Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 13

We just returned from visiting with our daughter, Julian’s mother, at her place of recovery, three hours away. She is on day 13 of a 30-day program, and she was given a pass to leave the facility with us for a few hours. It was a very rewarding visit. She is embracing the recovery process and enjoying the people and environment enough to stick with what must be a very difficult process. She recognizes and accepts now that 30 days is only the beginning, not the end-all cure. She shared with us several writings and “homework” assignments that she has been working on. I was amazed to see the words on the pages and I told her as much. They reflected a deeper thought process and a better understanding of what she is going through than I knew existed. Most astounding was the honesty! Addicts are among the greatest deceivers. Honesty has been sadly missing for a long time. The letters that touched me the most were those she wrote about “force,” about the ways in which she has forced her addiction into our lives and her son’s life. Up to now, she has persisted in the argument that we have taken her son from her and didn’t want her to be a mom. Addicts are adept at playing the victim. I suppose her belief was easier to live with than the truth, that she had abandoned her son in favor of drugs. Her view gave her freedom and permission to carry on with the “party.” The insights in her writings were a vast improvement over where we were a month ago! And the best part was seeing the joy that she is experiencing for the first time in a long while.

The core of the treatment is a 12-step program modeled after AA. As such, there were worksheets designed to facilitate dissection, introspection and ultimately understanding/belief in the 12 steps. She still has a ways to go, but there is progress. Reading a worksheet for Step 2 (which is something along the lines of “Come to believe that a Power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity”), she was asked to define such a “Power.” I think the purpose of this was really to allow people to define God on their own terms, but she wrote down “Julian” and “my parents” in her first draft of the worksheet. I laughed…poor Julian has the weight of the universe on his shoulders (actually, this isn’t funny when you think about the number of children of addicts who are forced to give up their childhood in order to “parent” their parents because they truly are more powerful than their parents…that makes me cry). Nevertheless, she managed to work her way through Step 2 and ultimately came to understand that the right answer was not Julian or her parents or even her boyfriend. When asked how or why they came to believe in a “higher Power,” she answered, “because God IS the higher Power.” Duh. ;-) So now, maybe Step 3 (“Make a decision to turn your will and your life over to that Power”), while clearly fundamental to everything else, will be easy.

We left encouraged. That is all we can ask for now.

Isn't she beautiful?

Happy times

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Saturday, August 22, 2009


Off to Costco, to stock up for the Apocolypse...

One Year food supply, for two

Fruit supply

Vegetable supply

Deluxe Emergency Supply Kit

You gotta love Costco. I gave up my membership for a few years because, as good as the bargains were, I always felt broke after leaving their warehouses. Not to mention the difficulty storing the pallets of toilet paper and paper towels. Now look! You can buy food for a whole year. Just add water and a heat source and you're prepared for anything. Is this overkill or what?!

Updated: Okay, seriously, I think I may buy this for my mother, for Christmas. She lives in a pole house on a cliff in CA not too far from the San Andreas fault and as she should (given the number of earthquakes and wild fires that have threatened her home), she is always working on emergency kits. She has flashlights and batteries in every corner of the house, bottles of water, and whatever other supplies she deems necessary, but I don't think she has a condensed supply of food like, don't tell her!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

V is for Victory

A big reason I began blogging was to spend a little time journaling. I've never been good at doing this, but thought it was important to do and thought by having a public face, I might be pressured to keep at it a bit more. That was a faulty assumption. I'm just not disciplined about it. Lately, there has been a lot of stressful stuff going on, much of which isn't very good blog fodder, but I'm going to ramble on for a minute in hopes that it might be therapeutic...this post is really about God giving us victory when and how we least expect it.

When I first began blogging, I never could have imagined that I would be where I am today, "retired" from public accounting and raising a grandson. Yes, I was planning to retire in a year or two (and had been wanting to leave for longer than that). The goal was to rid ourselves of worldly possessions, live on a boat, work odd jobs and SLOW DOWN to enjoy life! I kept praying for a sign that I was doing the right thing...a new job offer, a boat, something, that would affirm my decision. One affirmation was finding the perfect boat, certainly, but I still had serious doubts about leaving a lucrative (by modest standards) and "prestigious" (whatever that means) profession with such a vague plan for the future. I'm a workaholic by nature, but even I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I knew that my excessive work hours had taken a toll on my relationships with family and others. The painful hours of tax season finally took their toll on me last year and ended with a Big Bang! And then...

