Tag Archives: alcoholic

Bittersweet

photo 1

I love this picture! It’s Toni, James and I in Scotland. They were my cousins but became my brother and sister. Derrelyn isn’t in the picture but she’s my sister too. That’s sweetness. I have no biological siblings but in the ugliness – I got siblings. Sweetness!

Such bittersweet memories. But that’s how life is, right? Bitter and sweet. Sweet for the love of my family who took me in and loved me when I was in a bad way and too young to care for myself. Fun memories, love, laughs and lots of sweetness. But there was a ton of pain too. Lots of hurt and bitterness. And I ALWAYS worried about my mother.

I was just a little girl…maybe in the fourth grade. Something happened and I unexpectedly traveled many hours across the ocean to live with my aunt (my mother’s sister) and her family in Scotland. My uncle (my aunt’s husband) worked in the oilfield and they had just moved there.

My memory frequently fails me which I have always seen as a blessing instead of a curse. There are some things you just shouldn’t remember. I have never seen much need in digging around in my buried memories. The way I see it, they are buried for a reason. I have enough junk to work through without digging around for more. I don’t so much remember details of events or memories. Instead, I remember feelings I felt when I was with people. Like sweet feelings or scary feelings. With mother, I usually felt scared. And worried. I worried she wouldn’t make good decisions and we would end up in a scary place or situation which was frequently the case.

From what I understand, Mother had progressed from just using pills and alcohol to heavier drugs and using needles. I had missed several days of school and the school couldn’t get in touch with Mother to make sure I was okay. They called my aunt who at that time lived in the same town. She drove out to check on me. She found me doctoring mother’s wounds from injection sites. Mother was married to her third husband at the time and had lived with them for a short time. But I think he must have seen the “crazy” and got out. Who could blame him? Thankfully, I don’t remember much of this. Mother’s position was always that I was stolen from her and that there was always some sort of a cover up from some illegal activity. Either way, I was still just a little girl. This wasn’t normal. When I looked at other girls my age, they didn’t look like they knew of the things I saw or worried about.

I guess Mother probably didn’t see her drug use as being a big problem like others did. But that’s what happens, things get minimized. Just like me – did you notice what I did? I made a profound statement – She found me doctoring mother’s wounds from injection sites. I minimized and skipped over it quickly…like I was rattling off what I had eaten for breakfast. That’s what I’ve always done. But there is a lot of emotion buried in that statement. Bitterness, fear and pain. No sweetness in that statement. I minimized…just like mother. Mother had multiple sores from injecting heroin. I missed school because of my mother’s drug problem. That’s a lot to deal with at any age but certainly for a little girl in the fourth grade. While other little girls were worried about what Sally Sue said about her or whether Billy Bob thought she was cute, I was worried about mother and her drugs. I hated when she sat in a chair and her head would just slowly fall over as she was mumbling.  She “nodded off” frequently and it always made me so mad. I worried…would we have enough to eat? Would we load up in the car and make another drug run? I knew where most of the local drug houses were. She took me with her sometimes. It wasn’t like what you’d think. The houses didn’t have a big sign that said “Drug House.” No, they looked like a normal everyday house. Some even had kids who lived there. We would pull up like we were visiting a friend of Mother’s. Mother would knock on the door. They’d let us in and talk like they were friends. There would be a quick exchange of something. We would leave and then soon…Mother would “nod” off or be out of commission for quite some time. At first, I didnt know it was drug houses or drug dealers we were visiting. I thought we were just going to visit her friends. We just didn’t stay long and soon after we left those houses, things would get scary.

I always saw Mother as weak and loving her drugs more than she loved me…her only daughter. But that’s not the truth. The truth is…those drugs have so much power that they truly control some people. It isn’t about being weak or strong. Some people are powerless and controlled by the substance. It takes a lot to overcome the power of drugs and have a successful recovery, which is a lifelong process.

For all of you in recovery – good for you! You can do this. Celebrate and keep working! I’m proud of you!

