Monthly Archives: May 2015

You can’t fix ’em

bandage

“Mother, quit drinking! You are killing yourself. And me. Just stop!”

I’m a fixer. I see something that isn’t working correctly or someone who is struggling and I automatically have this need to fix it or fix them. But I’ve learned – you can’t fix people. They have to fix their own broken self. We can help, support and love them but they have to do the hard stuff themselves. Showering an addict with all of the love in the world won’t stop them. They have to get to a place where the desire to change is greater than the desire to use. That’s hard.  We can’t drag, yell, push or pull them to that place. They have to be willing to work hard and make many changes. Difficult changes. Ones we really don’t even think about. It’s not just about stopping. It’s really more about starting…starting to do things differently. They have to learn to deal with feelings of guilt, embarrassment, shame, depression, anxiety, coping and so much more. They may have physical painful withdrawals. Depending on the substance, sometimes the withdrawals can be life threatening. They usually have to seek out a different group of “friends.” It’s not as easy as what we non-addicts make it out to be.

Just remember – they don’t drink or use because of you. It’s not personal. It is something within them. Not you. Love them. Who they are when they are using…isn’t who they really are. Remember who they really are and love that person. Take care of yourself. Gather knowledge about addiction and great treatment options so when they are ready for a change – you are ready to help. Our society is much more reactive than proactive. Healthcare treatment for addiction stinks! Seriously. Do your research and have a plan because when the moment arrives when your addict says “I need help,” you want to be prepared. Seize the opportunity as soon as they say they need help because the window of opportunity is very small so you’ll need to act quickly. Have a plan.

Remember it is long term recovery. Recovery is a good thing. Recovery is something to be proud of not embarrassed of. Celebrate the small things. They may relapse. Love them anyway. Unconditionally. Set limits and healthy boundaries. Take care of yourself. Be kind and loving to yourself. Forgive. It does the heart good. Cry when you need to cry. Talk to your trusted people. Refill your love cup so you aren’t running on empty.

Fix yourself. You can’t fix others but you can do love.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

 

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It’s Not a Choice

I’m not a drug addict or an alcoholic but my life has been greatly affected by several.  I don’t speak from the view of an addict.  I speak from the view of a child (adult child) of an addict.  My mother was what I call a hard core, very low functioning addict.  Over her lifetime she lost most everything.  She was unable to work and was completely dependent on others for most all of her needs.  I hated being pulled into the world of addiction.  I hadn’t made a choice to participate.  I was simply born into the ugliness.  But none the less I was a participant. I was a child.  Her child.  I loved my mother. She was supposed to take care of me.  But instead, I spent most of my life time either watching others try to take care of her or trying to take care of her myself.  It was devastating.  Heart breaking. But as difficult as it was for me…I can’t even begin to imagine her tremendous pain.

It’s not a choice.  Not like you think anyway.  People don’t just wake up one day and say…”I think I’ll become an addict today” or “I think I want to be an alcoholic…that sounds exciting and fun.”  “Oh and I think I’ll just throw away everything or make my life extremely difficult while I’m at it.”  No one does that!  Not one person would ever consciously make a decision to become an addict – to become so dependent, powerless and controlled by a substance they lose their mother, father, wife, husband, son, daughter, job, house, money and sometimes everything.  Because of addiction, moms and dads are stolen from their babies and babies are stolen from their moms and dads.  It is a very ugly, devastating, heart wrenching disease.  Yes, they make a decision to take a drink or use the drug but they never make a conscious decision to become an addict.  Sometimes one drink or one use is all it takes to put a person on a devastating path.  Just one.   It is not a life anyone would consciously choose.

Mother was only fourteen when she took her first drink.  She writes about it in her papers I found after her death.  She found some beers and she and a friend hid them.  They went back later and drank them.  This was the beginning of her life long war with addiction.  There is no way she could have known the steps she took that day would put her on the most difficult path she could have stepped on to.  How could she possibly know drinking a couple of beers at fourteen would lead her to a life of abuse of pills, use of cocaine and heroin, shooting up, snorting…not being able to care for me – her only daughter, spending time in the penitentiary, losing her nursing license, 5 unhealthy marriages, destruction of relationships, being surrounded by corrupt and evil people, darkness like most of us could never imagine…and on and on and on.  No.  Mother didn’t consciously choose to be an addict.  Her sweet dreams and hopes got shattered somewhere along the way.  She traded a life full of sweetness for a life of survival, broken dreams and devastation.

