Tuesday, March 27, 2018
So this will just be a sort of "update post" for anyone interested.
About 6 weeks ago I was so sick. I missed about a week and a half of work, which for me is unheard of. I am still coughing! This fluish thing that has hit so many takes so much to get over thoroughly. It has taken a lot of my time and energy though which makes me so mad. LOL I do not like to be stopped in my tracks.
I lost one of my long time clients which has been sad. I was with her for almost 4 years. I have had 2 weeks off and will begin with a new Hospice family tonight..which by all appearances was a divine appointment. An Alanon friend asked me if I had any availability to care for her sister. I did, and when I went to meet her I realized that I knew her. We had taken an art class together, and we had a mutual friend that I had cared for at the time of his passing, that she came to visit on his last day with us and bathed him in essential oils and gently massaged his legs. I was so impressed with her gentleness and the oils....I had no experience with essential oils at that time, but it was her actions and those scents that primed me for diving in later. So I am looking forward to caring for her during this time in her own life.
Molly and Ryan and Landon moved into the bottom floor of our house. That sounds so grand....but do not be fooled! LOL We have a big house that is a lot of work and money to keep going so a lot needs to be repaired and remodeled, but its homey and warm in all of its imperfection. Kind of like its inhabitants! So the kid's lease was up at the apartments they were living in, very expensive apartments. We can't give them a down payment for a house, but we CAN share our space with them and give them the financial room to pay themselves rent into their savings account so that they can eventually buy a house. They are sweet and funny and really pretty easy to live with. There is more stuff around of course, but we are figuring that out. It has motivated me to get rid of a lot of my own unnecessary stuff! Having Landon here is good for everyone's soul! He is such a happy and sweet baby. He gives kisses, smiles at everyone, is crawling like a crab, pulling himself up on everything, he lets us kiss his fat cheeks without complaint...
We are busy planning the above kid's wedding which will be on June 23. You all know how I am about weddings. If I could pick, I would do all of the set up, make everything beautiful, then go home until it was over. It is nothing about Molly or Ryan or any person or people. Its me. Its all of my own shit that still occasionally gets triggered and weddings are always my trigger. The most joyful day of my daughter's life and I will walk my way through it but its sadly never my comfort zone. Ive already cried and cried and talked to my sponsor several times over it all. Molly suggested I go to counseling. Yes that is probably a good idea! I bought a fat dress to wear so Im not even putting losing weight and being thin into the mix. I am just doing the best I can and remembering that its not a day that is about me. Its about them...so I look to them, keep my focus on them and their joy and not on my own swirling head and prickly skin.
Shy introverted Little One, who has it stated in her 504 plan that she will not be called on to speak in front of the class unless she volunteers...has been volunteering 2x a week in a friend's resource room health class, and was asked to share her experience with counseling in front of the class. She was given several days to prepare and then off she went, showing very little, if any, nervousness or anxiety. She shared her story, she talked about prescribed medications and then self medicating and the dangers that come with that, she talked about how things were for her 2 years ago and "now here I am talking to all of you." There was a question and answer time and then a boy asked her to stand with him while he shared his class presentation on drugs. The teacher's aides were shocked to hear her story...."You always come in here so self possessed and together....I never would have known that you had been through any of this!"
What a huge step of progress for her! She is forging her own path that is just so not a typical teenage journey! Our homeschool teacher that we meet with once a month asked if we read any poetry as thats a state standard for juniors. I said, "No" with a "yuk!" Look on my face....but Little One said, "Well I brought along my Viking Book of Poetry today because I was wanting to read some of it." What 17 year old junior in high school carries a 1958 Viking Book of Poetry with them?! The rest of our day was spent with her reading poetry out loud to me in the car and a lot of it was so beautiful.
My girl is moving along....making connections outside of our family with several people in long term recovery. She is serving in the shelter's AA meeting, she continues to help me each week and has even taken a shift of her own on a different night altogether being with our homeless. Our Nomadic Shelter will come to an end this Saturday. It only operates from Nov - March. We are figuring out ways to stay involved once the shelter season is over. We have made so many wonderful connections with staff members and the homeless. Figuring out what our part is, conveying love and care and acceptance.
