Monthly Archives: July 2015

Mother and the crazy providers


Mother was pleasant almost giddy on the phone. I wasn’t sure what she was taking but this was better than vodka. She wasn’t mean like vodka made her. I listened as she told me about her newest provider. Audrey had been gone a while now. She had been the best provider Mother had. She really cared and treated her well. She showed her love. Mother really liked Audrey and I liked her too. But now, Mother was on her third or fourth provider in a couple of months. I couldn’t tell if they were as bad as Mother said they were or if Mother was so mean to them – they refused to go back. It was probably both. Mother could be mean. If you made her mad or she felt threatened all kinds of ugly scary words would come rolling out of her mouth. But nonetheless she still hadn’t found the right provider. Good ones were hard to find. They work in difficult situations helping people with household tasks and bathing. They are not paid much.

“Oh, I got my new provider. She’s kind of lazy. I asked her to move a chair for me and she told me she didn’t want to mess up her nails. She told me there wasn’t any reason I couldn’t move my own chair.” Mother stated. I giggled to myself. I could hear the whole conversation playing out in my head. Mother wasn’t one to take any junk from anyone. She was older and wasn’t as strong as she use to be but she was still scrappy and would give you a good cussing and pick up her cane and hit you with it. She wasn’t afraid to be mean.

Mother continued… “She needs a baby sitter. She said she’d pay me twenty dollars a week to watch her kids. She’ll bring snacks and stuff.” Holy Cow! The warnings in my head were going crazy now. Mother, who didn’t raise her own child, who was drunk or messed up most of the time, had roaches, and couldn’t take care of her own self was going to watch someone else’s small children!!! Oh my goodness! “Mother, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Kids are hard. I don’t think you should watch them. She really needs to find someone else.” My heart hurt thinking of those small kids and wondering what was wrong with that Mother/provider that she would even begin to think it was okay to leave those kids with Mother. It wasn’t safe. Mother couldn’t care for them and she had all kinds of different people in and out of her house. Really nice people who tried to help her and scary mean people who tried to keep her using and drinking. Mother replied…”yeah, you’re probably right.” And soon we ended the conversation.

After several weeks, Mother informed me that provider wouldn’t be back. Something about the provider had raised a fist to Mother or something like that. More craziness.

It wasn’t long before she was telling me about the next provider…“She took me to Red Lobster for my birthday.” Warning!!! Something’s not right! A provider making minimum wage taking a complete stranger to Red Lobster for her birthday. Mother continued…“She cut my hair and colored it for me too.” Well that was nice…I thought. I tried to decipher in my mind…was I just being overly critical or was this new provider up to no good? I knew there were nice people in the world. However, I also knew the type of people mother tended to run with and attract. Mother continued –“Oh, she’s so nice. You should see my hair. Wasn’t that nice, Kandy? She took me to Red Lobster.” Hmmm…Something’s not right, was all I could think. “Yes, that was nice.” I stated.

Not too long after, I drove the two hours to check on mother. The new provider was there. She was driving a nice Escalade. More alarms. Something just wasn’t right. But maybe she was just a nice lady whose husband had a great job and she just did this for extra money and to give back. Maybe I was just being critical and feeling guilty because she appeared to be doing more for Mother than what I was. The lady was nice enough. Something still felt weird.

Over the course of several weeks and conversations, Mother continued to tell me how nice the provider was. “She took me to several doctor’s appointments and even took me to the ER.” I had multiple warnings going off in my head. Something was up. This person sounded like she was grooming mother for something. I hated being so skeptical and critical but that’s what the world of addiction had taught me. Beware. I knew something was up. Mother continued “I hope she comes today. She owes me twenty dollars.” Hold up! “Why does she owe you money? Mother, you don’t have anything to give her.” Besides, I thought to myself – she drives an Escalade. Why would she be taking money from Mother who lives on a tiny amount of money? I knew something was wrong. Mother kept talking and finally let it slip… That nice provider had been taking mother to the doctor’s appointments – not to be nice but for the pills. She was using Mother to get prescription medications she could sell. Or most likely – they were using each other. She was giving mother some of the earnings. That’s why she owed mother money. I sat with my jaw dropped and infuriated. I had previously worked as a regulator for the type of company the provider worked for. Now here my own Mother was conspiring with a provider that was hired to provide care to people who were unable to care for themselves. I was truly amazed that I could still be surprised.

