Thursday, September 7, 2017

Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie, for those of you who dont know, is a netflix series that you can instantly stream directly into your home for your entertaining "pleasure." I binge watched all 7 seasons in about a 2 week period of time. I dont even watch TV, but I heard about this from a friend and had to see for myself. It was like a book I couldn't put down. I stayed up too late after work watching episode after episode. I thought about getting home to watch more. I think watching TV on your phone is ridiculous, but I will admit, I was tempted to tune in when I was waiting in Dr. waiting rooms.

Nurse Jackie is an amazingly kind, bold, and compassionate nurse, but she is also secretly (at first) addicted to pain pills. As the seasons continue on her addiction spirals out of control in numerous ways. I think watching this for me, was like the years I used to watch Intervention. It's a form of going back to the scene of the accident and processing what has happened over and over again. I feel like it might be kind of sick...but I had to get to the end and I haven't stopped thinking about it and wishing there were more seasons so I could see how it all turns out!

It presented such a picture of how absolutely wonderful and gifted and talented those we love who are addicted can be, and then how absolutely awful they can be. The lying, the manipulation, the walking over other people, the stealing, but then on the flip side, the kind and compassionate care she would give to her patients. She had a heart for the underdog, for those who had nothing, for those who were broken, for the least of these among us... and she treated them like human beings. Whoever wrote it knew addiction intimately, from some direction.

I dont know that I would even recommend this to everyone to watch. It was a downer. Sad. I was glad to see it I can be free to go bed on time, and read books, and do what I want in the evenings. It grabbed me, thats for sure.

Watching Jackie treat the dirty, the hallucinating, the yukky, with respect and care, made me think of the time my girl was in treatment. She had a day pass and we went thrift store shopping. Outside of the big Goodwill was an older gentleman whose hair and beard were long and matted, his clothes were filthy, he was speaking garbled and disjointed sentences that made no sense. Gesturing with his hands, trying to get someone's attention. We all hurried past, including me, I am ashamed to say....we all, except for my girl....who stopped and listened and said, "I dont understand. Do you want a cigarette?" She handed him one and lit it for him and stood listening for a minute or so more as he rambled on and laughed and smiled. She gave him her time, she met him where he was at and when she walked away she smiled and told him to take care of himself. Oh my heart. There was my girl.

Ive told you about my mom making sandwiches to pass out to the homeless in downtown Oakland on her lunch hour. A single mom, sharing from her single income with those who had less than us. "There but for the grace of God go I, Annette." There is something about those who courageously look so closely at their own personal failures and character defects, encircling those who are still so lost into their humble awarenesses. They dont forget where they have come from, they know that things can change on a dime for them, they are humble and kind to those who are in need.

Anyway, Nurse at your own risk. She was wonderful and awful all rolled up into one human being.

Love to us all....

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Aug. 31, 2017 Overdose Awareness Day

Little one and I headed out yesterday morning to our local FED UP rally. She is a junior this year and taking U.S. Government so this was a perfect example of community members making their voices be heard. Of the rights of free assembly and freedom of speech.

Of course, more than that though, our motivation came from somewhere much deeper. I thought of all of your children that I have prayed for through the years of writing this blog, the mom's who have emailed me their stories, and then the email to say, "my child is gone. Their fight is over." I thought of all of us who live with the knowledge that we could be next.

Today was a compassionate voice, one of hope and advocacy for those who can't fight for themselves. For those who remain so stuck. I heard so many good things spoken today. I met several local moms who I have known online from a "mom's group," who bravely shared their stories with the news media that was present.

My girl met us there and sat and listened to the stories, to the compassionate voices that were acknowledging the fierce battle that those with an addiction fight every single day.

The opiate epidemic is unlike anything we have seen in our history. It is changing the face of recovery. Today Melinda, the director of  Harm Reduction Services, which is where my girl and I received our Naloxone and training, said that "recovery is a spectrum." We need to broaden our sense of what recovery is. It is often someone just fighting to stay alive. She shared that when she was stuck in her addiction, homeless and living on the streets, "her body was not her own." Life didn't begin to change until someone told her she was worth saving, she was worth living a different life and that it was possible.