This last weekend my girl and I walked in the Dose of Awareness walk. She walked in memory of a close friend of her's and I walked in memory of a dear friend's son and another friend's loved one. It was the first sunny day in what felt like forever! We met some other mom friends there....it was a good day until it wasn't, which is how long day's out go for her. I take what I can and let it be enough.
I will try to write more often....selfishly its for my own sake more than anything else. I do better when I am processing my life through writing. After years of using a keyboard I am not patient enough to hand write things out in a journal anymore....but I love to buy journals. Lol
Much much love to all,
My favorite poem Little One read to me the other day......
The Old Woman
As a white candle
In a holy place,
So is the beauty
Of an aged face,
As the spent radiance
Of the winter sun,
So is a woman
With her travail done.
Her brood gone from her,
And her thoughts as still
As the waters
Under a ruined mill.
Friday, February 9, 2018
From Homeless to Blessed: My Story of Transformation and Finding Strength
Sometimes when I’m hanging out with my wife in our nice three-bedroom home, sitting on the couch watching television after a long, but rewarding day of work, I wish that I could go back five years ago to the 28-year-old version of myself, sleeping on the streets of Philadelphia, using a 2-litter bottle for a pillow. I wish I could tell that version of myself not to give up.
I remember feeling like I had nowhere to turn. I remember feeling like no one possibly cared about me. I remember sometimes I would go for days without a single person on the street even looking in my direction. I felt invisible. I thought I could numb the pain away with drugs and alcohol. I didn’t understand those were the very things that were keeping me chained to my circumstances. I felt so alone, like no one really saw me.
In 2014, I had been homeless (off and on, but mostly on) for the majority of my twenties, and I had been addicted to practically every substance imaginable—both illegal drugs and prescription drugs. I had drank so much that I developed avascular necrosis in both of my hips, and when I got hit by a car, I ended up in the hospital needing a double hip replacement and a femur replacement. I didn’t think I could survive on the street in a wheelchair. I secretly planned to take my own life as soon as I left the hospital. I planned to get enough dope to end the pain for good. I was at my lowest point.
Seemingly out of nowhere, my mother called me, telling me I could come down to Atlanta, Georgia and live with her. I had my hip replacements and my femur replacement, and I was in a wheelchair, but she took care of me. I still struggled with drugs and alcohol as I recovered from my hip replacements and femur replacement, but I began to try to be sober.
In February of 2016, I met a woman who absolutely changed my life. I’d never really believed in love at first sight, always rolling my eyes when I saw it in a movie or a television show. But the moment I saw her, I knew that we belonged together. We started dating, and we moved in together after just a few weeks.
I was still on methadone—a medication-assisted therapy for those with opiate addiction. It was also how I was treated for pain following my operation, given my history of drug abuse. Being on methadone means you have to show up at the methadone clinic every day to get your dose. It’s not a great place to be if you’re trying to avoid the kind of crowd that always gets me into trouble. And so even after meeting the love of my life, I struggled with substance abuse.
Ironically, it’s much more difficult to get off methadone than it is to get off heroin or other opiates. Many people who are on methadone—either for pain management or for addiction treatment—stay on the drug for the rest of their lives.
Medication-assisted treatments like methadone and suboxone can be great tools. There were lots of patients at the clinic who kept to themselves and didn’t allow the crowd there to steer them off course. Medication-assisted treatment works really well for many people, but it wasn’t working very well for me.
I ended up going to Michigan for a controversial rapid drug detox procedure to get off methadone. That was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I understand now that I should have slowly tapered off methadone instead of looking for the quick solution. The procedure left me sick for three months, but still the love of my life stuck by me. She never gave up on me.
She has worked in freelance writing for years, and she taught me how to get into that field. She got me a job with a company she used to work for, and I started working for the first time in years.
As I started working in a new field, I discovered a real passion for it. I also started going back to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and working the 12 steps. And in February of 2017, we were married.
