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 – 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


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The Definition: “Something that has been brought back to an earlier and usually better condition”.

The Process… A LOT of hard work!

We had many such projects in our yard and garage.  My first husband loved the idea of restoring old cars.  He nearly had an old ’68 Mail Jeep restored, and just before we divorced he had a ‘72 Charger started.

Restoring an old car takes a lot of work, (which he never finished… but that’s another story).  Once the car would come home, the first tool he would use on it was a pair of tin snips, cutting away the worst of the rust spots.  Then he’d have to cut new metal to attach in the really bad spots.  Then the application of ‘bondo’ and then ALL that SANDING!!!!  And that was just to make the outside look like new; the inside was where a lot of the expense came.  Adding new carpet, re-upholstering the seats, gathering all the missing or needing to be replaced nobs, handles, etc., all the while tinkering with, cleaning up or just plain having to replace the motor.

Relationships that need to be restored take just as much care and time.  Matter of fact they will take even more time when the relationship has been broken down because of Addiction.

It has been nearly 6 months since I asked my addict to leave my home after a good stretch of sober living.  This has been an extremely long time of ‘relationship at a distance’.  I have found it hard to even begin the restoration process this time.  (We’ve been down this road a number of times).  I knew the process… I had no problem taking the “tin snips to the rust and cutting it out”…

But I stopped there…

Cutting out what was bad was necessary.  But this time there was so much of it, the rest of the process seemed too overwhelming to even begin.  I couldn’t get past the pile of rust and brokenness that lay before me.  So MUCH had accumulated over the last 9 years.  All the other times I had attempted the restoration process, I short cut it.  I tried to hide just how much real rust should have been cut out. I barely sanded before trying to put a paint job on the outside.  Making it look good from a distance, but eventually… ALL that needed to be cut away and hadn’t been became painfully obvious!

So I cut… and I cut… and cut some more.  Till there was more gone, than left standing.   I was exhausted.  And I walked away for what seemed like a long time…

Come back next week for more on the process.

Time


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“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” ~ Rose Kennedy

When we are deeply wounded by the addicts in our life, time is what is needed.  Most of us in the beginning stages of the disease rush in to help our addicts.  We don’t take the time to process through the pain that has been inflicted on us or our household.  We get caught up in the madness of trying to “fix them”.  Looking in every direction possible for the cure or just the right place to send them that will be the “answer” to it all.

Keeping my son at arm’s length these last four months has given me time.  Time I haven’t really taken before.  Time, which has somehow allowed the scar tissue to cover over some of the deepest of wounds.  Time, that has revealed to me just how deeply wounded I have been.

  Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.
~ Max Frisch

Time has also been changing  my son.  Keeping that distance has caused him to look deep into his own life.  Time is what will carry him from where he was to where he needs to be.  By my not rushing in to save him, time has been unfolding in him those things that need to be revealed.  Things that only time can show.

Time is the longest distance between two places. ~  Tennessee Williams

I have watched from a distance my son begin to figure his life out.  From living in a car, to renting a room.  To focusing on self, to helping others.  From temporary work that pays very little to finding a full time decent paying job, and beginning to realize he needs to find ways to give back and to pay back. 

Time is the wisest counselor of all. ~  Pericles

No matter where you are in the cycle of addiction, if you’ve just found out your loved one is addicted, or if like me your years into this… take the time needed to heal, and while you are… time may just be doing a mighty work on your addict.

 

The Practice of Saying No…


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There is something very freeing about saying “No”.  There have been countless times I have given into my addicts requests.  Handed over money, taken him to court, driven him all over creation, bought him countless articles of clothing, sneakers etc. etc. etc.  I have cleaned up many of his financial messes, paid his fines, fees and bills.

To the New Parents to this mess of addiction… I’ve done it all.  I’ve enabled and taken care of my adult child.  But a time finally arrived (and it will for you too) when enough was enough.  When I opened my eyes to what enabling was, stared at it in the mirror and said… No more!

That was nearly 3 years ago.  And just like anything else we undertake it takes practice.  Saying NO isn’t always easy, but it will become easier every time you say it.  There have been times over the last three years that I have caved in and said yes, thinking it was the right thing to do.  Sometimes it was, and it helped my son take a few steps forward.  But more times than not, its wasn’t the right thing to do for him, or for me.

That’s why the title to this is “The Practice of saying No”… and Not “ I’ve got this saying ‘NO’ thing down pat”.   Never mind there are times that saying YES is the right thing to do.  Keeping myself in-check is what is important.  Knowing in my heart what enabling is and being willing to process the request  before I say either yes or NO is what is important.  Being the parent of an addict isn’t easy.  A parent will always struggle with wanting to rescue their child.  But once we start practicing saying No, and begin to see the fruit of it we will be able to say it more and more.

Don’t be afraid to practice saying No!

Whatever It Takes.


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For months I have prayed the words.  “Lord whatever it takes to turn my son’s life around”.   My personal version of the well-known verse from the Lord’s Prayer ‘Thy will be done”.  I have battled with my momma’s heart hoping, wanting to be part of the healing process, and vowing to stand alongside him to help show him the way.

All of which failed miserably.

God has clearly shown me I WON’T be the one or even one of the one’s who will help him.  I was perfectly ok with that abstractly.  It is my desire to see him living a sober life, moving forward, taking another good step each day, submitting his heart and life to God.  I say those things to myself, to him, and others all the time.

I will have to admit this morning when I saw his post on social media thanking another person, another “mother figure” in his life for guiding him, standing with him… all the things I vowed I would do as long as he stayed clean… it STUNG.  (Confession is good for the soul… and I am confessing).

And moments later I heard that still small voice in my heart say… “Whatever it takes… I AM using the WHATEVER… so Stand aside and let me.”