Another young man shared that medication assisted treatment must become more accepted in the world of recovery when its needed. That we have to stop shooting our wounded and keep working with them.

It made me think of when I first walked into Alanon....I was a different person than I am today. I came in paralyzed with fear, broken in spirit, I felt so much shame that all of my efforts to pull my daughter from this disease had failed.

Today, thanks to working a program for the last 12 years, thanks to those around me reaching out and extending a hand and saying, "I get it," to those who listened and didn't correct me, but let me figure out my own path, thanks to each of them, I have learned about living in a place of acceptance, of surrendering my will, of giving my girl her dignity, of letting go of my fear driven control, I have learned how to live more gently without judgements and finger pointing and blaming. Yes, none of us can do it "right" or well in the beginning but people who are farther along than us, keep working with us. They don't shame us for making mistakes, they dont treat us like we are a lost cause because we trip and fall. Just like someone coming in off the streets or from a long term addiction....recovery is a long process. It is not a one time decision and they have it. It is a million decisions made over and over again and sometimes they lose their footing. The important thing is to encourage them to keep coming back. Brush yourself off, come back, let us walk with you, you are not alone. Love someone when they can't love themselves.

Some of the things the FED UP coalition is working for is funding for research and treatment, for Narcan to be readily available....if someone is prescribed an opiate it is accompanied with Narcan, for immediate beds to be available. Expecting our heroin addicted kids to wait for 3 months for a bed to become available, to call every day, to show up at this office and put your name on a list, is literally impossible for so many of our kids who are homeless, with no money, without transportation and a phone. Its easier to just take their chances and keep using!

I remember right after we brought my girl home and she was applying for a medi-cal bed after she had aged out of our insurance. There were so many hoops she had to jump through....her therapist said, "These obstacles are too challenging for her at this point. I dont see how she can do this on her own." I knew then that this was a kind and realistic man who was on our side. I also felt like I had been given permission to HELP her! He wasn't going to lecture me about co-dependency and enabling... he got it. He understood how grave our situation was. I was so grateful and felt so validated.

Our addicted kids need love and encouragement and so do we. Our kids need affordable, easily accessible, appropriate and lengthy medical and psychological care. Desperately. We all know the multiple layers to our children's addictions that all must be addressed reliably and tenaciously. All of us, our families, our kids, our state leaders, doctors, are finding our way through the most unfathomable situation, but we must keep moving forward in kindness and banish these underlying messages of failure and shame and worthlessness that are so often perpetuated.

God bless us all as we go about just doing today. Much love to my parent heart is always with you.                               Annette

Friday, August 25, 2017

Choosing Happiness

Things here are challenging. No crisis...just a rough couple months. Lots of things are playing into it for my girl and I can't do anything to change them. Only she can and does she have the energy, the determination, to do so? I don't know...but I act as if she does. We view the things we offer her as harm reduction. We are keeping her alive, hopefully staunching further damage and providing medical and mental health care to someone who would have none. It. Is. Not. Easy...and its very expensive. Which is a head nod to how broken our mental health care system is.

But life continues on and I refuse to miss out on the good parts. Such as baby Landon who I want to gobble up! Someone told me that that feeling we get of wanting to bite their cheeks, or nibble their toes, or eat a real thing. It goes back to our primal beginnings. I dont know....I just know that I soak that baby boy in anytime I get to see him. He has lots of chub already that makes him especially delectable!

Landon's wonderful parents, have set their wedding date... June 23, 2018. So wedding plans are being made. We have our venue, the photographer, the dress, we will probably do flowers and decorations ourselves, we have an idea for the food....a caterer that did a mutual friends wedding. Pizza, salad and beer and wine. A dessert station, a coffee, ice tea station, lemonade station. I love that they are are so laid back, that the day is being viewed from the perspective of what they want, what will be fun and comfortable for them and their people,  and not what will really make a statement and impress all of their friends. Two such authentic beings, these two.