Mother had a tumultuous relationship with her own mother.  They fought A LOT.  Physically fought.  Verbally fought.  I remember witnessing those fights and seeing Mother cry a lot.  I think Mother wanted her mother’s (Nanny) approval and wanted to feel her love.  I think Nanny wanted Mother to make better choices and get on a different less destructive path and she didn’t know how to show Mother she loved her.

Mother suffered from anxiety.  I didn’t really understand this until I was an adult and had someone very close to me who has had to deal with severe anxiety. I’m not sure Mother or anyone else understood her anxiety in her younger years.  By the time she did understand, it was much later in life and she had already been treating it in a very unhealthy way for years.   Mother had self-medicated and treated her anxiety through the use of drugs and alcohol for most of her life.  Her unhealthy relationship with her mother and others, lack of coping skills, lack of self-esteem, the stress of becoming pregnant at sixteen, and an addictive gene all contributed to her recipe for disaster.   Some prosper and come out stronger and better in spite of their challenges.  Mother did not.  It defeated her. I can’t tell you exactly what caused mother to become who she became. But I know these things contributed to her journey.  I know she was controlled and powerless because I witnessed it. I watched the devastation.  I tried to stop it many times.  I suffered the broken promises my mother made to me and the heartbreak I lived with on a daily basis.

One of the most difficult times for me regarding mother’s addiction was about 10 years ago.  Mother was living close.  Close enough that I was witness to more than I ever wanted to witness.  Her cute little apartment was soon a very scary place.  I would stop by to find her place destroyed and she would be drunk.  Once, Madden (who was about 6 at the time) and I were driving to get a movie and as we approached the street to her house we saw an ambulance with the sirens and lights on turn down her street.  I had a bad feeling and figured they were probably going to Mother’s apartment.  Sure enough, they were.  I followed.  Mother was drunk and belligerent.  Her head was covered in blood.  She told the EMS guys that some guy had knocked her over her head.  The scene was all too familiar to me.  Mother was a mean drunk and would look for a fight.  She would spew her hatefulness and some other jerk or addict would hit or push her usually resulting in a broken bone or head injury and an ER visit.  My sweet Madden was just a young blonde headed little boy.  He witnessed the event.  I think most normal mothers would have sheltered their kids from something like this but I’m not normal and I felt like these tragedies could be a life lesson for my boys.  I have no doubt there is something genetic about this terrible tragic disease and I wanted my boys to be aware of the path they could be on if they chose to use or drink.  Besides, mother needed love.  We all do. We could love her and show her love while keeping healthy boundaries.  I wanted them to know – deep down…she was a scared, heartbroken, lost young girl.  She was more than what she had become.  I tried to separate myself from her as much as I could.  It was too painful to watch and be a part of. I tried to focus on being the mom my boys deserved.

During this same period, I received multiple phone calls from Jeff (one of my lifelong friends) because of different events related to mother.  He was a police officer in the town mother lived in.  One time, he called sometime in the wee hours of the night or morning.  He told me he was at Mother’s and they needed to get in.  There were complaints from neighbors that she was inside screaming but they couldn’t get her to answer the door.  He wanted to know if I had a key so they didn’t have to break down the door.  I told him I didn’t have a key but would be right over and maybe I could get her to open the door.  I rolled out of bed and drove over to her apartment.  When I pulled up, there were policemen, firefighters and EMS personnel.  They were all standing by a window.  I was thankful for my friend.  It was comforting to me for him to be there because he knew some of my story and always went the extra mile to help me and make me feel loved.  My friend told me, they were talking to her trying to get her to open the window. But so far, she wouldn’t.   I stepped by the window and tried to speak to Mother.  She responded.  I asked her to please open the window and let us in.  She was so confused and much of what she was saying didn’t make much sense.  She finally managed to unlock the window but it was an obvious struggle.  The police were able to get inside.  What we found was heart wrenching.  Mother was completely naked lying on a mound of dirty clothes.  Her bedding was off her bed.  Her apartment was destroyed.  There was no food in the apartment.  Drug paraphernalia was everywhere. There were roaches and the house was a complete mess.  Mother was completely psychotic. This was the worst my mother’s house had ever been.  This wass the worst I had ever seen my mother.  She had always taken pride in keeping a clean and tidy house.  I have no idea how long she had been laying in that mess.  She was taken to the ER and then went inpatient.  I was convinced her psychosis was permanent.