I hung up with mother. I immediately called the Administrator at the agency. I informed her what was going on and suggested she investigate because I was pretty sure the provider was selling to some of her other clients. I was mortified. My mother was driving me crazy!

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! So I did both. The more mother’s addiction escalated the crazier the stories got. When I told people the stories… I could hear my words. I could see their expressions…I knew how crazy it sounded. How crazy I sounded. It’s always nice to connect to another ACOA – they get it. They can laugh and cry with you. They get the craziness. They get the inappropriate laughs. They don’t judge the craziness. They get it.

“I always knew looking back on the tears would make me laugh, but I never knew looking back on the laughs would make me cry.” – Cat Stevens

Still trying to find the sweet side of that crazy!





Were You Loved Enough?

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”        – Mother Teresa

Remember Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood? I love that movie! A line in the movie has been stuck in my head so I watched it again last night.

So the story goes – four childhood friends who made up their own secret society, the Ya-Ya Sisterhood are now woman in their 70’s. They are spunky, scandalous and spirited.  Through joy, devastation and heartache – they are always there for each other giving love and support.  One of the Ya-Ya sisters, Vivi has a troubled relationship with her grown daughter Sidalee.   Vivi struggled with mental breakdowns and alcohol. The Ya-Ya’s are determined to fix the struggling relationship. So they kidnap Sidalee and in an effort to help her understand her mother, they share stories of Vivi’s heartache, struggles, disappointments, mistakes and childhood.

It’s great really. They kidnap their friend’s daughter and tell her things about her mom.  Things she lived through that were devastating, disappointing and heartbreaking.  Instead of Sidalee focusing on her own disappointments and what she suffered as a child, it allows her to see and feel what her mother experienced. It allows her to find empathy for her mom instead of just judgment.

One of the most profound lines in the movie is when Sidalee is talking to her dad who is a gentle and quiet man. She asks him…“Daddy, did you get loved enough? He replies…”What’s enough? My question is, did you?

That’s the question that’s been on my mind – Did you get loved enough? Or more appropriately did Mother got loved enough? Do most addicts feel loved enough?

Because of mother’s choices and how she lived her life, it was hard to be around her. The endless drunk phone calls, trips to jail and the hospital, time with her supplier and all of the crazy insanity that goes along with addiction. She had one childhood friend who she loved like a sister but she had died years ago. I wonder what that must have been like for Mother. Her choices and behavior alienated her from most people including myself. It was too hard for us to watch her devastating actions and be around her as she remained powerless to her addiction. Her choices and the consequences of those choices were heartbreaking. Sometimes, I had to get far away from her. Thankfully there were people who showed Mother love when I couldn’t. I am forever thankful for them. I understand those who couldn’t…it’s hard. I had to set boundaries too.  Addiction causes so much destruction.

Mother had always struggled with her relationship with her own mother. I wonder if mother saw the similarities. History repeats itself. I’ve always tried to be mindful of this. I think most of us take a real and a critical look at other people. But when it comes to ourselves, we wear rose colored glasses and view our own actions in a more flattering light or justify them in some way. Or we shift the story to make it what we want it to be not what it actually was. We don’t get real with ourselves because to do so would mean we might have to make some big changes. It’s easier to blame others and keep pointing fingers. It takes the focus off of ourselves. I’m trying to be more real to look at things more objectively – from all sides and views. Not just from my view. That’s how we learn and how we grow….looking at things from all views because they are so different. You will see things differently, in ways you couldn’t see from the view you once had. It’s like looking at a beautiful scenery full of trees and nature and a big building being in your way – you can only see so much. Step around the building so you can see behind it and around it. There are things you couldn’t see before. Change your view…you’ll see differently.

I think it’s important to identify, understand and work through our struggles, we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in them. We have to keep moving forward, experiencing life, giving love, spreading goodness.

We tend to be selfish creatures and focus on our own disappointments and struggles. How often do we truly strive to know another person’s hurt? We usually want to make sure everyone knows our struggles instead of first seeking to understand someone else’s. We sometimes feel unloved and unwanted. But you know what…

When we get to heaven, I don’t think God will ask us if we were loved enough. I think he will ask us “Did you love enough? Did you take the time to understand someone else? Did you take the time to show love?”

You feel love by giving love. How do we love enough when we don’t feel we were loved enough ourselves? Empathy! When we realize – the lack of love they gave had nothing to do with us. It was about them and their own struggles.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

So the real question is – Do you strive to know another person’s struggles and pain? Do you get real with yourself? Do you show empathy or judgment? Do you love enough?