For anyone who has Alanon's daily reader Courage to Change, July 30 really got me. It was about happiness being an inside job. About how we often determine and commit to choose happiness but then we become discouraged at the first sign of trouble and abandon our resolve to live in a place of contentment....because of what is going on around us.

The last sentence for the July 30th reading was this...."When I make a choice and then stick with it, I teach myself that my choices do have meaning and I am worthy of trust." 

I have spent a lifetime convincing others that I am trustworthy...but not myself. You know that familiar story. We are always our own last priority. I am worthy of trust. I am worthy of following through on my commitments to choose happiness and find joy in whatever I can.....and fortunately I am easily pleased! Lol I remember in my early years in Alanon hearing someone say, "My happiness can't be dependent on how others around me are doing." I thought that was horrible! How can I dare be happy if people I love are miserable?! I have since found a way. Desperate circumstances require desperate measures. Lol I am learning to trust myself to take care of myself. I am finding the balance of being present, respectful and kind to my chronically ill child, but being present and joyful with my other children who are living their lives and deserve to have a mother who shares in their joy. I am taking the time to binge watch Netflix (I rarely watch TV...only if the dad will rub my feet) and read real books and go on walks during the week. I hurt my back a couple weeks ago...years of lifting people is catcing up to me....but I had to accept instruction and help from the dad. I had to rest my back. I dont like to "need." But I think he loved being able to give....maybe I need to stop that and let it become part of trusting myself to care for myself.

Lets all commit to trusting ourselves to take really good care of ourselves just for today. If it works today, we can try it again tomorrow. ❤️

God bless us all....our children are still in my daily prayers.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Color blind

Yesterday Little One flew home from 3 weeks in Lousiana with Big Brother and Beauty.  Even though she is 16, it's a big deal for her to fly alone and to have layovers and to switch planes and find her way around the Dallas/Fort Worth airport on her own, but in her own quiet way she manages and as she gets older her nerves are calming and when she got home she sat on the couch and told me all about the connections she made along the way.

There was the woman with the baby and the preschooler and full arms who couldn't unfasten the car seat. Little one asked if she needed help and sat her stuff down and helped her to get settled.

There was the woman who complimented Little One's drawings....I asked what she said, "Those are amazing!" What did you say? "Thank you.....what else would I say?" Lol

Then there was this story.... Two little kids sat next to her who were flying alone. A 10 year old girl and her 8 year old brother.

The girl asked Little One, "Excuse me, how do I get the flight attendants attention?"  L.O. showed her the button to push. Then the little girl asked, "Will it make a loud noise? HOW will it get their attention?"
L.O. explained, "No no, a light will flash right up here," pointing to the overhead panel. "There is no noise."

As the flight began the little girl started to talk to L.O. About her drawings.

 "How do you know how to do that shading? How do you know which parts should be light and which parts should be dark?" My quiet peaceful girl explained her methods, and then offered to share her supplies with the little girl and her brother and they spent the 3 hour flight drawing and talking and comparing.

 L.O. explained that, "The little brother was only interested in drawing his own way, but the little girl asked me to draw an outline of a face for her and she would do the shading herself."

She wanted to give it to her mom, "but I will tell her you did the outline and I only did the shading." Her sweet honesty....making sure L.O. knew she would not be taking credit for any part that was not honestly her own work.

The story went on for awhile, the plane landed and L.O. sent them home with a care package of pencils, paper and smudge sticks,  and I loved hearing it all and then she ended with...."they were the most adorable little black children." The color of their skin was not part of the story, it was not relevant to anything, other than to describe them to me, someone who wasn't there to see for herself.

How powerful is this today, after the unfathomable violence we all witnessed in Virginia yesterday? While a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of protesters, killing one and hurting many others, Little One was sitting on a plane sharing her life with two children, two human beings who were interested in what she was doing, who found a way to calm their nerves of flying alone, to make the time pass, to connect with one another...and this is as it should be. This interaction is not special or because Little One is special. This should be our "norm." It should be what is expected... that we love our neighbors, that we extend a hand when we see anyone in need, that we come along side one another...simply because we are all just people.