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I learned drug dealers where coming to mother’s apartment. They would give her drugs and while she was messed up, they would take possession of her place.  They would set up and deal out of her apartment. This makes it very difficult for police to catch these criminals because they are always on the move going from victim to victim or addict to addict.  There are some evil people in this world.

It was obvious those bad people had camped out in her apartment for a while.  My guess is – when she became psychotic they split and left her there to die.  They had ran out of toilet paper so they had used towels to wipe their bottoms and just thrown them all over the apartment, we found a crack pipe, a butcher knife lying by her bed.  At one time, someone had sprayed a fire extinguisher all through the living room so there was white fire extinguisher powder all over everything in the living room.

While mother was in the hospital, I had to go by her apartment to get something for her.  I was scared.  I knew those bad people had access to her apartment.  My husband told me not to go but I’m hard headed and don’t always listen.  I parked down the street a bit so I could see the front door to Mother’s apartment.  I dialed her number.  The phone rang and the answering machine picked up.  I said something like…this is Judy’s daughter and I need to come in and get some things for my mother.  She is in the hospital.  If you are in there…please leave.  I hung up.  A few seconds later I saw two big old scary guys walk out of her apartment.  Then they pointed at me.  Which scared me.  Who were they? Pictures of myself, my boys and my husband were in her apartment.  Do they know where I live?  They know what kind of car I drive.  Now, I was scared.  I called the police station and asked for a police escort into mother’s apartment.  They were kind to come and help me.  I was able to get in and gather the things I needed.  It seems like it was several weeks before her psychosis cleared up.

As a young mother trying to pave a different way for myself and be a different kind of mom for my boys…these events almost broke me.  Incidents  like these happened frequently.  I cried a lot which was completely out of character for me.  I started feeling depressed.  I felt hopeless and helpless for mother and her situation.  I had no idea how to help her.   Everything I tried was unsuccessful…she always went right back to the drugs.  It was like they were a very strong large magnet and she was a tiny piece of metal that couldn’t escape the grip of the magnet.  No matter how hard she pulled or tried to break away – the magnet was so much stronger than she was.  I had to back away even more.  I knew I couldn’t save her.  She had to do the really hard work to save herself.  I tried to set healthy boundaries and take her food and toiletries.  But I knew I had to have healthy boundaries otherwise my boys might be robbed of their mom too.

Mother had used for over 40 years.  During that time, she had behaved in ways that caused her so many regrets, embarrassment and guilt.  As long as she was using she could numb those feelings but as soon as she started getting clean or sober she had to deal with all of those feelings.  That was hard.  I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it would be.  In 40 years, she didn’t deal with many of her feelings.  She just kept running and numbing.  So every time she got clean her mind and heart were flooded with bad feelings and guilt.  She didn’t process things as they occurred so she had to deal with them while she was sober.  I can’t imagine how hard it would be to deal with so many years of disappointment all at one time.  It’s hard enough to deal with things and feelings as they occur.

