Monday, November 21, 2016

Fable of the Running Man

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one." ~ Jane Howard
Deep within the hillsides of the village called Evanescium far from the hustle and bustle of the city from which most of the villagers had fled, lived a man who had never ceased fleeing.

You see, he was a running man.

He would wake up in the morning and he would run. In the afternoons, he would run. And in the evenings, he would run. There was no purpose to the running other than to busy himself away from the dread that seemed to relentlessly pursue him. There was no goal, not even the quinquennial Evanescium Games in which most of the villagers would participate to display each of their athletic talents as they pleased.

He knew if he ran, and ran, and ran, the displeasures, dismays and despondencies that pursued him daily could never overtake him - permanently.

You see, he would run a long way. And so he ran, with his pursuers close behind.

He believed by running he could keep at bay his past, past mistakes, misdeeds, forgotten or mislaid friendships, words said in haste, anger or fear he wished he had never uttered. He thought by relocating to Evanescium his regrets could not follow but incredibly the regrets seemed to be constantly nipping at his heels, spurring him along, fearing him forward.

Many of the other villagers were runners yet they would run their runs together. The running man would see them, happily dashing through the village pathways, enjoying the flora and fauna of the Evanescium forests and meadows, their efforts much less labored than his, their regrets far off in the distance. They seemed to revel in their regrets, their imperfections. There was a lightness to their strides unlike his plodding, heavy pace.

He soon learned when he would occasionally pass a group of his fellow villagers - and they would always smile at him and say things like "hello," "way to go," or "you got this," which he hated - many of them had found a purpose for their running.

You see, the Evanescium Games were to commence in a few months and many of the villagers would compete, displaying their running talents as they pleased The running man would have none of this. He feared if he joined one of the groups of villagers surely his failures would overtake him, thus, everyone would be witness to his faults and foibles. The worst of it would be if his past caught up with him.

He could see these groups ran effortlessly and at a much slower pace than he. He would notice, when he compared his running with the villagers', though his strides were plodding, his pace was frantic. This combination would inevitably lead to injury whereupon he would sequester himself in his little village home until he felt well enough to resume his flights. This would be when his fears, faults and foibles would seem to surround him like an engulfing, blinding fog.

One day after a recovery from one of these self-inflicted injuries as he emerged from his little village home frantic to begin again his running he happened to see a large group of his fellow villagers passing directly in front of his little village front yard. He of course paused, waiting until they passed, even though he could feel his failures, fears, faults and foibles ready to pounce and finally overtake and end him.

So he waited. He waited until the last of the runners were almost out of his sight, then emerged from his little village home front porch certain he could once again outdistance his pursuers - and just in time too! He could feel them. His failures, fears, faults and foibles having gained on him during his downtime were closing in!

The running man bolted from his little village home front yard at a pace a bit faster than normal to create some distance between him and his pursuers. Soon he heard the conversations, laughter and community of the group he had let pass minutes earlier. In his haste to outpace his demons he had inadvertently caught up with his fellow villagers.

"THE HORROR!" he thought to himself. Slowing his pace and shortening his stride the running man again lost the sight and sounds of the lighthearted ones.

"How could they run so slowly,. Why would they run so purposefully?" he asked himself. "Don't their worst fears eventually catch up to them?"

This was something that troubled him, something he could not understand.

Once again the dread that his past might catch up to him entered his mind. Caught between his failures, fears, faults and foibles and the joyful community he dare not join, the running man found himself slowing, accelerating, slowing, accelerating, keeping his distance - from everyone and everything, past, present and future.

The futility of this dance soon became apparent. As he approached the crest of a particularly rocky hillside surrounded by thick brush and and an equally thick stand of trees he discovered the villagers, those happy villagers were again within sight. As for his pursuers, he could feel them, gaining, closer than ever. It was as if he could hear them approaching.

"They will overtake me any moment now," he thought to himself.

He glanced backward over his shoulder at whatever was behind him and to his astonishment, and horror, he could faintly discern through the brush and the trees another group of joyous villagers approaching. Was he losing his mind?

Minutes passed which seemed like hours to the running man. The gap between the gleeful villagers ahead and the ebullient villagers behind was narrowing.

"Could this be my worst fear," he pondered. But this was no time for pondering. This was time for action. Never before had he been this close to the end, to his perceived end game.

For a moment he closed his eyes before making his move, whatever that might be...

Once opened, he found himself engulfed in a mass of joyous, fellow villagers. They seemed unconcerned about any pursuers.

"Where are the failures, fears, faults and foibles of these people," he wondered. "How can their strides be so measured, deliberate and self assured? Why do they not seem to be running from anything?"

Then as he began to run more slowly, deliberately and his strides became more relaxed within the mass of his fellow villagers the running man had a revelation...
All these years I've been so wrong. I thought my fellow villagers stupid for running so slowly and methodically, risking becoming overtaken by their worst darknesses. Now I realize they have not been running FROM anything. They're running TO something - every day!
And as he looked far ahead as the brush and stands of trees began to thin, he could see far off in the distance the lights and triumphant silhouette of Evanescium Memorial Stadium constructed years ago to commemorate the new beginnings built by the multitudes who would find a new life in the little village.

He became swept up by the happy conversations of his fellow villagers and no longer felt the constant apprehension of being pursued. Instead, he became aware for the first time this might be, finally, his new beginning. His pursuers, no longer a threat or even a consideration, the running man rounded a turn to a small decline on what was now a paved roadway. His pace, now measured, slow and deliberate he looked up and realized he was now entering the stadium with his fellow villagers - yes, his FELLOW villagers.

Soon the running man was immersed in a magnificent chorus of cheering from the villagers in the stands, the practiced and exquisite music of the Evanescium high school band and the exuberant cheering of the cheerleaders from the high school Cheer Squad.

"This is for YOU!" screamed one of his fellow villagers into the running man's ear so he could hear the words through the engulfing joyousness.

"What?" the running man asked, equally as loud to cut through the happy cacophony of the stadium.

"THIS IS FOR YOUUUUUUU!"

And as he embraced the joy, the community and the peace of the moment he could feel a tear collect in the corner of his right eye. He had, arrived.

From that time forward the running man would stand patiently each day on his little front porch awaiting his fellow villagers. As they approached he would hear their conversations, laughter and community and would join them, stride for stride, as they passed by.

Every now and then this group of villagers would pass a solitary runner plodding along, relentlessly evading his or her worst failures, fears, faults and foibles. The running man would smile and say, "Hello,""Way to go," or "You've got this," knowing these lone villagers may not yet be ready for the stadium.

Each day at the end of each run he would say goodbye to his fellows and privately reminisce about the journey of the day, the sites seen, the conversations conversed, the trails traversed and the obstacles overcome.

He would contemplate how fortunate he was to have found himself among the many and wonder ...
"Just think where I'll arrive tomorrow?"
... keep coming back

"Go forth in the busy world and love it. Interest yourself in its life, mingle kindly with its joys and sorrows." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Friday, November 4, 2016

Déjà vu in Recovery

"And I feel  |  Like I've been here before  |  Feel  |  Like I've been here before." ~ David Crosby, Déjà vu
Oh those feelings that emerge sometimes slowly like an approaching fog or suddenly like a cold winter breeze seemingly coming out of nowhere as the November seasonal change approaches. We know these feelings, these manifestations are telling us something and are often accompanied by physical indicators like muscle tightness, fatigue or even fever, sore throat or other complaints arriving when our resistance is compromised, or down.

What are the feelings telling us?

Sometimes as parents of addicts, parents of kids in recovery or even parents who have not walked our recovery walk, these feelings may signal old behaviors creeping up on our lives. We may be approaching dangerous pathways, risking revisiting sites abandoned long ago. Are we imagining, again, the worst for our children? Are we inserting ourselves into their lives again, even by presuming what we should be telling them so they will just get to that next step in their recovery?

Are we finding ourselves impatient with our children's progress? Do we find ourselves angry about the lingering "addict" behavior even as they heroically move through recovery?

What exactly are we feeling? Or are we once again, afraid to feel?

Then comes the neck stiffness, the cold we can't seem to shake or the inability to secure those elusive seven to eight hours of sleep we know we need. We stop taking care of ourselves. Even if we do not directly insert ourselves, control, enable or otherwise meddle in our children's affairs - there are endless possibilities - we can begin again to focus more on our babies than on ourselves.

