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“Let Go, Or Be Dragged”

Memoir Excerpt: “Eventually I got to a place where I admitted—no, I accepted—my powerlessness over her disease, though it was counterintuitive for me to do so. By accepting her disease it still sometimes felt like I was giving up, like I didn’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth. But I had to walk over a lot of hot coals before I would know how much I loved Angie. In time I became detached enough to look at her, feel nothing but compassion and love for her, and discuss things intellectually. It was no longer my personal mission to try to change my daughter into the person I wanted her to be. I was not Angie, and she was not me. We were separate people, and I no longer felt that her illness and/or what she chose to do about it reflected on me. This was tremendously freeing for me. Or, as one parent writes in Sharing Experience, Strength and Hope: ‘Let go, or be dragged.’”...

Acceptance or Resignation?

What’s the difference between acceptance and resignation? A lot, I’ve discovered. One of the beauties of Twelve-Step recovery is that it’s useful and life-changing “in all our affairs.”  Over the years, I had become resigned to the way things were in my family of origin, like a victim, as if I lacked the power to change anything. But I do have the power—I’ve always had it. I just needed to develop the wisdom to recognize the difference between what I could and could not change. So I reached out to an estranged family member—and I was rewarded. My lesson? I mustn’t let myself get too lazy or passive. Life is short. If I can make my life better in any way, I should try. Let go of the outcome—but try. Through my recovery program, I’m flexing long-forgotten muscles with giddy delight. I do recognize what I cannot change, and there’s much in my life that I must accept. But I’m also finding the courage to change what I can, and when I take back the power I’ve always had to affect change, my life just keep getting better and...

Lifting The Fog

Memoir Excerpt: “Angie came out to stay with me at the condo just about every weekend, and on one of these visits I had to take her to the emergency room. She had a bad case of cellulitis in her hand and needed a heavy dose of oral antibiotics to clear it up. As we were leaving the doctor said that if the oral meds didn’t work she would need to be hospitalized for IV treatments. I was a little puzzled by this; it looked like a simple infection to me. Why, possibly, would she need such extreme intervention?  Angie explained it away as a symptom of her hepatitis. I should have seen what was right in front of me; I should have questioned her bland explanation. A year later when I got more educated about drug addicts and what they do when they run out of veins would I realize what had really been going on. These last few years I’ve gotten more involved in support groups around addiction, and I’ve seen a few movies about what addicts do, where they inject. Strange places I hadn’t thought of: their ankles, their necks, and their hands. At the time, I didn’t realize what she had started doing—again. At the time, I was too focused on my daughter promising to rebuild her life—again. At the time, I didn’t dare face the fact that bringing her back to D.C. might have been a very bad idea… But I wasn’t responsible for what was happening. Yes, we brought her home, and the wheels of fate kept turning. Our daughter was an addict,...

Midstream

“The whole course of things goes to teach us faith. We need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and by lowly listening we shall hear the right word…Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which flows into you as life, place yourself in the full center of that flood, then you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment.” Ralph Waldo...

Matriarch

My mother and I had a very difficult relationship for most of my life. But as I started to grow in my recovery, it was easy for me to forgive her. And as I’ve learned to forgive those who have wounded me in my life, it’s been easier to forgive myself for my own shortcomings. The healing power of forgiveness is great. Memoir Excerpt: “That day as I walked out of my mother’s room, I turned to look at her one more time. When she was young, she was a striking beauty, with brunette hair. As she aged her hair lost its color prematurely. I’ll never forget the dreadful blue rinse she used to put on her hair to cover the gray. Then there was the reddish dye. Finally, I’m not sure exactly when, she stopped messing with the color and one day, like a full moon against a dark sky, her hair was as white as freshly fallen snow. It was gorgeous. Her eyes had closed and she looked so peaceful. This time, I knew, was the last time I would see her in this body. I just knew. But I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t run back to her and hug her one more time, the way we do when we want to push back death. Any anxiety, had I done that, would have transferred right to her, undoing all the journeying Hospice was at that moment attempting. But I had no anxiety. I walked away. I knew she was embarking on her own journey now, and there was only room for one passenger.”...