...along came Julian. God's timing being what it is, my semi-planned early "retirement" came just in time to help take care of this little guy. I never expected to love him as much as I did and I never expected his mother (my step-daughter) to be as unprepared to parent as she was. He was the sign I had been asking for, but if anyone had told me a year ago that this is where I would be, I would have run for the hills! I mean, it's been a stressful year, don't get me wrong! I wasn't planning to start all over again raising kids. It's hard work! I wasn't planning to deal with the extreme anger and frustration that we have felt for his mother. But the love and joy that Julian has brought to this family is indescribable. In hindsight, I wouldn't wish to be on any other path right now. He definitely affirmed my decision to leave the job that had consumed more than half my life. And I am blessed that God has entrusted me with him for as long as it takes his mother to get her feet under her. We continue to pray for her every day.

A most recent victory came when I received a call from my step-daughter asking me to give her and her boyfriend a ride to a friend's home closer to us so that she could see her son more frequently. She's been living on friends' couches ever since we evicted her. We have continued to hold the line on not allowing her to live with us until she committed to getting professional treatment for her addictions. She has opted not to do that for about 6 months now, although recently she has expressed an interest in doing so in order that she might parent her son. However, her intentions have been to get custody and live with her 18-year-old boyfriend (not the bio-father) who has outstanding warrants, no job and no high school diploma, while our intentions have been to help her get her feet under her first (i.e. recovery, college education, job), at our home with our support and lose the boyfriend. Without going into details that might make for a good television drama series, that phone call last Monday resulted in the boyfriend going to jail ("for a very long time" according to the detective we spoke to...he was on the Most Wanted" list in a town nearby and had warrants in several jurisdictions, including federal felony charges). While tears were shed, our daughter admitted that she was relieved to have him out of her life for now so that she could focus on the things she needs to do. Her attitude took a 180 degree turn for the better, she applied for and got her previous job back, and a week later (this past Tuesday), I drove her to a very nice treatment facility 3 hours away and she checked herself in. I have a good feeling about it this time. I know it's only the beginning and she has a lifetime of recovery ahead of her, but as they say, you can only do it one day at a time, and I am so thankful for this huge victory!

I am no longer burdened by anger. God is good.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Black Eyed Pea

Well, little Spartacus just sustained his first injury. We've added "Black Eyed Pea" to his list of monikers. And under my very close and watchful supervision, I might add. He's had his share of close calls...

1) rolling off the bed (thank goodness it was not far off the ground due to a previous incident wherein the entire bed caved in, and he appeared to have rolled sideways onto his back rather than falling head first),

2) being locked in the car (thank goodness it was only 65 degrees out, although the sunny conditions had me in full lock-down paranoia while waiting for AAA to show up with a Slim-Jim...which they then used to break the window...I could have broken my own window in half the time, but thank you AAA for covering the cost of repairs), and

3) thumping his head on the floor numerous times as he learned to sit up on his own.

But while talking to my brother-in-law and comparing notes on the challenges of parenting one child vs. more than one (specifically with regard to preventing injuries since his second child is a litle dare devil...they've been to the emergency room too many times to count and they're both medical professionals), I jinxed myself (and Sparky). I said something to the effect that I hadn't done much baby proofing around the house yet because I'm attached to Sparky 24-7; with just one baby in the house this is much easier to do and he's less likely to get hurt. He agreed, remembering the days before their second baby came along.

And then we came home and when it was time for a bath, I put Sparky into his little baby tub inside the big tub. He was messing around, trying to climb out of the little tub and reaching for the shampoo bottle, and I was trying to wrestle him back into the little tub, when his hand slipped and he cracked his eyebrow on the side of the tub and started howling. At first I thought it was his forehead or his nose, but when I turned him around (and my husband came running from the living room when he heard the crack), there was blood running down his eye. Once we dried it off, we got the bleeding stopped pretty quickly and put ice on it to keep the swelling down, so we didn't need to go to the hospital, but it was obvious that he was going to be sporting a shiner for a few days. Poor little guy!

I've always said that a parent's job is not so much to prevent injuries as to be there to pick them up when they fall. But I'd really like to think I could do a little better on the prevention side. Afterall, I am supposed to be his Guardian Angel. 8-}