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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...

The Benefits Of Fellowship

From From Survival to Recovery, p. 19: “Surrounded by other recovering people, we are learning how to heal our broken hearts and create healthy, productive, joyful lives…(our program) has led many of us to serenity, fellowship, and relief from loneliness and pain.” Because of the stigma and shame surrounding all forms of addiction, many of us have kept our loved one’s problem (or our own) shrouded in secrecy. I did most of my life, and only in recent years have I dared to share my family disease with the rest of the world. I realized that until I faced the dreaded subject and learned more about it, it would continue to rule me and my family. “It” is addiction and all of its effects and consequences. They are far reaching, especially for the family of an addict. And they can become terribly complicated as we become enmeshed in the lives of those we love. Being in the rooms of recovery has helped me untangle the mess. That’s why a number of programs have been so valuable to many of us who suffer. We break out of our isolation and share our stories with others like us. We gain valuable perspective by listening to others. Our self-esteem soars as we see others listening to us and validating our experiences. We are offered compassion and understanding inside the rooms when it may be hard to find either of those things on the outside. And we begin our journey toward getting our lives back when once they seemed to be lost....

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...

Making It Real

Step Five: Admitted to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.   This is an honest program, and I recognize that I’ve been lying to myself and others my whole life. Shame, stigma, embarrassment were just a few of my rationales. But the lies kept my addictions going. I didn’t have to face them if I didn’t acknowledge them. Telling someone else was the game changer for me. Other people became the mirrors I needed for valuable feedback. And telling other people made it all real. I could no longer hide in the shadows with my defects. Bringing them out in the open with witnesses gives us a chance to deal with our defects more honestly and effectively. Freeing myself of some of my defects is critical to my growth and recovery in the program. My defects were roadblocks for me and contributed to my drinking. I’m glad I’ve come out of isolation and faced myself. Day by day, I’m healing and getting better.  ...

Happiness Is A Choice

From The Forum, December, 2016 “Someone else’s drinking brought me to the meetings, but day-to-day living keeps me coming back.” When I joined the rooms of recovery, I thought that if my my daughter would just change, then I would be happy. I looked everywhere for the magic bullet to bring about this change. Time passed, and for a while it looked like Angie was changing. And then she wasn’t. I was confused. How was I ever going to be happy if I kept riding on the roller coaster with her? It was time for me to get off. I needed to realize that a lot of my problems were of my own making. And allowing my happiness and well-being to depend on other people isn’t wise because I have no control over them. But I do have power over my own life and the choices I make. So I’ve learned to put the focus back on myself and change in ways that will help me to live better. I’ve let go of obsessing over a disease I can’t control. And I’ve turned my attention to other things and people in my life that bring me joy. My recovery program has shown me how to work the tools “in all my affairs.” It has shown me how it benefits me everywhere. It started with my daughter. But, with or without success on that front, I can still lead a good and productive life elsewhere, enjoying healthier relationships to really make my life worth...