Addiction – The Family Secret

I really wanted to write about this subject today after giving it much thought. I hope I can be succinct and cohesive, but I am also asking for feedback if you would. That’s kind of the point of the blog post.

How many of you have an addict in your family? Any kind of addict. Alcohol, drugs (<– that was whispered like the mom in St. Elmo's Fire….lol), gambling, sex, shopping, eating….anything that causes a problem for the person and the family unit. I bet you do if you're honest with yourself. I bet there's the crazy Uncle you only have to deal with during the holidays because he drinks too much and gets obnoxious or starts telling dirty jokes around the 5 year old kid table. Or your sister who eats her entire meal telling everyone she's not really hungry, but then grabs some extras and hides in the bathroom finishing off another piece of cake plus 3 more rolls. Or the niece everyone thinks is perfect but has been secretly getting high every night and no one notices. What about the guy at work who can't turn down the next project/phone call/email/business trip/etc because he's afraid of not getting the next promotion or being valued enough?

Or maybe it's you. Can you stop drinking? What if you've never been told you have a "problem" before but now you're being asked to stop. Can you? "Well, **I** don't have the problem. My mom, well, SHE was the one hiding bottles through the house, not me. I can stop when I want." Uh huh. But do you? Can you go a month without drinking? Excess shopping? A little weed? A little pill? Working on a day off? What about exercise? Are you addicted to something "good" for you? Do you push it too far? Are you running 7 days a week? Should you?

Anyone who has dealt with an addict will tell you the above scenario is classic denial. There's always always ALWAYS someone worse off than the person you're talking to. Or an excuse for the behavior. And that's a convenient rationale to not admit your own problem. Yes, admitting you have a problem with (insert addiction here) is a first step. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Step One in AA. And starting at Step One is always the best place to start. The whole one foot in front of the other thing, right?

But what is YOUR role in all of this? The non-addict family member. Do you cover for the gambling spouse who just spent your electric bill money at the craps table? Do you call in sick for the spouse who can't quite make it to work again this morning? Do you explain to your kids to stay away from Aunt Dee because she can't help but to act the way she does? What if it IS your kid? Do you cover and and hide and put on the happy face for the world to see?

Now I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone open up the four walls of their homes and let everything be a gawking free-for-all. Every home has its secrets that most are sure would be horrified if the outside world could look in and see during your most raw, emotional times. That's not what I'm getting at. I AM suggesting that addiction is so incredibly prevalent in our society, and that the old way of thinking is not what is healthy for the entire family. Talking about it, discussing it, sharing it, help to bring it out of the shadows where it can grow and fester. That helps take away that stigma that unfortunately still exists today.

Which brings me back to the non-addicts role. My role. Most of my readers know my husband is an alcoholic. I don't hide it. It's hard. It's difficult. I've written many blog posts about it. I'm active in an Al Anon group. It's been amazing to find that everything I thought I was dealing with alone, someone right down the street was dealing with too. And right around the corner. And all over the city, the state, the country, the world. But no one knows because everyone hides and covers. It's the family secret.

Here's a great saying in AA: "Nothing changes if nothing changes". Simple right? Simple and true. Changing the way WE act and will bring about change in US. Not others. Ourselves. It's a very empowering feeling when you truly start to put yourself first and change the way you think.

I wish I could get more people talking, and in doing that you could realize you aren't alone. You're family isn't the only one. And perhaps helping to shed some light on what is happening will also encourage the addict to seek support and help. Don't let another generation continue the cycle. There's a Step One in AA and in Al Anon. But there's more than one step. Keep moving, keep growing. You can do ANYTHING for a day. Today can be Day One in your life, whether you're the addict or just love someone who is.

Namaste.

Addiction

Relapse or Slip?

These terms could fit a myriad of issues. And for good reason. They are interchangable with what we all struggle with. All of us. Don’t think you have a problem? Ha! I bet if asked, people could come up with at least “Fault”. I use fault in quotations because obviously not all struggles are exactly equal in scope and size, but at the same time, let’s not diminish any type of internal wrestling with right and wrong.

As some of my most loyal blog followers know, I had to have surgery on my back, again, for a melanoma that thankfully my doctor caught early. Surgery is a general term. She calls it surgery. I’m sure billed like a surgery. But it’s not in a hospital, its outpatient in her office surgical room. (Plus, as a side note, since it’s the beginning of the year and no deductible has been met yet, I’m sure this bill is going knock me off my feet. Sigh…..) So as a result of this “procedure”, I’ve had to miss a few yoga classes and a few barre classes. Throw in the Super Bowl and lots of not-so-good-for-me snacks, and well, you can probably see where this is going. I stepped on the scale this morning and was horrified and saddened to see I’ve gained 1 and 1/2 pounds since last week.

