Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Talking to Students

Talking to students is easy. There is nothing to it when all you do is recount stories and the horrors of parenting and loving and addict.

The hard part is maintaining your composure when those stories are ripping at your heart. When you tell about the experience many years ago when my son showed me so well that addiction is not a simple choice but is really a disease that must be treated and fought like any other disease. Trying to tell the story of my son crying and asking me to please help him. How do you tell 30 young people about how that feels when I can barely get the words out of my mouth.

Telling stories of how we shared tears, my son, his mother and I. Struggling to do what no one had answers for. Opening my life, our lives to make a impact on these young adults so maybe there won't be another set of parents living our life.

Then comes tears I see on students cheeks. Watching a student run from the room, grabbing the whole box of tissues from the teachers desk. Students relating stories to me during break of siblings and parents drug use. A student asking me a simple question during break, "Why do people treat addicts so bad? They aren't bad people they are sick. I know everything you said is true, my mother is a heroin addict. I am so sorry you had to go through this with your son." She is trying to comfort me. Setting my business cards on an empty table, they have my blog address, phone number and email address on them. Students taking them from the table as they leave the room.

A couple of people that I admire in this field stress to me that self-care is most important in this field. It is important to take care of yourself so that you can go on doing good things. I told them once that my best self care was writing and sharing with all of you wonderful people that read these ramblings.

Talking is easy. The hard part is listening.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Season on the Horizon

Holidays were such a traumatic experience while our son was using.

His abhorrent behavior never seemed to end. No matter if they were or weren't talking we imagined all the horrible things the relatives were saying. We took it all personal. We were the parents of the drug addict.

During the holiday while everyone was visiting we would notice our son disappear. We never knew how long he would be missing. Even if all it was that he went upstairs we knew it was for bad. Didn't matter if it was for drugs or if he just needed to go to the bathroom.

It was personal. Why did he ruin EVERY holiday or special occasion? Couldn't he just stop for ONE day and be normal? Why couldn't we be relaxed and enjoy just ONE day?

Our son was a drug addict. It wasn't personal. He was doing what drug addicts do, he used drugs. It wasn't about the holiday, it was about the drugs. Why does it take so much for us parents to understand that reality when all we want is one day?

When you are caught up in the personal drama it is impossible to see the reality. Looking back we struggled every holiday. We wondered aloud, "Why us?"

Today I understand that those feelings of hurt and disappointment belonged to us. We could hope but we chose to ignore reality. We set unrealistic expectations.

This holiday season we do not live in fear. We look forward to a thankful and joyous holiday season.

My thoughts for all of you that are not in that place where a dry turkey or cookie crumbs left around the tree from a messy Santa are your only concerns. This holiday season think of yourself and feel the love of those around you that deserve the person you want to be. Choose to feel happy. That doesn't mean you must ignore or be angry with your child or loved one that is addicted. It just means look to yourself too. Just like any other day of the year you can't fix them so you must make the best of your situation.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Putin' It All In Perspective

For the last couple weeks it has been very stressful and worrisome here at the Grover homestead.

A couple of weeks ago there was a mass found in mom's breast. This in itself is worrisome but with her family history we got stressed very quickly. Mom's family has a history of breast cancer in her family. Although her mother did not die from breast cancer, she died at 57 from ovarian cancer, most all of her family has died young from breast cancer. Her aunts and cousins have passed due to breast cancer. Her younger sister is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in her forties and is a seven year survivor.  So as you can see when a mass was found near panic set in for us.

The doctors were concerned due to her family history. They reacted quickly and appropriately. Sonograms were done to confirm what was expected. Once it was determined that "something" was there surgery was scheduled. A needle biopsy could be done but with her history we opted for surgical removal. Very quickly surgery was scheduled. The surgery was done on a Thursday. We were told results of the tests would not be available until Monday. Last weekend was a stressful time. Mom went on a girl weekend with her girlfriends. That was best for her. They probably took better care of her than I could or would, physically and mentally.

On last Monday we anxiously awaited the doctors call. Late in the morning the doctor's office called only to tell us that they we doing more tests and results would not be a available until Tuesday.

A very long twenty hours followed. I think we both handled it differently. My mind went to the dark side, mom felt it was more positive. We both handled the evening in our own way.

On Tuesday morning the doctor's office finally called. the tests showed benign, NO CANCER.

Getting that news causes instant happiness but it also causes a person to think and reflect on what has been. We are only here and together for a little time. Addiction, cancer, heart disease and countless other maladies are in our world to take our loved ones. Make good use of what time you have with your loved one today. Do what you can to enjoy each other every day.

Critical lesson learned: Because of mom's vigilance in doing her mammograms regularly the doctors and her knew exactly what was happening and what to do. When the doctor can put up multiple years of mammogram results it is graphic what is going on in her breast.

A special message to all you mothers and women reading this. GET THE GIRLS SQUEEZED!!! Do your mammograms regularly. There is no acceptable excuse, nobody is too busy.

To all you men reading this, make sure those women in your life that you love read this and make their appointment. Drive them if they resist. Just make sure they do it, imagine your life without them.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Back To School

Going back to school to talk to more kids. This time it is Shawnee Mission South in Overland Park, KS. Like always, anyone that wishes to join me on Friday let me know. I'll make the arrangements. I have not been to SMS before. A whole new group to hear my story.

I always tell the teachers to be sure and invite parents. Sometimes they show up. It seems so more powerful when there are parents sitting there. One once told me she spent the whole hour holding back tears was scared to death about what can happen to a good kid.