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?"
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