It's déjà vu all over again. It's a tedious familiarity. It causes our bodies to rebel to snap us out of, hopefully, our old thinking and awaken our consciousness to again pursue what is right for us.

See these then not as symptoms or manifestations to be ignored or even as signposts to guide us along our journeys. As we enter into situations with our addicted sons or daughters, or our children who although in recovery exhibit the lingering effects of The Addiction, these déjà vu all over again moments are simple reminders that we've come too far to answer the call of our worst tendencies.

The Addiction may still be there, weakened, but not yet gone. Let's not give it any nourishment or encouragement for rebirth.

Take a breath, close your eyes, count to 10 - really!

Smile.

Say "I love you" to yourself. Say it to your son, your daughter - those who have spiraled and those also who thankfully have not. Feel the tightness in the back of your neck subside, the blood rush leaving your face.

Open your eyes. You've released a burden before it overtakes your life, before it again becomes a way of living. You've stayed your course once again on your road to personal recovery,

Safe travels!

... keep coming back

"Just can't wait to get on the road again." ~ Willie Nelson
"It's déjà vu all over again." ~ Yogi Berra

Monday, October 24, 2016

Failure Island

"I've failed over and over again in life. And that is why I succeed." ~ Michael Jordan
Let's go back in time to our past that compelled us to control, to blame ourselves and our children for their plummet and seek out any fix to put an end to our shared dire circumstances.

There we stood, marooned on Failure Island. Our lives had become shipwrecked. Life's winds had taken us off course although we had tried our best to stem the swelling tides surging around us. We soon found the waves of anger, sadness, belligerence, depression and discouragement to be too much for our little ships we believed to be seaworthy. We trusted years of parenting to the best of our ability would prevent the disease of addiction from entering our households.

We were wrong. Our lives were scuttled. We went then into survival mode but on our little islands we were alone, isolated (from the Latin insulatus - made into an island). We became the island, the rock jutting above a vast expanse created not by our children or even The Addiction but by our own making.

We experienced the feelings of failure owned only by parents of children who have stumbled into addiction.  Until we owned our anger and disappointment, until we really felt it, we were unable to let it all go so we could again see our babies for the beautiful human beings they are. We remained marooned because that's exactly where we wanted to be at that time. It was an awful yet comfortable and painfully familiar place to exist.

Feelings are frightful. Escaping the tides and barriers of an island seems an impossibility. Until we allowed ourselves the revelation that our isolation was a losing proposition and a pathway to nowhere, to continuing rage, pathos and self destruction, we remained.

One day we saw a way off the island. We made the attempt. It may have required several efforts, the rip currents of our despondency pushing us back to the island again and again, and then perhaps, again.

But we eventually made it off Failure Island - exhausted.

Once we found the strength to breathe and reflect we made certain promises to ourselves. We vowed to never return to that island. We might visit via the Google Maps of our minds to reflect on where we had been and how damn far we'd come. It's ok, failures as parents are inevitable, but we can decide never again to distance ourselves from our children, family and friends by so immersing ourselves in our faults and foibles.

When we come to grips with our humanity, that we are REAL humans with real weaknesses and character flaws - remembering REAL is what we are striving for each day - we can shrug off the guilt and bitterness that kept us on that island for far too long.

Escaping Failure Island was an early first step on the pathway to loving our children and hating The Addiction - to live our lives to the fullest.

We can remember this when we feel ourselves drifting off course into melancholy and lose our bearing. Our true north is within us. Trust this and with our hands firmly on the helm our best adventures are just over that horizon.

Bon voyage!

... keep coming back
"The only true failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows." ~ Buddha
"And a rock feels no pain - and an island never cries." ~ Paul Simon, "I Am A Rock" 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Finding Peace in Upsetting Times

"All we are saying is give peace a chance." ~ John Lennon
These are difficult times. There is a catastrophic civil being waged in Syria, a land grab in Ukraine, global warming, world-wide privation, and in the U.S a failure to address chronic socioeconomic, judicial and educational disparities between the haves and the never hads.

Add to this a U.S. presidential election so crude, contentious, hateful, petty and stupid the entire world is wondering what the HELL is going on in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

No wonder we're all walking on eggshells. Once again, does any of this sound familiar?

We all experienced feelings of foreboding in our personal lives as we navigated through our journey while being constantly bombarded by the confrontations The Addiction would lay across our recovery pathways. Many of us are challenged even as our children triumphantly struggle through their own recoveries.

We have been threatened psychologically and physically. Now, a world in chaos only adds to our depletion, to our exhaustion.

So how do we find peace?

We don't want to start from the very beginning as sung in "Do Re Me" from The Sound of Music. That would be a disaster to go back to the cloud forest, the muck and the shit.

What we can do is to remember HOW we embarked upon our journey, how we took that first step or initial crawl out of our personal primordial soup of despair. We can be better than the world in chaos and the petty little politicians. We can remember our goal to somehow, eventually and on our own terms find our truest selves. We can look beyond the crap being spewed all around us to see the potential glories awaiting us on that next plateau.

We cannot succumb to the negativity that creates neither a benefit to our progress nor a loving or consciously kind state of mind for the children we cherish.  We can simply focus on our journey and by doing so, become beacons for The Good rather than additional catalysts for The Bad in the world.

There are enough souls out there fueling the fires of negativism, adversity, hostility and distrust.

Remember, The Addiction feeds on the negative. Our children can sense this when we exude defeatism, that pessimistic resignation to all that is hurtful and destructive to our recoveries. If we resign to the darkness we risk becoming dismissive to our sons and daughters and through our actions travel down pathways we've been before and don't really want to visit again. Feeling abandoned, our children will return to the only NORMAL they know - The Addiction.

By being true beacons of The Good rather than joining the chorus of discord we may find our own peace and perhaps, show the way for our children. We may feel we are in the minority, we're not. We are the quietly strong, not the bellicose insecure. We can't be shouted down forever. Hang in there. Give peace a chance!

It will find us. And it will find our children!

... keep coming back
"Take care of yourself. You never know when the world will need you." ~ Rabbi Hillel

Friday, September 9, 2016

Fable of the Robins

"Change your thoughts and change your world." ~ Norman Vincent Peale
A tormented man sat each day behind his home on a patio shielded from the weather by a shingled, wooden overhang supported by four large wooden columns of great strength. Nobody knew what had caused this man to be so bitter, so angry and so sad. All they knew is each day, there he sat, trying to enjoy Nature's bounty and the Great Creator's endless mysteries, yet with such a hard heart and tortured soul he could not.

So there he was, alone, with his thoughts and all his sadnesses his only companions.

The man had for so long lived with this company he imagined this would be the extent of his existence forever. He became enthralled by the melancholy, the constant din of the negative. Each day as he sat on that patio he would dive deeper and deeper into the vortex of his own abyss. He had almost forgotten what had brought him there, but not really, he would occasionally admit.

The man's torment had originated from outside the range of his little patio, something he had not created. Yet he was certain if he would sit in misery long enough the torture that followed him each day to the shelter of the overhang would simply go ... away.

There he would sit in rain, shine, cold or warm weather, snow, ice or searing heat, the man's shelter shielded him from any experience, joy or pain. It was as if someone had pulled a shade over each of the three open sides of the man's small world.

And so it was. And the man became comfortable with his nothingness.

One day as the Earth was preparing to tilt toward the Sun in its celestial dance and spring was readying to bring its warmth, wonder, and symphonies of life, an intruder appeared under the eaves of the man's sanctuary. A robin, a very busy robin gracefully landed atop one of the pillars.

Soon the busy robin began constructing a nest on the four-by-four inch square of the supporting wooden column, bringing wisps of straw and strings and things with him in a frenzy of activity. Being more concerned with readiness and haste than cleanliness, the trespasser would soon jeopardize the perfection, quiet and sanctity of the world the man had so carefully fashioned.

And the noise, the phttt-phttt-phttt of the bird's intricate weaving was a constant interruption to his previously enjoyed silence.

Soon, the bird was joined by another. They were starting a family.

The sanctuary would be ruined!

The man had no alternative but to knock down the nest, sweep away the wisps of straw and strings and things, hose the shit off the patio floor - oh, there was so much shit - to reclaim his space.

He looked around and thought, "I have my world back."

He was again at peace, or so he thought.

The next day the man returned to his refuge to resume his daily solitary sojourn in his torment. As he sat down he heard again the gleeful phttt-phttt-phttt of the industrious robin working tirelessly on top of the same pillar swept clean by the man the day before. As if mocking the man the bird would only interrupt his work with a celebratory song, so cheerful in its rhythmic, repeating simplicity.

