Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gratitude and Thank You's

The drama of living with an a child with an active addiction is exhausting. The never ending concern for their safety. The not knowing if you just witnessed your last exchange with your child and racking your brain trying to figure out what to do now. These are feelings we all of know, all to well. These feelings do not go away quickly.

Our son is home and seems to be working his way to a clean and sober life. He is sticking it, his term, and I don't know what exactly he is doing or if there is anything I can do to help. But he knows we are there if he needs us and I respect him to ask if he needs me. I believe he will one day if he needs too.

It's time for me to recognize everyone out there that reads this blog. I have an endless gratitude to all of you. Some of you that have been reading us for a while know we write for our own therapy. Mom and I get so much more out of this than we put in; we owe all of you a huge thank you. Without your words of counsel, your thoughts and all of you that prayed for our family it would have been an impossible journey. I am not trying to cut the journey short either, we know we still have a long way to go but right now we have found a very comforting inn and the rest is nice.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Comment To My Partnership Post

Below is a copy and paste comment from someone that read my essay on hitting "bottom". She commented her personal experience and it is a powerful testimony.

Pat Nichols says:
February 21st, 2010 at 4:41 am

Here’s a true story for insight on the truth about “hitting bottom.”

In my second year of answering our local parent hot line a lady called and asked me if I was the same person who was answering this phone line last year. I said I was and she informed that I had spoken to her last year about her son; she then asked me if I would meet her in person, as she wanted to discuss her situation in person.

I have spoken to over two hundred parents and not one had ever asked me to meet with them so I hesitated to say yes. I thought to myself, was she angry about what I had told her? Was she holding me responsible for her “situation?” I attempted to get more information but she said she had to explain in person. I said yes and we greed to meet in the morning at a local restaurant. My curiosity was running wild and I didn’t sleep that night.

I arrived early and waited nervously. Shortly before
10:00 am she arrived. She sat down and thanked me for taking my time to meet with her. She began by telling me that I was one of the must understanding and helpful persons she has ever talked to regarding her son.
When we last spoke I knew everything you told me was what I needed to be doing but my husband and I decided we would wait as we wanted our son to graduate high school. He had a scholarship to a college in Texas. We didn’t want his use of drugs to be on his record and if the college found out he might lose his scholarship.

In March my son attended a fraternity party and they rented the third floor in a hotel. My son was high on LSD and I was told his last words were, “I can fly, I can fly” as he dove throw a third floor window to his death.

I wanted to meet with you in person and ask that you never stop taking parents calls. Please tell my story. Tell the parents not to wait. At this point she quit talking, she lowered her head. Her hair covered her face but I saw her tears fall on the table. Tears began to roll down my cheeks and I felt a sense of sadness I had never experienced before. Her head raised and she stared out the window. I waited; she turned and looked at me. I promised her I would never stop taking calls and her story will help many parents find the strength to take the necessary action to intervene on their child.

This experience made me focus on the fact that we, as parents, need to “raise” our children’s “bottom” by intervening early and often. No one knows what the bottom is or when it will occur. It is different with every child.

What does this say to me? As parents we try over and over to fix, intervene and sometimes do the wrong things, but the idea of giving up because it seems anything and everything we try to do is wrong, so I should just give up and completely detach. Some may want to employ this strategy but that strategy has consequences too. My advice, there is enabling and there is harm we as parents can do but I also believe in never letting our addict forget that they are loved. Tell your addict you love them and believe in them, those positive words may not mean anything today but you can never know the future.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another Parent Dealing with Addicted Son

Here is another link to a parent dealing with an addicted son. A 21 year old son with a 5 year addiction. She is just starting her blog hoping to unload some of her baggage.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Survivors Guilt

I was reading Barbara's blog and her feelings of guilt about how things are going well for her and K right now and it is hard to write about the good when so many parents are experiencing such hard times. I can understand those feelings completely. It's like survivors guilt.

The reality is we know how quickly the circumstances can change. We still lay our head down at night and know what thankfulness and fear feels like when both feelings are in our heart at the same time. We know the pain of sleeplessness and phone calls. Those feelings will last for a long time.

