Spring Break, Part Two: New York State of Mind

A couple of times a year, my business takes me to New York City – a complete departure from my Midwestern roots or my vacation travels with family to the mountains or beach.

 

It’s exciting in the city. Sometimes it’s a new deal, a new connection, a new idea. I always return home and to work with a fresh perspective and commitment. This kind of excitement is energizing.

 

However, sometimes the city stirs up drama-filled excitement. Let me revise that, sometimes when I’ve been in the city, drama ensues on the home front. That, I can do without. That kind of excitement is exasperating.

 

This trip to New York City, my husband and youngest son are accompanying me just as they did five years ago. They have plans to attend a sporting championship while I have business commitments. It works out nicely because it’s our youngest son’s spring break this week, so he gets a little vacation and I get to have loved ones with me in the hotel each evening.

 

When we took this trip five years ago in January, we had no idea the turn of events that was about to take place. Sober Son had just started college the week before. We hadn’t heard from him and he wasn’t responding to calls or texts. My mom radar was pinging. Loudly. Frequently. Something was up.

 

This was the weekend that he passed out from partying, mind you his very first weekend at college. He didn’t just pass out, he passed out in the snow in subzero temperatures and ended up in the ER and detox.From there everything unraveled, and it was hardly held together as it was.

Deep in our hearts we knew his drug use was a problem, but this was one of the most telling incidents and the one that truly changed to an addiction trajectory we never imagined.

 

This was scary for each and every one of us: Dad, mom, big sister, little brother. And for Sober Son who could never have predicted what would happen next. I won’t rehash what led up to this or the unfolding story that became our lives for the next few years, but I will say that I will always, always, always remember this turn of events and the state of mind that accompanied the addiction days.

 

Before the drama revealed itself, we had enjoyed a weekend of shows, meals, shopping and sightseeing. It made a big impression on our youngest, who has always wanted to return to New York City for another go of it. I’m so glad he’s getting that opportunity.

 

Gratefully, life has changed a great deal for our family since that trip to New York City five years ago. Sober Son completed a treatment program (not his first, second or third – it does take time and readiness). He is back in college, working part time and living at home. He’s nearly two-years sober and is successfully embracing recovery. The two of us just enjoyed a wonderful trip to Las Vegas over his spring break last week.

 

Who would have thought that we’d have so much confidence again in his future and so much trust in him? The addiction days were horrific. The trust was nonexistent. The outlook was grim.

 

My prediction for this trip is nothing short of exciting, and by that I mean fun for all. I’m excited to share the New York experience once again with my husband and youngest son, and I’m worry free when it comes to Sober Son who will enjoy the independence and responsibility of taking care of the house and dog while going on about his class and work schedule.

 

My hope for readers of this blog post is that it keeps alive a belief:

  • That sobriety and recovery are possible even when it seems improbable;
  • That sobriety and recovery can find their way to your family even when it has proven elusive to date; and,
  • That sobriety and recovery will re-establish a foundation for the future when the foundation at present may have crumbled beyond recognition.

Admittedly, it’s so hard when you’re stuck in the muck of addiction to realize that better times may well be ahead. Just like the Big Apple itself, it takes a (New York) state of mind to know that anything is possible.

Wishing you the best for a wonderful spring break,

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

Advertisements

Second Chances – Puppy Love Part II

We hear a lot about service as an important part of recovery. Midwestern Mama observes #SoberSon experience the boost in self-esteem that comes from helping others – this time, a rescue puppy who needs a home.

dogs-984015_1280

Just as there is no one-size-fits-all treatment program, the same should be said for recovery. My son floundered in traditional approaches yet has thrived in the past 18 months through a guided, but self-directed program. In addition to counselors and family members, our family dog has been a central part of his recovery, and most recently, a new dog has offered him an opportunity to grow.

Enter a two-year-old pit-bull mix from a local adoption program that works through foster homes instead of shelters. Our daughter and son in law are fostering the puppy until it gets its “forever” home. Because they work overlapping full-time schedules, there are some points during the day when they need someone to let out the dog, take it for walks, and give it some love.

Enter #SoberSon. His spring semester college schedule has him wrapping up classes by early afternoon a couple days each week, so he’s able to take on dog duty those days. Not only is this another example of the growing trust that our family now has in our son – he has a key to their house – it’s an awesome opportunity for him to volunteer his time in exchange for tail wags and dog kisses!

He realizes that he’s saving the dog’s life and helping it heal from whatever past it may have had.

He commented the other day that, “it’s all about giving him a second chance.” My heart melted because, I think he realizes that he, too, got a second chance when he embraced treatment, sobriety and recovery.