The man listened and reflected, "I must stop this interruption to my quiet. Why won't these birds allow me my peace?"

Once again, he knocked the nest off the pillar, swept away the wisps of straw and strings and things, hosed off the shit from the patio floor - how could they shit so much in one night? - to reclaim his space.

This performance would be repeated day after day. The man even resorted to drilling screws into the top of the support as a deterrent to the robin's persistence. This only strengthened the robin's resolve by inadvertently providing a foundation onto which the nest could be anchored.

Still the dance of build, destroy, build, destroy continued.

And through all this the man's heart continued to harden.

One day, despite the man's best efforts, the two robins presented to the world three hatchlings.

The wisps of straw and strings and things increased three-fold.

Nature had found a way.

One sunny spring morning as the man emerged onto the patio he thought he might take a quick glance at how the hatchlings were progressing. You see, even he in his darkness and despair could not sweep the new life from the pillar.

Perhaps the robins were affecting him.

This morning as he approached the nest he looked down to see one of the three crumpled on the ground, pushed out, abandoned.

"How could they do this?" the man pondered.

And whatever light that had seeped into his heart and soul left as quickly as it had entered.

Spring approached its concession to summer. The family, the four, moved on.

The nest came down.

Once again the man sat alone. Spring passed into summer, summer to fall into winter. Through the passing of the seasons the man had a lot of time to reflect upon what had transpired those spring mornings.
Why did that robin keep coming back? My resistance had no effect on him. He just kept coming and coming and coming. 
Why did the little one have to die?
The man had no answers. He felt helpless and hopeless. He looked around and observed time had passed him by once again. Winter would soon be relinquishing its hold on his surroundings to the spring.

"I am done!" he cried aloud. "I cannot continue in this way. I had hoped for life but what I got was death. What is the point! Why even try, or hope, or ... ."

The man broke down and wept in his shrinking world.

That year winter held on longer than usual. Snow was followed by some of the bitterest cold on record, then winds with blistering, stinging rains. The blooms did not bloom, trees tried their best to courageously hold onto their buds, mostly unsuccessfully. The harbingers of spring, the willows, crocuses and forsythia stood silent, waiting, absent.

The man sat in the bitter cold and once again became embittered by his life, his surroundings, all the contributors to his ever darkening existence. Exhausted, this time, he quietly whispered, "I am done."

Weeks past and winter refused to relinquish its place to its successor season. Darkness turned darker. Winter's pulsing silences began to take the man under to anguish even he had never experienced.

"I want my robins back!" he seemed to hear himself say. Then, finally, the winter engulfed him. And he was gone.

Days turned to nights and the man sat silently unaware of his surroundings, his feelings, his breathing, thoughts or dreams. Finally the Earth once again began its tilt toward the Sun in its celestial dance. Spring was ready, ready to take its rightful place in the succession of seasons to bring its warmth, wonder and symphonies of life to the world.

The man felt the warmth of spring upon his face. He opened his eyes yet could see nothing.

Then he heard it, he heard the phttt-phttt-phttt, followed by the rhythmic, simple celebratory song.

And the man swears to this day, if you were to ask him, on that morning, he heard the shit hitting the floor of his patio. He will tell you for the first time in years, he smiled.

"I cannot continue in the way I have been living for so long," the man cried out in his own celebratory song.

"I am NOT done!"

The man looked up toward the four-by-four inch square of the supporting wooden column where for so many days he had swept away the little nests of the robin. And ever so slowly he could see, he could see the robin looking at him, taking a break from his intricate weaving, his phttt-phttt-phttt, his celebratory song, as if to say, "Oh, there you are."

From that time forward the man's heart softened and his soul opened. Each year, he would cherish his time with the robins, the phttt-phttt-phttt, the celebratory songs, even the shit, and of course, the little ones. He would bemoan the occasional sacrifice of the one so the others could thrive.

He began to understand the joys of life are often accompanied by occasional sorrows. He began to laugh again, and cry again.

He became a part of his world, not a refugee within it.

Each year when he would enter his patio and realize the robins had moved on, he would as well. He began to live his life fully inside his little patio, embracing all of Nature's bounties and the Great Creator's endless mysteries. He would soon emerge from his sanctuary to experience the multitudes of adventures life has to offer.

And the man would smile, each day. He would be forever grateful for the despair that brought him to his knees and for the robins that would not give up on him.

He found his true peace.

And nature found a way!

... keep coming back
"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs." ~ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Healthy Discomfort

"Healthy discomfort is the prelude to progress." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
All parents' lives at certain times seem like a series of alerts. These alerts may manifest as positive or negative although by strict definition and connotation the word alert brings to mind the dire, dreaded and undesirable. Whether our child is an addict, recovering addict or a budding Fulbright scholar, alerts, good and bad, are a part of life for all parents.

As parents of addicts and even recovering addicts we can fall into the trap of fixating on the negative alerts that can monopolize our lives.

If we separate the spurious alerts from those sent by the Universe as signposts on our journey life can become more manageable and complete. When we become mired with The Addiction and our children in the Theater of Certain Future Events, or find ourselves sitting in the boardroom of the Committee of Gloom we can fire the little bastard projectionist and dismiss the Board.

We can choose to ignore the fraudulent and concentrate on the Real, what is truly happening with ourselves, our children and our forever-joined lives.

Life's real discomforts are not meant to be ignored. Just as a muscle pull may prompt us to take time away from exercise to heal and recover we cannot ignore the discomforts sent our way by The Addiction and our children's ongoing hand-in-hand stroll with their counterpart. All discomforts, some more painful than others - some excruciatingly so - become doorways to new horizons for parents of children who have succumbed to the disease of addiction.

We can be doubled over, even felled - seemingly cut off at the knees. Then we realize we're still here, alive. The Addiction no longer has the power to to permanently take us down.

We're still standing. And we're stronger.

These discomforts, the authentic alerts manifesting through the Real, our children's negativity, the pills and paraphernalia left out in plain sight signal that things aren't going quite right - a deeper dive, a relapse out of recovery. The Real discomforts no longer originate in our deepest imaginations. These are our children we are witnessing as they stumble down diversionary pathways.

No longer inclined to follow them through the hedgerows, we have no other option but to look beyond to learn and see the next horizon the Universe has presented for us to explore. We feel a change, we grow and move on. We progress along our journey.

There is no predetermined outcome from any discomfort we feel, no correlative cause and effect from any particular set of observations. And that is the beauty of our journey. Each discomfort, every alert brings with it infinite possibilities for parents of addicts and the recovering.

The formula remains the same however.

The alert comes, we feel the love we have for our children and the pain of their stumble, then look for the possibilities:
FEEL + LOVE = LEARN
The temptation is to become comfortable with the discomfort, to live with it, to believe remaining mired in the discomfort is what we are to expect for our lives.

This is old thinking.

When we realize this we know we are becoming self aware and actualized. We are now listening to our truest selves. It is a voice worth listening to.

Healthy discomforts are portals to possibilities of new venues and adventures our Great Creator wanted all along for us to witness.

And we can take comfort in this.

... keep coming back
"Life does not accommodate you. It shatters you. Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be no fruition." ~ Florida Scott-Maxwell

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Have Faith - It IS Always Darkest Before The Dawn

"Remember that the darkest hour of all is the hour before the day." ~ Irish Proverb, Songs and Ballads, Samuel Lover, 1858
It's one of those maddeningly counterintuitive aspects of our recovery. When we feel uncomfortable, when our lives seem to be unravelling as a result of something our children's disease has brought them to, something GOOD is looming just over the horizon.

The GOOD is there if we are willing to SEEK out joy, beauty, happiness and sunshine in the midst of seemingly insurmountable roadblocks and detours placed in our pathways by The Addiction.

How do we carry on? Why do we persevere as our children slide deeper into addiction's mire? We do this because we have learned, and have begun to TRUST this journey we have embarked upon is ours, not our children's. We understand that there are aspects of our lives that are a mystery because they are evolving each day. Events take place around us, the BAD and the GOOD, beyond our control. There is a force at work here bigger than any and all of us.

This is pretty heady stuff!

This stuff, is the Universe' plans for us. This is why we continue on. We know the dark clouds do not follow us forever. There are blue skies beyond that hill or hedgerow, the seemingly impenetrable mangrove or never-ending cloud forest. We have faith. We must. There is something at play here, a Power able to work miracles in our lives.
miracle (n): 1) an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs; 2) an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing or accomplishment ~ Merriam Webster 
Outstanding!

