Gratitude – Then and Now

With November arriving soon, Midwestern Mama is pleased to bring back the ever-successful “30 Days of Gratitude” initiative. Look for daily Twitter posts starting Nov. 1. #Gratitude2015 #OYACommunity

When your kid is in active addiction and recovery seems like a slim, distant possibility, it’s hard to embrace gratitude. Yet, the “attitude of gratitude” is a life saver as many parents will tell you.

Addiction can be all consuming for parents, family members and friends. We get wrapped up in the horrors and fear that addiction brings to our lives. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming that we can’t see ANY of the good things – the things for which we are thankful.

At night, when I was wondering where my son was, what he was up to, how he was feeling, what would happen next … and more. Exhausted from worry, not to mention all the responsibilities that I shouldered during the daytime, my mind would race instead of being able to settle into much-needed rest.

During those times, I would shift my focus to think about all the good things that had happened that day. I would start with remembering the day from alarm clock to work, family time, and climbing into bed.

In reality, most of the things that I worried about with our young addict were beyond my control. In fact, some days I hadn’t even had contact with him. I could imagine what was going on (and, yes was mostly right), but I did not know for certain.

I had to learn to let go as best I could and be the best mom to our other children, the best wife and friend to my husband, the best co-worker at the office, the best teacher to my college students ,etc. By best, I don’t mean some unrealistic heroine, rather simply do the best that I could because these roles and facets of my life were important to me, and these were the very places where I could have a positive impact.

Each evening as I went to sleep during those long years of addiction, I would make the effort to think through the good things in life … and yes, say a prayer that these good things would soon apply to my young addict.

In November 2014, my son was nearly four months sober. These were some of the best days we’d experienced in a long time. In such a short time of sobriety, our family had come a long way toward recovery – his and ours. I decided that I would dedicate the month of November – Thanksgiving – to 30 Days of Gratitude on Twitter, Facebook and this blog.

The 30 Days of Gratitude (#Gratitude2014) was sensationally popular within the Our Young Addicts community, so I’m bringing it back for #Gratitude2015 and hope you will join us no matter where you may be on the spectrum of addiction and recovery. After all, there is always something for which we can be grateful.

I am eternally grateful for this community and look forward to sharing this year’s 30 Days of Gratitude with you!

Midwestern Mama

Let #Gratitude2014 Continue!

Midwestern Mama recaps the past week of #Gratitude2014 posts. 

At this time last year, our son was in desperate shape, and it was getting worse.  At age 21, he was several years into drug addiction, and he was homeless, penniless and jobless.  He was, however, softening to the idea of treating his depression and anxiety, and a wise, young counselor directed him toward in-patient dual-diagnosis treatment as the first course of action. Fortunately, when funding became available and a bed opened up, our son went and this time he stuck it out for the recommended time.  While a terrible relapse occurred a few months after that, he got back to treatment and recovery this summer.  As you can imagine, the transformation and positive possibilities ahead fill us with gratitude.

Here are some of the things I’ve identified this past week as part of Our Young Addicts “30 Days of Gratitude.”

Day 13: I am grateful that my son is starting to open up with us about his feelings and experiences.

Day 14: I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story with you.

Day 15: I am grateful that my son has nutritious food, a warm bed, a clean shower and fresh clothes these days.

Day 16: I am grateful that we recognized our son’s struggle and did everything we could to get him help, even though he resisted.

Day 17: I am grateful that my son’s siblings are a strong support system for him.

Day 18: I am grateful that my son is building a sober network of friends even though social anxiety makes it difficult.

Day 19: I am grateful that we are part of our son’s recovery, now and forever.

Day 20: I am grateful for all the stories that others have shared with me and the encouragement offered.

Please join us in looking for gratitude even in the darkest days.  Keep hoping and praying, and know that there is a community that cares.

Midwestern Mama

A Day-By-Day Gratitude Journal

Midwestern Mama continues 30 days of gratitude, days 7 to 12.  What a delight to find there is something to be grateful for every day! 