I’ve held my 70 lb weight loss to the pound since I hit that goal. Even though it was frustrating to not continue to lose more when nothing had changed. Maybe my body needed some time to recalibrate. I don’t know. But I went into a quick inventory of what I’ve been doing, what I’ve slacked off doing and how and when I need to refocus my efforts.

Do you know someone who struggles with an issue of trying to change and they have the tools, they know what to do, and yet……even after much success something switches in their mind and they give up all the progress they made? I think we all know someone (at least one) who has gone through this. The alcoholic who is sober for days, weeks, months, and in a moment, has the bottle? No thought about about what is being thrown away. What about the drug user who is out of rehab, made changes and suddenly an opportunity is there and they take it without a second thought. Until it’s too late.

So I’ve been thinking about this relapse or slip terminology. I’ve talked to some very knowledgable people in my Al Anon group as well as some in AA. The difference seems to be what happens after the fall. Do you continue on a shame-spiral and think “Screw it. I messed up. I have to start all over. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t even want to try anymore. This is who I am, if you don’t like it, YOU leave.”

OR

Can you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realize how much you’ve learned since your last Day 1? Can you start Day 1 with renewed determination and focus? Can you call someone who is helping you along your journey and honestly ask for help?

This is the difference between a slip and relapse. It’s not that you have to start over (because you do) it’s that you start over with serious gusto. You add more tools to your toolkit so that it doesn’t happen again.

I’m choosing to look at myself as the latter. I’m going to go barre Thursday and do what I can. I’m going to drink more water, because I know I’ve been seriously slacking in that department. I’m going to confess to my trainer that I had more than a few bites of ooey gooey yummy homemade soft pretzels Sundays, and yes, one or more may have fell into some cheese dip and then stumbled into my mouth. Mmmmmmmmm.

But I can tell you what I won’t do. I won’t allow it to derail me. I think about people who have lost significant weight by going on a fad diet or one of those pre-packaged meal deals like Jenny Craig or Nurtisystem. Those people all lose weight. I did when I was on Jenny Craig decades ago. But it doesn’t really teach you to keep it off. It teaches you how to use the microwave. Long lasting change isn’t easy, or fast, or without trials. But it’s soooooo worth it.

So even if your “slip” is falling away from your New Years Resolution, or you’ve fallen off the diet/alcohol/drug/sex/gambling/whatever wagon that you’ve been trying to stay on, fear not! Today is a new day. And today is a great day to call Day One.

Namaste

dont give up

Toast

So yea, today is my birthday. Yea! I’m just older and any day now I’m going to start getting AARP crap in the mail and notifications about my Social Security monthly payout if I was to die right now. Thanks a lot SSA for letting me know that.

But this is not a blog post about that. It’s about toast. And my wonderful, oh-so-wise Yogi and her meditation thought from yoga Monday night. Yep. Toast. Pretty deep, right?

Let me start by explaining that it was probably one of the worst Savasana poses in a long time. Except that one time I broke out in tears and cried through the whole thing. No this was a close second. But at least this time there were no tears. It was mostly laughter.

First, there was talking from other people who were there to train. Unless we issue a gag order during Savasana, I think I need to learn to block it out better. Julie is doing a great job. Tammy and I and the other girls, not so much. Second, it was cold because, well, after sweating for an hour and then lying still tends to get a little chilly. So between Tammy and I, we were fumbling around trying to get our sweaters around us without disturbing others. It didn’t work so well. (Note to self: Be prepared for the cold ahead of time!) Then, I sneezed. Not a huge problem, except then I started laughing. Then Tammy started laughing cuz I was laughing.

So much for lying still and only listening to our breath, right?

But then Yolanda started her meditation focus for us. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And that too strikes me as funny, simply because it was about toast. Specifically, burnt toast.

She asked what we did when we had a piece of burnt toast. Do we throw it away and start over? Do we try to scrape off the burnt part with a knife? Do we try to cover it up with something else to mask the burnt part? Do we eat it anyway and get through it and promise ourselves we’re going to be more careful next time? Do we convince ourselves we LIKE burnt toast and this is what I wanted in the first place?

And then, while you’re pondering what you do with burnt toast, replace toast with your life. Hmmmmmm. Can you make a fresh start? Can you get rid of that part of you that is holding you back and move forward? Or do you cover what is wrong with other things? Food? Alcohol? Drugs? Gambling? Shopping? Can you get to the root cause of what happened and fix it?