Now, I’ve been sober for nearly a year, my wife and I have just moved into a new, beautiful house, I love my job, and I spend the rest of my life filling my mind with positive literature and movies, going to church, and volunteering when I can. My life has changed dramatically.
I think back to that young man sleeping on the street, using a 2-litter bottle for a pillow, and I never could have possibly imagined I’d be where I am today. I look back now, and I see that my wife believing in me taught me how to believe in myself. I can see how God has drastically changed my life, and I feel so incredibly grateful.
And now my main goal is to help others who are at their lowest point to know that there’s never a reason to lose hope. Your life can always change, and if you have faith in God, faith in the Universe, faith in yourself, you will end up where you’re supposed to be.
Peter Lang is a freelance writer from Atlanta, Georgia. In recovery himself, he is committed to helping others struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
Thursday, January 25, 2018
This week I have heard so many references to “wanting it.” That our children, have to want recovery, they have to want to get well. Or if relapse occurs, “they just didn't want it enough.”
Oh this hurts my heart. In my experiences with those suffering from addictions and alcoholism in my life, every one of them “wanted” to get well. No one wanted to be imprisoned or stuck or hurting the people they loved the most. Deep inside, where only the raw truth dwells, without any defensive responses, in a place that they have buried so deeply underneath their lies of justification and shame, they want to get well. They want to be healthy. They want to be free.
I lived a lot of years of my girl’s addiction parroting those same principles.....she has to hit her bottom, she has to want it....and you know what that did, it freed me of any responsibility, of any sort of guilt (which I did carry despite my best efforts of shuffling it off elsewhere) and it was all placed firmly on her shoulders. It relieved me and it crushed her....my preaching that “you have to want it!” “You have to be willing to do the work!” “When you are done, call me!” I look back now and I can see how alienating those statements were to an already alienated person. To someone who already carried so much guilt and inner pain, who couldnt begin to fathom how to extricate herself from the life she had immersed herself in. When she would react in anger I would feel justified. “Well there you have it...she doesn’t want it yet.”
It is my opinion, for whatever that is worth, that it is safe to assume that most suffering from substance use disorder want to be free. They appear to choose everything else BUT health and there are many many reasons for that. Fear of changing the life that has become their norm, it all feels absolutely impossible, its easier to keep using, where will they fit if they give up this life, hopelessness, whatever feelings they are numbing, they will have to look at and deal with, depending on how long they have been using and all that they have lost or never been able to put together....how will they begin to build a life? Support themselves? If they have children, how will they ever be able to mend the damage and hurt they have caused? We are often talking YEARS of work ahead of them. It is daunting, discouraging, before they have ever even begun. The emotional costs of getting well can often feel overwhelming.
I’m wondering what “wanting it” would look like? Would they come crawling home, crying and humbly ask us for help? Would they promise they are done? Will they appear to be broken in spirit? Will they apologize? Sometimes that might hold true....but sometimes they might be furious at the thought of having to give up their life. They might resent the hell out of leaving their comfort zone, their place where maybe they even held some sort of position amongst their people, they might be in denial about how bad off they are...maybe they wont be living in any sort of truthful awareness until much later. Until the layers of self protection begin to be peeled back. It may take a very long time for them to experience a glimmer of hope, to see a flash of a vision of the life that is possible for them on the other side of addiction.
As I write this, I am thinking of my girl, my mom, my dad, my brothers, my grandmother, my grandfather, my favorite Uncle Gene....all hurting people who struggled with their addictions but who also possessed love and wanted to do right. Who wanted to connect with other’s but more times than not couldn’t figure out how, but they tried. They all tried in their own broken ways and I love/loved each of these people. Some more than others. Lol
Current research shows that “forced rehab,” such as court mandated, can be as successful as rehab by choice. Of course there are always many variables to each personal situation. It is my belief that sometimes our children are so very sick that they can’t make the choice on their own. They certainly aren’t able to navigate the complex systems of care and put it all into place on their own.
