Overdose?

I keep hearing about people dying. Not the regular kind of dying I’d expect at 67 with friends well into their 70’s. No, these are other kinds of dying. Some end the life of the body. Some just slowly kill the soul.

A woman who was a member of AA for years started drinking again and died from alcohol poisoning.

Another woman who had years of sobriety drank again while caring for her dying parent and is going back to treatment.

A 60-year-old man struggled for years to stay sober. He started drinking again. He was taken from the bank to the ER and then admitted for an apparent stroke. He’s having trouble talking and walking.

A woman with grandchildren starts prescription pain medicine after a knee replacement. When the prescription runs out, she looks for other sources. She finds an opioid laced with fentanyl. It doesn’t end well.

A young woman with anorexia died because she was too weak to survive necessary surgery.

A man committed suicide after a long stretch of untreated depression mixed with a lot of alcohol and a gun in his house.

A woman dropped out of Social Work because she couldn’t leave her troubled clients behind at the end of the day.

A man is forced to retire from stressful, lucrative work because he has heart disease and unmanageable diabetes.

An 8-year-old overweight child is teased and bullied at school. Her mother gives her cookies after hearing her story saying, “These will help you feel better.”

A young woman becomes consumed by what’s in the news and what is wrong with her world. She doesn’t see how she can make a difference.

A husband with a young daughter gets hooked on internet porn. His wife asks him to leave.

An older woman whose kids and grandchildren have moved away starts to miss purpose, a reason to get up in the morning. She dwindles, begins to fade away.

Overdoses?

I say “Yes.”

An AA friend says we are all feel-good junkies, just wanting to feel better. Or not feel anything at all.

So we drink. We eat (or not). We misuse drugs. We stay busy. We become focused on sex or online porn. We care for others. We work. We just stop caring.  And because they work for a while, we do these things more and more until they start to do us harm.

Money or lack of it doesn’t seem to matter. It happens to people in good health and to those who with chronic illnesses. To those with families who love them and those who are truly alone. Some may appear happy and content.  Others may obviously feel bad.

Maybe the difference is being able to ask for or accept help. These holes are hard to climb out of alone. Love and support from others are good things, but enabling self-destructive behavior is not good. What all enablers have in common: they love someone who is out of control, and they find themselves taking more responsibility for the actions of that person than the person is taking for themselves. A woman once said at an Al Anon meeting, “Help is the sunny side of control.” Think about that for a minute.

So what do we do?

When one of my grown daughters was going through a hard time, a friend told me, “All you can do is love her and pray for her.” It didn’t feel like enough.

I think we also need to keep talking and writing, with friends and more publicly, about our own experiences with addiction and mental health issues. We have to lessen the shame.

And we need to listen mindfully and lovingly, without judgment, without trying to fix them, when others trust us enough to share their hard stuff.

And my friend was right. We need to love them and pray for them.

 

 

 

 

Published in: on October 9, 2019 at 12:32 pm  Comments (3)  
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A Family Disease

Addiction is a mean, nasty brain disease.

Sometimes people die.

Last week a 39 year old husband and father, married to a girl my kids grew up with, committed suicide in a very public way. A recovery friend said, “Addiction had him around the neck and destroyed his life.”

We hear a lot these days about the opioid epidemic. Many more struggle with alcohol. It, too, can be an addictive drug. Mental illness and addiction may both be present.

In the last couple of years, I’ve known at least 3 women my age who have had to bury GRANDchildren due to addiction/suicide. More have lost sons and daughters. I heard about another young woman recently who struggled to stay sober who fell out of bed, broke her neck, and died.

Death can be sudden or slow and painful.

Years ago, one of my daughters asked me why some people stay sober and others don’t. “You have to be able to tolerate some discomfort,” I told her. More in the beginning, then it can get better. Cravings ease. You’re left with Feelings. And Life on Life’s terms, as they say in AA. With nothing to numb you.

When I got sober, I had no idea how to do “Big Feelings,” as my granddaughter calls them. My family didn’t do feelings; we stuffed them. And the adults drank to make the day go away. My first therapist gave me a list of feeling words, a whole page of them!

I’ve been sober 32 years, thanks to a Higher Power, the love of my husband and my daughters and grandchildren, a lot of AA meetings, several sponsors, healthy and balanced friends, a great therapist, and never forgetting that I can’t drink.

Slowly but surely, I learned how to do “Big Feelings.”

Chances are you know an addict or someone who loves one. It is a family disease.

There is hope. Sobriety is possible. Help is available.

The young woman whose husband died asked on Facebook today for any video friends have of Tyson. His little son wants to hear his dad’s voice again.

Please find help if you need it.