Finding the sweet side of crazy!





Two people trapped in one body


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr


“Mason, is that you? This is Nana.” She gave a little giggle like she did when she was sober and happy to talk to someone. “Oh, hi” he said.

“Mason, do you have a gun?” she asked. “Well, yes…I have a gun. Why? Do I need it?” he questioned. She went on to explain how there were some bad people who were getting ready to get out of prison and she was scared. Really scared. She told him he needed a gun to protect himself and us.

The phone call bothered Mason. “Mom, Nana asked me if we had a gun.” He went on to tell me about the conversation. I told him there was probably some truth in what she was saying about the men in prison and getting released soon but we were safe.

I called Mother. “Hello?” she said. Good, I had reached sober Mother. I could always tell if she was sober by the way she answered the phone. I went on to inquire as to why she was asking Mason about a gun. She explained there were some really bad people who were locked up years ago and it was time for them to start getting out of prison. “Well why would we need a gun?” I asked. “Because I think they might come after you.” Mother stated.    “Why, me?” I asked. She replied “because you’re my daughter.” She wouldn’t elaborate any more. I asked her for their names so I could look them up and see where they were and when they would be released. She said she didn’t know their names. It was a long time ago and that I needed a gun to protect myself and the boys. I tried to comprehend what she was saying. She had mentioned people getting out of prison a lot lately. I wasn’t exactly sure what she was talking about. I remembered a couple of incidents from my teenage years and early twenty’s that she could possibly be referring too. About 23 years ago, I had received letters addressed to Mother at my house. Scott and I had only been married a short time. After getting the first letter, I called Mother who told me to open it and read it to her. It contained such ugliness – “We won’t stop until you’re wearing a toe tag.” It really scared me. Holy Cow! What twenty one year old gets death threats in the mail for their mom? It really freaked me out. I ended up taking those letters to the FBI and I never got another one. Those ended up being from someone she had known. What Mother was referring to was different and I knew it had nothing to do with the old letters.

Mason had given her his cell phone number sometime back. He felt bad for her and when she had asked him, he gave it to her. Once, she called Mason when she was drunk. It was a terrible experience – talking to drunk Mother. She was mean, slurred her speech and difficult to understand. You had this overwhelming sadness and felt desperate to help her. The call had upset Mason terribly. Scott who is extremely protective called Mother and gave her the what for. “Don’t ever call his phone again. If you want to talk to him, you call my phone. I’ll decide if you can talk to him.” I felt sorry for Mother. I knew she was crying and she felt bad but I also understood Scott’s need to protect his son and family. Mother had been drinking so the ugly fighting person was who he was confronting. They went toe to toe…Mother arguing and throwing ugliness with her words to Scott. Scott making sure she got the point…Not to call his son again. She finally submitted. Scott could get in a verbal war with her when she was drunk and win. Not many could. However, it didn’t matter if you won over drunk Mother because sober Mother wouldn’t remember the whole incident. Besides sober Mother was sweet and timid. She would never hurt a fly. She didn’t like her drunk self any more than anyone else did. I think she hated drunk Mother more than anyone. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they treat animals. Mother had the most compassionate loving heart for animals. Especially dogs. Sober Mother was kind, gentle and wanted to be good.

Mason eventually ended up blocking her phone number. He couldn’t take the drunk calls. It was tearing him up. After Mother’s death, Mason told me he felt guilty for blocking her calls. I told him he had done the right thing. He had set the boundaries he needed too in order to care of his own emotional wellbeing. Besides, she could always call my number to speak with you – I told him.

I never tried to shield my boys from all of the craziness addiction brings but I did try to shield them from some of the hurt. I didn’t want them to know the heartache like I had experienced. But they needed some sort of understanding so they would be able to maneuver through the ugly world of addiction. They needed tools in order to stand a chance to beat it themselves and in order to have some sort of relationship with those they love. I didn’t want them to just cut those people out of their lives. I wanted them to be able to recognize the difference between drunk Mother and sober Mother. I wanted them to learn to set boundaries based on which they were dealing with…have little contact with drunk Mother but show love and kindness to sober Mother because they really were two very different people trapped in one body. Some families have a genetic predisposition to diabetes, cancer, heart disease or hypertension…mine is addiction. I have experienced the consequences of addiction my whole life and have managed by the grace of God, prayers and compassionate loving people to find some sort of a balance between what was thought to be normal and dealing with the craziness.