Of course, fixing burnt toast is as easy as changing the setting on the side of the toaster. But fixing what is holding you down is as easy as taking the steps needed to move forward. To stay motivated. To stay focused. Put down the weight that is causing the problems and lighten up. Just like the toast.

And pretty soon, instead of dealing with burnt toast slathered with peanut butter (ya know, the crunchy kind and it’s on so thick you can’t taste the toast anyway?) you can have it lightly toasted with a schtickle of coconut oil. And realize how good it is without all that other stuff.

Namaste.

burnt toast

Parent or Friend?

I have a gripe. A big gripe. More like a rant. And if this doesn’t apply to you, I still hope you pay attention. If it does apply to you, well, I hope you read this with the intent it is given and maybe open your eyes to a different perspective. I’m not sure I’ll change your mind, but I hope you at least think about it.

Parents are parents. First and foremost. You can be a friend, but you are a parent first. You mold, shape, encourage and support your children. 

That little disclaimer out of the way, I’ll get right to it. There was another party here in DaVille over the weekend where teenagers were drinking and smoking pot and the parent was home. Several accounts show this parent was not only complicit in these activities but was also providing the substances. 

WHY????? Why would a parent chose to not only put him or herself in jeopardy by hosting an underage drink and smoke-fest, but why as a parent, would you chose to look the other way even if you aren’t providing it? I don’t get it. Are you trying to be a friend over a parent? Is it too difficult to say no to your child? Is it so commonplace that you think it’s acceptable to other parents?

Well, let me answer that for my household and for several other parents around here when I said it is NOT. When parents check to make sure another parent will be present during a party, it is because we are entrusting YOU, as the adult, to make sure nothing illegal or damaging happens to our underage children while at your house. When we know that a parent is there, it is because we are, in fact, holding you responsible for the care and well being of our children. 

If we didn’t care whether or not a parent was present, I guess we would assume the responsibility of what would happen to our child during a high school party and all that comes with it; drinking, drugs and sex. We would also be assuming that role of a friend over a parent to not care whether supervision was at a party or not. 

Now, before I start getting hate messages, I want to make clear that I am not saying I am some pillar of righteousness and have raised children who do no wrong. Oh no. Quite the opposite. I say what I am because my children have pushed limits and boundaries and made mistakes and have been in serious trouble. I say it because I know how one stupid decision can change the course of a young person’s life. And how sometimes, unfortunately, those stupid teenage decisions can have lasting consequences. So don’t think that I am saying this from some high horse or superiority complex. Quite the opposite. I say it from the ground looking up. 

This is not the first of these parties that have occurred in the past year or so. Parents actively giving minors alcohol, looking the other way as bottles are passed from one person to the other, sometimes the parents have even joined in! “Let’s do shots!” is NOT something a parent should be saying to a house full of teenagers! 

We have a hard enough time raising our children to do right, when temptation is all around them. When peer pressure to do something they know is wrong is so strong they fear saying no. When regardless of upbringing, being in one wrong place at one wrong time can have lasting consequences. We don’t need other parents adding to our struggles. When other parents are actively encouraging these young kids to do something they know is illegal, it tends to warp their perspective of what rules can be broken and which should be adhered to. Drinking and doing drugs is pretty easy. What about encouraging your child to drive a car load of kids around when s/he has a newly acquired license? Is that ok? Because last I checked, that was illegal too. “Oh but they all do it.” Um ok. That makes it ok. “All teenagers drink, it’s part of growing up.” Really? Uh huh.

I just ask that parents start thinking about being parents and not friends. I don’t know your situation, or your rules, or your circumstances. I’m not trying to be the police of your household. Lord knows I have enough trouble policing my own. But when my child becomes involved in something because of your negligence, that’s where I have a problem. And so do you. Because the next time you allow, and you know you will, and someone gets hurts (or worse) that will be a bigger problem than you are bargaining for.   

Skipping yoga and other perceived sins

This morning I skipped yoga to help my brother. If that’s the worse thing I do all day, I’m in luck and glad it’s over so early in the day. He needed help, I helped him. I could have gone to yoga and not helped him, but it didn’t seem right. So I did what I felt was the right thing to do.

That’s what I have been trying to do all week. I’m trying to do what is right for me and my family. That doesn’t mean it’s right for you and your family. Might not even be the way you see the world. That’s fine. We all see things through different lenses, view the same situation in different perspectives and pull our own experiences into what and how we are dealing with everything every day. What is right for me might not be right for you. What is right for you could certainly not be right for me.

