Friday, April 24, 2015

Becoming Militant - Resuming the Journey

"Usually when people are sad, they don't do anything. They just cry over their situation. But when they get angry they bring about change." ~ Malcom X, Malcom X Speaks
Parents of children who have spiraled into addiction have a unique perspective on life. Parents outside our circles may attempt to empathize with our struggles but often lose patience with our seemingly endless plot lines of ours and our childrens' journeys. Even friends who have witnessed addiction within immediate or extended families, but not with progeny, cannot totally relate to our experience. We accept well-meaning smiles and encouragement knowing even the kindness our friends show us cannot mask the unspoken.

They just don't get it. If we could read the thought bubbles they would say, "Thank God that's not me."

But we get it. Nobody wishes the journey of the addict on their sons and daughters.

When we make connections with parents who do share stories like ours we realize we are not alone. Many journeys have not begun until these bonds have been embraced. It is comforting to have someone with us as we take those first few tentative steps to escape our self-made quagmires. Soon we identify our journey is moving us toward self awareness, self actualization and personal presence. The perception of the communal journey gives way to the realization that each pathway traveled by a parent of an addict is extremely personal. We have found the support of multitudes of brothers and sisters along our way who love us and appreciate our experience, strength and hope as we cherish theirs. The staggering experiences that once survived, made us stronger and gave us hope for our lives are ours and no one else's. We are alone, together, but alone all the same. This is the way it must be. We cannot rely on others to tell us how to keep moving along our pathways any more than our children can rely on us to show them how to move beyond the disease.

So there we are, progressing toward our destinies, amid those metaphorical pits, tree falls, cliffs, danger-laden rain forests, energy-sapping deserts and other distractions. All we want is to be whole, to live lives that are full and realized. So why aren't we getting anywhere? At some point, it can seem like we're going in circles, retracing our own footsteps.

All we want is to be happy. Is this to much to ask?


We get pissed. "Haven't we moved beyond anger as the go-to emotion to frustration?" we think to ourselves. We wonder if this is a reasonable response to the constant roadblocks and detours addiction in its many guises places upon our recovery paths.

This, traveller, is not just a reasonable response to The Addiction. If harnessed correctly and with the guidance of the Great Creator it I can be a healthy response.

Perhaps it's time to get militant about our recovery.

Similar to the way we were treated by the medical profession before taking ownership of our bodies and demanding to know what is going on "in there," recovery without a certain militancy can often fool us into thinking that everything is fine when it just may not be. Complacency about our recovery can leave us feeling unfulfilled and often exhausted. As we work harder and harder on our self improvement and progress along our pathways, if we are not careful and vigilant The Addiction will divert us through detours maddeningly similar to where we had been. We find ourselves in familiar situations and behaviors we thought were abandoned long ago. It is a spiral. We go in circles, we find ourselves in those accustomed surroundings until we stop and say, "Enough! Yes, I've come so far but I want more. And I know what I have to do!"

In a sudden surge of self awareness we dig deep and acknowledge shortcomings we have avoided or ignored. We realize we had bought into the playbook The Addiction wished us to follow, using our child's addiction as an excuse for stagnation. Complacency had moved us again to focus on our child's journey and not on ourselves. Those deep-seated character flaws took a back seat. We have endured and persevered. We may have been gentle with ourselves. We may have deserved this after enduring so much.

But recently we found we're not getting anywhere. We've plateaued. We're not improving.

We have nowhere else to turn but within.

These imperfections, these life patterns, often family conventions and norms have been with us for generations.

It's time.

It is time we jettison, shed, exterminate and eradicate what is holding us back from within. The personal and solitary nature of our journey takes us full circle. We make changes, slowly and in a determined way and not for anyone but ourselves.

We become militant about our happiness. This visceral response to stagnation is the impetus that can propel us past our own self-defeating and destructive behaviors.

We become so self aware. We show up. We are at peace. We become a force true to the truest of our natures as human beings. Everything becomes clearer, gentler and more loving. We are self assured. We surprise people, most of all ourselves.

Those obstacles and diversions of the past seem scattered as if with a wave of our hands.