Mother was like most addicts, a liar. However, her lies were not about things like this. They were about when the last time she had used or drank was…or things related to her addiction. Although mother kept my world scattered with craziness through her addiction, she was also very protective. She tried to protect me from others. She couldn’t protect me from her own craziness but she fought tooth and nail not to let others hurt me. She was tormented by demons from her past. And as time progressed she drank more and more to try and drown out or quiet the demons. I told her over and over again…”Mother, forgive yourself. God has already forgiven you. Stop living in the past. Go forward and create a different future for yourself.” Those words rolled so easily off of my tongue because I believed them.  Mother believed God forgave her.  She talked to me about that stuff sometimes.  But I don’t believe Mother ever forgave herself.

Mother couldn’t protect me from her choices and consequences from her addiction but she did do her best to protect me from the harm of others.

I couldn’t protect my boys from the world of addiction and how it affects our lives but I could teach them how to maneuver through the craziness, set boundaries and still show love. I could teach them the difference between sober Mother and drunk Mother. They were two completely different people. It was important to recognize the difference.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!




Say yes to the sweet stuff!

Richard Carlson quote

“The key to a good life is this: If you’re not going to talk about something during the last hour of your life, then don’t make it a top priority during your lifetime.” -Richard Carlson

Here’s the thing – time passes very quickly. Too quickly! The older I get the faster it goes. Sometimes I feel like it’s traveling at the speed of light. Especially as my boys have gotten older. Death has taken many people I love so I’m very aware… we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We have to make calculated decisions on where we invest our time and who we invest it with. So look around and assess what you are investing in.

Learn to say no but more importantly learn to say yes. Sometimes we say “yes” to things that don’t matter to us because we don’t want to disappoint people or don’t know how to say “no”. But other times we say “no” to things that are really important and really matter because we are tired and don’t feel like doing it right then. And sometimes we say no to those we love the most because we know – no matter what, they will always love us. Just like sometimes we give those we barely know the best of us and save the left overs for those we love the most. Isn’t that stupid? Can you imagine the regrets that will bring as we age or are on our death bed? Let’s not do that anymore. That’s kind of crazy and backwards.

So I challenge you – do an assessment. What are you spending your time on? Get rid of the things that don’t matter. If you aren’t going to be talking about them at the end of your life or if they aren’t creating or contributing to good – move them on down the list or get rid of them completely. And don’t be a fun hater….just going around saying no all the time. Do fun dumb stuff with those you love. I found an old video of M&M (Mason and Madden) and their friend. They took their grandmother “coning.” It is hilarious. They rolled into McDonald’s and ordered several ice cream cones. My mother-in-law was driving so when they handed her the last one, instead of her grabbing it by the cone – she grabbed it from the top – the ice cream. She acted like it was normal and drove off. It shocked the workers and everyone got a good clean laugh.  They made a great memory and we’ve laughed and laughed over coning.  Google “Coning” it’s quite funny.

These are two of my very favorite pictures. Why? Because they capture two very sweet moments for me.

This is one of my favorite pictures from last year. It was late. Way past my bedtime. Everyone who knows me knows I go to bed before most normal people. I always have even as a little girl. I like my bed.

photo 1 (1)

But this night was special! My sweet Madden asked me to go swimming and it was 10:30 at night and I was in bed! He was 15 at the time. Knowing he would soon be going to college and moments like these would be fading, I crawled out of bed and put on my swimsuit. We swam, laughed and told stories.   I love knowing what’s inside their sweet minds. What they are thinking, dreaming and hoping. What they are struggling with and what they are really enjoying. Not that they always tell me but when they do…I savor it. Madden got a little mad at me that night because I heard a noise and I screamed. I startled him. It made him mad which made me laugh and then laugh a little more.