In a few weeks, this dog will go to its new home and when it does, it will go with its own renewed sense of trust in people and belief that the world can be an awesome place

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Trust is Possible

When trust is lost during addiction, it takes time to rebuild during recovery – sometimes it seems like forever – but Midwestern Mama is discovering that trust is possible. She’s coming up with more and more examples of the growing trust that’s taking place with her son.

Trust is possible.  A few months ago, I would have been skeptical of that statement.  A few years ago, I would have thought it was impossible.Today, I know it is not only possible, it is true.

Already, I have noted at least 13 examples of trust that I now have in my son.  Each day this month, I am capturing example after example.  Check out our twitter @OurYoungAddicts and Facebook for these updates.  I will share more examples here, too.  When I look at all of these together, I am filled with amazement and I am filled with excitement.

We still take things day by day; however, with each act of honesty, the trust gets stronger.

Yes, trust is possible!

Midwestern Mama

Positive Change is in the Air!

Today is eight months sober for Midwestern Mama’s son! Not only is trust growing, she is trusting herself more and seeing the #PositiveChange that come from trusting that things will turn out as they are meant to be.

Encouragement is one of the best things we can offer each other, especially for those of us who are parenting young addicts – in active use or in recovery. It’s often the most uncharted territory we’ve ever experienced, so that’s why encouragement is important; but I’d say that’s where unvarnished truth is paramount as well. We need to hear the good and the bad because the truth in neither good or bad – it is simply the way it is currently and it gives us an opportunity to see the possibilities ahead.

In each of my interactions with the Our Young Addicts community, I offer been-there-done-that perspective. I’m a naturally upbeat, positive person but don’t confuse this for being naive or oblivious to the challenges that addiction and recovery bring.

When we discover substance use and then begin to experience addiction, we focus on “if they would just go to treatment” or “if they would just stop using.” Sometimes they do. Sometimes that happens right away. Quite often, it takes time – lots of time and consequences – before they are ready. During this process many mantras surface, including the familiar “letting go” where you and a higher power connect.

Then, one day, recovery begins. With that comes a whole new slew of hopes and expectations. Once again, the “letting go” mantra surfaces. This time, letting go is about three-way trust – you, your higher power and your loved one. This third component – your loved one – is so much stronger than you ever imagined.

Trusting my son means trusting myself and also trusting that things will work out as they are meant to. Whoa! What a difference.

As I write about the many positive changes taking place for my son and our family, it’s also had its challenges and concerns. Recovery is not easy for any one of us, but trust me we much prefer this stage.

In particular, my son has a good deal of social anxiety. He pulls it together for school and work, but frankly, it exhausts him and overwhelms him.

Initially, he reconnected with some of his high school friends (now in their early 20s and having moved on with their lives) but has sense withdrawn from them. He has very little social life – and mom, dad and little brother day in and day out are a poor substitute for the fun and interaction that a 22-year-old craves.

Because he doesn’t embrace 12-steps, there are fewer options for support meetings. And, because he doesn’t like groups in general, he doesn’t want to attend alternatives such as Health Realization or SMART Recovery or Sober Meet Ups. It’s frustrating to live in what’s affectionately known as the Recovery Mecca or Land of 10,000 Rehabs (Minnesota!) and that he doesn’t want to be part of this community.

At work, he’s convinced that no one likes him and that his coworkers conspire against him. He’s certain that’s why he doesn’t get the good shifts. Likely it’s not true, but it feels miserable all the same.

All this pessimism worries me. It feels like an anxiety attack or depressive strike in the making. It feels like a relapse could trigger. Sometimes, I realize that it could be even worse – suicide or overdose. Honestly, I don’t sense this is eminent or I would be taking extremely proactive steps. I do, however, know that I have to be aware and that I have to trust myself to intervene or to let go. I pray a lot. And as you know, I write and reach out to others. I am blessed with a wonderful support network and this community. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

With all that aside, let me share with you a recent positive change, however, and I am crediting it all to the growing trust that we’re experiencing!

The other day, my son begrudgingly went to his workplace party – a Monday evening dinner with games and prizes. All on his own, he styled up in a sharp sports coat, button-down shirt and leather dress shoes. (Most days, it’s sweat pants and a hoodie.) Not only did he enjoy the meal, he played cards and even won one of the raffles, and he got to meet and chat with the owner of the company. He stayed the whole evening and was in an upbeat, chatty mood when he got home.

The next day, he worked a lunch shift (since he’s on spring break from school and had extra hours available). He was tipped well and again came home in a positive mood.

