Wednesday, June 21, 2017

....and then he disappeared

I just read a great book called, The Girl in The Red Coat, by Kate Hamer - it was about a girl who was abducted. The author talked about both the mother's journey and the child's journey (if you're looking for a good read, I recommend it, it was an interesting twist an abduction theme). What struck me is I really understood what the mom was feeling. I think as moms we all feel this at times, those times in our kids' lives when they move toward independence. I think that is one of the reasons why these stories are so frightening, not only are we all terrified of losing our children, we see the reality that we will indeed lose our children. That's where I am. I lost my child for a year to drugs. One of the things I was so scared about, happened (not the drugs - didn't see that coming, but about my kiddo disappearing).

It was when I read this book that it hit me. The year he was doing drugs, selling drugs, stealing -- doing all the stuff that drug addicts do to keep themselves in drugs, he was not my son. He looked like my son, he was still living in my house, but he wasn't that sweet boy we raised. That boy that loved baseball, who would sit and put his head on my shoulder just to be near me, the kid who would talk to me (granted about baseball, and I learned how to talk that language for him). That boy was gone for a year. And my heart was broken. He was essentially abducted from our lives by drugs.

We couldn't find him.
Drugs wouldn't, couldn't stop their hold on him.
He had no power to leave this stronger, meaner, horrible captor.
He was lost to us.
He was lost to himself.

We did all the things we thought to do to find him again. Private school, drug tests, give him a car, take the car away, ground him, stop giving him money, keep him from his friends.

But the drugs always won.

We didn't give up. At times, I admit I wanted to. It was too painful to care when he did not.

Thankfully, we found an enthusiastic sobriety program. Thankfully Jake has embraced it. Thankfully he's been sober for almost 8 months now.

Even though it's been 8 months, it's only been in the last month or so I've seen glimpses of the 'real' Jake, not that drug ladened impostor. Every time I see the 'real' Jake, my Jake, my heart soars. For my birthday, he asked with that charming half crooked smile if I could take him to lunch so we could spend time together, he had the grace to say that if he had some money, he'd take me. But, while this might seem like a sucky present, he knew that really time with him was all I needed to make my birthday special (yes time with my other son too -- but these posts lately have been about our journey with addiction). We went out, we talked, we actually talked about some of his experiences with drugs, I talked about my sadness - it wasn't upsetting to either of us, just honest discussion. We also talked about silly things. It was lovely.

I know I will lose him again to adulthood. and that's coming sooner than later. That feels less gut wrenching. It feels right, because he will come to visit, he will grow, he will be the strong independent charming leader that was his original destiny, because he is no longer doing drugs.

That is, if the menacing black monster of drugs doesn't get hold on him again. This terrifies me more than Jake flying into adulthood (mistakes and all). For now I will take the gift of our precious Jake's return to our lives. Each day I'm given this gift, I am thankful.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

I'm A Mom - Don't Judge

When your child has an addiction it rocks your world. I’m not talking about all of the things you might imagine, like how do I save my boy? Will he finish school? Can he still play baseball….the second two seem silly to me now. Really the most important thing when you have a child who has an addiction is -- will he live. But beyond that – what really rocked my world was how I defined myself as a mom.

I’ve wanted to be a mom since I was a little girl and the days of both my boys’ births were the happiest days of my life. If you could bottle up the joy I felt when I first held each one of them for the first time, you’d be a billionaire.

And then from that point on I questioned everything I did.

I didn’t trust my ability to be a mom.  And good lord are people opinionated (me included). I tried hard, I read books, followed advice…..I made my own baby food, fed the kids low sugar diet, made sure they did sports, took them to school, dinner on the table every night, making sure we all ate together, I showed up and worked hard. Either Jason or I read to them every night. We went to church. I sent them to Christian camps – nice ones in the mountains. We’ve travelled all over the world together. One thing this experience has taught me is that all of this was surfacy -stuff. I really thought this is what society says makes me a good mom – but what probably made me a good mom were some of those things I was too embarrassed to admit to ever doing because of all the opinions of others – like yeah I did let my kids sleep in bed with me. Sometimes I was just too tired, or they were crying too much, or I just wanted to love on them. When they did scary things like jump off the fence on to the trampoline, I looked the other way, with my heart in my throat because they were having a blast. I let them jump in mud puddles, more than once, sometimes they would lose a shoe or a sock because of that weird mud-suction thing. I would hose them down in the front yard before letting them in the house. I yelled at them. I spanked them too. Then I realized I wasn’t spanking out of discipline, but out of my own frustration so I stopped doing that. I let them talk back to me, let them roll their eyes at me and laughed when they attempted sarcasm. When they were done acting out, I would tell them I didn’t like being treated that way. I was inconsistent. I changed things around because sometimes shit didn’t work – no matter how well it worked for the experts or other moms. I used guilt – a lot (and was sort of proud of that one). Sometimes things worked for my kids that didn’t work for others – sometimes not.

PARENTING IS FUCKING HARD – even when your kids are well adjusted (oh yeah, I sometimes cursed in front of them – no fucking wonder I have a drug addict as a son –right).

I won’t give advice on parenting, because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Well – that’s not entirely true – the advice I would give is to let go of taking advice and have fun with your kids.  I wish I had done more of that and less worrying about ‘getting it right’
So for me, even though I wanted it more than anything, parenting was hard because I wanted to be perfect at it and I was constantly finding fault in my own ability to be a mother – the thing that should have been so easy.

And then one of my kids turned out to be an addict.

And I had proof that I didn’t just fail at being a mom but colossally failed. Like kicked out of the mom-club fail. Because what kind of a mom raises a drug addict (let me answer that – a bad mom).

I don’t think that debate between SAHM and Working moms is really the issue – if you look closely, it’s moms judging moms. SAHMs will judge another SAHMs just as much as they would a working mom, and don’t think working moms don’t judge other working moms – and then they all judge each other. Because each and everyone one of us are super freaked out we’re doing it wrong. And we are doing things wrong--- BUT and listen to me closely here – WE ARE ALSO DOING IT RIGHT.

In my Al Anon meetings, I’ve learned, “I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, and I can’t control it” – as hard as this is to believe, it’s so freeing. I did NOT hand my kid his first joint. I never even had that laissez fare attitude about any kind of drug or alcohol with them either. My expectations on this matter were pretty clear given the amount of addiction in my family. He chose to smoke that first joint and then he was lost for a year. I made some mistakes during that year. I thought we could help him, I thought we could bribe him, or punish him into quitting. It took us awhile to figure out this could not be willed away, he needed help and we got it for him. He did the hard work though – we just provided the resources.

So really, deep in my heart, I know I am a good mom. Not everyone is going to believe this about me. And I’m really beginning to not care. I know that I did everything in my power to help my son with a debilitating disease – a disease that most people think is just a character issue. And once I did what was in my power, I gave the rest over to God (which is what I call my higher-power).

Here’s my take-away – letting go is really the part that is making me a good mom for this particular kid, rather than all the things I ever did for him. It is also the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

What I want you to know – YOU’RE A GOOD MOM. Don’t let what others may think of you cloud your judgment on your mothering. You do not have to comply to the rules of society to prove your mom-worthiness. Let’s stop judging ourselves and those around us, and just enjoy the limited time we have with these miracles that have been entrusted to us.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

And so it begins....

I was told I need to blog again by a friend. What’s hard though is beside a few fun glimpses into my life on Facebook, I’ve had no desire to write. Frankly, my life has been really painful the last three years and I fell into a pretty harsh depression. I still had moments of laughter, I went to work every day, I enjoyed time with my family and friends. But there were days that getting out of bed was almost too much to bear. I did it. But without joy. I plodded along through the day and buried my sorrows in my work – easy to do as a hospice nurse, because frankly everyone one of the families I helped were having a worse day than I was.

I didn’t even know I was depressed because I was so depressed. There was no introspection, there was, work, life, husband, kid-crap – rinse and repeat. It was like being a robot. I was without life. I never wanted to kill myself – but if a semi ran me over, I would have welcomed it.

I’m finally crawling my way out of it.

My therapist has also suggested I write. He doesn’t care about what, nor did he recommend blogging per se. But it seems to be what I know.

What started it all? August 2014 my sister died. Then my son started using drugs and within almost a year he went from ‘experimenting’ to a full-blown addiction. People who love people with addiction know that really addiction starts with that first taste of whatever ---- but it took us a year of trying different things to ‘help’ him before we realized the extent and got him the right kind of help (we sent him to private school, drug tested him, took away his car, out-patient, and finally in-patient).

I was thinking today about the night he went to his in-patient program.  We found out he was continuing to use while in his out-patient program. I came home one day to find one of his ‘user’ friends standing in my kitchen.  I must have just broadcasted rage, because he sort of backed out of the kitchen and out the front door without saying anything to me. When Jake came downstairs, he tried, in the manipulative way that addicts try, to make me feel this was more my problem than his. He left the house and I called the out-patient program. I asked my options, we did a dance back and forth – I think it was hard for them to come out and say, ‘yeah he needs a stronger, more intense program’ so finally I said, “MAKE IT HAPPEN”.  I may, or may not have sounded possessed. They took Jake out of the ‘class’ and it was then he confessed to them he had continued to use. And then he confessed it to us. We got it all planned and he left to Arizona two days later.

He stayed with other people during those two days.

He came to dinner the night he left, he did not want us to drive him to the airport. He and his friends (friends from the program – kids who are good kids who had made the same mistakes that Jake made and were now on the mend, kids that knew what he was going through, kids that understood him. His family were no longer the ones that understood him, or the ones he would turn to. In fact we were the last people he wanted to be around.

He wasn’t angry about going to in-patient. He embraced it. It was the first time he really wanted to admit to a problem and wanted to start working on getting sober. So his anger at us wasn’t about sending him there. He just did not want us in his life at that moment for reasons we still aren’t privy to and may never understand.

We ate dinner with Jake and his friends, the friends he had been staying with, the friends that were taking him to the airport. Great boys who got it. But they also got us. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t eat. I just wanted to hold my boy and never let go. I wanted so badly to go back to when he was a toddler and I could take away his pain by hugging it away. But this man-child had to be told by his friends to hug me good-bye.

And he got into the car and I had to wait almost 8 weeks before I could see or talk to him again.

It was probably the hardest night of my life.
But it was also a beginning. Not just for his healing but for my own.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another why I suck moment --

Before you get all concerned about my apparent self-esteem issues, I don't actually think I suck, I actually think I'm a pretty nice person. I just happen to enjoy self-depreciating humor...and in this case I also enjoy knowing it's got some shock value because not many people think I suck either (and those that do think I suck, don't actually share their thoughts with me, and I'm okay if they don't).

Alright, now that you've put your therapist's phone numbers away because I don't need a referral, we can get to the post at hand.

I totally dropped the ball last Christmas. I mean, I bought the presents on time -- actually purchased them in October, because normally I'm good like that. Even had them wrapped in mid-November. And here's where I lost steam -- the frickin' box. I couldn't find one that would fit the big-arse bag of toddler legos.  So the presents sat in my room (even my parents' presents - and I was able to find a box that fit those presents) for months. I would look at them daily and just cringe because I wasn't getting them sent out. Christmas passed and Jason moved the them to the basement. I would move them back to our room so that I wouldn't 'forget' to mail them out every.freakin'.day. He would move them back to the basement. We would never really discuss it, we just kept moving the boxes of Christmas presents up and down the two flights of stairs. FOR 7 MONTHS.

So I finally did it. I mailed them out. With this note:
 And then the boxes were stacked in my car for a couple of weeks and it became Christmas in August

This picture reminds me I need to clean out my car.

This got me to thinking....why did I do this? What's going on?  It's not the only thing I've messed up on this past year. I missed paying the kids' dentist bill for a few months (seriously, I hate those bills that aren't auto deductions because I forget them normally, but this past year, I forgot on steroids). It got to the point though they fired us. (So suck as a consumer, a mom, a the family financial keeper). My desk is a mess, my filing has piled up into two TWO laundry baskets and now my laundry is folded and piled on the floor near the washer and drier.  It took me like 8 months to get to the hairdresser, and I went way too long without a pedicure. I've read maybe like 2 books for pleasure and except for making some Christmas ornaments I haven't done anything creative. I picked up a lot of extra shifts and changed jobs (really a good way to keep my mind off of my life).

I'm kind of a hot mess.

And I realized, I've been depressed. It wasn't this obvious depression (well to myself) but this sort of underlying lack of energy, motivation, and ability to do MORE. I was still able get the kids where they needed to go (for the most part), I kept most of my appointments. I was able to still decorate for Christmas and entertain...but didn't send out cards or gifts (local people got their gifts). But some of the extras -- forgotten birthdays of some really good friends, not doing extra things like cards for no reason, paying attention to the needs of the people around me (except the kids), and more importantly not having overall joy in life -- just glimpses here and there. I laughed, I cried -- but not my normal loving life kind of person.

You see, I'm generally a pretty happy person -- not one of these exuberant shout to the roof tops life is grand...but a mellow happy person (apparently depression looks pretty mellow on me too). And this past year that was gone. And it's taken it's toll on me. But I didn't realize it was some low level depression because I pushed through and lived my life -- just wasn't enjoying it much AND things fell through the cracks (more than usual -- because even though I'm generally a mellow happy person, I'm also seriously ADD). It kind of sucks. I'm happy to say though just realizing what was going on (I'm also a little slow and it took awhile to figure it out) has helped me realize why I've been doing (or really not doing) what I've been doing this past year.

Death of a loved one can do that to you. It's coming on the year anniversary of when my sister died. I miss her. As I wrap up her estate and am ready to send the paperwork to the court, I realize this is it. It really hit me when I sold her condo a couple months back. I cried off and on all day and had to tell people my allergies were acting up (because God forbid I let people know I'm freaking out because I sold my dead sister's condo). It was hard, it was a teminder she wasn't coming back. I'm doling out her ashes soon, some to my mother, some to my niece and nephew, and some to me. I'm going to spread my share in the mountains in a beautiful peaceful spot. I want her to have peace in death in a way she couldn't have in life. I think she would have liked it that a little part of her will go to the people that loved her the most and loved her with out conditions. It's sad, but she never really felt that love but she was loved. One son at her funeral was so heart broken, and another, who didn't shed a tear, later designed his baseball glove to honor her and his other aunt (who has MS).

He had "for Nini" the nick name he actually came up with for my sister, because he couldn't pronounce Leyni. and he also had 'for shaina' stitched to his glove. He doesn't really show his emotions, but it was when he ordered this glove that I realized he felt that loss too.

It's time to move on now. Not forget, or even stop missing her. But to get back the part of my life that I miss and love - the joy of life. A part will be always be missing, but isn't that true of all of us? Every time we experience loss we lose a little part of ourselves. But then we also fill those losses with people that bring us joy and love (and sometimes we fill the loss with chocolate cake - did I also mention I gained 30 pounds this past year as well - I wish I was one of these people who don't eat and over exercise when I was depressed). We just have to allow that love in -- for some of us that's harder to do, and during some times in our life it's harder to do.

I know I'm coming out of this, different but whole and strong. I'm lucky that depression for me comes in periods of my life and it is not (thankfully) something from which I suffer all the time. For me it's usually related to a major life event like a death in the family, or hormonal changes, in the case of some postpartum depression (and thank you Lexapro for getting me through that). I know there are people who suffer from depression all the time and it sucks - I'm sorry this is your lot in life.

In the mean time -- I'm crawling out of my little dark depression hole and bonus, my nephews got a mid summer surprise (okay late summer). I'm wrapping up my sister's estate so will not have that weighing on my mind, taking up space that should be devoted to my family, friends, and self.

Seriously....put away those therapists' numbers, I don't need a referral...I got this.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Why It Sucks to Have a Mom as a Nurse

Some of you may have seen those Memes that say things like, “I’m sorry mommy’s a nurse and you had to bring yourself in because she thinks you should just suck it up” and yeah, I’m one of those moms/nurses. My oldest a couple years back twisted his ankle and I made him sit out a couple games, and ice it…telling him to suck it up. Well it didn’t get better and my husband, a layman, thought I should take him in. Turns out it was nerve damage and he needed some PT. He kept asking the physical therapist to say to me, ‘you suck as a mom and a nurse’ – yeah, they BOTH had fun with that.

 Jake, icing his foot

A couple weeks ago my younger son rode his bike to swim practice (in flip-flops) and was driven home before practice even started by one of the younger coaches (a teenager). His toe was bleeding but he seemed really nonchalant. The teen-coach looked ill. I sighed and told Isaac to run upstairs, get me some Band-Aids, and wash his foot with soap and water. The teen-coach assured me he rinsed Isaac’s foot off with hydrogen peroxide. I felt the need to give him a lecture that evidence-based-practice has pretty much proven hydrogen peroxide is a horrible idea and that in the future he should just use soap and water. He tells me that’s what they taught him in teen-life-guard-school and I replied, “well maybe they should get some one who isn’t using antiquated information”….. I couldn’t just shut up and the look on this kid’s face was like “geeze lady, I’m a teen-coach who just drove your bloody kid home shouldn’t you be doing something for him since you’re a nurse and all instead of lecturing me”. But in my head, my kid was FINE and could suck it up (which is probably why my kid wasn’t crying and washing his foot like I told him to). Teen coach left and I took a look at Isaac’s foot, after he washed it off….and ‘yikes’. It looked like a flap of skin was coming off, which they can’t stitch, but there was some pretty bad gashes. So I took him into the ER.
"oh my gosh mom, stop taking my pictures and posting on Facebook"

ER nurse and ER doc were like, “Whoa Dude, never ride your bike in flip flops, that looks bad” After X-rays, Lidocaine shots (which he did NOT like), and a tourniquet it was decided stitches weren’t going to help but they did need to cauterize to stop bleeding. Isaac, a true Walking Dead fan says to me “I just need to look at the flowers”. The ER doc, also a Walking Dead fan laughed – which scared me just a bit since he was holding the cauterizer. Then says, ‘you know the thing about that show is that every doctor on there is a total wack job’ (FYI Wack apparently is NOT a word that word check recognizes, so I ask Jason, how do you spell wack as in wack job, and he asks, you aren’t charting are you? – and no, but wouldn’t that be fun to actually say, this family is full of freakin’ wack jobs…oh wait, maybe it’s whack …ah yes, that computes…keeping my original mistake here though to let you into to my scary ADD mind --- squirrel). So I bring up, “yeah, like Grey’s Anatomy never has a nurse in the rooms with the doctors and the doctors are doing everything nurses do”…so we start complaining about how shows just don’t show the medical field appropriately and Isaac is lying in his ER stretcher rolling his eyes at us.
X-rays...doesn't he look thrilled

So no swimming for 10 days. And we got a prescription for 30 vicodin…seriously for a 12 year old who was rating his pain at 1/10 – probably because he’s learned from a very young age what suck it up really means. I briefly thought of filling the prescription and selling it just to pay for the co-pay….but that would be illegal and bad and I don’t know anyone who would buy them (although also briefly thought of asking my high school nurse friend because I’m sure she’d know who was dealing at the local high school…but again, illegal, bad and contributing to a minor doing bad and illegal things). So it went unfilled and I threw some Advil at the kid.
The ER nurse, admitted how much she loves Pinterest and decided to make a Pinterest-craft-ready-dressing -- she did an awesome job.

Jason, had already volunteered to be a timer at the swim meet so he went and when asked by another parent who his kid was, he explained about the ‘injury’ and the parent was like, ‘oh I heard about him, they thought he lost his toe it was so bad’

Really? Bunch of babies.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Everyone in my neighborhood is turning 50 (50 year old gifts and Pinterest research)

This year has been a year for my friends turning 50. It started in February with my friend Colleen – and now that I’m thinking about it, I think I may have forgotten to get her a present. I kinda suck. Anyhow when we were all talking about her birthday, I argued with her that it could not be 50 because she’s 3 years older than I am and I’m not….oh my God I am, or will be (in February it was “would be” but I’m writing this in July and so already am) FORTY-SEVEN. Holy shit, so her turning 50 was really more about me realizing I’m not in my early, or early-to-mid forties, but now in my mid-to-late-forties. What the hell!