This is the important stuff. So anytime I get an invite, I try to go. Here lately it’s been for late night ice cream runs. That hasn’t been such a great idea for my body but man do I love the time with my boys.

photo 2

This picture captures another of my most favorite moments. For several years before turning eighteen, Mason wanted a tattoo. I tried to talk him out of it because I didn’t want him to get something at eighteen that he would regret at thirty. He had his mind made up and regardless of what I wanted for him – it was his body and I knew he was going to get one. Sometimes we just have to pick our battles. For me this wasn’t one that was a huge deal to me. So instead of missing it, I chose to be a part of it. For his eighteenth birthday, his grandmother (Scott’s mom) and I spent the evening at the tattoo parlor with him as he got his first tattoo. Holy Smokes that was an adventure in and of itself! Have you ever been to a tattoo parlor on a Friday or Saturday night? I learned things I never really wanted to learn. My mother-in-law and I got sent to the liquor store for the tattoo artist because he wanted some wine and he couldn’t make it there before the store closed. So we took his money, loaded up and went to buy his wine. We laughed a lot during that night. And I love Mason’s tattoo so much. It’s meaningful and sweet. It’s a cross with our last name across the top and then mine, Scott’s and Mad’s initials. A family tattoo. I love it! If I ever get one – I’d get one just like it. Later, after the tattoo – Scott took Mason to the casino for the first time because that’s what Mason wanted to do.  So we got to be a part of his night instead of fussing and telling him not to do those things.  In the grand scheme of things – Whatever!  It’s not about the tattoo or the casino. It’s about spending time with our boys and showing love.

I LOVE my boys. I love being their mom. They are really funny. They make me laugh and smile. Sometimes they make me want to scream or pull my hair out but mainly – they make me proud and bring me great joy. I love being their mom!

When I would get the saddest about my mother – it was because I knew what she was missing and felt bad she was missing the sweet stuff.  But the truth is she really didn’t know what she was missing. How could she miss something she never really had? So I tried to take the sad I felt for her and pour it into being a better mom myself.

Life is way too short. Sometimes we make big deals out of dumb stuff. Make sure you are saying yes to the sweet stuff and no to the junk. Because life really is too short.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!


Still struggling with the obituary


It’s been almost three and a half months and I still haven’t written Mother’s obituary. Why? Because I don’t yet know what to say. I’m struggling. What do I write? How do I write where someone pays attention? How can I make a difference? How can Mother’s death contribute to something greater than her addiction and the destruction the disease created? How can minds be opened and more compassion and empathy be offered to those who are fighting for their lives?

It’s important to be honest. The secrecy destroys and gives addiction power. But people are ignorant to addiction. They see it as a moral issue. They judge, discount lives, and say cruel things. People look at it as a life choice instead of a disease. They devalue a person’s life when they find out they are or were an addict. “I’m so sorry about your loss. How did they die?” And when you tell them, an overdose or drank themselves to death…the tone changes. Most of the empathy and compassion are gone. I’ve been fortunate and those close to me who were aware of the extent of the pain I’ve endured for most of my life and the things that were stolen from me…got it and offer compassion and empathy. But most people don’t get it. They discount what the addict and the addict’s family have suffered and survived. The stigma is real and heartbreaking in and of itself. There is a huge difference in the amount of support that occurs when a person dies from a car wreck, cancer or some other disease other than addiction. Addicts are treated more like lepers. They suffer and their family suffers for many lifetimes.

I’ve been guilty of seeing it as a moral issue too. I know better now. It is a chronic disease with relapses and remissions/recovery.

Mother deserves an obituary. It’s like the close of the final chapter of her life. The things I had to sit and helplessly watch or protect myself from by setting boundaries to save myself or prevent myself from going down the exact path still haunt me at times. Even though I know I did the best I could with what I had…I still can’t help but think… “What if I? …Why didn’t I? …I wish I would have…Did she feel loved enough? …did I tell her?”   I feel like I can do so much more for her in death than I could in life. Mother wanted to be something. She wanted to be loved. She wanted to be a good mother and a good wife. She was a nurse at one time until her addiction stole that from her too. She would tell everyone and anyone who would listen about her stories from working in the ER. Her addiction took most all of the sweetness from her life. She became and did things she never wanted to become or do. That’s what it does, it robs the addict and the family of a little sweetness each day, month, year and years. And for some like mother – they lose most everything…including themselves. I’m not ignorant…I know they have to want to help themselves and have to do the hard work. And I know the devastating pain they cause through their addiction. And for reasons I can’t explain some beat it and some don’t. No one sets out to become an addict…just like no one sets out to be in a car wreck or get diabetes or cancer.

Mother deserves an obituary and when I’m ready or when its time, the words will come.

The thing I continuously feel is what Glennon says – Life is brutiful…It is both brutal and beautiful.

Mother’s addiction showed me so much brutal but it also inadvertently taught me to always seek the beauty and sweetness.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!