For more information:

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous

Al Anon (for friends and family of alcoholics)

Nar Anon (for friends and family of drug addicts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on May 21, 2019 at 5:31 pm  Comments (6)  
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Where Is the Magic?

In my family, I learned well how to shut down emotionally.  I struggle this time of year.  Childhood memories are vague and memories from when my girls were little are complicated.

I learned at home to drink away feelings.  And that it’s ok to tune out the world by reading.  I don’t drink anymore.  Thank God. I’ve read several good books over the last few weeks.

Yesterday was the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death and my brother died in July. I’ve done no shopping for the grandchildren, which scares me.  The retired man I live with got out the Christmas decorations 2 days ago, but we have no tree yet.

Last May, I wrote in a post titled “I ‘tuck”:

I’m stuck.  Or as Adaline used to say, “I ‘tuck.”  I’ve been ‘tuck for weeks.  Not able to write.  Not able to plan much beyond today.  Wondering what I am supposed to be doing and how to get to the point of doing…anything.

I know that sounds like depression, but this time I felt more lost than depressed.  I asked God for some kind of sign or message.  Nothing.  Besides feeling stuck.

Slowly, the light started to go on inside my brain.  I spend a lot of my time waiting for the next disaster/crisis/time of need.  On hold. Stuck.  ‘Tuck.

Well, I ‘tuck again.  My therapist (yes, I do have sense enough to get some help) asked me recently “What are you afraid of?  What are you resisting?”  After a few moments I said “I don’t know.”  I still don’t know exactly.  I feel a big, dark, presence behind me.  Not evil, but patiently waiting for me to turn around.  And I know that needs to happen.

It has to do with being the last of my family of origin alive.  And it has to do with my body not working as well as I’d like.  It has to do with aging.  It has to do with living with cancer in remission for over 8 years.

I think that big dark presence is called Fear.

Years ago, an elegant older lady who grew up in New Orleans shocked many of us at the Wednesday night women’s AA meeting by stating, “Well you know what sober stands for, don’t you?  Son of a Bitch, Everything’s Real.”  She was right.

My prayer life and my relationship with God get shut down along with everything else.  I love traditional Christmas music.  I have a couple of country Christmas cd’s that I like to sing along with in the car.  They remind me what Christmas is really about–a baby being born.  I haven’t pulled those out this year.

One of my favorite songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” (here’s a link–skip the ad).  The first line takes my breath away every time.

I debated writing about all this for weeks.  Writer’s block goes hand in hand with depression and shutting down for me.  I certainly don’t want to be “Debbie Downer.”  I know I’m not the only one who has mixed feelings about the holiday season and that there’s comfort in knowing that.

I still believe God is all around me.  I choose not to connect to that higher power. When I decide to turn around and look fear in the eye, I believe I will be safe.  Doesn’t mean I want to turn around.  I’d rather it just go away.  I just want to feel less weighed down and to stop saying, “I don’t care.”

I do want to care.  That’s who I am.  It’s lonely where I am right now. I want to change that.  Please pray for me.

I wish all of you a happy holiday.  And if it’s not, tell yourself “Right foot, left foot, right foot, breathe.” (Anne Lamott)

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 10:41 am  Comments (16)  
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Where I Come From

I began in Iowa, land of flat cornfields

and people I love,

of honesty, integrity, loyalty, and peace.

The willow tree was in Iowa,

at Aunt Nadine and Uncle Phil’s.

I loved it, I climbed it and sat there by myself.

No one seemed to wonder where I was.

Did no one think to worry?

Or was I never really noticed at all?

Emily calls us “The Frozen People.”

I learned in my 30’s how to hug.

I’m flustered and shaken

when a friend says “I love you.”

I can never say “I love you” back,

even when I do.

I come from a family who likes to drink.

I was into my 20’s, already a mom

 when I named it alcoholism.

In later years it damaged Dad’s brain,

leading to strokes and a blessed death.

It destroyed my mother’s spirit

and left her an empty shell.

I swore I’d never be like either one.

I’m not, of course, but I came close.

So, I come from Iowa.

I value honesty and compassion.

My spirit’s thawed somewhat.

I will reach out and hug.

I laugh a lot.  It’s that or cry.

I’m probably a smartass,

but my friends don’t seem to mind.

Now I am where my kids are from.

“Don’t lie, don’t cheat and don’t be afraid.”

I talk about no expectations

and I share my trust of God.

Everyone has a story, I say,

and you can’t tell by looking what it is.

I pray for them and I love them.

That’s all there really is to do.

A day at a time, I co-create my lifetime.

God and I are on an adventure,

together we make a pilgrimage.

It starts out where I’m from

and ends up in infinity.

Amen.