What does this leave us with? What does it leave me with? I will assume that the majority of those stuck in addiction, want to be different, want to be healthy. That is a starting place. I also know that some may only be able to ever attain a place of using “less.” That might be as good as it ever gets for some. I think of our homeless population that I have grown to care for so very much, and the condition they arrive at our door in each week.....many of them will never know long term abstinent sobriety, but I watch them give from their little. If we run out of bed mats, I watch them volunteer to give up theirs for someone who needs it more. I watch one feed another who is unable to manage his spoon on that night, I watch them advocate and care for each other. Without judgement.
I can no longer judge if one “wants it enough.” I just can’t. Because I believe wanting it is so much deeper than what I see on the outside. What if I begin to approach each person by giving them the benefit of the doubt, assuming that of course, given the choice, they would choose health, sanity, and freedom, if they felt that it was even remotely a real possibility for them? What if I relate to them on that level, until I am proven wrong?
God bless us all...every single one of us who struggle with any sort of bondage that holds us prisoner.
Much love to all....
PS: This blog post about “love” in treatment was so very excellent. I hope you will read it.
Friday, January 12, 2018
January 12, 1985.....I was 20 years old and the dad was 26. We got married at my older Sister’s house and all of our friends put together a potluck reception for us. I bought my dress off a clearance rack in a bridal shop for 50.00. A recently married client loaned me her fancy wedding hat that was quite the fashion statement during the 80’s. Lol Some long ago friends, Bruce and Cheryl, played the guitar and sang The Wedding Song by Noel Paul Stookey. We went away to Monterey for our honeymoon...and part way through I wondered if I had left the iron on at our little rental house. That was the beginning of the Dad’s anxiety and me saying, “it will be fine!” About everything. We had no idea what we were getting into! Lol We have grown up together, figuring out who we wanted to be, how we would handle whatever life threw at us.
I was a hairdresser and the dad was a journeyman insulator and I was so proud of him. He has always been such a hard worker, taking pride in providing for his family. Always looking for ways to free all of us up so that we can live to our potential, do the things that were most important to us.
We have made lots of mistakes together...oh my gosh. Either one of us had a strong background of support to come along side and teach us about parenting, or investing for later, or being partners, or house repairs...but somehow we figured it out together. By God’s grace because its nothing short of a miracle! We are total opposites....I am emotional and all about feelings and people, and the Dad is analytical, a problem solver, logical...a perfect Mars and Venus union.
Oh this man....when he could have chosen to harden his heart and become angry and resentful, I have watched him soften as he has lived through things he never planned on. He has always been for us. All of us. Everyone thinks that I am the tolerant, kind, gracious one......but really, its the Dad. Well, sometimes. LOL When I am done, fed up, on a tear, he reminds me of who we are, what we are doing, he grounds me and I know that if he can keep going, so can I.
Even when things were hard, when we weren’t connecting and things felt like they were crumbling all around us, when we would say things we didn’t mean to each other, we always knew we couldn’t do life without the other. We are a team. I always felt like we have this core to our marriage that is pretty sturdy, its withstood a lot. God knew I needed someone solid, someone I could trust implicitly...and even though nothing is ever perfect, even though we do things completely different from one another, and even though I tell the Dad he is like being married to a giant 12 year old...I can’t imagine doing this life with anyone else.
We truly are growing old together. Lol We are watching our kids get married and have babies and that is such a cool affirmation of our lives together. We are moving on to the second generation of our union. My mom used to be so proud of us because we stayed married lol....we both come from families where no one stayed married. Every anniversary my mom would say, “you two sure broke the cycle!” She loved to watch us both working outside together....that symbolized real unity to her. It usually just meant that I hadn’t won the argument to hire a yard guy to come and rake and trim and burn and blow off the pine needles. Lol I will never forget toward the end of her life, she was in Hospice care, unconscious, and I had to run to the pharmacy. When I came back there was my big husband sitting on a kitchen chair next to her bed holding her hand. “She was getting upset.”
Or the time Little One and her friend wanted to have a lemonade stand...but he wouldn’t let them sit at the top of our road alone, so he packed up his guitar, and drove them to the top, helped them get set up, and then sat there for hours playing his guitar while they did their thing.