That evening, he ran some errands with the family and we went out for burgers at a new restaurant. Often in the past, we’d ask if he wanted to join us and he’d say, “No, don’t feel like it.”

Today, he took the dog out for a walk – something that subzero temps have precluded. The sunshine and mild temperatures spoke to him. I can only believe that some Vitamin D will do him some additional good!

And, he shared with me that one of his friends is turning 24 today and that he had reached out to say happy birthday. I was so proud of him for doing that. Further, the friend lives a couple of hours away and my son asked if it might be possible to borrow the car to go visit him sometime. Absolutely!

It’s funny because a week ago I had said to my husband that I’d probably trust our son to drive to visit his friend and stay the night. We agreed we could trust him, but I was hesitant to suggest it. Instead, he came up with the idea on his own – thus, he likes the idea! This really encourages me. This is a friend who stuck by him through his worst days and who is himself a positive role model.

I’m encouraged and trust this is a turning point.

Midwestern Mama

Defining & Demonstrating Trust

Trust is one of the greatest gifts of recovery. During March, Midwestern Mama contemplates the meaning of trust and highlights daily examples of the trust that is growing in her family.

Whenever the word trust comes up, most people mention things like honesty, integrity and confidence. We also tend to talk about trust as something that is earned. And, boy oh boy, if trust is broken, that’s a major no-no – for certain, that’s when rebuilding trust takes time to earn back.

One of the first signs we noticed when my son was struggling during high school was that we could no longer trust him. He’d say one thing and do another. He’d never be where he said he was going to be including places like work or school. (Amazingly, he almost always was at sports practice – it was more a matter of what he did or where he went before and after!) This dishonesty also encompassed stealing and outright lying.

Who was this young man? Why was he breaking our trust? As we would find out, trust and honesty disappeared as his drug use escalated. He had never given us reason to not trust him. It was devastating.

With kids, sure trust is earned; but is earned as they grow up. I think we have a different set of standards for our children than we have for strangers or even acquaintances. Of course we trust family, right? Perhaps, that’s part of why it’s doubly difficult to rebuild broken trust.

In early recovery, it’s easy to trust too soon. Before they are ready for that responsibility and accountability. Before our wounds are healed. We think by granting them trust again that it will give them confidence. Instead, it can back fire especially with relapses. That’s even more devastating.

However, when trust is demonstrated, well, that’s when we begin to believe. That’s when trust grows!

Recently, here are some of the examples of trust that we’ve experienced:

  • Today, I trust my son is saving money and paying off debts incurred from his years of addiction.
  • Today, I trust my son will take his Suboxone as prescribed.
  • Today, I trust my son has a job and will be at work.
  • Today, I trust my son has the tools and desire to remain sober and resist relapse.
  • Today, I trust my son will be home each night unless he’s made other arrangements.
  • Today, I trust my son will stay sober when he experiences disappointments or tough times.

The growing trust that we are experiencing with our son is truly encouraging and energizing. Each of the examples above was something that even a few months ago, especially a year or more ago, was no longer a given in our family. Now, these things are possible. #Recovery #PositiveChange #TrustFeelsGood

Share with us the examples of trust you have right now with the young adults in your life – whether in active addiction or in the glory of recovery.

Midwestern Mama

Trust Feels Good

Midwestern Mama is feeling blessed about the return of trust with her son. Recovery works. Follow along for daily examples of growing trust. #TrustFeelsGood

During March, my son’s eight-month anniversary of sobriety and commitment to recovery, I plan to blog and tweet about trust. Lies are devastating and are an unfortunate reality during addiction. Join our posts and share your experiences. Trust. Feels. Good.

What Can I Say? Arguments Happen.

Midwestern Mama shares three great sayings that put arguments in perspective.

Bloggers are not just blog writers. We are blog readers, too. One of the blogs I read regularly is written by a mom whose son is eight months sober – you can see why I find this one of interest.

In her last post, she shared an argument that happened over the holidays. It was eating her up as she wondered about the impact of this on her relationship with her son and, of course, on his recovery. She had hesitated to blog about it, but then found value in processing her feelings and gathering input from her readers.

It got me thinking about this blog and our vision to provide honest, real-time posts about our sons, their journeys, and our parenting experiences. Aside from maintaining appropriate anonymity, I hold back nothing; at the same time, I try not to bore you with all the details. If anything, I hope you see us as real people dealing with addiction and recovery in a real way – not always perfect, but always with good intentions, and always willing to share what worked and what didn’t.

We, too, had an argument with our son recently. It scared me. It scared him. Fortunately, it was short-lived and we weathered it. In fact, I think it actually strengthened things. A year ago, I doubt this would have been the case.