Mother wanted to do good things in this world.  She truly did.  She was controlled and powerless.  I share my story for Mother and others who are affected by the terrible disease of addiction.  I couldn’t share when I was in the middle of it because it was too hurtful and I was still completely powerless to Mother’s addiction.  I share so minds can be opened, people will know addicts and alcoholics aren’t just weak people.  There are good decent loving people who struggle with addiction.  They don’t need our judgment.  They need love.  I couldn’t save Mother.  Some can’t be saved.  You try everything you can think of but we still lose them.  Addiction is tragic and affects the whole family.  It is a disease that is generally met with judgment and ugliness.  It’s a disease we have to hide.  We can’t openly discuss it.  We can’t openly say…”Hey, I’m dying over here….help!”  It’s devastating.  I never got a choice.  I was just placed into the life of an addict and then pulled deeper and deeper as she was pulled deeper and deeper.  It’s not a choice…not like you think.

Show love. Do love. Set healthy boundaries. Show compassion and forgiveness. Take care of yourself. Make informed decisions…sometimes all it takes is one use or one drink to put you on a tragic path.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

 

 

 

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10 Things to Remember When Parenting Teens

me and boys

Because of her battle with addiction, my mother missed out on so many important things in life. She missed out on one of the most challenging and greatest joys in the world – being a mom. I love being a mom to my sweet boys. At 20 and 16 they are hardly boys anymore. They are young men. But in my heart, they will always be my babies…even when they’re 90!

Through trial and error, some great role models, not so good role models and awesome books, I learned several things which have made parenting enjoyable, easier and fun. Two of my favorite parenting books are: Parenting Teens with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay and The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned  (obviously it’s not an all inclusive – I could list 100):

  1. It’s hard to be a teenager. They deal with a lot of changes, hormones and emotions. Teen years are tough.  Don’t you remember?
  2. Don’t take things personal or make it about you when your kids are having a bad day.  You miss the whole message.  Don’t provoke them and make the situation worse.  We all have bad days and get frustrated. They like to be left alone and treated with love and kindness. Remember how you wanted and needed to be treated when you were a teen?
  3. Don’t try to control everything they do or they won’t listen to you on anything – especially the big things.  By the teen years – you are more of a consultant not a drill sergeant. You want your “no” or request for something to be heard and mean something. Remember what it was like trying to learn how to make good choices?  Our kids need the opportunity to learn lessons at a young age. Natural consequences are very effective.
  4. Be careful how you react.  Sometimes we teach our kids not to communicate or be honest with us by the way we react or respond to them.
  5. If you want to be treated with respect – model it! Teens have respect for people who treat them with respect even when things aren’t going their way. Be a model. There is a huge difference between kids who treat their parents with respect because it is demanded and kids who treat their parents with respect because they truly respect them.
  6. Remember- teens aren’t perfect and neither are parents. We all make mistakes. Model how to apologize when you need to.
  7. Tell your teen you love them several times a day. But don’t just tell them – show them.
  8. Spend quality one on one time with your teen. Alternate picking the activity. Get in their world and meet them where they are. You won’t regret it. They are quite fun.
  9. Examine your motives. Don’t make them your maid. Work with them and show them how to work. Don’t make silly rules just because it’s easier or benefits you. Consider your teen. What is best for them? Do the hard stuff even when you don’t feel like it. They will love and respect you for it.
  10. Teach them to laugh especially at themselves. Don’t forget to laugh at yourself either! This is one of my favorites! I love to laugh, especially with them.

Remember – as you age the roles will be reversed. How do you want them to treat you?

I love my boys! They make my life so much fun and my world is enriched because of them. I don’t want to sweat the small stuff – life is too short. I want to savor the sweetness!

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

 

 

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Take Care of You

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Life can be beautiful. But it can also be hard, crazy, and cruel. It gets exhausting and overwhelming at times. When it rains, it pours and then it hails. The different seasons of our life bring different challenges and beauty.  There will always be people who are better off and worse off than you so don’t compare yourself. Everyone has their own crazy and beauty.

It’s important to take care of yourself anytime but especially when you are in the middle of “crazy” or tough times. When your life is spinning out of control and you feel like you are being hammered by so many things, make yourself a priority. Do whatever it is that refills your love cup so you can continue to pour love out to others. If you don’t, you will be running on empty and won’t have anything to give anyone including yourself. What happens when a car runs out of gas? It stops. It doesn’t matter if it is in the middle of traffic, you’re in a hurry or it’s an emergency. If there isn’t any gas, it just stops. Then we panic and it creates even more problems and confusion. We have to figure out how to get more gas and who to call because the car won’t go anywhere until we refill the gas tank. Don’t let your love cup get empty. It will complicate things even more. Make sure you are refilling it daily.