Or the time I was away for work, Little One was away visiting big brother, and My Girl thought the house would be empty. She came home, ready to hunker down and detox on her own. The dad came home that night and realized what was happening and took the week off “just to be near by.” He asked me what he could do to help her. He bought Gatorade, he cup up melon and fed it to her, he gave her Tylenol, he quietly loved her where she was at. This good, kind, old soul...I think of those times and my heart melts. He’s always there, he’s never given up, even when the going has been so so very tough.
God knew exactly what He was doing when He let us find each other 33 years ago. Happy Anniversary Big Guy. I love who we are, who we have become and I am so thankful for us.
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Let me begin this last installment by saying that I believe that Molly's greatest gift is her sense of humor and her ability to laugh at herself. Making verbal slips is almost a daily part of her life. Saying things like "Heimlich Remover" "oveolas" for areolas, "Gale University" for Yale University, "carnival" for carnivore...is part of who she is. We love her for it. She makes us smile.
So Molly had decided to go to school. She wanted to play on the basketball team, instant message friends, go to dances. This was a complete shift for me. I had to let go of how I thought it would go, jump off of the track we were on, and head off in a new direction. It took me a minute to get my bearings, but once I did I called the school to begin to lay the ground work for Molly to make the transition. I put together a folder of Molly's test scores, samples of her art work, her creative writing which showed her very phonetic spelling methods, math work, anything that gave a glimpse into the *whole* person of who Molly was/is. I wanted them to see all of her, not just a kid who couldn't read.
The principal was very positive, and promised us that Molly would be placed with a wonderful teacher with experience in these sorts of things, that the teacher would know ahead of time about her issues so Molly would not end up in an awkward position on her first day of school. Molly and I walked around the campus during the summer several times, finding the bathrooms, where the 6th grade classes were, where she would have lunch... anything so she had a little bit of familiarity with her surroundings.
The first day of school she waited in front of her assigned class and no one ever came. A woman walking past said, "Oh there was a last minute change there. All kids in room __ are now in room __ with Mr. H. Mr. H was a new teacher and had never heard of Molly and had no idea about anything. He tried his best, and Molly knew a lot of kids at school from all of her years playing team sports so a lot of them rallied around her and even jumped to her defense if she was asked to do something in the class that they knew she couldn't manage.
Molly was devastated. She is not a crier, but she cried and cried... in class, in the bathroom at school, on the way home from school, nothing had worked out the way that she had been told it would. When I called the principal, she hemmed and hawed and made up excuses why everything had fallen apart. Molly, my brave little 11 year old walked into the office one morning and asked for an appointment with the principal to talk over how "this isn't working for me." The principal called me afterward to discuss what had been talked about. Molly cried through the whole meeting but she explained why it was so important to her that she know what to expect ahead of time. How frustrating it was to be told it would be one way and then without notice have it all changed. She articulately blazed onward, with respect and her own dignity in tact, she politely laid out what her needs were. No special treatment, just respect of her differences and a little time to figure out how to manage this new academic life. I had never been prouder.
Eventually Molly was placed in the "resource room." That lasted a day. It was a rough year in that class. A rough group of kids with lots of behavior problems. Throwing things, yelling, hitting one another...Molly refused to go back saying, "I know I have my issues, but I know how to behave myself." She felt if they would only let her be in her regular class and see how things work and figure out her own ways to meet their requirements she was sure she could make it all come together. Eventually Molly was moved into a different room with a teacher who ended up becoming our hero. Mrs H has a gentle and quiet spirit and she is also dyslexic and 2 of her 4 children are dyslexic, and she had tutored dyslexic kids for the past 13 years. Not to mention a record holding athlete. A match that was meant to be.