For those of you who are dealing with an addict – I get it. I know it sucks and it’s tough. It’s more than tough – it’s heart wrenching to sit by and watch the destruction and know that you are just as powerless as they are. Take care of yourself. Set healthy boundaries, you may need to love from afar. You can’t change or fix them. They have to want to do the work…and its hard work. But you can extend love and show support for their recovery. Every single time they relapse and start recovery again – support them. Don’t judge or fuss and make them feel bad. You’re wasting your breath and energy. Believe me I know. I speak from experience. Besides, there is no need. They feel worse than you could ever possibly imagine. There is no need in trying to make them feel worse. That isn’t productive. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about you. It has nothing to do with lack of love or any of that junk so don’t even let it in your head. They love you but they have a hard time loving themselves.

For those of you caring for or in contact with an addict’s child through raising, teaching, coaching, family or as a friend – love them. Help them. Set an example of love by showing them and loving them. Look past the obvious. If they are struggling or having behavioral problems – dig deep. It may be something unimaginable. You could be the one to help save that child and get them on a different path. History repeats itself and addiction is a chronic disease with a genetic predisposition. That child will always worry about their addict. They will always try and protect them. You’ll probably never understand it so don’t even try.

If love were enough – there would be no more addicts or alcoholics. But love isn’t enough to cure them but extending unconditional love will help heal you.

I can’t speak for Mother. I never walked in her shoes. I know she was in so much emotional pain and suffered so much.  It makes my heart hurt.  Sure, I have things to work through and deal with because of the choices she made when I was little and dependent on her. But it wasn’t my job to judge her. It was my job to love her. To show her love. We are all sinners. We all fail sometimes. None of us are perfect. It’s easy to show love to those who show you sweetness. But that’s not a challenge. Anyone can do that. How do you treat the ones who are hard to love? God loves us though our sins and mistakes. He cries and weeps for us but when we ask for forgiveness and repent…he loves us and forgives us. How can we expect to receive that kind of love from God when we aren’t willing to extend it to our brothers and sisters? Something I learned a long time ago – It was never between Mother and I – it was between her and God. It wasn’t my job to judge her. It was my job to love her…like God loves me.

Don’t forget to focus on the sweetness. Because there are many blessings you will overlook if you just focus on the ugliness.

Sometimes, you have to love from a distance and you have to remove yourself from a toxic relationship. You have to set healthy boundaries but you should always extend love. How you react and treat people is a reflection of who you really are – it has very little to do with them.

Life is bittersweet!

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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I Grieved in Reverse

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my drunk mother on the phone and cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t help her and I couldn’t stop her. She couldn’t stop or help herself either.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve felt helpless and powerless…just like her.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve been bombarded with phone calls from the E.R., hospital, police, concerned people and life line.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my mother cry and tell me she was scared because she was bleeding again and knew she would eventually bleed to death. Even though she knew Vodka was killing her, she couldn’t stop. I felt scared…just like her.

It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my mother’s sweet sober voice on the phone. The one that would say “everything’s wonderful” on one of her good days.

It’s been over two and a half months since I laughed with my mother.

It’s been over three years since I tried to force my mother into treatment and she refused. I sat next to her while she spoke to her niece on the phone. Mother was crying  so hard it was difficult to understand her.  She told her niece I was trying to make her go to treatment, she didn’t want to and I was being mean to her.  I wasn’t being mean but I was firm and made it clear she wasn’t staying with me.  She had to go to treatment or go back to her apartment.  My boys weren’t going to be put through this.  I felt bad for her but I was also furious over her stunt of walking my neighborhood and knocking on doors until she found someone to take her to the liquor store. I was angry that she had humiliated herself and my boys…mainly my boys. I tried to protect them from all of the hurt and disappointment that I had known throughout my life and she brought it into my home. She got drunk and Madden had been alone with her. She was a scary mean drunk. It was very emotional for me. I was furious. My kids weren’t going to go through what I had lived through.