So how do you take care of you?

  • Acknowledge your feelings. It is important to allow yourself to feel things and work through them. If you try to ignore the feelings of hurt, disappointment, and anger, they will come out when you least expect them and in ways you aren’t expecting. It’s like shoving multiple trash bags full of trash into an already overfilled trash can. You shove and push and try to cram everything into it. Somehow you manage to get the lid on top of it. But after you walk away the lid pops off and the trash goes everywhere. All over the ground. The wind blows it everywhere. It creates a huge mess. Your feelings will do the same thing if you try to cram them down deep and ignore them. Acknowledge your feelings. Think, talk and pray through them.

 One of the things that works for me emotionally is to have different boxes labeled and organized in my mind. Mainly, it’s the box of “junk” I keep neatly in its place. I keep that particular box closed and only open it when I’m ready. I wait until I’m alone and have several hours or the day to myself. Then usually on a beautiful day, I open that box. I go through the junk a little at a time. I feel it, think about it and process through it. The box never gets empty but there are times in my life it is so full it is bulging open. Other times, there are only a few things in it. I try not to ever let anyone push me to open my “junk” box. I only do it when I’m ready and in a healthy place. After I’m done for the time being, I pack any leftover junk back in the box and put it away until I’m ready again. I don’t treat my blessings like I do my junk. I don’t keep them in a box. I let them out so I can experience and feel them every day. I want to have the blessings surrounding me all the time. Mother’s addiction helped me learn this survival skill.

  •  Support – We all need support. Talk and share with people who love you. They make great sounding boards and they want to help. It’s important to share because through sharing we realize we aren’t the only ones going through tough times. We also gain knowledge from other people’s experiences. We are blessed and we bless others through sharing.

 

  • Boundaries – You know yourself better than anyone. Don’t allow others to push you and pull you more than you can take. People who love you will understand and the others don’t matter. If you need time alone – take it. If you need to spend time with family/friends, do it. Whatever you need to do to keep yourself healthy, do it. When Mother was on a binge, she would call me over and over again. She would call other people and ask them to call me and let me know I needed to call her. I would get multiple phone calls in the middle of the night from her life line. I learned I couldn’t change her behavior and there wasn’t anything I could do to save her. It upset me and kept me emotionally torn up. I had to turn my ringer off or let those calls go to voice mail and then deal with them when I was ready and able. I tried to protect myself and keep myself healthy for my boys.

 

  • Replenish  – We all have love cups we use to pour love out to others. We have to make sure our love cup never runs empty or we won’t have anything left to give. How do you refill your love cup? How do you replenish everything you pour out on a daily basis? I love to spend time alone especially outside in my favorite swing listening to and watching nature.   Sometimes I love to listen to older music that takes me back to sweet memories. Refilling is different for everyone but it is important for everyone to be able to identify what works for them. Here are a couple of suggestions:
    • Spend time in God’s word
    • A long hot relaxing bubble bath
    • Date night, snuggles and sweet stuff
    • Quiet alone time
    • Get a massage
    • Journal
    • Dance in the rain
    • Turn the music up really loud and sing along or put on some oldies that take you back to a peaceful sweet time
    • Lay on a blanket underneath a shade tree on a warm breezy summer day listening to the sounds of nature
    • Take a nap
    • Spend time with your favorite people
    • Exercise, go for a run, yoga, bike, Pilates or your favorite exercise program
  • Get distracted – Escape the craziness at least for a couple of hours.
    • Go to a movie or watch a favorite DVD
    • Hang out with friends
    • Read a book
    • Go to a spa or retreat
    • Go on a weekend get away
    • Go through old pictures and memories
    • Get with family/friends and share funny stories and memories

Make sure you get enough sleep, exercise and fill your body with nutritious meals. Processed foods and junk will only make you feel worse. Take care of your mind, body and soul. Enjoy the Beauty. Savor the sweetness. Grow through the crazy. You are important and you have to make yourself a priority. Refill your love cup. Take time for yourself. You are worth it!