When we TRUST in a benevolent Universe, Great Spirit, God or god, who, which can take our burdens from our shoulders and allow us to continue on our journeys we can again find that pathway to the light. We can begin to live our lives to the fullest even when our children are stumbling over disease-induced roadblocks. We cannot remove the barriers to our children's recovery. We are no longer immersed in their dramas. We no longer travel with them, we have our own marvelous and often perilous expeditions to navigate. Still, they see us striving as we also bear witness to their victories and failures.

Remember, we are two souls, travelers side by side yet on different pathways, theirs no less heroic than ours.

We must truly believe this. Our sons and daughters can be witness to our metamorphosis. The change is so dramatic one would have to be blind not to see it, yet while The Addiction is there it casts an opaque veil of distrust and anger upon our children. They become sightless to anything beyond the next high.

But this veil won't remain forever. This we must also believe.

It's through our example, not our admonitions or attempts to control this veil can be lifted. And it is often when we least expect the change when our sons and daughters might just emerge. By soldiering along our journey pathways our hearts might have softened enough to see a glimmer of our children's souls peeking through the mist. If we have seen our share of the magnificence the world offers us, if we have begun to live the lives our Great Creator meant for for us to live, no matter what has transpired to sidetrack us or cause us to incorrectly blame ourselves or our children for the disease that afflicts them, we WILL see at some point our babies reaching out for their chance at change and recovery!

We will be ready for this emergence if we simply continue the journey even when all seems lost and hopeless. We never know when we will be called upon to embrace our children even if just for a moment. Every moment is precious. Every moment is a celestial gift.

To paraphrase Tom Hanks' Chuck Noland character in Castaway, "So now, we know what we have to do. We need to keep breathing, seeking, striving and thriving. Because tomorrow the sun WILL rise. Who knows what (or who) The Universe will bring our way?"

... keep coming back

"Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again." ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Listen - The Addiction May Be Telling Us Something We Need To Hear

"The word 'listen' contains the same letters as the word 'silent' " ~ Alfred Brendel
Let's face it. The Addiction just can't keep quiet and is an unwitting carrier of messages we can use to carry us along our recovery pathways.

I can remember before the start of my recovery, one afternoon after I had thrown away my son's stash of pot I had found not so well hidden in the back yard, The Addiction shouted, "I'm gonna FUCK YOU UP!"

I didn't hear the message. At the time I couldn't have. I only felt the anger The Addiction was spewing in my direction and continued the confrontation. I was too caught up and enveloped in the crap of my son's dive into his disease to really hear and grasp what I was being told:
The Addiction was going to destroy me, if I allowed this to happen.
And for years that is exactly what transpired. The Addiction "fucked me up" for a long time all right.

It requires a change of heart, soul, attitude and behavior to separate our children from their dependencies, to be able to listen to the siren call of The Addiction without being lured into its various traps. It becomes too easy to steer toward the challenges and beckonings Addiction's anger spews at us. We're the PARENT after all! How dare my son, my daughter speak to me this way.

We have to remember it is The Addiction talking, discharging its bile and bitterness. There is no need to revisit the effects of drugs and alcohol on the adolescent AND developed brain. We must be mindful our dependent one did not choose this life. He didn't wake up one morning to proclaim, "I'm going to trade in my life for pot," she did not inexplicably arrive at the conclusion one evening after dinner with the family to dive headlong into heroin dependency.

Our children are not living the lives they wish in their dreams and hopes to live. You'd be disappointed and bitter too. You'd feel isolated, ashamed. caught - all of these. You would allow The Addiction to ambush your interactions with the ones you love, who love you.

Imagine for just a moment what that life must be like.

The Addiction has so much to tell us about our children, about ourselves. To achieve its ultimate goal of permanently separating us from our children The Addiction becomes a manifestation of evil. But we can learn from this constant babble if we hang in there, remain as silent as we can be, and just listen.
This may be a poor analogy but it took me a while to realize that when my children were very young and I was transporting them and their friends to various events, games and outings, if I just shut my mouth and let them jibber jabber I learned much more about their world than when I would attempt to insert myself into the conversation.
It's not always the words we need to notice, the details can be in the delivery, the previously unimaginable obscenities, the constant unspoken volleys of hatred shown through body language, negativity and disappearances. Negativity is the go-to fortress of The Addiction within our children.

I bore witness to my son's masked presence very early on in my recovery.

We were at lunch during a Parents Weekend at his therapeutic boarding school. I had chosen a little diner outside the town where the retreat was being held. It seemed like a safe place. He ordered nothing and The Addiction hit me with its best shot - or shit. One of the event's moderators had prepared us parents for this. As I sat listening to the "F" them and "F" this, and they don't "F-ing" know what they are talking about, and you're such a "F-ing" tool for buying into this shit, I remained silent. I took it.

It was the longest lunch hour of my lifetime and all I had ordered was a sandwich and chips. I tasted nothing.

As we piled back into my rental for the drive back to the retreat, my son emerged.

"I was really good at baseball, wasn't I dad," he asked out of nowhere, his eyes wide as if he was about to cry.

"You were better at baseball than football or soccer," is all I said.

(He was REALLY good at baseball.)

We returned to the weekend in silence. My son had emerged. Through my determination not to engage I had exhausted The Addiction long enough for my son to break through, if just for a moment.

The Addiction's message is clear. It wants to divert us from our lives while maintaining its hold on our son's and daughter's lives and their preoccupation with lifestyles they never wished for.

Hear the call of The Addiction, listen to its desperate demands for us to engage. Begin to recognize the malevolence of the disease to which our children have succumbed. Then refuse to steer into the rocks, refuse to play its pathetic game. Exhaust The Addiction!

Our kids are in there. They'll emerge when they're ready.

... keep coming back

"We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say." ~ Zeno of Citium


Monday, July 18, 2016

The Wild Ride

"When we talk of tomorrow, the gods laugh." ~ Chinese Proverb
Parents of children who have fallen to the disease of addiction often refer to our journey as an adventure. This occurs when we have begun to distance ourselves from The Addiction while pulling closer the souls and hearts of our children who have unwillingly succumbed. We use phrases like letting go, the wild ride and who knows where our pathway will lead us.

It can sound, sometimes, as if we are living mindless directionless lives, throwing caution to the wind as if our collective family crest is emblazoned with a bear shrugging its shoulders with the word for Whatever etched in Latin beneath.

Not so fast!

While our journey may seem random and at times deliberately so, it is the pathway we choose on a daily basis that can determine where we will emerge at the end of that particular day, in a month or year from that day. This is the mystery, the thrill of the unexplored that makes our daily expeditions so magical. Each day as we embark in any particular direction we make choices to be grateful or resentful, happy or forever disappointed, to persevere or stagnate, to approach our true REAL or to allow The Addiction to sidetrack us.

Sometimes the burdens we have not yet released are too much to bear. Sometimes it may be difficult or impossible to see any light through the limitless dark canopy of the cloud forest into which we may have stumbled.

We will emerge. We will find a way out of the morass.

Then what?

It's the call of the WILD RIDE that beckons us to take that first step, to be grateful for how far we have travelled, to shake off the cobwebs and muck of the darkness and look beyond to the unknown, the possible. We may not know at the instant of that first reluctant stride toward our newest pathway where our steps may lead. This is when we must TRUST that by doing our best to strive for our truest REAL the rest will follow. There are rainbows ahead, challenges and victories to be met and achieved.

There is unimaginable beauty and satisfaction just over that next horizon. We can become better than we thought we could be. We will see the futility in remaining bitter about our children and learn again to love them, separating them from whatever addiction has taken them from us. We will be astonished at the gifts the Universe bestows on those who accept that each of us deserves a life of happiness, abundance and community.

Go ahead, take it. Take the gifts of friendship, the opportunity to grow, prosper, LIVE, LAUGH AND LOVE. Don't worry about what is just over that horizon. Each progression we make that is true to our truest selves brings us closer to whatever joy and jubilation await us.

The plan is for today.

Our future is blissfully uncertain.

Bon voyage!