My son is doing it, today. He is clean, he is a joy to talk too and I can begin to see a tiny sparkle in his eyes again. (the pupils are open enough to reflect light, lol) If you ask him how he is doing it all he says is he is "sticking it". What does that mean I don't know and he said it is hard for him say it too. I am not trying to push the envelope but I ask him to think about what is happening and write it in his blog. Mom then begged him to begin writing again. She made a plea for all the other mom's out there, she said Alex please all of those other mom's want to hear what is in your mind, what you know and just what does there child really feels, knows and wants. Who knows maybe he will write, I hope but it's up to him.

I think back to when our son was completely wrapped in his lifestyle. We were scared, we felt hopeless. One thing that kept our hope alive was reading the successes of other adicts and children, even if they were short lived. I've said it over and over, WHERE THERE IS LIFE THERE IS HOPE.

Hold on Dad's and Mom's, all of you out there, the world changes every day and who knows what day is scheduled for your world to change.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Another Partnership Posting

The Partnership For A Drug Free America has published another of my essay's. If you are a regular reader of my blog it will be very familiar, it is about "hitting bottom." They were interested in that and now have it on their site.

If you want to read it or comment it can be found at:

Monday, February 15, 2010

ABC News with Diane Sawyer

For those that may be interested. As I mentioned before they had contacted us about being interviewed concerning addiction in families. We declined because Alex and mom did not feel comfortable. Here is an e-mail I just received from Karen Franklin, author and contributor to The Partnership.

Previews of the segment are already on the ABC News website.

Hi Ron and Darlene,

Hope all is well with both of you. I am hoping that our publicist did indeed mail a copy of our book out to you. Sorry I did not follow up sooner. I saw on your blog that you were contacted by ABC and will let others know when ABC will be airing segments on families and addiction. My daughter and I were contacted also in January and we taped the next day, but due to the Haiti crisis, it was all put on the shelf for awhile. We have heard that the segments will air this week starting tonight. I don't know if we made the cut or not but we will see. Just thought I would let you know so you can pass the word on through your blog.

Thanks again for the blog and your service to others.


Karen Franklin

Another Heartbroken Family

Here is a link to another heartbroken family. Kelli wrote her first post on Saturday.

They need your help and wisdom.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's All Dad and Mom's Fault

I have a lot of thoughts about some things I have been ask, and some of the things I have read. They are are kind of related and maybe they warrant there own posts but I am going to lump it all together but have decided to set it up like a 3 chapter book. No need to flip to the last page first because we all know the end of the story from our own guilty feelings, "It's All Dad and Mom's Fault."

Chapter 1 --- I'm Sorry Officer, I Didn't See The Sign
Chapter 2 --- Good Advice Is Good Advice
Chapter 3 --- Bitter Realism

Chapter 1 --- I'm Sorry Officer, I Didn't See The Sign

We were having a conversation with friends and the conversation turned to that question. What would you have done different? That question we all ponder endlessly. The same question that stabs us in the heart. The question that causes untold hours of missed sleep. The question we would gladly speak for hours to answer, if only it helps someone else.

What would you have done different? This time we changed the question. Give me a break politicians do it all the time. What signs should we look for and which ones did we miss? Maybe there should be parenting cops to "light us up" when we blow right through signs as if they aren't there.

Teenage alcohol use is not a right of passage, we all did it too, cannot justify us failing to exercise our parental responsibility. Seriousness with our kids and grounding them and then laughing about it latter is just not wise. .......Guilty Officer.

Kids are going to try pot. It's just a little weed no big deal. I'm sure there are addicts out there that didn't start with weed but I have never met them. We have heard the term, gateway drug. Weed is a drug. Not every kid that tries weed will become a heroin addict, can you tell me which ones will and which ones won't? .......Guilty Officer.

The cops, teachers, judges, security are being assholes. Don't worry baby, it wasn't that bad. We'll help get you out of it. All we have to do is pay extra and the trouble goes away. .......Guilty Officer.

Why did that intake person at the drug rehab facility ask if there were any addiction/alcohol problems within the family? Why is that relevant, it's really none of their business we are here with our child not to talk about relatives problems. .......Guilty Officer.

