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What Do You Mean, Accept?

From Hope for Today, February 3: “How ready and willing am I to invite the transforming power of acceptance into my will and my life? ‘Al-Anon offers us a new beginning…We can learn to accept ourselves and become willing to change our attitudes for the better.’” On the topic of addiction, there are a myriad of things to accept—or not accept. I recognize that this topic invites debate. But I believe that addiction is a brain disease, and accepting this as true has simplified my life a great deal. It has enabled me, for one thing, to take the first step in my recovery program, admitting my powerlessness over addiction. I’m powerless over all illnesses. I can assist my loved one to get help, but I can’t wave a magic want and wish her illness to go away. Just like a diabetic, my daughter Angie needs to take her medicine if she wants to manage her illness and stay healthy. So, this is my truth. Avoiding it and continuing to deny, judge, control, and enable only add to the sorrow and suffering I’m already going through. For me, acceptance and faith go hand in hand, and practicing them both on a daily basis lightens my load a great deal and improves the quality of my...

The Good Daughter

“Angie was a good daughter. But please, beware of the complacency in those words.  Clearly, she hid her pain very well. Clearly, much was lurking beneath the surface that I did not see. And if I ache with the vacant promise of all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” it’s because I know that even if I had known what was coming down the road, I couldn’t have stopped it.” ~Maggie C. Romero, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here...

The Terrifying Reality Of Our Lost Children

Memoir Excerpt:  “Meth addicts can go for days without sleep sometimes, and then they need to crash, recoup their energy and start the cycle all over again. I went back upstairs, tiptoeing around the house, a minefield waiting to be activated by just the wrong look or comment. Most of the time I felt like a scared rabbit. Angie came and went like a phantom between the holidays. She was a body, yes, but nothing else resembled my daughter. Her face was still healing from the burns she had gotten from freebasing crack cocaine back in October. She lost all her beautiful eyelashes then and had been wearing false ones ever since. How bizarre: false eyelashes at age twenty-two. And the eye drops—always the eye drops. She ate not at all as far as I could see, nothing from my refrigerator anyway. She was painfully thin. But, of course, meth took away your appetite. That was the point, one of them, anyway. All those years ago when I took amphetamines, I delighted in the same side effect. Life was repeating itself and I was in a time warp observing myself at the very same age. God, it was so painful. We barely spoke. Sometimes she mumbled “Hello,” but mostly she just needed a place to crash and get her clothes. Why wasn’t she living with that creep, her pusher? I was glad she wasn’t and at the same time I’d wished she were. Every day was a surreal pageant, dancing around with this stranger. The terror was so disorienting that I lapsed into denial sometimes and pretended it wasn’t...

The Voice Of Denial

Memoir Excerpt: “Angie worked at one part-time job after another, saving her money in the bank. I bought her an old car so she could drive to school and she never abused the privilege. Friends were important to her, but she remained focused on school and work. Angie was endlessly thoughtful to both her parents and grandparents on special occasions. And the list goes on. If I was surprised by my daughter’s drug addiction in 2001, this is why. Later on once her addiction had taken hold of her, I would be incredulous at the dysfunctional behavior I was seeing. It’s as though she had become possessed. She had problems, but I thought I was helping her deal with them responsibly. There were no visible red flags. She didn’t stay in bed every day and pull the covers over her head. She diligently saw her therapist every week, facing every day with discipline and good humor. She never missed her classes and she never quit her jobs. Her grades were excellent. Maybe—and this is important to recognize now—this was the beginning of the denial that would hamper me throughout Angie’s addiction, preventing me from dealing with her illness intelligently and effectively. Angie was a good daughter. But please, beware of the complacency in those words. Clearly, she hid her pain very well. Clearly, much was lurking beneath the surface that I did not see. And if I ache with the vacant promise of all the “woulda, coulda, shouldas,” it’s because I know that even if I had known what was coming down the road, I couldn’t have stopped...

Turning It Over

From Experience, Strength and Hope, July 24: “I admit that I am powerless over my life’s situation, that my life is unmanageable. My friends do not want to be around me when I am out of control. I do not want to be around me! I am learning to take my pain to my Higher Power and let that power handle it while I go out and play. By not acknowledging my powerlessness, I am lying to myself. Recovery is not easy, that is why we are here, why we go to meetings, and why we work on ourselves. The Steps are written in a specific order for a reason, to bring us to a healthy, sane and serene life, learning to live life on life’s terms. Because of this program, life can once again be good for us. This is the hope of recovery. I remember that as a child I was powerless over my alcoholic father, and his physical abuse of my mother and me. It was frightening growing up in abuse. But you know what? I survived, and I believe I can move forward. If we stay in denial about our situation, we cannot begin to hear the message of recovery. When recovery begins, there is a completely new life out there waiting for us. Thought For Today: Once we accept our powerlessness, we can learn to live a better life. However, just because we have recovery, does not mean there will be no more problems. It means that now we have the tools to help us recover without being crushed or broken.” Though I didn’t...

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,...