thought that I would not/could not forgive him. 

So once again, I made my way over to the Restoration Relationship project and have picked up the tools to begin yet again.

Fragile

Tentative

But Hopeful that one day there will be a transformation, a corner turned that will bring beauty out of the rust.

 

Restoration – Part 4 – New Materials


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I have purposely let sometime pass from my last post before writing again.  I wanted to drive home the fact that…this takes time… Not one parent or loved one of an addict will all of a sudden have the answers or tools (materials) needed to heal or even to begin the process.  Many of us will come to realize we in fact suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  Seeing our loved one as they have succumb to an overdose, finding them living in a car or in a parking garage, or we have spent months and years hiding our purses, wallets, trying to protect their younger siblings.  One day we realize just how much trauma our hearts have been through and we will take the much needed and warranted time to start looking for help.

The rose colored glasses eventually fall off, and we will eventually reach for a pair of glasses that will help us deal with the realities before us and they will also help us gather the much needed materials we as loved one will need.  For me that list began with the “new tin” to patch the holes.  As I stated in my last post, the project vehicle (or my mother’s heart) once the rust had been completely cut away was left pretty desolate.  The new tin needed wouldn’t be just a couple of small patches; it would need whole fenders, doors, hoods and roofs.  That new tin was found literally in my faith.  I gathered it on my knees before God, crying out in desperation for help.  The wounds I had ran deep, and there was no self-help book or group that was going to get me through.  I needed the Great Physician.

He provided the new tin.  He would become the support and strength needed to get me to the next step.  There was nothing I could do to fill the holes; all the patches I had tried in the past didn’t last.  They we very temporal and had caused even greater overall damage.

If you are like me and have come to the place where your heart’s so full of damage from the years of living in this… just like our addicts, we need to come to the place of acknowledging that there is a Higher Power that we must turn to for strength and peace.  I urge you to begin in the same place.

Restoration – Part 3 – Passengers Door


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With the pile of Rust gone through and cleaned up it was time to take a real look at what was left if anything to salvage to begin the process of bringing it (the relationship) back to life.

There was absolutely no Trust left.

Not much left in the area of Care.

A gaping hole was where Concern was supposed to be.

And the section where Help was, had completely disintegrated.

But the Drivers Door was somehow still intact.

My first thought was to see if would still open, and if it did maybe I could climb in and access what was inside.  But as I contemplated doing so I realized I had sat in that seat many times and hadn’t done a very good job at “driving” the relationship.  I walked around to the passenger side and the door was banged up… but it was open.   Maybe, just maybe I would try this for now.

Letting my God take the driver’s seat of the relationship between my son and I was the best decision I could make.  It totally freed me up.  I no longer had to worry about the direction it would take, should take, will take.  I knew with Him in the drivers seat, that it would take the shape it needed to.

With one less thing to have to worry about I could get back to my restoration work.

That’s right, that pile of rust had belonged to me.  Not my addict.  It wasn’t my job to cut the rust away on him.  It was for me to cut mine away…

Now to start gathering the new materials I would need to fill in those holes!

Restoration part 2 – After the Tin Snips


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Definition of Rust: Rust occurs when iron or an alloy that contains iron, like steel, is exposed to oxygen and moisture for a long period of time. Given sufficient time, oxygen, and water, any iron mass will eventually convert entirely to rust and disintegrate. Surface rust is flaky and friable, and provides no protection to the underlying iron.

My last post left me surmising the pile of rust that lay before me.  After cutting it all away, what was left of the relationship barely resembled a skeleton.  I’m pretty sure even the skeleton was missing a leg, maybe even part of hand.  It had taken me much too long to understand the depth of my son’s illness, and the extent of its harm on our family.  

It took an event, like such had never happened before in my presence to see the true condition for myself.  It (the event) was a magnifying glass through which I had no other option but to see completely through the eyes of the other members of the family.  As this event unfolded, and the true condition of my son’s heart, soul and mind were lay before me ALL of my motherly hopes fell to the ground.  I had no other option but to cut away all that was corrosive for no other reason but in hopes of one day a true restoration process might begin.

For the first time in nearly 9 years, I completely shut my son out of my life.  I did not answer his calls, his texts.  After several attempts on his part to reach me, he stopped trying.  He knew I would not and could not respond.  I knew he was living in a car in the snow and yet I knew I would do nothing about it.

 I let the rust sit.

His girlfriend’s mother tried reaching me to DO SOMETHING THEY ARE SLEEPING IN THE CAR IN THE SNOW…  I could only respond with… He knows where the shelters are, if he is choosing to sleep in the car that is on them…

I let the rust sit.

He tried to pull me into his drama while he lay in a hospital bed supposedly sick.  I didn’t respond.

I let the rust sit.

It would take me 4 months to begin to allow myself to respond.  During those 4 months I went over and would look at the rust pile, see what was there.  Poke at it some to see if truly had no life left in it… and try to process in my heart why I had been so blind to its full existence.  It took me that long to begin to trust my own heart to relate to him based on the truth of his condition and the truth of my past response. 

Oh, I had long put enabling away… but there were still those Rose colored glasses that I preferred to look through, when what I needed was that Magnifying glass that exposed the truth.   I had to throw those on that pile of rust too.

I couldn’t begin a real restoration until I had  taken a complete inventory of what I had to work with.  This would be NO PATCH UP… this would require getting down to the bare bones, and probably even replacing some of the bones. 

Come back for more of the process…