Punching It Out

There are many stages to grief and loss. I’m grateful to be at a place of acceptance and peace now. But I didn’t always feel this way. Four years ago I was very, very angry, as is clear in this scene from my memoir (A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore):

“’I hate you, Addiction! You are the curse of this century and I despise you. You’ve stolen my daughter and this is what I think of you: Kapow! Boom! Left jab to the right eye. Bleed, you b—– Angie may not have the strength to fight you, but I do. Here’s a right hook to your left eye. Keep bleeding, you s-o-b. This one’s for my dad. Ever since I can remember, you snatched him from my life. This one’s for Angie, you piece of sh–. Is this how you get off? Turning a beautiful, bright young woman into a vegetable? And this one’s for me, you giant succubus. Me, I won’t let you destroy. Me, I’m gonna save. So that my children and grandchildren will see that there is hope when struggling with Addiction. It doesn’t always have to win.’”

And it hasn’t. One day at a time, I’m learning to save myself from addiction and all the devastation it has caused in my life…and for this I am very grateful. Life does go on, and the world still turns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“God, Grant Me The Serenity To Know The Difference…”

From Each Day A New Beginning, March 23:

“’On occasion I realize it’s easier to say the Serenity Prayer and take that leap of faith than it is to continue doing what I’m doing.’

Most of our struggles, today as in the past, are attached to persons and situations we are trying forcibly to control. How righteous our attitudes generally are! And so imposing is our behavior that we are met with resistance, painful resistance. Our recourse is now and always to ‘accept those things we cannot change, and willingly change that which we can.’ Our personal struggles will end when we are fully committed to the Serenity Prayer.

‘The wisdom to know the difference is mine today.’”

Oh yes, the wisdom to know the difference…how often our egos get in the way of living well. We want what we want when we want it! We want our addict to give up drugs and come back to the living. If only that choice were in our hands…

But it’s not. Only addicts have the power to reach for their own recovery…and we have the power to reach for our own. That has been my choice for several years now, and I’m learning to be happy despite losing Angie to the living death of heroin addiction.

A good friend told me that ego is what separates us from God and each other. Ego (Easing God Out) is often our enemy and keeps us from the serenity we so desperately long for. So I’ve learned to turn my pain over to God (Step Three), to “let go and let God,” and that has made all the difference in my life.

It’s The Hardest Thing…

Excerpt from my memoir, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore:

“In her memoir, Carol Burnett shares some of her hard-won wisdom during her daughter, Carrie’s, early drug addiction:

‘You have to love them enough to let them hate you.'”

Active drug addiction often changes the personality of our loved one. In my case, my daughter Angie became a total stranger, with a new set of values that served only her addiction. When I realized this and finally stopped enabling her, she cut me out of her life.

I think Ms. Burnett’s words meant that we must not lower the bar with addicts, but rather hold fast to the boundaries we have put in place—both for our own benefit and for theirs—even though on the surface it may provoke much anger in them.

Only in this way can they learn to be accountable for their own behavior, which would precede any chance of lasting recovery.

 

Humanity Is Changing The Face Of Addiction

A friend in Naranon shared this link with our group recently. I watched it and was so heartened to see how attitudes are changing across the country. This PBS special focused on a program in Seattle, WA. It is a practical and above all humane way to deal with addicts. The more we talk about alternative ways to treat addiction, the more likely there will be people to bring pressure to bear on government officials and on insurance companies. And the more likely our addicts will feel embraced with compassion and understanding instead of fear and judgment.

Chasing Heroin

 

It’s A Family Illness

Memoir Excerpt: 

“I was starting to feel desperate and wanting to bring my other daughter into the loop again. The holidays were looming and they’ve always been an emotional time for me. I’m flooded with memories, both happy and sad. But more than anything, I remember the anxiety, the frantic covering up, the alcohol-enabled keeping up the appearance of being happy that I felt in my childhood.

As I felt Angie slipping away again, I wrote to Caroline and said I’d hoped she was OK and not getting sucked into Angie’s drama too much. But I needn’t have worried. She and her brother have been able to detach pretty well all these years. Or have they? They haven’t talked to me about what they were feeling, and I haven’t asked. But sometimes I think the bomb that exploded back in 2001 is still exploding, here and there. We’re all still licking our wounds, carrying on.” 

Wake Up America!

From “Thirty-One Days in Nar-Anon,” Day 29:

“Through the sharing of other members and the warmth of their friendship, I started to develop a new strength. I recognized my powerlessness, accepted drug addiction as a disease and avoided having expectations. My frustrations began to vanish. With all the knowledge I acquired through the Nar-Anon program, literature and phone support, I became more open-minded. This brought me a sense of serenity and helped me set more realistic goals for myself.”

Would we even be having this conversation if our children were suffering from diabetes? Of course not!

Addiction is a gravely misunderstood disease, shrouded in secrecy, shame and stigma. Bikies, tatooes, and skid row…oh how times have changed! But thanks to the many programs out there that are educating the public about the true nature of addiction—that it’s a brain disease—awareness is increasing and attitudes are slowly changing.

Look how in one generation the American perception of alcoholism has evolved. We had a recovered alcoholic in the White House for eight years, a man who freely admitted that he struggled with alcohol when he was younger. Alcoholism is also a form of addiction, remember, and it’s my fervent hope that Americans will start to view drug addicts with the same compassion offered to many alcoholics. When public perceptions change, so will attitudes toward our addicted children.

My daughter, Angie, is a heroin addict. If she felt less shame, would she be less isolated? I believe so. In a few other countries, and even in Seattle, WA, there are programs in place to help addicts manage their addiction. This support is specifically designed to keep the crime rate down and help addicts be more functional in their daily lives. In my memoir, I wrote about how Gabor Mate, a doctor in Vancouver, has been an advocate for addicts for many years. He has made a big difference in that city.

How I wish things were easier for Angie, that she be viewed with compassion and not judgment. But I do believe that because of our efforts to raise awareness and set up support programs, life will be easier for future generations. I take a lot of personal comfort in that.

The Voice Of An Angel

my favorite person

From “My Daughter/Myself” (taken from A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero)

Sometimes my words pale before Angie’s, and I’m very glad of that. Her voice should be loud and clear in this memoir: the voice of the child, the voice of the poet, and later, sadly, the voice of the young woman corrupted by addiction. I sprinkle the story with examples of her writing, little snapshots of my daughter, at different points in her life. When she was 8, she wrote this note at school.

Of course the great poignancy of the story is that Angie and I mirror each other. We share the same addictions. My child is a worse version of myself. And so much of my work in my life now has been coming to terms with that legacy and learning how to transcend it. I am deeply grateful for all the education and support I’ve received in the 12-Step fellowships over the years. It is in those rooms that I’ve taken back my life and learned how to be happy and at peace. Hugs and prayers to all of my friends as we share our strength and hope on this journey!