Everyone knows you can’t force someone into treatment. But I tried and I failed. I ended up driving her back to her apartment. It took many months before I could speak to her again.  I knew she would eventually kill herself and I couldn’t take it. I had to separate myself from her. It was the only way I knew to protect myself from the hurt.

As I drove home from work yesterday, I thought about Mother and my feelings about her recent death. I let my mind move through different questions and feelings. My thoughts wandered to my friends – How would they feel if they had lost their mom? Would they be devastated? Would they spend a lot of time crying? Would their world be turned upside down? Would they feel heartbroken and hopeless? Would they feel like they had been cheated? Would they miss them? Would they have a hard time? I imagined the answer would have been yes to most of those questions.

I didn’t feel the things I thought my friends might feel. I know this sounds harsh and cold but I almost felt relief…like a ton of bricks were lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe and finally had some peace. I no longer got the endless, helpless, heartbreaking phone calls. I was no longer tormented with worry about her – wondering if she had enough to eat because she had spent her last three dollars on another bottle of vodka. I no longer had to worry if someone was taking advantage of her, if she was getting beat up, if she was in jail or in the ER or hospital. I no longer anticipated the phone call telling me she was dead. I no longer worried about what others must have thought about me – her only daughter not saving her or not hopping in the car and driving the almost 2 hours with every phone call. I no longer felt guilt about putting my kids and husband first and wanting to protect them from the craziness.

That’s when it hit me – my grief was in reverse. I grieved my Mother throughout her life – my life. The feelings I imagined my friends would have with the loss of their mom where the feelings I had during the life of mine. I felt devastated, heartbroken and hopeless. I felt cheated and missed not having her. I had a very hard time with her decisions and the things she put me through. I grieved her my entire life. I prayed for her and tried to help her. It was only in death that she could have peace. Even though she had struggled in this life, I knew the moment she had taken her last breath she had gone to heaven. That gave me peace.

I wish I had gotten the opportunity to have my mother be the mom that I always knew she could have been. It makes me sad that we both missed out on that sweet mother/daughter relationship. God blessed me with so many sweet relationships and I am thankful for those.

I still cry occasionally but it’s not for what was…it’s for what could have been.

The greatest gift of all was that her struggles and my relationship with her inadvertently taught me to be a better mom and savor the sweetness.

Finding the sweet side of crazy!

Kandy

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Shop for the Sweet!

Shopping cart

Do you ever wonder why some people repeat ugly family cycles and others break them? Me too! So, I was thinking…what if we decided to change our future with a shopping cart?  We could shop for the sweet and leave the junk behind.

What happens when we go to the grocery store without a list? We’ve all done it. We end up with a bunch of junk, an expensive bill, wasted time and we forget important recipe ingredients.

We all know the best approach is to prepare and plan…to go through our recipes and figure out what we will eat for the next week. Then go through our cabinets, pantry, freezer and refrigerator and decide what ingredients we need to purchase. Make the list. Go to the store. Stick to the list. Yay!! The grocery bill is cheaper. There’s not a lot of junk (we’re not perfect). And we have all the ingredients for a week’s worth of meals. Or most of the ingredients anyway. We aren’t perfect and may have to make another stop sometime during the week to grab something. But whatever!

So what if we did something similar with our own history and our family’s history? What if we took a shopping cart and shopped through our past, through our family’s past and decided what we are going to carry into the future and what we are going to leave behind? What we are going to hand off to our kids and what cycles we are going to stop.