... keep coming back

"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip, the trip takes us." ~ John Steinbeck

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Homecoming

"People who believe they know everything are missing the Great Adventure." ~ Patrick Benjamin
I hope we can agree on two simple tenets of our journeys:
We don't know anything, and there is no one way, one road to recovery.
These have served me well, have helped to catapult me along my journey even when hopelessness challenged me. Realizing I have much to learn, still, after all the stumbles, wrong turns then emergences from the abyss, all the little failures and victories, keeps me grounded. The belief there are as many pathways to recovery as there are stars in the universe has taken me down many roads less travelled. I feel fortunate to be one of the many who each day SEEK and strive to be that complete human being - not always successfully. I have experienced so much of The Good to which I had been previously blind.

It has been and continues to be, for the most part, a grand wild ride!

There have been bumps in the road for me, as there have been with all of you.

I may have previously alluded to my strong belief that Al-Anon saved my life almost six years ago when I had been beaten by my son's addiction. (This is not a commercial for Al-Anon - remember, stars in the universe.)

Like Richard Gere's Zack Mayo in An Officer and A Gentleman I had "nowhere else to go."

Zack Mayo chose Officer Candidate School. I chose Al-Anon.
Google "Zack Mayo nowhere else to go" if you would like to catch a glimpse of  how I felt having been defeated by The Addiction.
My "somewhere else to go" was Al-Anon  - yours may be different.

(I actually first was dragged to Al-Anon, grudgingly, not realizing I was beaten. A friend (angel) took one look at me one day and told me to "get (my) ass back there". For this I am forever grateful.)

Stars in the universe ...

Clueless ...

Remember these, always.

It was July of 2015 I embarked on my great adventure of training for my first half marathon. Throwing myself wholeheartedly into the effort I trusted the college-degreed trainers at the running store to avoid the injuries which had sidelined me the past three years.

Tuesday evenings were scheduled for speed work sessions on whatever 400 meter track I could find. "Speed" is a relative term of course.

Tuesdays were also my sacred carve out for my Al-Anon Parent Group.

I chose the 13-week training trying not to abandon my lifeline. I stayed in touch, read readings, practiced what I had learned before staying true to my new pathway. Even so I missed my family of parents in our various stages of recovery journeys while I was becoming more certain I could finish the 13.1 miles. The speed work was working, fortifying muscle groups I would need for the long haul.

Soon, as if on cue from The Universe, my son who had brought me to this journey would have an epiphany.

Remember parents, there are no coincidences!

In the weeks following my successful completion of the half I had begun to notice an increasing pallor chiseling away at the chiseled good looks of my handsome young man.

One day during a visit to our home I had to ask, "Are you eating OK?"

"Yeah Dad," he returned." "Do I look bad?"

I did not respond other than to say I thought he looked thinner.

He said nothing. Absent was the normal bellicose demeanor my son would so often display when asked for any update on his status no matter how gentle or innocent the inquiry might be. He seemed ... resigned.

I returned to my Tuesday night meeting. It just seemed right. It was time.

A few weeks later our son informed us he "couldn't live like this anymore." He had progressed from pot to pills to heroin. My baby was beaten.

He had nowhere else to go and checked himself into a local outpatient treatment program.

The homecoming to my Tuesday parent meeting was not timed or a planned reaction to my son's epiphany. Nor was it a triumphant return to announce his first steps into recovery. My return was simply a feeling I had, an innate desire to "get my ass back there" to my chosen recovery zone. I was invited back by forces much more grand and mysterious than I could ever imagine. The stars in the universe had aligned, I chose mine and returned to that one place where I could rejuvenate, recharge and recoup.

Where these meetings will take me now I don't know. It's all part of my personal recovery journey.

And my son, almost seven months into his recovery is still choosing his star.

I know as little about where my journey pathways will take me as I do about my son's next steps. It is and will continue to be a joyous adventure complete with perils, failures and victories yet a wonderfully wild ride all the same.

Who knew?

...keep coming back
"The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don't know how or why." ~ Albert Einstein

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When the Rain Falls

Reminiscences from a Midwest deluge, written in July 2015...
"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It has been an unusually rainy early summer here in the U.S. Central Midwest. It has rained uncontrollably while forest fires rage in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. This contradiction has not been lost on us and as if to punctuate the schizophrenic nature of weather patterns the jet stream one day brought the fires' combustion our way, coloring our skies an eerie Dijon-mustard yellow brown before more rain came to wash away the haze. We all were asking ourselves, "What the hell is next?"

We have had more rain than Seattle. I've begun to imagine I have been temporarily transported to the birthplace of Grunge, the home of coffee as a birthright and the Space Needle, though I've yet to find a farmer's market nearby where salmon are tossed like rugby quancos for the enjoyment of the tourists. I have learned to relish the rain as it arrives, often in sheets followed by steady, soaking downpours.

I've never been to New Zealand but I imagine our region looks much like the land of Kiwi Russell Crowe, that is, except for its mountains, coastlines, fjords and imposing rock faces.

Much of the Central Midwest has been transformed to a verdant sea of green - and only green. Our flora eagerly await the sun for rebirth, blooms and petals having been struck down by the torrents of the past few weeks. It is as if a swarm of locusts have descended upon our gardens to strip away the succulent colors we anticipated during the grays of winter. It has been a season of contradictions, flash floods here as we watch the news of our neighbors to the Northwest battle against devastating firestorms. Nature, as Nature will, deceived us with Fall-like weather in June followed by these buckets-full of H2O to take GREEN to new and spectacular levels of so many shades, virescents,  glaucous green, jade, pea, a pantone-matching-system color wheel of emerald delights.

It has rained and poured, for days over days over days. Fed by tropical storms, the eternal battle of north-south weather patterns, front against front, high pressure versus low, Mother Nature has us imprisoned in a seemingly eternal vortex of wet and wetter with no escape in sight.

This is when I notice my recovery journey kicking in.

I accept the rain in my own way, envisioning as I trample through puddles I am transported to a far-off land of everlasting rainfall. Walks taken between storms, especially through wooded areas take on a mystical aura. I am noticing things previously ignored, like the gaps and clogs in gutters I had been so conveniently disregarding for who knows how long.

We in the Midwest are facing a stress test of our resolve to remain positive, to adapt, perhaps change, and keep moving.

Many are being tested beyond human endurance, beyond what one could imagine any human spirit can withstand. There have been levies failing, lives and homes uprooted. For these, the metaphor of mystical places and transportation to exotic locales is unfelt. For these the rain has brought with it a struggle for survival.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As we approach the midpoint through July the rain has gone, dark clouds have been replaced by blue skies, the long-awaited blooms are once again atop previously naked stems. We're anticipating midwestern summer normalcy: heat alerts, drought-like conditions, occasional pop up summertime thunderstorms.

The front has moved eastward toward Kentucky where the governor has issued a state of emergency for the Bluegrass State. I am certain aid will be on its way from those just weeks away from enduring the storms. It's what we do as a society, as humanity. Deluge is a shared experience we cannot ignore.

I've learned a lot about rain as a parent of a child whose life has been overtaken by addiction. Rain is inevitable, and brings with it The Good, as well as The Bad. We can learn to SEEK and SEE what is positive when the rain falls. We can choose to see puddles as inconveniences or splash through rain's imprisoned issue like our three-year-old granddaughter as she runs through her "muddy puddles". We can watch in awe the majesty of curtains of moisture released from the heavens rather than cursing the interruptions to our daily lives the rains bring. We do not ignore the decimation constant downpours may bring. We just don't, and can't obsess about it.

The rain will move on to bring new challenges and vistas - and so must we. The rain will leave us so we may experience new dawns and renewed possibilities. There is beauty, wonder and splendor in the rain along with the destruction and sorrow it can bring. The rain can devastate but it can also cleanse and purge preparing the way for new growth, magnificent colors and best of all, hope and rebirth.

When the next front approaches and our lives go into Storm Mode we can become shuttered and isolated or watch and learn about our ourselves and the world around us, We can no more stop our children's missteps or further dives into The Addiction than we can an approaching storm front. [Visualize that absurd image for a minute.] By looking to the beauty of our children and not blaming them for what The Addiction has brought them to we just might see once again the majesty of our boys and girls.

We can learn to look past the deluge to find those muddy puddles of joy, still and deep within our children. We can move on as the storm will - eventually.

There's blue skies - comin' our way!

... keep coming back
"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky." ~ Rabindranath Tagore

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Let It Go, Let It Happen

"You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope. ~ Thomas Merton
The following was written in stream of consciousness - sort of - one draft, no edit ... 