Militancy is a powerful life approach when applied for Good, and the Good that results will be felt throughout our small corner of the cosmos like ripples in a pond. Our worst demons confronted and our journeys resumed we emerge stronger. We are more comfortable with ourselves and our imperfections. We become a force for our own happiness and a beacon to those we care for.

When we look ahead we are once again amazed at what we see. Our pathway is much clearer now. Smile. It's time once again to move on with a renewed determination! With the Universe by our side and our focus revitalized we will become militant masters of our own destiny and happiness.

… keep coming back

"For my ally is The Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you - here between you, me, the tree, the rock. everywhere. ~ Master Yoda

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Wounded

"You think it's a weakness. Make it a strength. It's part of you. So use it." 
~ Actor Jon Huertas as Detective Javier Esposito - Castle, "Kill Shot"(Written by Alexi Hawley)

I admit it. ABC's Castle is one of my guilty pleasures. With an engaging ensemble cast and plot lines riveting, but not grotesque or depressing, Castle is a show I can enjoy. The episode "Kill Shot" centers on the pursuit of a sniper who is terrorizing the citizens of New York City by shooting in broad daylight seemingly indiscriminate targets - a kindergarten teacher, an attorney and a third who is the lone survivor.

Interwoven throughout the drama is Detective Kate Beckett's struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome triggered by an attempt on her life in a previous episode. This current murder investigation hits home. Her assailant, likewise a sniper, remains at large.

Beckett is a mess though she believes she is fine even announcing this to her team, her captain, therapist  and her consultant/writer, not-quite-yet (spoiler alert) lover Richard Castle. Worst of all she truly believes she is not affected by the bullet through her chest that miraculously sidestepped her aorta. Kate Beckett is in total denial.

Sound familiar?

In a scene pivotal to the episode and the series, Beckett is pulled away from the squad room by Detective Javi Esposito, a former U. S. Army Special Forces sniper who served in Iraq prior to joining the NYPD. Esposito escorts Beckett into a far corner of what appears to be the precinct evidence locker.  He presents her with a sniper rifle. It is Beckett's sniper's rifle.

"You are way out of line," she says to him.

Esposito explains the rifle he is holding is simply a hunk of steel with no magical powers. He confides to her he has been where she is now.

Beckett repeats her mantra: "Javi I'm fine."

"You're not fine," he responds. The sniper, he explains, isn't all powerful. "He's damaged goods."

After a long pause Beckett responds, "So am I."

Esposito jumps on the chance to begin closing his team leader's wound and says, "That's right, and that's OK. You think it's a weakness. Make it a strength. It's part of you. So use it."

He hands her the rifle and begins the healing process of Detective Kate Beckett.

We have all of us been wounded, seemingly mortally. Our hearts have been pierced by our child's spiral into addiction. We've been knocked down but not out, sidelined perhaps, but not eliminated. At some point we determined we were fine but knew we were not … fine. We thought we could recover alone from the attack that could have knocked us permanently out of life.

We lied to ourselves and the Universe. Then, the Universe handed our Truth back to us - our own private sniper rifles. We'd been offered help countless times before, there had been hundreds of angels close by for so long and we refused to accept the invitation to begin our healing.

We needed to be backed into a far corner of our own evidence locker to see our Truth, the proof of what could destroy us if we let it, if we gave The Addiction the power it wanted. The remnants of our defeat, helplessness and sorrow brought upon us at the hands of our child's addiction can bring us permanently DOWN unless we accept the Truth:
We are parents of addicts. Ours lives have been changed - permanently. We're still here. The Addiction, the damaged goods that has taken our children from us isn't all powerful. We are also damaged goods and that's OK. What should have eliminated us from life and living, permanently, has not. Our defeat by our child's addiction is now a part of us. We may think this a weakness but since the experience is inextricably fused to our inner-most being, to our souls, why not use it? 
Why not make it a strength?
What is the sniper rifle the Universe presents to us, the linchpin, the essential of The Addiction that felled us, that brought us to our knees?