At our IEP meetings which Molly always attended, we discussed the failed attempt at the resource room, how could her needs best be met? The options offered were not acceptable to us...like placing her, my tall, mature looking girl, in with the 4th grade readers. One of the resource teacher's commented that it looked like Molly was calling all of the shots. I explained that we make decisions together. This is *her* education. She knows intrinsically what feels right and what doesn't. She will be our greatest teacher as to how to meet her needs if we can listen and use what she tells us. I had to reinforce that I did not bring her there so that they could "fix her" and as her mom I am responsible for her whole little person being nurtured and developed. We were inviting the school to be a part of our team in nurturing Molly's mind and her education...but I was not handing her over to them to call all of the shots. Either we would work together to find what worked for her or we could leave and find somewhere else that would.
In the meantime, Mrs. H had Molly stay in one day at lunch and they talked and brainstormed about how they could make this work. Mrs. H asked Molly what she felt she needed to be able to be successful. Molly was able to list off exactly what would help her to be a functioning student in this new system. This woman, this saint who I am indebted to forever and ever, listened and wrote down the ideas that they came up with. Then they narrowed down the list to what were the most important and what could be let go of. Together they came up with a plan that worked for the both of them. A plan that didn't fit the norm, that wasn't state standards based, that just worked and it gently gave my girl the time and space to find her way within the structured walls of school.
And Molly was off.....
She asked to drop computer science since it wasn't a required class and instead be allowed to sit through language arts 2X each day. "It helps me to hear it more than once." Mrs. H allowed me to read aloud anything Molly couldn't manage in class, she allowed other students to work with Molly and to help, to bring tests home to be read aloud, anything not understood in class was brought home for us to help with....whether it was class work or not. It was labor intensive for all of us. But it was working and Molly was willing to put in the effort. Mrs H gave Molly a safe haven to test out her new wings. Molly knew walking away was always an option, but she chose to hang in there. She wanted this to work.
As time went on with her accommodations and some modifications in place, Molly made the honor roll every quarter that she was in school. She played volleyball, basketball and rec league soccer. Eventually, she began to read. Slowly, haltingly, but I believe that all of that tutoring and instruction was inside her brain, locked away waiting to be set free at the right time. Developmentally, emotionally, physically. It is very common for things to begin to come together for kids with learning issues at puberty and that proved true for Molly. I think that watching how all of the other kids used their knowledge, and put the pieces together was a valuable tool, a missing piece for her. Molly read her first chapter book at 12 years old. "Because of Winn-Dixie." We have her tattered and torn copy and will probably keep it forever. It took her weeks but she did it and that was a huge victory for her.
She is now finishing up her sophomore year in high school. She has won lots of athletic awards, lettered as a freshman in track, has good grades, has lots of friends, is responsible and kind to everyone. She is her own best advocate now. I send a letter for each teacher on the first day of school each year explaining her issues and include a copy of her accommodations page from her IEP. Some teachers look at it and some don't. She has her own copy in her binder and if an issue comes up she is able to work out solutions without my help. If a teacher is non-responsive she will ask for my intervention, but that rarely happens anymore. She has been blessed to have several wonderful teachers and coaches who have become friends, advocates, people who are a gift to her. Who love her and accept her as she is. We feel privileged to have them in our lives. For a parent there is nothing so comforting as knowing that in this big world there are people who love your child and want good for them just as much as you do.
Molly will tell you that watching her sister struggle with addiction has been one of the most painful things in her life...but that, along with her journey as a dyslexic person, has helped to make her who she is today. There was a day when Molly was so angry. Everything came easily to her sister and she didn't appreciate it or make use of her strengths. She let them all go. Molly had to work for everything. She has made some of her own mistakes and they have humbled her. They have helped her to understand how easy it is to fall. The difference is whether you get up or stay down.
This girl of mine. This friend. Wise soul...
I love you honey.
By this time I am pregnant with baby number 4. We make the 150 mile round trip 3 times a week for her "tutoring" sessions. I pack snacks, good books, we listen to music, play car games, I pull over to throw up occasionally.
As we continue making this trek, I realize that they are doing silly things like having her balance on a balance beam or a balance ball. Its all about getting her to cross the mid-line in her brain. Mesh both sides so they work together evenly. Not one side being more dominant than the other. She shows many signs of this brain confusion. If you give her a peg board and pegs, it is most people's natural inclination to begin in the upper left corner and work their way across row by row. Just like when we read a page. Molly begins anywhere and works randomly with no pattern.
