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Reflections From Yesterday

From Each Day A New Beginning, January 24: “’I look in the mirror through the eyes of the child that was me.’ ~Judy Collins My Adult Child Judy wrote a wonderful memoir called Sanity and Grace, about losing her son to suicide and almost losing herself to alcoholism. She is an adult child because she grew up with the disease. Her story is similar to my story. And as the mother of an addict, my own history played too heavy a role in how I reacted to my daughter Angie’s illness. I was certain that she got her addiction from me and I felt overly responsible. That put me at risk and caused me to move boundaries over and over. I lost my way as her mother. Fortunately I learned in my recovery that her addiction isn’t my fault. “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it.” If we say that often enough and start to believe it—like a mantra— we can let go of any guilt that may be weighing us down. We already have enough heartache to deal...

Bangs

When Angie was in her last rehab in 2009, I flew across the country for Parent’s’ Weekend. After excitedly showing me around the grounds, she bumped into a couple of new friends. “Hey Angela, show us more of those moves.”
 Angie still enjoyed showing people what she had been able to do as a gymnast in Greece. “Sure,” she said, proud of her agility. She showed us, among other things, a backward twist that must have been difficult then. She wasn’t ten anymore. When she leaned backwards toward the floor, her hair fell back and I saw the scar. She must have had an accident when she sustained a deep gash around her hairline in the middle of her forehead. When Angie was a child, she looked like a beautiful mandarin doll. She always had a thick pile of bangs to frame her oval face. But her hair didn’t fall that way anymore because of the scar and she could no longer wear bangs. The last time I saw my daughter was in 2012. She was still using, and since then has cut herself off from her family. But I wanted to see her and stayed in a San Francisco motel very near the hostel in the Tenderloin where she was living. She was to spend a night with me and had a key to the room. It was five in the morning when I heard her unlocking the door, and I jumped up to open it. “Hi Mom.” “Hi honey. I need to get back to sleep.” I have a picture of her sitting on my bed the...

Happy Distractions

From Courage to Change, June 9: “If my problems have brought me to prayer, then they have served a purpose.”   There are so many different ways to pray: walking; meditating; talking to a Higher Power; singing; baking bread; sewing. I view prayer as letting go of myself for the time being and turning my attention to another activity. Turning to something else that calls me, that enriches me. My problems with my AD Angie leveled me to the ground in the beginning. I took it on myself as if that were my calling. And I felt good about myself in the process because I was trying to fix a terrible problem. But what distinguished my behavior from prayer was that it was all about me. Far from turning to someone or something else, my obsession about saving my daughter was grounded in misplaced guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and stubborn will. I was addicted to my daughter. I’m grateful I found a recovery program for parents of addicts that was compassionate and useful. I wasn’t helping myself or my daughter by blaming myself for an illness I didn’t cause. I needed to let go of behaviors toward her that weren’t helping. Though I’m always ready to help Angie when she asks for help, I’ve moved on. I don’t know what the future will bring, but I do know one thing for certain: I deserve to enjoy what’s left of my life. I don’t want addiction and its wreckage to claim two victims in my immediate family.      ...

Fear vs. Faith

From Each Day A New Beginning, September 27: “’The wisdom of all ages and cultures emphasizes the tremendous power our thoughts have over our character and circumstances.’  ~Liane Cordes We are gifted with the personal power to make thoughtful choices…Our minds work powerfully for our good. And just as powerfully to our detriment, when fears intrude on all our thoughts…My outlook and attitude toward life reveals the strength of my connection to God.”   I’ve read that fear and anxiety are at the base of many addictions. I can’t speak for all of them, or for everyone, but I can speak for myself. Fear precipitated every single addiction I’ve been subject to. And it was fear that kept me addicted to my daughter Angie. Fear for her well-being—and for mine. Letting go of my obsession and fear—replacing them both with faith—has brought peace into my...

Voices Of Recovery

From Opening Our Hearts, Transforming Our Losses, p. 3 “Alcoholism robbed me of who I was, caused injury to my daughter, and almost completely destroyed my best friend. It took bits and pieces of us all during those first six years. Those were tremendous losses that took a long time to work through. My grief was immense. I felt inconsolable.” That is exactly how I felt when I entered the rooms of recovery. I was broken and at the same time I was crippled with guilt. That put me at high risk for enforcing the boundaries I should have been recognizing. I was completely lost and overwhelmed with the reality of Angie becoming a drug addict. In the beginning I couldn’t be tough with her; I simply defaulted to rescue mode. I wanted to protect her, but in so doing I was shielding her from the natural consequences of her bad choices. So she learned nothing and the behaviors continued. Like it said in the quote, the disease robbed me of who I was. Once upon a time, I was a more responsible parent. But this frightening disease caused me to lose my compass and I lost my way. Fortunately, over the years I listened to the voices of recovery around me and I started changing my behavior. My sense of right and wrong returned and I was able to set boundaries in order to protect myself. As we all know, when an addict is using there is great potential for abuse. I had to be armed, all the while loving my daughter deeply. There’s nothing harder than watching...

Lessons From Nature

“Take rest; a field that is rested gives a beautiful crop.” ~Ovid I was blindsided by my daughter’s drug addiction. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was. So I went into high gear from the beginning in an effort to save her. I did what many parents do. We all do what we can because we love our children and we want them to be okay. But I exhausted myself and I crashed hard. I had to make some serious changes in my life in order to survive the strain of being an addict’s mom. With much gratitude I embrace my recovery program now. In the rooms I have learned so many things: to let go of my guilt; to accept that addiction in a loved one isn’t my fault; to detach with love; to cease obsessing about my addict and focus more on myself, changing my attitudes, and making my life better; taking care of myself; resting my mind and my body. There’s a lot of peace from accepting what I can’t change, as much as that hurts. I’ve stopped wearing myself out trying to convince Angie to reenter recovery from her addiction. Only she can make that decision; I accept that now without resistance and recognize my powerlessness. Life is unfolding as it was meant to. I believe things happen for a reason, and I hold onto that faith....