When we look around the evidence locker we will be horrified to be presented with the image of our children as they once were and as they could have been in our hands. The Great Creator is with us and hands us our babies and says softly, "He didn't pull the trigger. She didn't take the shot."

The image transforms. We see it clearly now. It is The Addiction. The Addiction is just the tool. It is not all powerful. Yet, it remains out there, at large, stalking us.

But we have lives to lead. We can lay down the memory of our children, for now. We can keep it in the evidence locker, for now. We can move on.

Our strength comes from separating The Addiction from the memories of who our children once were and could have been, who they are now and where their journeys are leading them.

We are who we are. The shadow of addiction is a part of us. Don't run from it. Don't deny it. Make it a strength. Use it.

We will emerge greater than we ever imagined we could be.

… keep coming back
"You need to claim the events in your life to make yourself yours." ~ Anne Wilson Schaef

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Repairers of the Breach

"Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt. You shall raise up the foundations of many generations. You shall be called Repairer of the Breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in."  ~ Book of Isaiah 
We have experienced a breach in our families. There has been an attack on our lives, our souls, our futures. Even the whole of society seems to have been overtaken by the onslaught.

Is addiction such a powerful, unstoppable force?

As parents of addicts, we think not.

A friend recently asked as we were discussing this and other issues, "Is this the end of days?"

Again, we must think not.

There are too many of us traveling, progressing, striving, seeking and seeing, to be throwing our hands up in deep despair, too many of us carrying banners of hope, life and living.

We are repairers of the breach brought about by addiction. We are a most powerful force.

When our children first succumbed to the allure of addiction plunging headlong into its vortex we did everything to fix, control, battle and redirect. We found this was a battle we could never win. Strategically, we began to think differently. We changed tactics. We began to breathe, sometimes reluctantly, to trust in a Great Creator. We laughed, occasionally. We sought the good in ourselves and began to see hopeful signs for our futures and the futures of our children as they traversed their recovery roads.

We let love enter our lives and began to see our lives could be fulfilled, happy and even joyous. We became militant about our happiness.

There may be thousands of us on this journey, perhaps millions if we include those who have yet to warily advance along their uncertain recovery pathways. There are certainly millions if we count those who are just now extricating themselves from the addict's mire like the original gasp of life sprung from the muck of primordial soup billions of years ago.

No matter the headcount we are truly a force to be reckoned with.

As we progress on our journeys of recovery we are showing our children the way. Each day, together, yet on distinctly separate roads we reveal to our children points of self discovery they can enter only through their own devices and initiative.

They'll figure it out, not us.

Repairers of the breach are often misunderstood as we take on our quixotic quests for our own possible dreams. We become SeaBees constructing our recovery roadways and repairing defenses as our children and the rest of the world observe from afar our courage and fortitude. Our hope is that our very personal journeys will somehow inspire our children. We hope also that this army of contrarians will change the way society views the blight of addiction.

This is, however, not our primary journey. Our breach is intimate and firsthand, our recovery focused and necessary for our survival. With each step along our roads the fractures of our lives are soothed, the pain tempered and hope restored. Future generations will benefit from our journey - TRUST this.

Breach repairers say "Enough!" to decades of spirals and vortex diving. We end generational duplication of damaging behaviors. Living our lives to the fullest extent possible we say "No" to another cycle of acceptance of addiction as a way of life. In this way repairers of the breach are also breakers of chains.

We become zealots in the defense of our battlements, of the small tracts of progress won through perseverance and TRUST in a Universal Power greater than ourselves. We repel the negative and embrace the positive. When we least expect, laughter, joy, life and friendship will join us as allies. We will become strong again and send a message to The Addiction that through defeat we have become stronger.

One day we may see a figure in the distance approaching, having left his addiction behind. We can lower the drawbridge and accept her back with open arms as equals, as allies in living life to its fullest. This is the Hope that spurs us on, we band of brothers and sisters, we repairers of the breach!

… keep coming back

"Somewhere in the world there is a defeat for everyone. Some are destroyed by defeat, and some made small and mean in victory. Greatness lives in one who triumphs equally over defeat and victory." ~ John Steinbeck, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights