Sunday, August 31, 2014

Breaking the Stigma, Thomas J. MacDonald

28 years ago this weekend I was 20 years old .. I was in the middle of losing my battle with addiction . I had been trying to get sober for a while ..One night I went out had a few beers and tried to get some late night Chinese food.. I was in the back seat of the car of a person a just met .. She decided to make a U turn on the downside of a hill .. We got hit broadside at over 80 mph .. (Drunk driver never convicted) The truck basically hit me in the head ..i woke up in the hospital emergency room and was in and out of consciousness for about a week injuries were a broken pelvis , ruptured spleen. Tore up shoulder .. And a broken face ..I spent about 2 weeks in the hospital .. And years of rehab to deal with all the damage ..I am lucky to be alive ..,the reason I am sharing is .. I got so addicted to the never ending supply of Percocet I was prescribed and from October to January 15th i went on a downward spiral that makes the car accident seem like a fender bender .. On January 14th I got arrested for driving under the influence and would have been incarcerated and on a path of no return's only the Grace of God that I was saved from my addiction .. It's been 27 years since I put down the booze and drugs ... And I have been blessed with miracles every day after ...if you know someone or if you are suffering from any type of addition all I can say is your not alone and don't give up trying before the miracle happens in your life .. God is great and can do anything .. I know .. I am a living miracle... Please keep your eyes open on the road this weekend .. It's crazy out there ..

Anyone that has read this blog for a while knows that I enjoy making sawdust. Some of my efforts may go to the fireplace but that is not my intention. I enjoy working in my shop; that was my place of peace when Alex was using. I enjoy the peace and creativity of my wood shop. If I wasn't down there making something I was trying to learn from many of the masters on TV. One of those master craftsman I admire for his skill and his ability to put such difficult to master skills into simple easy to follow lessons is Tommy MacDonald, host of Rough Cut Woodworking with Tommy Mac.

A few years ago Tommy came to the Kansas City Woodworking Show. During his talk to hundreds of fellow woodworkers he sidetracked from talking about tuning a hand plane to safety and what can happen if your mind isn't on your work while in the shop.

After he finished and everyone was done getting pictures and autographs I made my way to this master craftsman. He was probably ready to get out of there but he stayed. I related how I got 8 stitches in my chin from doing something stupid while I was thinking about my son and his addiction and not paying attention to the work I was doing.

Tommy told me about his addiction to alcohol and drugs. He told me how hard it was on his family and his father. I could relate to his father as I listened.

I give Tommy my blog address and e-mail. The next morning Tommy had e-mailed me and told me he had read parts of my blog. He told me to "hang in there," recovery is possible. Alex had been trying to quit and I was still scared he would relapse once again and I would lose him forever. Tommy filled my tank with hope and just the right words when I needed them the most.

Yesterday morning I opened the computer and looked at Facebook. Tommy Mac had written what you read above posted on his page. He told his supporters and fans all over world of his recovery.

Master woodworkers take the gnarliest, ugliest piece of wood from a tree called a burl and create beautiful works of art. Next time you see a person suffering from addiction or alcoholism and they seem gnarly and ugly, do not discount that person as a "less than" it just might be another Tommy MacDonald.

Here you can find pictures of some beautiful works of art that Tommy has created.

I wouldn't dare post pictures of my stuff next to these pieces of fine woodworking. For those that haven't seen my work just do a search on my blog using the term "woodworking".

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Did You Say "I Love You" Today?

Did you tell someone that you love them today? Did you show someone today that they are a special person in your life? What would you say or do if you knew tomorrow was not coming?

Last night I was coming home from work. It was a beautiful evening and work had taken me to the country and a drive around the lake. I was following a SUV and we were cruising along not fast, just the speed limit on a two lane country highway in Kansas. In an instant the world exploded.

A one ton truck was coming the opposite way and all of a sudden it clipped the very end of a trailer being towed by a truck in front of the SUV. The one ton truck swerved directly into the SUV. A head on collision at 55 miles per hour. The two vehicles hit with such impact the both left the ground and spun around 180 degrees.

I slammed on my brakes and was barely able to steer around the truck while avoiding another pickup coming towards me. I stopped fifteen feet in front of the truck. The driver was half ejected from the truck and be was barely breathing. I called 911 and went to tend to the driver. His breathing hesitated and his eyes met mine. I reached down to his hand and lifted it in mine to check his pulse. He exhaled his last breath.

I went to the SUV and the driver of that vehicle obviously did not make it. I could tell from following he never knew what hit him. He didn't even have time to hit his brakes.

Still on 911 talking to the dispatcher I kept repeating that they're dying, they are dying, hurry. Emergency vehicles arrived quickly, probably 3 minutes. There were people stopping but the two drivers were already gone.

I was close enough that as I swerved to avoid hitting the truck, debris and fluids was showering down onto the hood and top of my truck. Broken windshield pieces and a windshield wiper were in the bed of my truck.

Life is a matter of seconds all strung together. One second later and it would have been me instead of the SUV. My life, his life they are all the same. Sadness grips another family that is unspeakable. When the name was released I looked on Facebook. He was a husband and father to three children. He was 39 years old. I have an unspeakable sorrow in my heart for someone I had never met until I saw him in the SUV.