Today we buried my mother in law which elicited a whole slew of feelings and reminiscences not the least of which is the memory of hearing my mom had died by a phone call from the bank. You might say this explains a lot if you knew me better than you do. You all know me from these pages and that is all. I am happy to say I am a bit deeper than what you witness here, the sum of my parts do not begin and end with the My Parent Depot postings but a lot here points you to how I got to where I am today. 

But this is and should never be about me it is about us and if it ever does become solely about me  - which would make for some terribly boring and tiresome reflections - you have my permission to contact the blog police to put all of us out of our collective misery.

My mother-in-law's funeral and my subsequent same-day decision to write my stream of consciousness blog is not a coincidence. As we all know there are no coincidences in life, simply the Universe' way of directing us to where we should be or who we should be with or avoiding. But this serendipity of my wife's mother's funeral and some time on my hands to begin writing again has a celestial purpose. 

What I learned during the week leading up to the funeral and the two days spent in desperate mourning by the family, my wife, her brother and sister during the visitation and internment was that I have changed

OK, something about ME again, but hang in there - there's a point to this.

My relationship with my mother in law was not necessarily contentious but because I met her only during the last 28 of her 91-1/2 years of life I was a bit less accustomed to her negativity, quirks and tendency to disparage her children especially my wife so I didn't have the history and hence the tools to fight off a personality fashioned by a great depression a world war and a husband who came back from that war with a nasty case of WWII PTSD (read shell shock). 

Funerals are terrible things that families can make even more terrible but not in this case. The three siblings  - all fifteen feet of them ... they're a very short family - took the opportunity provided by the death of their mother to amplify the love they have for each other. The visitation was a time for sharing, our two boys, the son that brought me to this journey and the son who drove both his parents crazy during the three last years of high school were able also to re-establish bonds they had lost when pot and pills took our older boy away to the addiction. Friends and extended family were able to see this love, and the re-bonding it was a beautiful thing to see.

I was told not once but at least three times how I had changed I knew I had but it took more than one person to tell me this truth in the captive setting for me to hear it. The funeral ended with a prayer requested from the three, the sister and sister and brother. They not being particularly religious but very spiritual I was not sure what was coming. This is what followed - the Al-Anon Serenity Prayer:
"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 | Living one day at a time | Enjoying one moment in time | Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace | Taking as He did | This sinful world as it is, not as I would have it | Trusting that He will make things right if I surrender to His will | That I may be reasonably happy in this life | And supremely happy with Him in the next."
This is the first moment I allowed myself to cry. I cried tears of happiness for years ago finding the courage to lay prostrate on the ground, beaten and begging for someone or some THING to take the burden of my son's addiction from me I cried tears of sadness that my wife had lost her mother after five years of Alzheimer's and a mercifully quick death due to sepsis and other complications I cried for our children and the other grandkids who had lost their last grandparent I cried for the family that had taken me in after not knowing family fully and lovingly in my former life.

We were all reminded by my wife's big sister that grandma had at one point turned to Al-Anon to turn her life around - I had forgotten this. The message was clear from the Universe, God, god, the Great Creator, the universe or whatever power by which we can explain away the unexplainable, the coincidences and the synchronicities of life that can guide and propel us along our journeys to our truest selves if we allow it.

This had all happened for me and can happen for us all if we simply let go and trust, trust that there is something out there that can take our struggles off our shoulders and disperse them across the stars to the heavens and above and beyond throughout the universe to let The Addiction know we will no longer be a hand puppet to its master plan of keeping our children mired and stuck in its stench and stink.

Our lives may not be perfect but we can be happy and grow each and every day to become as close to who we are meant to be as we possibly can and I am certain that our children will see this and want a part of the victories, the struggles, the failures and exuberant finish-line crosses that they see us experience. There are millions of souls along the journey to buoy us along as we let loose of the addiction tether mid flight. Trust we may falter but we will not fail, stumble but not fall, but if we fall we WILL get up.

We can change if we want it. In the words of Elsa In Frozen:
"Let it go, Let it go! | And I'll rise like the break of dawn | Let it go, Let it go | That perfect girl is gone | Here I stand in the light of day | Let the storm RAGE on | The cold never bothered me anyway.
I love that last line  - very deep - think about it. 

It is our liberation we are talking about it is our emancipation and our lives and the lives of our children we are talking about here and I saw it these few days at work as the spirit of a family matriarch rose up to inspire each and everyone of us - and now YOU! - to the greatness we can achieve if we, maybe, just don't try so damn hard.

Keep letting go and ...
... keep coming back 
"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." ~ Benjamin Spock

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Seven Spring Haiku - For You

"Dare to love yourself  | As if you were a rainbow | With gold at both ends" ~  Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry

Again Spring teaches
Black skies will turn to azure
We’re not in control

Nature’s class lessons
Fruitless to force the beauty
See it and Be it

Smile at the sunrise
Again as the moon rises
And the in betweens

The moon’s reminder
The NEW moon hiding, present
Mysteries await 

Great Creator’s sounds
Symphony of life living
Take out those ear buds 

Spring’s more gentle side
Example of calm and growth
Do we aspire?

Don’t know everything.
Life is a Great Adventure
Never to be spoiled


... keep coming back

"Make money and the | whole world will conspire to call | you a gentleman" ~ Mark Twain quotation haiku'd by @Warrior_Prophet

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Doses of Positivity

"We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is in itself a marvelous victory." ~ Howard Zinn
One recently bitterly cold early morning as I was stumbling into my chosen coffee shop of the day I happened to see a woman I had noticed there on previous mornings. On this day she was addressing in full vigor, a group of women sitting at a large table.

This woman, an educator, was outlining her classroom philosophy. Ebullient doesn't even come close to describing her.

I had to break in: "Are you enrolling? I'd like to be in your class!"

She laughed. The women too. I told her from what I had heard she gives her students the opportunity to learn in a healthy and inclusive atmosphere. She responded by mentioning each day before class she reminds herself that she knows nothing, so each day might progress and emerge as it should.

Sound familiar?

Stunned, I left her with a quote I had picked up years before.

"People who think they know everything are missing the Great Adventure," I said.

We smiled and parted company yet her energy and positivity remain with me.

Sometimes we need doses of positivity as parents of addicts. No matter where we are on our lifelong journey, wherever our children are along their recovery pathways, we need these regular inoculations against The Negative.

Our lives depend on it. Positivity is one of many preventative and proactive measures we can employ to avoid tumbles back to the vortex The Addiction is constantly inviting us to rejoin. Think of Positivity as a vaccine we would no more avoid than the Inactivated Poliovirus schedule administered to our children in the first year and a half of their lives. Positivity is a well-established pathway to fulfillment and self actualization.

Years ago I had asked my doctor if he thought I should get a flu shot.

"You want to get the flu?" he asked.

"No," I responded.

"Then get the flu shot," he counseled, with a smile.

It's that simple, right?

Unfortunately for parents of addicts it's not always so. We are challenged, daily, by the hooks The Addiction employs to drag us back into our children's spiral. We all have the little bastard projectionist in our heads, playing those awful dystopian newsreels portending certain futures that may or may not transpire.

We can learn to SEEK out Positivity so we may SEE The Good The Universe has in play for us. We do not simply avoid the negative. Actively looking for the positive in life, seeking FUN (there's that "F" word again), allows less time for negative thoughts, internalized film festivals and self-defeating actions to creep into our lives.

We don't lead lives as the village idiot, ignoring all of life's travails at the expense of our own well being. This is more a quest for the best in human nature, in society, in friends and family and ourselves as we stay true to our recovery journey pathways. There is a benefit, a logic, in surrounding ourselves with joyfulness, what is life affirming and not soul damaging.

I have become convinced that TV newsrooms have relegated the duties of the assignment desk to the police scanner. It's is easier to cover fires, murders and automobile accidents than to dig deep into the soul of a community to find The Good percolating in spite of The Bad we are exposed to hourly. Television dramas and reality shows have become celebrations of the worst of human nature.

We can pick our media wisely. We can choose our mindset carefully as well. We can even choose our conversations carefully including our self talk. Most of us have more than once, I'm sure, meandered down pathways of negativity. It may be part of our DNA or perhaps a defaulting human genome that tends to move us to a complaining voice. When this occurs we can catch ourselves and imagine ourselves turning around to retrace our steps back to our chosen pathway.