 How on earth in 2017 is the color of one's skin STILL an issue?
Jesus have mercy.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Letting Go

I wonder how many posts I have written about letting go through the years. It seems to be a running theme for me....let go, but dont abandon. Finding that balance.

The month of July has been filled with so much good. Of course Landon coming to us healthy and safe was filled with so much joy, but also big brother and his beauty came for a visit to meet Landon and we had SO MUCH FUN with those two. I laughed until my cheeks hurt and I couldn't catch my breath. Those kinds of laughs are priceless.

While we were having fun and enjoying each other, my girl really struggled. July was really hard on her. I had to choose what I was going to do....and I chose to let her stuff be her's. The door was open to her always, she was invited and included, but it was all too much and she declined our invitations. We let her be where she was. Its a new month and I see her working to get herself back on track.

So letting go.....during Landon's delivery, I watched Molly and "kind heart" work together so well. He was present and supportive and if he could have delivered Landon from his own body for Molly, he would have. As I watched them labor together, I was so aware that this was their circle and I had been invited in. This was not my territory. This was not my show. I was there only as a support person, by invitation, as they forged on ahead to bring their baby into this world. It felt good to know my place. To see the differentiation between their life together and mine. It hit me that it felt GOOD to LET GO in this situation. I was letting Molly go into safety, to someone who loves her, its a good thing and it felt joyful to be able to do this. It wasn't scary, I had no inclination to grab on or to cling or try to control everything.

This awareness was such a powerful thing, it was like having someone pour grace and care all over me. All of this time I have felt like I was a failure at letting go, just a controlling crazy woman who can never mind her own business, and in this moment, I realized that is not true. I CAN let go. I can healthfully allow my children to go on and live their lives without my input unless asked for, I can wait for the is the circumstances, the very real danger that has swirled all around one of mine's lives that has tripped me up. It has gone against nature to totally let go of this particular child in sometimes horrible circumstances. That she is only on my mind, that I dont take action at every perceived danger, is tremendous progress for a MOTHER to live in. I have been responding to the unthinkable in the most sane and loving ways I have been able to figure out.....and that is good enough.

It was this moment of acceptance for myself. Self love, grace, compassion, mercy....for me. Every time I think about it I cry. I am ok! I am doing fine. As well as anyone can be in these circumstances. I have lived my life always feeling like I am striving to get to the next level of "good enough" and this experience showed me I am already there. I am doing just fine.

I pray pray pray that every mom can hear these words. Can know that perfection is not our goal. Trusting ourselves to take good care of us, to extend grace and mercy and compassion to our mom's hearts that are wanting to heal and put together and matter how much Alanon, or personal work we do, at our core, I believe every mom wants their child to be ok. We learn how to walk and behave and not get in the way of our children's journey, but in our hearts we carry that desire to heal and bring wholeness. To at least try....and there is no shame in that.

Love yourselves today.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Profiles in Recovery

I will write something "real" soon... but in the mean time there is this. It's "real" but it's recycled. Lol
Much love and care to all....

Sunday, July 9, 2017

He's Here!

Landon Grant made his amazing entrance into our world on July 6th, at 1:56pm, weighing in at 8lbs 9 oz. and 21 inches long. Molly was so amazing facing the challenges of labor and a rough delivery with so much grace and dignity. I have never been more proud of her. Ryan was engaged and present and focused on Molly and whatever he could do to encourage and help her....watching them work together to bring their baby into the world touched this momma's heart deeply. They are so good together and already are such wonderful parents to their baby boy. Landon is absolutely delicious. We all just want to soak him in and savor every second of his sweet self.

I have obnoxiously flooded Facebook with all of this already....but for my readers who aren't on FB, I wanted so much to share my joy here with you too. I think anyone who is reading here understands how huge the good parts of life are, how much we appreciate them even more so since we have faced some of our most unfathomable fears...I am drinking in this time, every minute, this precious little fresh boy is so beautiful and will bring with him all of the lessons he has been sent with for his parents....because I do believe that those who hold our hearts are our greatest teachers.
Bless us all.... and bless this new little family.