My kid wouldn't do that or go that far he's just having fun. You know, boys will be boys. Basically he's a good kid and he knows his limits and we taught him better than that. No sir, I am not in denial. .......Guilty Officer

I really don't like the way you dress, talk, music you have changed too, your friends, your manners, your disrespect, your grades, your tattoos, your piercings. Any one thing may not be indicative of an "addict to be" but behavior changes do mean something. .......Guilty Officer.

Everybody has role models and mentors. I do, you do, and your child does. What is the modeled behavior your child is seeing. Do you even know? .......Guilty Officer.

Being a parent to a teen and being a friend to a teen is two very different roles. Do not confuse your role. .......Guilty Officer.

Every one of those charges could be explored endlessly and debated for hours. I am not calling an attorney, I'm not really up for the debate, or the hourly charges. I just know my list is not complete, but it is my list. Feel free to add to it as you see fit.

Chapter 2 --- Good Advice is Good Advice

I don't know if it is a cultural thing, a time issue, or an unrealistic expectation. Seems to me we have confused "advice" with "instructions". Advice does not guarantee outcomes. Advice is the learning's of one person or a group of people given to others in a well intentioned manner. Instructions are a list of directions that if followed step by step are meant to guarantee an outcome.

Dealing with teens and children concerning drugs and drug abuse there are volumes of advice. Just look at all of these blogs and comments. Thousands of words and hours of time devoted to offering advice in hopes the outcomes are what we expect. However, when dealing with human beings are outcomes ever exactly as we expect? And sometimes, aren't the outcomes much better than we could even imagine let alone expect?

We did the things people said to do concerning our son about drugs. We had family dinners, my kids still hate my opening standard question, "What was the best thing that happened at school today?" But I bet they ask the same question to their kids one day too. We talked about drugs and our family values. Mom took them to church and Sunday school. We always tried to make every kid feel special.

The outcome of following all of that advice, we have 3 great kids. One of them has the disease of addiction. NEWS FLASH.........not a single one of the three is perfect and exactly as dad and mom pictured.

If you want instructions come here and we will go down to my shop and I will tell you how to build something and oversee your work and you WILL be happy with the outcome. Just like I'm sure Debby could take me into her kitchen and give me the instructions and oversight to create a delicious dinner. Advice and instructions are as different as night and day. However, just like night and day we all need both.

Chapter 3 --- Bitter Realism

The Don Quixote in me will not allow me to stop and not dream "The Impossible Dream". That is what we do each day. Does that mean I have to give up on reality to fight these demons? No it means I MUST stay grounded in reality if I wish to even have a chance in my fight.

Who am I fighting? I'm fighting anyone that says it can't be done. I'm fighting anything and anyone that says it is hopeless. I am fighting the past and the statistics. I am fighting all of the failures in the past by my son and the millions who have failed before him.

Sometimes winning a battle is almost as meaningful as winning the war. I have a rechargeable battery. Just a spark gives me a full charge. Only one minute of my son when I see him not under the influence means there is a flicker of hope that maybe someday can be fanned into a raging inferno.

I have an analogy to this whole life and what we are going through as a parent of an addict. Life could be compared to a game of poker. We are dealt a hand. We have already said we are "all in." The cards are crappy. I have choices, I can fold, I can blame the dealer, I can be angry with the cards, I can be mad at myself for betting everything. But the reality is, I'm in the game, either get out of the game or play the hand. I'm staying in the game so give me another card (day) I'm into it for all I've got.

"The Impossible Dream"

from MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)

music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion

Click here "The Impossible Dream" (a .MP3 file courtesy MGM).

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I'm laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tempering Expectations

Can parents really ever reduce their expectations for their children? As I see my son trying work his sobriety I realize it is a day to day struggle for him. Sometimes I see comments on his facebook about how he feels that hurts me to the core. I think the comments are probably not any different than any other young adult feels and probably makes. In fact I can remember some of the same feelings when I was younger. There is a huge difference in the confidence level of a young man and a "seasoned veteran". ;-) The troubling aspect is not knowing how much of this can be attributed to the drugs and how much to just normal life experiences. The more important question is can he realize that these feelings afflict people without addiction issues too.