When we find ourselves diverted to The Negative we can feel it. It is a different sensation for everyone whether it's the blood rushing to our heads or the knot forming in our neck muscles (that's mine). Whatever predictor of the foreboding we own it is important to recognize it and know when we have entered a dark pathway. If we allow ourselves to continue down the path paved by negativity we risk becoming lost, again, in the blackness.

Seeking out and finding The Positive is the thing wherein we can keep our journeys true and safe.

Surrounding ourselves with positive people is one sure way to stay focused on our pathways. A quick shot of optimism from one of those infectiously happy souls is an inoculation against Gloom.
And GLOOM, in just a single syllable is such a descriptively negative word. Lugubrious is another. We may not know its meaning, we just know by its sound we don't want to go there. Lu-gu-bri-ous is what we were before we began our journey. 
We can't go back there.

We can catch ourselves when we find we have entered into a negative conversation or when our our thoughts revert to our more negative tendencies.

We can leave those conversations, external and internal. We can stop ourselves when we begin to ramble down the easy pathway to The Gloom. When we do, when we stop, we know we've grown.

Remember also The Addiction is all about maintaining our children in its cocoon of negativity. Their conversation will trend to what sucks, what is wrong with EVERYTHING. Do not engage, do not return the volleys. But when our children do emerge, when they speak of anything that smacks of what is right, good or optimistic with their world, jump on the opportunity.

It is at this moment we must allow our children to catch a glimpse of what we have found. We must allow them to have a Goodness sighting, a view of a vista awaiting them in the light outside the darkness. It may be hard for them to see. The light can be blinding for those who have been in the dark so long.

Eventually they may become accustomed to our Positivity. Eventually they may long for it.

For now the doses of Positivity can be our little secret, our gift to ourselves.

Just take at least two daily, PRN.

... keep coming back

"We can complain because rosebushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses." ~ Abraham Lincoln
"When things go wrong, don't go with them." ~ Elvis Presley 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Stillness of the Quiet

"In the stillness of the quiet , if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair." ~ Howard Thurman
Stillness can be disconcerting. We can be left to our own thoughts if we abandon civilization's constant din of activity.

The good news is our own thoughts are healthier, happier, more honest and true than before we set out upon our recovery journeys.

Still, the stillness, the quiet, the absence of the white noise of constant conversation and busy-ness can be a condition to be feared.

We've even been programmed for this through media - movies, television, radio ...
"Did you hear that?"
"Hear what? I didn't hear anything?"
"Exactly."
Even in our pursuit of our personal parental recovery as we strive to SEEK and SEE what the Universe has awaiting us, as we endeavor to move forward, we can be caught up in the joyous uproar of our own activity.

This is not a call to regroup or take Five, to postpone our journey to rejuvenate and recharge. This is an invitation to awareness.

During the course of navigating through the cloud forest of our early recovery or even in our triumphant first emergence from despair and darkness we were perhaps too focused on the escape to take note of the silences surrounding us. These quiets as we can call them were largely ignored as we persevered to accept the abundance of The Universe.

We had a purpose in those early stages to escape the vortex of our children's disease. What we did not realize at the time was those quiets, seemingly as dark as the mire from which we were endeavoring to escape could have served us well. We realize this now - or soon will -  yet embracing the quiets of our lives may take some getting used to. Allowing ourselves to accept the stillnesses, the breaks in the clamor of everyday life may either seem impossible or something to be avoided.

For years I would jog or take long walks through our Great Creator's abundance with my ear buds firmly in place. I listened to my playlists to take my mind to another plane of existence as if the park or nature preserve I had chosen didn't provide enough inspiration.

One day a friend (read angel) mentioned she never listens to anything, music or podcasts, when she takes walks.

"Why miss out on the sounds and beauty all around," she said.

Now when I take long walks or training runs through any of our area county parks or wildlife sanctuaries I treat myself to the stillnesses of each moment. The stillnesses, the quiets, are now only interrupted by the rustling sound of deer deep in the woods or the calls of orioles and meadowlarks previously hidden from view by the clatter of my meticulously chosen playlists.

I allow the stillnesses to surround me, to quiet my soul, to allow me to BREATHE.

I am even training myself to experience the stillnesses within conversations instead of formulating what I will say in response before the speaker has completed his or her thoughts. These stillnesses represent the whole of what is being said, the words, the inflections, the body language - the entire package. I no longer respond to a snippet of my choosing from the conversation.

My recovery is leaching ever so slowly into my life, not always successfully. I allow that recovery is a work in progress.

The quiets are our opportunity to experience the whole of what our Great Creator has made ready for us. Allowing ourselves the gift of complete encounters with our world as we continue along our recovery pathways is our next small step in becoming our true real selves.

Find a quiet place, yet experience the sounds all around. Take time to find the beauty in the smallest minutiae each moment offers. Focus on the quiet of the NOW without permitting the mind to race to the myriad of the NEXTS that may never materialize. Take that pause after a friend has spoken to take in what has been said and only then, decide if any response is warranted.

Discovering our quiets, our stillnesses amid the din of media, schedule, society, family and our substance-burdened children allows us to step back, move aside and focus on the important. We are able to reject the distractions, seeing them for what they are, dangerous diversions from our pathways. The quiets whisper to us to slow down even as we energetically travel ahead on our recovery journeys. The stillnesses remind us that while we remain clueless about so many things there is an entire Universe guiding us, cheering, encouraging us to be our best selves.

Did you hear that?

I hope so!

... keep coming back
"Happiness is a butterfly which when pursued is always beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, April 1, 2016

When Addiction Strikes - Our Time to Shine as Parents ... Or, The Meaning of SHOWING UP

"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing. ~ Albert Schweitzer
Life is full of cruel opportunities. We felt the full effect of this when our children succumbed to the disease of addiction. Many of us saw only one pathway and took it.

We accepted blame for our children's tumble. We controlled. We fixed - or thought we did. We handed our lives over to The Addiction. In essence we disappeared. We became the automaton of The Addiction, perpetuating our daughter's and son's subservience to the substance. We continuously insulted and downgraded our children's spirit as it slowly disappeared into the chasm of whatever drug or behavior had them hooked. We did for our children what they could and should have done for themselves. We stole their victories, failures and consequences. And as we watched our babies lose themselves in addiction's black hole we were right there with them, hopeless, invisible, dying.

Many of us accomplished this in cycles, disappearing and reappearing with a seeming purpose. We can remember also pulling our children from the brink. We got them clean in wilderness camps, therapeutic boarding schools, and inpatient and outpatient treatment. We saved our children's lives, a noble act for which many of them have yet to forgive us. No matter where our son's and daughter's journeys have taken them at this present crossroads in their journeys, this ingratitude is The Addiction speaking, hanging on, grappling for our babies' essences.
"... that stupid boot camp in the desert!"
Ultimately our paths diverged. It was inevitable, or must be. It is either this divergence occurs or we die, both parent and child. Living with our children in the muck, entangled within the thick hedgerow of addiction benefits neither of us.

One of us had to escape for both of us to have a chance of survival. It may as well have been us. It had to be us. Addiction's hold on our children is like a siren call forever luring them into a living nightmare of shipwreck after shipwreck.

Living for The Addiction with our children relegates our lives to an existence based on bitterness, anger and despair. There is no room in our hearts to love our addicts - ever. We can find no reason to separate him from The Addiction, her from the life she has fallen into. Showing up for ourselves makes us stronger, better than we have been for years.

As we emerged from our self-imposed dead zone we fought our tendencies to fix, control, cure and thus insult our children's intellect and ability to figure it out for themselves, whatever their it is. This would be the first of many counter intuitive awarenesses, a beam of sunshine breaking through the dense canopy of our personal cloud forest.
This might just be our opportunity to show up as parents. This might be our time to shine.
As parents of addicts SHOWING UP means living OUR lives to our fullest potential. Showing up in its truest sense is being as true to ourselves as we possibly can at this moment in time. Showing up allows us to be there for our children by being a beacon to a fulfilled existence, an example of what can be if our children would only accept the Universe' pathway to their best selves.

Showing up is one of those cruel opportunities. We are constantly fighting our reflexive proclivity to insert ourselves where we're not needed or wanted, to come charging in like a one-man, one-woman cavalry to free a soul unaware that any liberation is necessary - or worse, one that is just fine with the occupation.

Showing up as parents in this out-of-the-box way really does give us a chance to shine. No longer angry at everything we react less and are able to more often find love in our hearts for our children. We have more energy for ourselves and the slings and arrows The Addiction may throw our way. It is our time to rise above The Addiction and its hooks and barbs and become better than the embittered human beings we once were. It is our time to grow, to glow, to become who we were meant to be.