No one expects it to be their day. Life is about seconds that mean minutes and turn into days. Seconds matter to each of us. We allow our seconds to tick by without telling and showing people how much they mean to us.

Did you say "I love you to someone today?" Did you show someone today that they are a special person in your life?

Don't let the most important second of your life tick away.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Who's Fault Is It?

Who's responsibility is this? Why is my child using drugs? Where does this crap come from? Who is doing this to my baby?

I bet I'm safe to say that every parent of an addict has ask themselves these questions. I know I spent many an evening thinking about these questions and even tracking down friends and dealers phone numbers on my sons phone. Calling friends that are police officers, one the chief of police in our city and another a friend I grew up with since 12 years old that is the elected sheriff of a major county in KC. All in a futile effort to control and fix this situation.

The question still remains, who is responsible for my child's addiction? To save every new parent of an addict I will provide those answers below so that you can move forward faster in this process than I did in my struggle.

First of all and probably the biggest suspect is Dad and Mom. Unless Dad and Mom are the ones supplying the drugs and pushing that needle in their arm we must rule out our responsibility. I'd wager that we have all told our children, "Don't use drugs, just say no." Many have gone much further than that and repeatedly educated our children about drugs and the danger. Could we have done more and had a different outcome, no answers for that but we did the best we knew to do at the time.

It's must be the fault of the police. They don't do enough to keep drugs off the street and unavailable to our children. Sorry to say but this problem is bigger than the police. Law enforcement is doing what they can.

Dealers are the scum of the earth. The drug dealers and drug cartels are poisoning our society and ruining life as we know it. You won't get an argument from me on that one but one Dad and Mom will not change a thing in this world. If I get my son's dealer arrested there will be another one standing in line to provide what he needs. The line of dealers will never end.

It's those friends he hung around with. We ALL knew they were no good. Teenagers make bad decisions. When two or more teenagers are together the amount of bad decisions multiply exponentially. That was happening when you and I were teenagers and it was happening long, long before us. That is just the nature of teenagers as far back as stories are told.

Big Pharma! This is the result of greed by pharmaceutical companies that produce these drugs. They don't care about our children they only care about putting another dollar in their pocket, they are no different than the dealers and drug cartels. With all their faults big pharma does have a place. Life saving drugs are produced and marketed by them. (discussion about excessive cost is for another blog) Even opiate based pain medicine has it's place. I'll speak from experience, I was grateful when I had them after a complete shoulder replacement surgery.


Sorry to disappoint but spending time looking for fault is us living in the past. We want to know because somehow we think if we can answer that question it may somehow change the past or change our future. We may be able to learn from the past to share to with others to maybe help keep another mother's child from doing this but it will not help our situation.

Our addicted children live in the present. They live daily, hourly, and minute by minute with their addiction. As parents we must learn to live as our addict. We must learn to accept what is and deal with that reality. We do what we can to help them but we also must do what we can to help ourself.

The truth is as we begin focusing on ourself the answers we seek about how do we help our child becomes much clearer.

Monday, August 4, 2014

How Do Adults Learn? (Including Our Addicted Children)

Most adults learn through experiential learning. We relate experience to what we come to believe that is true. For instance, a child learns through belief. 2 + 2 = 4 because they believe it to be true because someone tells them it is true. As an adult I believe 2 + 2 = 4 because in my life I have experiences to validate that statement.

OK, how is this relevant to addiction and our lives as parents of addicts?

Most of us entered this world of drugs and addiction unexperienced. That means we were unlearned in what to do when our child is addicted to drugs. So, naturally we fall back on our experiences and what we have learned in life to solve and fix problems. The trouble is that as experiential learners it was impossible to learn from experiences we never had.

We all do or did this, myself included. We knew if we just exerted more control, loved more, provided more things and more happy experiences to our child it would all work out. Then when that didn't work we fell back into what worked at times for our young child, negative reinforcement, tough love, the adult equivalent of time out, and at times in anger maybe even resorting to physical attacks. Nothing seemed to work, we were working from a convoluted paradigm. What we learned from our past experiences did not apply in this situation.

What do we do now? Nothing seems to work. There comes a time when we must unlearn. Unlearning is our most difficult learning. Unlearning what we believe to be true, a parents love conquers all, makes us all vulnerable and unstable. Panic and fear takes over our lives. We come to believe our good or lack of parenting becomes a life or death situation for our child.

At some point we must let go of our old learning and step into a new reality. We may be parents but at this point we do not control this adult child we still see as a 5 year old running through the house. We must learn new through the experiences of our life today.

At this point we must learn to take care of ourselves. We must learn a new way to support. We must learn to love while allowing natural consequences. We must learn to capitalize on ability to provide  opportunities for discovery. Our addicted child, despite their condition, must discover that life is or could be better without drugs as it is with drugs. That is their FIRST step then their hardest work towards recovery begins.

All of this is not easy. In fact, I will attest to it was the most difficult thing I ever experienced. But, it is necessary. I would go as far as to say it is required.