And now we’re celebrating another 50th. A mutual friend is throwing her a party. I’m used to being in my mid-to-late-forties so it was not such a shock and I actually decided to do something creative. And by creative I mean stealing someone else’s creative idea. Because that’s MY talent – recognizing good ideas and copying them.  So I got onto Pinterest and looked up a bunch of fun ideas for birthday presents. Found a cute idea here:Imperfectly Beautiful Blog

Here’s my rendition of it. As you can see, mine looks like a hack job – but whatever, it’s the thought that counts…and any way, I added a gift certificate for a pedicure, so that really rocks.

Speaking of pedicures. I could not remember if she liked pedicures (and really who hates pedicures? I guess some people do because I recently remember being in a conversation with someone who did hate them but couldn’t remember if it was her). So I Facebook messaged her husband – who had no idea. I had the bright idea of inviting her and another friend to a girl’s day at the spa (little place next to Safeway with massage chairs with people who may or may not be licensed and who barely speak English). She said she would love to. YAY, so now I know she likes pedicures. Then she tells me, she’s only had one pedicure and that was from a gift certificate I gave her three years ago. OMG, if only I had remembered that, I wouldn’t have had to gone through this whole ruse to find out if she liked pedicures....but I needed one, terribly, and it was fun to hang with her an our other friend (oh, the one I mentioned before who turned 50 in February). So above present, hopefully will be much enjoyed by her.

I texted another friend (one who is even younger than I and really likes to remind me of it – especially when I’m showing her pictures of presents for people turning 50) a picture and said, look what I stole from Pinterest. She wrote back – not ‘stole’, ‘researched’. I love her spin on that. That’s what I’m totally going to say from now on.

Because we're like 12 and had to post our pedicures on Facebook

I got all prettied up (capris and a linen shirt – but I did put on eyeliner and a necklace so yeah, totally dressed up).  And showed up at mutual friend’s door at 5. Turns out my early onset Alzehimer’s is going to manifest itself in some weird time thing. A couple months ago I woke up in a complete panic that my husband and second born did not make it back from Grand Cayman (father son trip celebrating the younger one’s 13th – we’re not actually Jewish, well my husband kind of is by blood, not by religion so this wasn’t a Bar mitzvah, just a nice thing we do for the kids). Anyhow, I woke up at midnight, they weren’t home yet and I had a major freak-out for about an hour until I realized they were supposed to come home that next night. A couple weeks after that, I had another freak-out that our morning meeting wasn’t going on, I texted co-worker asking if there was an issue with the conference call and she texts back, “did the meeting get moved to 0715” – I look at clock and text back ‘um, no, I’m just an idiot’. So I arrive, promptly at 5 because I like being on time, only to find out the party is at 630.

See a necklace, and I actually combed my hair. I just realized I still have Good Luck written on the chalk board in my cool command center where I'm supposed to list our weekly activities. I wrote that Good Luck and drew the dice when I hosted Bunco -- like last February. I hate those bloggers who have the cool command centers and actually use them. .... and my best friend who uses hers too, although doesn't blog it, so I don't hate her quite as much (the one who is younger and constantly reminds me of it.)

But while chatting with the hostess, I find out we’re also celebrating another 50th  as well, sort of a last minute add on. What the hell is wrong with my neighborhood and all these people turning 50.  By the time I turn 50, no one’s going to want to celebrate any more because ‘been there, done that’.  Good news is I had time to ‘research’ another 50 year old gift and go put it together. I um ‘researched’ it from this shop on Etsy (which I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to pin...but oh well).

 And here’s my rendition – again, not as cool as the original. But whatever, it was last minute. Oh who am I kidding, I am not going to take the time to place the stickers in the most appropriate places, even if I had plenty of time, I still would have hand wrote it.

Because that’s more personal and thoughtful – yup, that’s it, I was being thoughtful, not lazy.

and here are the birthday girls -- on the left, Sherry, and the right Martha. You won't find two more lovely ladies. I'm so glad they've been a part of my life over the last 10 years.