If we respect our right to live a fulfilled and rewarding life, to explore the pathways The Universe has prepared for all of us we also honor and acknowledge our children's capacity for change. They may see our new calm, our renewed lust for living and like that light we saw through the dark forest canopy they may reach out through the haze of The Addiction for some of what we've found.

When we show up and shine on for ourselves we become better parents for it. And brightening our lives just may become the sunrise to our children's new dawn.

Rise and shine parents!
... keep coming back
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." ~ United States of America Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We Really ARE Interesting People

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
We've all felt this. We're different, we parents of children who have succumbed to the disease of addiction. We have a different perspective on life, on living, on making that commitment each day to crawl out of bed and show up for life.

Some things are more important to us than they seem to other people, some less so. We've learned to ignore A LOT that might lead us on meaningless diversions away from our recovery pathways. We're focused on living. We no longer obsess over the argument, the negative, the sad, the pathetic. We have begun to pull away from the black-hole vortex of our children's addiction.

In the midst of it all we have come to appreciate our new and elevated role in the world, in the universe. We have lives to lead, passions to nourish and new friends to embrace. We do this even as our babies struggle.

We do all this because we feel we must. We feel compelled to strive, to seek out our individualities, our greatnesses.
Live or die. To be or not to be in its fullest sense, becomes the question.
And one day as we became more self aware we began to separate our children from The Addiction that had taken them from us. We chose a life separate from the controlling, fixing and curing parents we had become. In the process we began to discover our uniqueness stepping outside of what had been ourselves to discover who we really are, not what society had pigeonholed us into.

As this transition occurs we begin to feel, strange. It's OK. Different can feel strange at first. Our family, friends, coworkers and even our children who brought us to our journeys  - alright, especially these children - see the change in us and perceive the change as strange, foreign and threatening. We are shattering the status quo, the expected, the safe, the known.

Strange is not really the word, We can refer to our new outlook on life, our prospects and future as ... Interesting.
Interesting | adj. | attracting your attention and making you want to learn more about something or to be involved in something; not dull or boring
- Merriam-Webster On-Line Dictionary

We are definitely not dull or boring. Human beings who have suffered, then prevailed as thrivers from our children's dive into addiction are never boring. We've emerged. No longer hiding we're striving, seeking and seeing our possibilities.

Interesting people are attractive in a true, real sense, an attraction not based on physicality but on that something difficult to define. We are deeply involved with life, and with our lives, yet we are not self absorbed.

There is something then, different about us. In transcending our struggles and recent battles which have moved us along our recovery pathways we are a force to be noticed. Those who know of our struggles may see these changes as odd, selfish or inspiring. Those we meet, unaware of our history, may be attracted to our nuanced differentness. Our families watch, learn (hopefully - this is up to them), and find comfort in our changed demeanor, outlook on life and lust for life's experiences. We are becoming who we are meant to be.

Imagine that.

NO, REALLY! Imagine that, and it might just come true.

Our children who brought us to this journey, our Great Creator's great gift, see us too, changed, metamorphosed, alive.

Oh they'll be pissed at first to be sure as they witness their former rag-doll parents embracing a fulfilled existence. The anger we sense is The Addiction's rebellion, negativity and bitterness spewed through our children's mind, body and spirit. The Addiction will fight this, our truth, our REAL.

This can be exhausting for us and our children. One day they may see the folly of the vortex into which they have plunged. One day, as we once declared, they may say, "Enough!"
"I can't live like this anymore!"
Or perhaps they won't. We must remember it is their journey.

Through it all what we CAN do is remain steadfast. Through it all we must trust the pathway we have chosen and the spectacular journey we have been blessed with.

Through it all we must love our children as we follow the many possibilities the Universe has laid out for us.  All we need do is simply allow ourselves the courage to reach out and embrace the moments.

And, through it all, we must always remain ... interesting.

"Alas for those who never sing, But die with all their music in them," ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
"Everyone has a secret achievement inside. Happy are those who have the audacity to pull it off. " ~ Patrick Benjamin 

 ... keep coming back

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Disquietude

"Forgiving is not forgetting, it's letting go of the hurt." ~ Mary McLeod Bethune
Disquietude is one of those multi-layered words seldom utilized in our increasingly complex world. Dumbed down by email and social media our lexicon can't seem to keep up with the times. Disquietude harks back to the Civil War era when words were grand and descriptive, a Ken Burnsesque time when language blossomed.
"In Richmond, where intelligence of battles was received with comparative promptness, the frequent soundings of the tocsin, indicating the proximity of danger, increased the general disquietude, while those who lived in the country where newspapers were infrequent and mail irregular felt they would have preferred living in the midst of alarms to having their anxious uncertainty thus prolonged."
Disquietude, a word not so much utilized in the present day is certainly felt by parents of children who have succumbed to addiction to substances, certain behaviors or whatever negative influences impact their lives. Disquietude may be chronic or acute, a constant foreboding or that occasional twinge of pain precipitated by a late-night phone call, an item thought hidden from parental view or even a scent or visual supplying unsubstantiated proof of future, certain calamity.

We're either residents of Richmond receiving constant communiques of our sons' or daughters' real or imagined further plunges into addiction, or in the seeming insulation of the countryside where we may feel isolated, emotionally detached perhaps, yet still wondering, "When will the next alarm bell toll?"

It is useless to consider which is more distressing, the persistent barrage of intelligence or infrequent reports on how how sons and daughters are faring along their personal recovery journeys. This life of constant or intermittent notifications can be maddening, diverting us from our journey pathways. We risk a return to the brush, the dark rain forest, the mire and muck. We feel compelled to once again resort to enabling, controlling and living our lives for The Addiction. So we make the call:
OK, it's time you get your act together. You're not doing anything you said you would. Here's what WE'RE going to do.
Or ... 
Hey I haven't heard from you in a while. Is everything OK?
Our motivations are unimportant. Whether we've been receiving regular dispatches of our children's struggles or seem constantly in the dark, once again, we've been sidetracked from our pathway by The Addiction.

This sounds tough and heartless doesn't it? Perhaps it is a necessary message for us to survive the siege.

The disquietude is natural. We love our sons and daughters. This state of unease and anxiety may be with us always or for a long time.

So what are we supposed to do with it?

We can live our lives fully as a constant reminder of how much we love our children and so allow them their victories, and their failures. We can lower expectations thus protecting ourselves from the downside of Addiction-driven manipulative behaviors while allowing us to truly recognize and revel in our addicts' upside wins. We can live our lives as a beacon, a lighthouse of the possibilities of life lived to its absolute fullest each day. As we progress along our journey we will see those niches in time when The Addiction takes a hiatus from its hold on our children, providing those opportunities to be a parent without getting in the way.

This is when, "I love you" is the only thing we need to say to our babies.

When we let go of this disquietude, even occasionally, we can actually laugh, yes laugh at the absurdity of some of the behaviors our children are led to by The Addiction. We've all witnessed the sulking, the everything sucks and it's YOUR FAULT mentality of our children struck down by The Addiction. When we allow the disquietude to leave us or even temporarily subside and realize our children are IN THERE, we can ignore the hooks, the Addiction-driven enticements, and smile.

We'll not play this game - no, not anymore. This is what loving our children while we hate The Addiction that has brought them to the dark place is all about. We're not giving up on them any more than a parent of a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our children's disease is not curable through our interference. They hold the cure. We provide the lifeline through our unconditional love and belief in our children that they will figure this out.
We must never give up, never surrender to The Addiction's calls to divert us away from our lives.
Acknowledging our disquietude is the first step. We have tools. Whether we are in persistent contact with our children and their struggles along their pathways or receiving long-distance and sporadic notifications of victories and defeats, we must continue.  Our journey is our lifeline. Our children's disease of addiction is out of our control to cure but we can remain strong for ourselves and for them, for those moments of clarity where they might just bare witness to some of the views and vistas we enjoy.

We may not be certain of our sons' and daughters' immediate prospects but we can make certain as we can of ours. There was trepidation and hesitation when we began our journey. We can remember how in those first few steps we were able to confront our disquietude and move on.

Perhaps soon, it will be their turn.

... keep coming back
"I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it." ~ Groucho Marx


Bibliography

Rhodes, James Ford, History of the Civil War 1861-1865, New York, The MacMillan Company (1917), pp. 389-390