This argument was about a laptop computer. It’s been a recurring topic in parenting our young addict.

When my son graduated from high school, we were paying his tuition (minus a wonderful scholarship he’d received) and he was supposed to use some of the money he earned from a part-time job plus graduation-gift money to pay for his college laptop and textbooks. Seemed like a fair deal.

Well, of course, he spent all his money on drugs before classes ever started. Because we desperately wanted him to go to college and hoped that he’d rise to the occasion of a clean start, we bought him a laptop. Within a few weeks of drug-related trouble at college, he sold the laptop. For drugs.

Two years ago, my son won a $1,000 raffle. He immediately went out to purchase a laptop with it. He relished in being able to play online games again instead of being limited to the family computer or the computers at the library. A few months later, I noticed the laptop was missing. He sold it. For drugs.

Now this fall, out of treatment and working on recovery, he took action to return to a local college. Certainly, he would need a laptop computer for homework. With a part-time job, he wanted to buy a laptop. Props to him for wanting to buy a laptop himself and for sharing this decision with us.

The laptop he selected was quite expensive – because it was primarily a gaming computer, one that had more bells and whistles than he legitimately would need for school. And, because his bank account is set up to prevent him from making purchases over $300 due to a history of bad checks and debt, he would need his dad or me to pay for the laptop and then he planned to reimburse us.

That’s where the argument ensued. We had concerns about the amount he was spending when a more affordable laptop would meet his school needs. We had concerns about him spending too much time gaming – contributing to staying up late, engaging in another form of addictive behavior, etc., etc. We also had concerns about him putting this purchase ahead of other debt he needed to pay off and expenses that we are covering while he’s getting his life back together.

Black Friday and Cyber Saturday were feeding his impulsiveness and obsession. He needed this computer and he needed it right now. He felt the deals would never be better. That he had to buy the laptop NOW! We felt he could wait until after the holidays, earn a bit more money. Do a bit more research on which laptop to buy.

He kept pushing the conversation. Kept asking if we’d put it on our credit card. Kept saying he’d pay us back.

I tried to explain our concerns. He did listen, but he had a comeback for each one. Finally, my husband entered the conversation and in his direct, to-the-point style, he asked some hard questions of our son, and laid out our concerns in no uncertain terms. When my son started to explain, my husband interrupted him, and then my son interrupted him, and then each one raised his voice, and then each one started saying what they felt. It was getting ugly.

By this time, my son stood up, grabbed his coat and said he wouldn’t continue the conversation. He was leaving. This is a behavior we’ve witnessed many times in the past, and it never led anywhere good. It was always a setback. He’d always go running to his drug-using buddies. This scared me.

We gave him some time. About an hour. Finally, we exchanged a few text messages. I think I started it with, “The mudroom door is unlocked when you’re ready to come home” He asked if Dad had unlocked the door or if I had. This mattered a lot to him. I lied and said Dad had unlocked the door. About an hour later he came back.

The next day he was scheduled to see his therapist, and following that, he suggested a compromise – he’d look for a less expensive laptop AND he would write a note to Dad explaining that “walking out” was his way of cooling down.

A few days later, he wrote the note, he apologized for raising his voice first and for using expletives. He was sorry and he wanted to move forward. And so we have.

My son found a less expensive computer that met his school needs and would accommodate gaming. He pledged to limit his time on the computer, keep good sleep habits and to be open to feedback from us if we observed otherwise. He says he’ll share his grades with us on a regular basis. He’s going to let his behaviors build trust.

To make things even better, he went to his bank and explained the situation and was able to work out a way to pay for the computer directly from his account. The banker listened as he explained going back to school, working part time and being committed to recovery. They let him make the one-time larger purchase, but have kept the spending limit in place until he reaches and maintains an established minimum balance. That my son did this on his own is incredible. We did not enable, and he empowered himself!

We all learned some things from this argument, and it reminded me of many of the things I’ve learned as a result of our son’s addiction and recovery about relationships and communication.

Support groups are full of good sayings. Sometimes these seem trite but more often than not, these are great reminders of the good old Golden Rule. Who can argue with that? I can think of at least three sayings that resonate with me on the topic of arguments.

One is from my Al-anon group, one is through an online group where Mid Atlantic Mom and I met, and one is a quote from Steven Covey that my son embraced during his treatment program.

“Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.”

“From chaos comes clarity.”

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviors.”

What can I say? Arguments happen and those three sayings are as great guides for these, sometimes unavoidable, exchanges.

Midwestern Mama