A Quiet Mind

From Courage to Change, September 4:

“As we let go of obsession, worry, and focusing on everyone but ourselves, many of us were bewildered by the increasing calmness of our minds. We knew how to live in a state of crisis, but it often took a bit of adjustment to become comfortable with stillness. The price of serenity was the quieting of the constant mental chatter that had taken up so much time; suddenly we had lots of times on our hands and we wondered how to fill it.”

Over time, I’ve learned how to “be still in the stream.” It took a long time for me to accept my powerlessness. But obsessing over Angie and living in all her drama was threatening my health. I was suffering from severe PTSD and endured many other negative consequences in my life as a result of my constant worry over something I couldn’t control.

So, I took the first three steps in my recovery program. It was hard to do that because I felt that letting go was giving up on my daughter. Not loving her anymore. But that’s not how I feel now.

Once, not so long ago, Angie was a loving daughter to me, a college graduate with her whole life ahead of her. Then, like the great cosmic crapshoot that afflicts millions of families, she fell out of her life and into addiction. She’s been lost to us all for a long time now.

But my daughter Angie, not the addict that lives in her body, would want me to reclaim my life as I have, and learn to be happy.

I believe this with all my heart.

Turning It Over

From Courage to Change, January 23:

“In Step Three, we “made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”  This is a big decision for those of us who have a tough time making even small decisions. Until I found Alanon, I tended to let others decide how I should live, where I should go, and what I should do. The paradox is that, though I took little responsibility for my own life, I saw myself as an expert on everyone else’s life and felt accountable for all that happened.

The order in which the first three Steps are written helps me overcome these attitude problems. First, I accept my inability to control the disease of alcoholism and admit that my life is unmanageable (when I try to exert control, my words). Next, I come to believe that a Power greater than myself can help. After taking these two Steps, it becomes possible, desirable, and even logical, to make the enormous decision to trust my life to a Higher Power’s care.”

 

Many feel that the First Step is the hardest: to admit that we are powerless to help our loved one through addiction. We love, and intuitively, we want to rescue him from the disaster than might be coming. But—and this is a process that takes longer for some than others—once we accept the reality of our powerlessness, and ask for help to let go of our loved one in his addiction, there is a freedom that defies description.

And we can move on with our lives.

Remember life? It’s still out there!

Humanity Is Changing the Face Of Addiction

A while back a friend in Naranon shared this link with our group. 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.

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/chasing-heroin/

 

 

Letting Go…Over and Over Again

From The Forum, June, 2015:

 

“My son’s future is his—not mine. ‘He is not living his life for me,’ I thought as I shuffled into the cold kitchen. It was three o’clock in the morning. I was in search of an Al-Anon daily reader. My son, my only child and someone I loved more than anyone, had been arrested, spent the night in jail, and was in more trouble than I ever imagined possible.

I had never thought that my child, whom I put through college and spent many waking hours imagining his promising future, would be in that situation. However, all of that changed when his addiction became known to the family. From that time on, I faithfully attended Al-Anon meetings, sometimes four times a week, got a Sponsor, chaired and spoke at meetings, and volunteered to speak at an Al-Anon meeting at the women’s prison.

My son’s future was my future, and I told myself that my efforts made in recovery were for the both of us. Deep down, however, I was betting that my recovery would ultimately guarantee his recovery. In my heart, I believed that the love we shared along with the Al-Anon and A.A. program would be the life raft he needed to recover. I was his mother. I could make it happen…

Now, weeks after the arrest, awake at 3 a.m., I reached for the book, Courage to Change, and randomly opened to a page that said, ‘You can’t live someone’s life for them.’ It was what I needed to hear. As challenging as it was, I had to stop living his life and focus on myself. I had to let go of the life he was creating and embrace my own life…

Finally, I was beginning to understand that for my serenity, I had to live each day focused on myself and my recovery.”

 

In my memoir, I said the same thing, a reflection of my early time in recovery. Drowning in codependence, I hadn’t yet accepted that Angie’s illness was something I wasn’t responsible for nor was it something I could control with my own recovery:

“In fact, I was still so joined at the hip with her that, in the beginning during the brief periods when she was in recovery, I used to claim at meetings that our mutual recoveries were intertwined. I remember saying, ‘I have no doubt that her recovery goes along with my recovery.’ My Program friends just nodded their heads in support, probably wondering what the heck I was talking about. It would take a number of years and much Twelve-Step work to rid me of that notion.” (A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero)

 

Of course it gives us parents much comfort to think that we have the ability to save our children. We all wish we had that power. But it ultimately rests with the addicts themselves. We can offer love and many forms of support. But because of the complexities of the disease, we need to let go and allow the addicts to take responsibility for their own recovery.

Many, many addicts can and do recover. But when they do it’s because they have empowered themselves to get well. And may God bless every one of them as they struggle to be free!

“Living Well Is The Best Revenge”

I’ve received many emails from moms asking me how I cope with the living death of Angie’s heroin addiction. She’s neither dead nor alive. Many of my friends here know the hellish limbo I’m living in, without any resolution or closure. But I have found a way to cope well and move on with my life. This is what I wrote back:

 

“I put my grief in a back drawer and close it. Then I look at what’s in my front drawers every morning. I have so many wonderful things to be grateful for. Instead of focusing on the problem, I try to keep my mind on the solution. This is how I live. It keeps me humble, grateful, and glad to be alive. I honor Angie’s memory in this way, and I truly believe she would want me to live well and be happy. Blessings to you, Mom.”

 

Edging God Out

Ego is the great separator from God.

True humility is the ability to see myself in relation to God, and this keeps me where I need to be with the people in my life. It has nothing to do with humiliation; it’s maintaining a realistic and balanced perspective on myself.

I’ve heard it said that addiction is a disease of relationships, and it certainly has the power to destroy them. When I try to let go of many of my defects and practice humility, my relationships work better. This, I believe, is God working through me.

 

White Knuckling

From Each Day A New Beginning, August 15:

“’Life does not need to mutilate itself in order to be pure’. ~Simone Weil

How terribly complicated we choose to make life’s many questions. Should we call a friend and apologize or wait for her call? Are the children getting the kind of care they must, right now? That “we came to believe in a power greater than ourselves” is often far from our thoughts when we most need it.

Our need to make all things perfect, to know all the answers, to control everything within our range, creates problems where none really exist. And the more we focus on the problem we’ve created, the bigger it becomes.

The program offers us another way to approach life…We can learn to accept the things we cannot change, and change the things we can—with practice.”

 

My recovery requires hard work. But the result is beyond what I had ever imagined. White knuckling my way through life only made me miserable. I’m glad I chose to let go of my need to always be in charge and have faith in something greater (and smarter) than me.

I will practice acceptance today. I will loosen my grip on the elements of my life and feel the color coming back to my knuckles. And the world will keep turning.