For some kids these tasks would be beneficial, but Molly is an athlete. She had no motor issues at all. She could do a back handspring on a balance beam 4 feet in the air at 6 years old. When I mentioned this to the "teacher" she was of the mindset that this is what they do to remedy issues like Molly's. "The book says....." I pointed out that each human being is different though. Don't her natural strengths account for anything? Can't we tailor her program to what her actual needs are? I mean for crying out loud...lets cut to the chase here. At 75.00 an hour three times a week, lets get this party started. That was when this very sweet young woman told me that Molly would need to come to see them through out high school to be able to make it through school.
I knew then that something would have to change. We couldn't afford to do this forever, we hated the drive and I couldn't imagine that being a part of our lives for the next 11 years! It was a ridiculous idea. First, she was a child...not a project to be worked on and fixed. She had to have time to play, to just be.
At that point Molly was being homeschooled. It gave us the opportunity to work at her pace, to not have to be subjected to peer pressure for not being where everyone else was, and most of all it gave us the opportunity to focus on what she was good at. She worked with a local potter for more than 3 years learning her craft. She was able to take various art classes from local artists, and she could play lots and lots of sports. In addition we could focus on her need to learn to read. We found a Linda Mood Bell tutor who took Molly into her heart and saw her 3X a week just 8 miles from us. This woman had been the director of the LMB clinic and had come home to have a baby. She spent 2 years studying with Molly. We used our tax refunds, asked grand parents to help and when we couldn't afford it anymore, this woman said to keep coming and pay what we can when we can. She didn't want to give up.
Despite all of our best efforts, nothing seemed to be clicking for Molly. She was 10 and still couldn't read. Still had trouble remembering things in order. I remember sending her up to the counter of a fast food restraunt to order some food to bring home for her brother and watching her lips move as she repeated the order over and over again so she wouldn't forget it by the time she got to the counter.
Over the years there were lots more tests, lots of specialists with various opinions....she would never go to college, "just isn't college material," there are only 10% of dyslexics who fall into the severity level that she does, she will probably never learn to read. I refused to let her hear any of this or to believe it. She was so smart, quick witted, had above average intelligence....their own tests said so!
I decided that if this was going to be her life then she needed to learn how to manage herself in a very literate society. I taught her to be proactive. Be honest about your stuff, ask for help, don't try to hide or bluff your way through something. Being forthcoming keeps you in charge, being found out leaves you feeling caught off guard and ashamed. **And most of all this is nothing to be ashamed of.** She got very good at explaining her situation when the need arose. In classes, at the library, in stores, to other kids. She was so relieved when she realized that what made her different had a name.
I told her about all of the famous dyslexic people in the world and all that they had accomplished. Being dyslexic gives you some little brain tweak that makes you a great thinker, an out of the box thinker. It is a gift in many ways. One that is hard to bear as a child when being like everyone else is so important. But she was proud of "her" people...Einstein, Edison, Tom Cruise, Henry Winkler, Churchill...
During these years she had a core group of friends who had all been babies together. They were all boys and they all played baseball and soccer together until Molly was too old to continue to play on the boys teams. Her last year playing baseball with the boys she made the All Star team and had an article written about her in the local newspaper for being the first girl to ever be an All Star in our area.
I credit these kids with helping Molly know that she was just fine as she was. They loved her and accepted her and paved the way for her to feel safe to lay it all out there. If we got Chinese food, they naturally just reached over and took her fortune from her cookie and read it to her. If they were all reading the Harry Potter books and discussing them, they would include her by talking about the part in the movie that correlated to the part in the book. I watched these relationships and was continually blessed beyond words at the natural kindness and acceptance they showed her, their buddy, their pal.
Finally, after years of tutors, extra help, IEP meetings to have everything documented in case she ever decided to head off to school, accommodations, and modifications... Molly said she was done. "This is just how I am, how I operate." We hadn't been able to find what would be the key for her, and she wanted to stop all efforts to *fix* it and get on with her life...
Stay tuned for the final installment, part 3.