Monday, May 27, 2013

Apologizing to Your Children

Is it the parent's fault if their child becomes an addict?  Sometimes addicts come from wonderfully well rounded and supportive families, sometimes not. There is a myth that all addicts have bad parents.  Most intelligent people realize that's wrong - addiction does not discriminate and no one is immune.   If you are a parent who truly did the best you could and your child still became addicted, then this post isn't for you. This post is for the rest of the parents, those who can share the blame, intentionally or not for their child's addiction.

If you were one of those who did drink and dope when your kids were young and then they followed in your footsteps, please apologize. If you neglected them or allowed them to be abused, please apologize. My father and I are not very close, but one of the things I will always remember was his apology a few years ago for his behavior and drug use when I was young. It wasn't long and heartfelt. It was just a simple "I'm sorry that I did all that" and I felt like he meant it. I thought I had moved on already, but those simple words were more healing than I could have imagined.

Your child may not be in a place yet where they can or are willing to accept your apology, but when they get there knowing you said it and were sincere will help with their healing and most likely yours too.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Baby Beans

When our oldest daughter was about two she started carrying around a bag of dried beans. She called it her Baby Beans. She slept with it and wrapped it in blankets. When the plastic got holes, I'd sweep up the spilt beans and duct tape the holes. When there were too many holes, I bought a new bag. She was the sweetest, most kind hearted, intelligent child I ever layed eyes on. She was completely innocent and trusting like all little children - and so undeserving of the hell she had to live in later. She's now 20, in college, and seems to be doing pretty good. She acts like she has forgiven me for what she witnessed and the neglect she suffered during my addiction, but I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive myself. There are times the weight of the guilt becomes almost unbearable, like a couple of nights ago.

I was cleaning the pantry and picked up a bag of dried beans. Memories of tiny, brown-eyed little girl wearing a pink night gown, sucking on a pacifier, and tucking in her baby beans flooded me. This should have been a fond memory. If I had truly done the best I could as a mother, even with mistakes everyone makes, it would have been. Instead, I was bombarded by feelings of shame and guilt. I shut the door, sat on the floor, and cried until I couldn't cry anymore. I tried to change my perspective and think about the positive things now, but I just couldn't. All I could think is that I should have played her with her more and rocked her and the beans to sleep. I shouldn't have sat on the couch getting high. I should have put her feelings first instead of constantly worrying about a grown man. Later, I should have protected her from hearing the filth spewed from her father's mouth and sounds of fighting and crying. I should have made sure she was always safe and protected instead of getting high to escape my reality and leaving a small child to face hers alone.

I can't go back and change anything. It's too late. I know all I can do is the best I can from here on out and pray that she is more resilient than I am in overcoming the trauma.  Recovery is great. It's much better than the alternative. Everyone benefits especially those that depend on you. But, still, there are some days that just suck.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tough Love is not One Size Fits All either

Just like recovery there is no one size fits all when it comes to “tough love”. Everyone’s situation is different. The loved one has to do what they can live with and what fits their situation. I’ve heard varying degrees of tough love from not enabling by not paying legal fees or bills to completely cutting off all contact. What works for one family may not work at all for another. One good example of this was told to me by another recovering addict.

Andrea called me about 3 years into her recovery and told me her story. She was addicted to meth and living with an abusive meth cooking/dealing boyfriend. Her parents, on advise of their counselor, told them to cut off all contact with her until she got clean. They would not answer the phone for her. When she approached them they wouldn’t even hug her. She became completely isolated. She had no friends and not one “clean” contact. The only people she saw were other drug addicts who came to buy drugs. She didn’t leave the house. Her boyfriend would beat her if she even made eye contact with any their associates.

This went on for a while until her sister broke the tough love/no contact agreement and came to visit her. She treated Andrea like a normal person, took her with her to the store and on dinner dates. She also told her if she ever wanted to leave she would help her. Andrea ended up pregnant. When she was 6 months preganant her boyfriend broke her jaw. She finally wanted out. She called her sister and she picked her up and took her to a shelter. From there she got help with her addiction and delivered a healthy baby.

Andrea’s sister found the balance for “tough love” that worked in her case. If the sister had avoided all contact Andrea said she would have stayed until her boyfriend or the drugs killed her and her baby. She wouldn’t have known anything else to do. Meth addicts can lose all touch of reality. If her sister had came begging for Andrea to leave, took her back to her house off an on when she was able to talk Andrea into leaving, bailed her out over and over, and not allowed her to face any consequences then Andrea’s situation would never have reached the point where she had enough and was ready to quit.

Andrea’s sister didn’t automatically know what to do. She tried the parent’s approach at first and it didn’t work. Then she tried something different. Thankfully, her next approach worked, but only in the end because Andrea wanted it to.