Each day as I think about what to post during 30 Days of Gratitude, it is becoming easier and easier to identify the good things.  Even in the depths of my son’s addiction, I would take time each day to give thanks for what was good.  Call it praying, call it meditation, call it whatever you want — pure and simple it is an “attitude of gratitude” that others would tell me about and that I soon discovered as a powerful way to find strength even in trying times.  Now, when I pause to give thanks, I find my list is growing.

Here are some of the recent things for which I am grateful:

Day 7: I am grateful that we continued to set boundaries for our young addict so that he could find his way to treatment and now to recovery. #Gratitude2014

Day 8: I am grateful to other parents who have shared their experiences with me. Through them, I know there is possibility and hope for our young addicts. #Gratitude2014

Day 9: I am grateful my son is alive, has survived addiction and several relapses. For the past 100-plus days, he is choosing sobriety. #Gratitude2014

Day 10: I am grateful for Our Young Addicts on Twitter and Facebook. #Gratitude2014

Day 11: I am grateful for medication-assisted treatment and recovery, especially Suboxone. #Gratitude2014

Day 12: I am grateful that we are rebuilding trust with our son. #Gratitude2014

With gratitude,

Midwestern Mama

30 Days of Gratitude – Join Us!

Hello, friends!

Each day during November, we are Tweeting about something for which we are grateful.  We are also including these on the Our Young Addicts Facebook page, and have decided to provide updates on the blog every few days. Follow along and share some of your #Gratitude2014.

After all, when you care about and are concerned about a loved one’s substance use, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by negativity.  Understandably so.  Yet there are so many things – important things – that we can’t ignore.

For me, gratitude centers around relationships.

Day 6: I am grateful for opportunities to connect with other adults who care and are concerned about the young addicts in their lives. Together, we are making a positive difference.

Day 5: I am grateful for MidAtlantic Mom, who partners with me for Our Young Addicts.

Day 4: I am grateful that our family dog has been such a wonderful presence for our son during addiction, treatment and recovery.

Day 3: I am grateful for all the caring people we have met during our son’s addiction – counselors, parents, and more.

Day 2: I am grateful for my home, and even more grateful that my son is no longer choosing to be homeless.

Day 1: I am grateful for my husband and our three children

With gratitude,

Midwestern Mama

An Attitude of Gratitude

Our Young Addicts is celebrating Thanksgiving Month by posting 30 Days of Gratitude. Let us know what you’re thankful for. Midwestern Mama starts us off with the first three days of November.

It’s Thanksgiving month. By far and away, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – perhaps because it’s all about an attitude of gratitude celebrated with family and friends enjoying a delicious meal.

Three years ago, I penned my first column about being the parent of a young addict. I often go back to this column which reflects a difficult realization, but one that also is grounded in gratitude. Here’s an excerpt:

I’m not sure if my son will be at our Thanksgiving table this year. And, I need him to be. He always helps make the cornbread stuffing.

“Mom! How could you even say something so ridiculous?” my son likely would respond with disbelief.

But it’s shaping up to be the hardest thing I’ve ever expressed to date. While I could never say he’s not welcome, it’s honest to say his drug addiction is not welcome. He is the son we have always loved, and will always love, but he is not the son we have always known.

There are actually several reasons why he might not be there – from the unthinkable (drug-related death or disappearance) to the hopeful (he’ll have admitted himself for drug treatment).

He’s on his own with his life choices these days. Notice, I didn’t say the choice to be addicted. He didn’t choose addiction; he is its victim and we are the witnesses.

As you know, my son is now more than 100 days sober and is sincerely making efforts to turn his life around. How far he has come! Gratefully, 2014 is a far different year than the ones that preceded the inaugural column. All the same this year has had its ups and downs with addiction and recovery, which inspired me to share 30 days of gratitude via Twitter @OurYoungAddicts this year. Join MidAtlantic Mom and me in sharing what you’re grateful for!

Day 1: I am grateful for my husband and our three children.

Day 2: I am grateful for my home, and even more grateful that my son is no longer choosing to be homeless.

Day 3: I am grateful for all the caring people we have met during our son’s addiction – counselors, parents, and more.

Midwestern Mama