I want to make something clear, since it appears not to be: I am not naming names, pointing fingers, on a tower of judgement, or looking down my nose at anyone. Have you actually read what I wrote?? I mean, I have been brutally honest about my own situation. Have I asked other parents to perhaps look at what their kids are doing? Absolutely! I am not condemning all children in Westerville. Not calling all of them liars. Not saying every parent in Da Ville is reckless and uninvolved. If anything I have said struck a nerve, again, perhaps you should figure out why. Not for me, but for yourself.

It is human nature to lie. White lies, big lies, lies of omission. When a child is asked point-blank if they did something they know they will get into trouble for, they lie. Yep. Right to your face. Haven’t you ever lied to the cop who pulls you over for speeding? “NO officer! I wasn’t going 50 in the 25.” Uh huh. What about the little child who breaks the lamp and then denies it. He’s 5 and lying to not get in trouble.

That has been one of the biggest lessons. Everyone WILL lie. Looking you in the eye. Nope didn’t break that lamp. Nope, I didn’t drink at the party. Nope, wasn’t speeding. Trying to open communication, not only between me and my son, perhaps you and yours too. And realizing that parenting them when they are teenagers is just as important than any other time. The needs are just different, but they are very real. And there are very real consequences.

I would like to end this post with a favor. If you have comment, please post it here. My inbox on Facebook is becoming unmanageable. Facebook is a conduit to find this blog, not as the place for communication. I welcome the differing opinion. Keep it respectful as I feel I have done.

Parenting Teens – Standing strong in times of trouble.

I wanted to follow up, explain, expand, perhaps clarify from my post yesterday. I’m glad some are actually discussing this huge problem we have around here, I’m saddened to hear that most are still burying their heads. But that brings me to my main topic today.

I have not been elected the police of Westerville among high school students. I am not some vigilante running around trying to find kids doing wrong or illegal things. I do not have some self-imposed moral high ground. Actually, if anything, from where I stand, I feel like it’s the opposite! Until Monday morning, I was the parent who would’ve said “My kid wasn’t even there!” or something to that effect. We have discussed these issues for years with our son. He’s taken the middle school and high school classes at church. He even attends church with us every Sunday! We have told him how alcohol, in his bloodline, is literally like drinking poison. But that’s a different story for a different time.

I want to use a very real example of parents burying their heads. If this sounds remotely true, please pay attention. Our schools have a Ski Club. Buses take the kids roughly an hour north to ski for a few hours, bus ride back home. It was reported by students to advisors, teachers, and parents that many, many students were smoking weed on the back ski trials. This was not a one time occurence. Not by a long shot. By the time it had finally escalated to some parents being told that their kids were doing this, what did they do? A big fat nothing. Oh they got a “talking to”. They asked their kids, who denied it and then it was over. How many of them searched their phones? How many searched their rooms? How many went to buy a home drug testing kit, handed their child the bottle and made them on the spot go fill it up??

I wouldn’t have. Not my son. He wouldn’t do that kind of thing. He knows better. We taught him better than that. Blah, blah, blah. The child who has the nurse for the mom. The child who has the successful junior executive for a dad. The honor roll child. The child who is involved in sports, or drama, or any other club or group. The child who has both parents working in their own business to afford all the good things in life, but not spending time with the child. The child who has a stay at home parent, like me, and I have no idea. You ask if they have done it, they say “Gosh Mom! Gosh Dad! How could you even ask me that?? Of course I would never drink! I would never smoke that!” And Mom and Dad want to believe soooo badly, that they do. Even if the signs are there. And those parents, even in light of what has been brought to light this week, are still believing their child.

Then we have the parents who do know what is going on. And they are fiiiiiinnnnnneeeee with it! Well, that’s just dandy. I am not your child’s guardian. Parent your kid your way. None of my business. But do not expect me to be ok with it when it comes to my child. We can agree that we have different philosophies, different ways of raising our kids. But my child won’t be with your child. They say “It takes a village” and I agree with that. But the village needs to at least have the same general guidelines or that village has chaos. Our world has enough chaos without adding in mixed signals of “Well, so and so’s parents don’t care the he spent the night at that girls house or that he drank, or that he smoked that weed” (Remember, I am talking about mainly about 15 year old Freshman in high school here!)

These parents are of the mindset that they’re going to do it anyway. Again, freedom to parent how you see fit. I am not of that mindset. Maybe I am the outcast, the strict one, the delusional one, the unrealistic one. I am not ok with standing by and allowing my child to do these things without consequences.