I think parents should listen to the advice of others because no one knows better than someone who has “been there and done that” then take what they’ve learned and apply it to their own situation. An easy X, Y, Z answer is not ever going to fit something as cunning and confusing as addiction.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Should I leave or should I stay?

"I was thinking about leaving my husband, but after hearing your and your husband's stories I have decided to stay" said a woman after one of David's programs.  She was speaking about her abusive meth addicted husband.

What?  Really? That is the last thing I ever thought anyone would take away from David's programs.  Yet, I have heard it over and over again. "Bless your heart for staying with him" or "You are an example to all wives" or "My family keeps trying to get me to leave, but I know I have the right choice to stay now".

I want to be very clear about something - I wish I would have left.  I don't mean I wish I would have gotten a divorce.  I simply mean I wish I would have left until David cleaned up and changed.  I should have left.  I should have taken my children out of that situation and kept myself safe and them from living though hell of methamphetamine addiction and domestic abuse.

I am not a saint.  I was not a good mother.  I was not a loving wife.  I was not doing anyone any favors by staying - not David, not myself, and certainly not my children.

If anything, my staying hurt everyone.  Maybe David would have quit using earlier if I hadn't been there to enable him or, eventually, to be his using buddy.   My children definitely wouldn't have witnessed the horrific things no child should never have to see or here and live with for the rest of their lives.  I wouldn't carry around the traumatic memories that I have.  Time does heal, but scars always remain.

I stayed for my own selfish reasons.  It didn't seem that way at the time, but in hindsight that's what it was.  Because I loved him.  Because I didn't want to give up.  Because I didn't want to admit I made a mistake.  Because I felt needed.  Because it was just easier.  Because I was codependent.  Later, because I relied on him for my drugs.

If you are in an abusive relationship, PLEASE leave.  Get out anyway you can, especially if you have children.  It certainly won't be easy, but it's worth it.  Put your children first, yourself second, and your addict last.  You have to think of them and yourself first because they are dependent on your decision.  Your addict will never put what is best for your children or yourself first while they are using.  They are incapable.  I would give anything if I could go back and take my own advice. 

Leaving does not mean giving up for eternity, getting a divorce, or that you have to quit loving your addict.  You can leave, still have hope and love from afar while keeping yourself, and children if you have any, safe.  You will have a chance for a normal life and your addict will most likely have a greater chance of recovery without you as an enabler. 

I've spoken with David about the comments I've heard after his program.  He was as shocked as me.  Now that he is clean he also wished I would have left.  He makes a special point in his program now to tell the audience that one of the things he is most ashamed about is the way he treated me and that he wishes I would have left him.  Chances are, once your addict gets clean, they will feel the same way. 

Please don't try to be a martyr.  Save yourself.  Save your children.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Parental Guilt

It's a vicious cycle.

As long as I was high I felt no guilt.  Meth makes everything seem better - at first.  I didn't realize how terribly I was neglecting my children.  I didn't realize how traumatizing it was for them to live in domestic hell.  Then I would come down.  Coming down from meth is a terrible, depressing, mentally agonizing experience.  The guilt I would feel after returning, sort of, back to my senses was unbearable.  I would swear "never again" only to know that everything would be better, the depression and guilt would go away once I would use again.

Then I quit, finally, after many many attempts and the guilt began running a new cycle.  Depression fed the guilt, feeling more guilty fed the depression.  I would think "what a horrible mother I was" and the guilt would build and the depression would become unbearable.  Then I would think "I am still stealing time away from them by being so depressed" which would then in turn into another thing to feel guilty about.  Where once my children had reprise from the constantly depressed mother with brief periods of happiness and attention, between violent psychotic episodes and fits of depression, now there was none - just never ending (or so it seemed) bad days.  It wasn't fair to them and I knew it which also led to continuing guilt. 

Eventually, as my mind healed, the depression started to lift.  I finally began to understand that I needed to replace the depression with determination or nothing was going to get better.   Forgiving myself was and is so much harder than forgiving others.  I still haven't forgiven myself and have came to terms that I might never reach that point, but at least I can live with myself now.

Depression and guilt are normal for recovering addicts.  Accept that, but don't get trapped in it.  It will get better.  Our children deserve better and they will get it as long as you don't give up.  Time does heal.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Only ER in three counties shut down after meth contamination

A man contaminated with dangerous chemicals forced the shut down of the only emergency room in three counties Tuesday.

It happened in Hempstead County at the Medical Park Hospital in Hope.

To have an entire emergency room shut down for about seven hours is pretty rare.
But the circumstances surrounding the shut down could be a sign of an alarming trend.
"It's obvious you don't want any kind of chemicals introduced into an environment like that," Sheriff Singleton said. 