I know a big frustration for him and all of us is the job situation. The job outlook in the KC area is no different than anywhere else in the country, terrible. Realistically speaking I know every single day people get new jobs, there is someone hiring someplace. But is it a job you're qualified for? Is it a job that is realistic for your experience and knowledge? And finally do you have the wherewithal to actually get to and do the job? Add the extra weight of an employment gap of 3 years, a felony conviction for theft and a lack of a drivers license and transportation; what are realistic expectations? In all of my son's flaws being a hard worker and quick study is not one of his flaws. But that doesn't count until you get your foot in the door.

These are the immediate concerns. The important concerns are so much larger. I know this is outside the realm of dealing with a recovering addict but we still cannot let the urgent overshadow the important. We all could probably debate for pages on the actual meanings of important and urgent as it relates to an addict, and thinking through this post that would probably be a good idea. But for now the context of urgent and important is how it relates to dad's view of the world.

I've been unemployed before. What I would consider long term, 8 months. It is hard on your mental well being. Work and contribution is important to the human psyche. Do our leaders understand the impact this economy and their petty bickering is having on our our nations mental health? Dems and Repubs, pretend you are actually leaders and get your heads out of the snow in DC and grow up. Sorry, that's another post on another blog.

Patience with himself is not one of my son's virtues. It is difficult discussing patience and the economy with my son about jobs and independence and the need to keep his eye on the prize. All the while I know the real help for him in his recovery is a job.

Back to the title of this posting, tempering expectations. Is it possible for me to really change what I see in my son. Over twenty years of watching him grow, rocket through anything in school and seeing potential in him I could only dream of in myself. How do you let that go, or do you let it go or are you forced to let it go? For myself, I am not letting it go, it just has to stay inside for a bit longer. I just have to remember there are new dawns every day.

The down side, for every day there is a dawn, that bastard of addiction and those SOB's promoting it are prowling and destroying others. I'm taking another step front and center to fight the bastard. The second week of March I will be speaking to students and I hope parents will come too, at our local high school about the effect of addiction on a family.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Hurting Mother

Please visit this blog, another hurting family that has just began writing. A mother is writing about her 20 year addict and life with the family with younger kids in the household too.

Another blog that I have fun reading is one I found quite by accident several months ago. He is a retired newspaper writer/editor and is now a free lance writer. Each morning he writes a short column some political, some random, some sports, pretty much whatever he feels like that morning. It's a change from all the addiction blogs I have on my reading list. I enjoy his writings hope you do too.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What's Happening

Mom and I are resting. It has been exhausting and with everything else piled on this last week, we have been couch potatoes.

At Mom's job this week they laid off over 700 people. She has been sweating bullets and been a nervous wreck. But she made it through. She's a dedicated and hard worker but sometimes in this economy that isn't always enough. From what she said it has been quite traumatic at her office. This is a company that has not done this before.

Our son, as far as we know is staying clean. He is mainly staying with an old neighbor and school friend at his place. When he is at home he seems to be straight. He knows the consequences of not flying straight. He was very upset that his friend Josh relapsed. He actually took on some it because he felt if he hadn't been in Mexico he would have been able to talk to him and maybe keep it from happening. We told him ultimately he is responsible for ONLY himself and his recovery. He still doesn't have a job and some of the courts are asking him for money on outstanding fines. We spoke about his ultimate responsibility and that ignoring that responsibility will not cause it to go away.

I am learning to let go of his behavior and his recovery. I use to think if he wasn't working a program he wasn't in recovery but the truth is what I think only really matters to me. I am beginning to believe there is more than one way/my way out of this morass. He has his program and the way he describes it is; "I'm done with that stuff and I'm not going there any more." Hey, whatever works is fine with me. He is a headstrong person and if he sets his mind to it what's to say he can't make it work that way. Guess he's more like dad then either one of us want to admit.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reception Photos

For those that may be interested here is a link to the reception photos of our daughter's wedding. Accolades and thanks go to Mom, and her friends for all of the decorations. They did a wonderful job.

It has been a very hectic 4th quarter 2009 and 2010. Since Fall Festival 2009 it seems as if we have been going non-stop. everything just led right into the holidays and then into the wedding. We are ready for a rest.

Monday, February 1, 2010