So please don’t paint me with a broad stroke brush that I am climbing up some moral superior tower spewing my own beliefs and expectations on all the good citizens of Westerville. I most certainly am not. And if you have a different opinion, I would love to hear it. The more us parents talk about this, openly, honestly, without fear of how you think it will look in the eyes of someone else, the better it is for our kids. We have almost 3 1/2 more years to go. Banding together, helping each other and leading by example will only make our wonderful community better and stronger.

Teens and the Death of Common Sense

Well, this past week has taught me so many lessons, I don’t even know where to begin. So I think I’ll list my lessons, and then expand on them as I go.

1. Parents have learned that as long as there is no photographic proof, it’s almost impossible to prove anything.

2. Honesty does NOT pay off, especially when dealing with the school.

3. Kids getting drunk and/or high is ok with 98% of the people around here. (Also see #1 regarding this)

4. Only a handful of parents actually care about their kids well being.

5. People will never fail to surprise and shock me.

It is simply AMAZING to me how parents have been handling a situation that occurred in our relatively small town this past weekend. Huge party. HUGE. Kids from 8th grade through seniors in high school. Drinking. Pot. Make out sessions. And if you’re reading this from my small town, and you think for one second your child wasn’t involved, I have an island to sell you in the south Pacific. How can you truly believe that your child was the only one who wasn’t participating? Your child knows better, right? Your child would never do something like that, right?? Mmm hmmm. Let’s be clear, you’re contributing to the problem. Denying that there is a problem is part of the problem too.

Some parents are thinking, well, my child wasn’t even there so this doesn’t affect me. Really? Bet they were. Unless your child was home with you, curled up on the couch, watching a movie right next to you, you might want to check into where he or she really was Saturday night. All night. You might want to check some text messages, or their Twitter account. If they still use Facebook (which I doubt), check it. Check Instagram, check all of the latest apps, you might be surprised at what you find. Or better yet, what you don’t find. All texts deleted? Wonder why?

One of my favorite Judge Judy-isms is “Ya know when teenagers are lying? When their mouths are moving.” Yep. That’s the truth. My own darling told me he was spending the night at a friend’s house. I won’t name the name, but it was a male friend. 3 of them were going. No big deal. They’ve done it before. Lots of times actually. Except they pulled the ole bait n switch and that child told his parents he was spending the night at one of the other boys houses. Got it? Yep. So they go to a girls house to a party. A girl who all 4 of these boys had been forbidden to go to her home for past grievances. Sigh.

They worst part of this whole thing, is we had NO IDEA this was going on. None. We didn’t find out the truth until Monday from a brave mom who told us the truth, told us what had gone on all night long at this party. We are grateful and thankful for her honesty and courage to tell us something she knew we would not like, something we didn’t know and something that would surely cause divide.

Which brings me back to my numbered list. I realize that we live in an age of technology, where it seems video and/or pictures are taken everywhere. Please don’t think that unless there is photographic proof of your kid taking a drink or lighting up a blunt that they aren’t doing it. If a parents comes to you, actually comes to you, saying, look, this is hard for me to tell you, but your child was doing this, for the love of all that’s holy, believe that parent!!! Believe them! Yes, even over your own child saying “It wasn’t me.” “I wasn’t there.” “I didn’t do it.” And for the parents who are having the parties, supplying the alcohol, looking the other way from the smoky haze in the corner, you are more guilty than these children. Just because there is not photos of you pouring into a glass of a smiling teenager, karma will find you.

That brings me to point #2. You parents who have denied your child was involved when asked, I hope you’re happy of the example you are sending your child. “Lie so you don’t get in more trouble.” That’s the message, loud and clear. You’ll be living with those consequences for a lot longer than the consequences of our honesty.

The last three points are pretty clear. Parents just don’t care. Saturday night was their date night, or their sit on the couch night, or maybe their own party to attend. More concerned about being their friend than their parent. More concerned with how it will look to other parents for anyone to find out their kids were doing wrong.

Well, I care. I care that my child lied to me, that he was somewhere he was forbidden to go, that he did something he was not supposed to do and that he will have consequences from his actions. I care that he learn a hard lesson now than thinking he can keep getting away with it. I installed the locator program on his phone, for if and when he gets it back. I’ll be walking to the door to any house he goes to that, once he’s allowed to go anywhere. There are only 2 other people who will be permitted to drive him anywhere outside of our household. I can’t seem to fathom a time in the distant future where he will be able to be out past 11. No sleepovers, no parties, no lying.

But you go ahead and believe your kid wasn’t involved.