A man who'd been dropped off there had first told staff a battery had blown up on him.  But after nearly an hour inside, he fessed up to something else entirely.  "He then told the people there a meth lab had blown up on him," the Sheriff said. 

A haz mat team was called in to decontaminate the ER. When they arrived they discovered their biggest concern: the man had been covered with anhyrdous ammonia, a very dangerous gas. 

"It can make you dizzy, watery eyes, naseau vomiting, things like that," he said.  Some hospital staffers reportedly felt their skin and eyes burning. The chemical can also cause lung damage.  "We hadn't seen anything like that lately," the Sheriff said. 

What's concering, Sheriff Singleton says this could signal a resurgence of this method of cooking meth.
Anhydrous ammonia found in some fertilizers and refrigerants was commonly used in the '90's, for what was called the "Nazi" method of making meth.

Then producers started switching to psuedoephedrine, which is cheaper and far less dangerous.
Risks of explosion and exposure to the general public are much higher with anhydrous ammonia.
"We need to find this lab," said Sheriff Singleton. 

Addressing this bigger problem will come later. Because of the man's injuries, the sheriff says they haven't interviewed him. The meth lab that exploded could be nearly anywhere. First, they must find it.
"That's our main concern right now is the safety of the citizens, to locate where this lab was, this cook was, once we get that done, we'll follow through with the investigation," the Sheriff said. 

Other law enforcement agencies say they believe anhdryous ammonia may be making a comeback amoung meth makers, perhaps because of the crack down on the sale of pseudoephedrine. Most though say it's too soon to say.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wyoming Adventure

This is a little different than the regular stuff I write, but I wanted to share.

David was invited to spend a week in Cody, WY to share his testimony and meth prevention program with several different groups in the area.  A couple of our dear friends said that it would be wonderful if we could make it a family trip and of course we agreed.  We got permission to take our children out of school for an educational trip and started planning.

We departed on Friday, Sept. 16th after school, running a couple hours later than we planned with a 24 hour drive in front of us.  Amy's law of preparedness states that she should always allow twice as much time to get ready than what she has planned and it held true this time as well. :) We left the driveway at 7:00 instead of 4:00.

All eight of us were traveling in our old Suburban.  Now, you think a suburban is a large accommodating  vehicle, and it is - to a point.  Don't get me wrong, I love my suburban and we are blessed to have it, but that point ends somewhere around 500 miles or 8 hours after your departure. 

David woke me up about 4:00am on Saturday morning telling me the car was breaking down near Kansas City, MO.  Amazingly everyone stayed calm.  We thought it was the fuel filter and made it to a city, St. Joseph, about 60 miles North of Kansas City.  There we slept in the AutoZone parking lot until they opened.  David changed the fuel filter in the parking lot.  I had underestimated the value of a smart phone until then.  Thankfully, a friend of our sons, Logan, who had gotten permission to take the trip with us, had a Droid.  Thanks to Logan and his Droid we had directions straight from the interstate to AutoZone.

Earlier we had seen a sign that the interstate on our route that would have taken us through Iowa and Nebraska was closed.  The clerk at AutoZone informed us that our best bet would be to back track to Kansas City and go through Denver instead.  The Denver route was longer to begin with excluding the back tracking.  That was okay, though, because the drive would be beautiful.

So, we go back to Kansas City.  Somewhere between Kansas City and Topeka we have a flat tire.  David changes the flat and we head to topeka to get the tire fixed.  Again, it could have been much worse.  Topeka is a town that David has ministered in a couple of different times and knew right where the tire shops were.  Even on a Saturday, Big O Tires had our tire fixed within the hour.

By this time, we are sure the devil is trying his best to throw a wrench in our plans and prevent David from sharing his testimony in church on Sunday morning.  Yet again, no one is fighting, no one is anxious.  I knew we would make it on time.  God is always victorious and I felt it was His will that we make it.  He would not bring us that far for nothing and cover us with the amazing peace I felt.

We pull out of Topeka about 12:00pm.  We had planned on being in Cody by 8:00pm and we weren't even close.  At least the car was running well and everyone was happy and fed at this point.

Several hundred miles down the road the car starts cutting out again.  We had to pull over periodically and let it take a break.  Pulling up hills was really bad and if you have ever been to Wyoming you would know that it is just hill after hill, almost constantly climbing to a higher elevation.

Finally, at 8:00am on Sunday morning we arrive in Cody.  We arrived with exactly enough time to unload the car, and for David to take a shower to make it to church without a moment to spare. 

It took us 38 hours to make a 24 hour drive, but we made it.  God was faithful as always.  We made it with the car trouble. We made it on time.  We made it in good humor.  As if that all wasn't amazing enough - we made it without the kids fighting, even once, during the entire 38 hour car trip.