Any other suggestions? What do you do to take care of yourself?

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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Doctor shopping! This kind is a good thing.

doctor shopping

If you have an addict in your life you’re probably thinking…”Good thing? “Have you lost your mind?”

It’s not what you think. Loving an addict teaches you tons. I love to put a sweet spin on the craziness.

Doctor Shopping! You’ve probably heard of it…at least this kind – when a person seeks care from multiple doctors all in an effort to obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances. Sadly, it’s a common practice and has gotten lots of people in trouble – physicians and patients. Tragically, many have even lost their lives. It is a really bad thing. I’m certainly not referring to this kind of doctor shopping as being a good thing. Thankfully there are processes in place now that help make this a little more difficult.

The doctor shopping I’m referring to is a good thing…shopping for your best doctor. One who gets you and has the same goals as you. It’s similar to shopping for your perfect dress. You know, the one that looks best on you, helps make you feel your best and flatters your unique self. The one that makes you glow and brings out the best you. You don’t want a “one size fits all” dress. Unless you have the perfectly sized and shaped body (which most of us don’t) – it won’t be the best for you. Most of us don’t want a “one size fits all” physician either.

Many of us don’t know the importance of having our perfect physician. “Our perfect” meaning perfect for us. We are all uniquely made, have different goals, have a different history and we are all willing to do different things when it comes to our health and life. You want someone who is going to take the time to understand you and your individual goals. Everyone is different. Some people have the mindset they need a pill for everything. Others think they don’t need a pill for anything. We have to find a balance. We need a physician who gets us and our goals. We need one who is knowledgeable and sometimes we need a specialist who is an expert in a particular area.  We have to trust their knowledge, heart and goals.

I want a physician who will listen to me, tell me the issue and give me suggestions on what I can do to correct it. They are much more knowledgeable than I am. But I’m not going to take a pill just because someone told me to. Of course I will if there is no other choice. But when I know and understand the problem, I will work hard to meet my goal. And I usually do meet it. Win/Win – the physician goals are met and so are mine.

For example, my cholesterol was high. My sweet physician knows my crazy self and knows I’m not taking a pill unless there really isn’t another choice. He told me the problem – my cholesterol levels were abnormal. I needed to get the numbers in check or I would need to go on a cholesterol medication. If I didn’t, I could have a stroke and/or other medical complications. Strokes and heart disease run in my family. So…I understood the problem, the goal and possible complications or end result. He allowed me to do it my way. I did the work – exercised, ate clean, and took vitamins and omega 3s. I got my cholesterol levels back down to the goal within 5 and half months. Synergy! Win/Win! I met the goal doing it without prescription medications. Now there is a little more to it than this and you always need to listen to the advice of your physician. Sometimes we have no other choice than to take medication but I would never be happy with a physician who just handed me a pill and expected me to take it because he/she said so. I want a physician who will listen to me and work with me. I’m certainly thankful for mine. He’s awesome and so is his nurse. I almost forgot – you want a physician with a great nurse too. The nurse is super important and can make or break the culture of an office.

If you don’t have the right physician, one who understands you, your goals and works with you to reach them – find a new one. Get on the internet, read the reviews – but take them with a grain of salt – the majority of the people complete surveys or reviews when they are angry. Determine what you want in a physician. Don’t just settle for anyone. Talk to your friends and other professionals. Who do they love? Who would they recommend? Your perfect physician is out there. You just have to find him/her and sometimes it takes a lot of work. Remember your best friend’s perfect physician might not be yours.

One more thing – be a great patient! Communicate. Be proactive. Keep your appointments. Be honest about medication usage. Don’t wait until the last minute to request refills. Once you and your physician have worked together to form a plan of action – follow it! They need great patients just like we need great physicians!

Finding the sweet in the crazy!

Kandy

 

Websites to read physician reviews:

http://www.ratemds.com/

http://www.healthgrades.com/

http://www.vitals.com/

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