I really like word pictures (thanks to Gary Smalley), so years ago I was thinking (which can be dangerous)…Why can’t we shop for the good things (habits or actions) we want to carry into our own families. Like picking the items we need for recipes. So it would go a little like this…Oh I love how you spend quality family time – I’ll take it. I really want to do family vacations – I’ll take that too. I don’t like that mean tone you use – I’ll leave that. I love the way your life is Christ centered – I’ll take that too. I love how you treat others with respect and love – I’ll take it. I don’t like the laziness – no thank you. I don’t like the drinking and drugging – no thank you. I love the way you encourage each other – I want some of that too. I don’t like how you don’t take care of things – I’ll leave that. I love how you set goals and work hard to have nice things – I want that too. I love how you make your kids and their events a priority – I’ll take it. I love how you make health and exercise a priority – I’ll take it. I don’t like that cheating and lying – no thank you. I love how you say I love you so often – I’ll take that too.

Examine your unique family…the sweet and the junk. Decide what you want to carry into the future (handing off to your kids) and what you want to leave behind. Make an active decision to leave the junk behind. Make a list…what does your family do well? What attributes and characteristics do you want to carry into your own little family? What do you want to leave behind? You don’t have to take it all. You have to have a list, stick to the list and when you see yourself or other’s throwing the junk in your basket – throw it out. You’ve got a goal.

Bottom line – if we don’t take a real look at our own history, our spouses history and generational family history we will most likely just keeping carrying everything forward – the good, the bad and the ugly. Because that’s what we know, what we have been handed and what has been passed down. Change your future! Change your children’s future!

Go shopping for the sweet stuff and leave the junk behind!

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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Mother’s death

 

Mother

Wednesday evening, April 1st 2015 (yes – April Fool’s day), I received the dreaded news I’d been mentally trying to prepare myself for over the last several years. The one where I hear “they found your mother dead.” I know those words sound harsh and hard. Saying “passed away” sounds much softer. But that’s not what I heard because her life wasn’t soft and gentle. She didn’t just pass away.  Her death  was hard and tragic just like she lived. Addiction steals and brings ugly hard dark stuff.

Down deep, she was a scared, disappointed, lonely, hurt young girl. She covered it by drinking and drugging and showing her mean, hard, ugly ,scary junk. Some could see through to the kinder gentler person but not all got the chance.

No matter how much you try to prepare – you are never really prepared for the finality – no matter the circumstances.

This is one of my favorite pictures of her. She looks happy and still has a spark in her eye. It was before she became completely powerless to the substances that controlled her. It was before her life was so dark. It was before a little girl was robbed of her mother and before little boys were robbed of a grandmother they would really never know. She was also robbed. Probably more than any of us. She never got to experience the real joys of being a wife, mother or grandmother. I think back to all the things she missed in life. I don’t believe she ever made it to one of my boys games- little league through high school. She missed kindergarten graduations, Mason’s HS graduation, school programs, birthdays, my college graduation, the big stuff and the small stuff. I don’t remember her really being at much.

I believe she would have if she could have. She just couldn’t. She was submerged in darkness. My heart has always hurt for her and what could have been. She lost so much in this old world.

She had the best sense of humor and was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. She always made me laugh. She was the most resourceful person I know. She thought she was one of the toughest people in the world and maybe she was.  

I am thankful for God’s strategic placement of people who took care of me when she couldn’t. I’m thankful for people who took care of her when I couldn’t. I’m thankful for my wonderful family and friends who teach me so much. I’m thankful for all the lessons she never meant to teach me but did anyway. I’m thankful for God’s grace, love and forgiveness.

I’m thankful my mother finally has peace and is whole again. I know she was God’s child and battled the ugliness for so long.

Sometimes we look at people like mother with disgust and judgment.  These people who suffer addiction face battles and darkness most of us you will thankfully never know personally.  It’s a terrible vicious cycle of darkness, dispare, hope, unforgiveness (of self and others) hard work and battle after battle after battle. 

My prayers are with all of you (and your family and friends) whose lives have been forever changed because of this terrible tragic disease.

You can beat this. Reach for the light and surround yourself with people who lift you up.  And most of all forgive. Forgive yourself for everything you’re still hanging on too and forgive those who hurt you. God never intended for any of us to suffer through this.

Much love and hugs!

Kandy

 

 

 

 

 

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