Welcome! Glad you could join us here in my little corner of the internet where I share the random musings that evolve from my life as a tall blonde rock and roll fan who just happens to have experienced working in self-development, two marriages, motherhood, and the world of addiction recovery.

My wish is that the words written here will stir your thoughts, make you smile, offer hope and remind you that you are never alone. We're all in this together.

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With love,

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Minivans & Melted Ice Cream

I had just left the grocery store this afternoon and was putting the bags in my car when I heard a child crying. I looked around and realized the crying was coming from the minivan parked next to me.  The rear window was cracked about an inch, and inside the van were two small children in car seats without a parent in sight.
The younger one (less than two) was strapped into his seat crying. The older child, a girl who couldn’t possibly have been more than four or five, was attempting to console her brother.  Surely, I thought, the parent has just gone to return the shopping cart and will materialize momentarily.  I waited outside my car a few moments, but no parent came. I got in the car and put the key in the ignition, but I couldn’t turn the key.  Maybe because I’m a mother or maybe because I remember so clearly what it was like to feel small and alone; I couldn’t leave. This is silly, I thought.  I can’t really do anything. The kids are locked in the van; it will only scare them if I try to talk to them. But I had an overpowering feeling that I needed to stay. I resolved in that moment to stay there until the parent appeared or I had to call the cops or whatever.
I sat in my car and played on my smartphone, stealing glances at the children and hoping they wouldn’t be freaked out by the strange lady in the big sunglasses who kept looking at them. About five minutes into what felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life, I realized the little girl was watching me.  She had her face pressed against the van window. I took off my sunglasses and smiled and waved at her.  She smiled and waved back. Then she called to her brother to look my way and said, “Look, there’s a mom.” The little boy looked and his sister waved to me, and I waved back. In that moment, the little boy stopped crying, smiled and waved. Evidently, when your own mom is MIA, anybody’s will do to make you feel better.  I was alone with my groceries, so I don’t know how the little girl knew I was “a mom”; maybe I just put off that vibe.  Anyway, we smiled and waved at each other and the kids giggled and I realized why I had stayed.
The simple act of staying there with those kids had made all the difference in the world to them.  Just by staying put a few minutes, those children felt like they were not alone.  That’s what we all want, isn’t it? We all want to know that there is someone close by who cares about us.
When I made the decision to stay with my then actively addicted husband, it was a lot like my experience with those kids. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing.  I didn’t know if it would even make any difference that I was there.  I wondered if I was just doing something that was going to cause me grief and aggravation in the long run. I thought that it might be easier to simply get in the car and drive away.  But the person next to me was hurting, and I had that same overpowering feeling that I needed to be there.  So, I stayed.
As those of you who have stayed with your own addicted loved ones know, it wasn’t as simple as evoking smiles and giggles on the journey through addiction and recovery. But I find that the emotions are the same.  We reached out to those people close to us who were feeling helpless, scared and alone; and we discovered that by doing so we helped to heal not only them, but ourselves as well.
P.S. The kid’s mom appeared with her recycled grocery bags after 15 minutes and all was once again right with the universe. I went home and made a milkshake out the ice cream that had melted while I stayed. So, it was a win-win.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Silent Sheens

Like many of you, for the past few weeks I’ve been watching the media circus surrounding actor Charlie Sheen’s gradual implosion from drugs and alcohol. The thing that has struck me most strongly hasn’t been Charlie’s rambling diatribes, his penchant for twenty-something porn stars, or his “tiger blood”; it’s been the silence of those closest to him.
His father, actor Martin Sheen and brother, actor/director Emilio Estevez, have issued only two brief statements: one in which they compare addiction to a cancer and one in which they asked the public to  “pray for him”.  The media has since blasted them for “not taking action” and “deserting Charlie in his darkest hour”.  What the media fails to acknowledge is the fact that Charlie’s family has been on this roller coaster ride with him for the past 25 years.  In that time, Martin Sheen, who is himself a recovering alcoholic, has turned Charlie in for drug related probation violations, held an intervention, ushered Charlie into numerous rehab programs, even cared for his infant grandchildren when Charlie’s home was too volatile a place for them.  The media makes only passing, if any, reference to these facts.
I get it. I’m guessing those of you who share your world with an addict do too.  Like Martin and Emilio, I’ve been on that roller coaster ride that seems to have no end.  Those of us who have stayed on the journey with our addicts can relate to the silence.  What is there to say, really? It’s all been said-most often numerous times. 
Silence becomes our refuge and the need for refuge is great.  When you stay in the trenches and fight the good fight in the battle to save the life of someone you love, you have to allow yourself a place to rest and recharge. As I’ve said in the past, making the decision to stay in the life of an addict is not for the meek or faint-hearted.  Keeping the strength to love an addict through their struggles requires self-love and self-preservation.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you have nothing to give them.  Love yourself enough to choose silence.  Not always, not forever; but when you feel you have come to that place of inner exhaustion, find solace in the silence. For it is in that silent place inside yourself that you connect to your own inner flame—that pilot light within you that fuels your strength.  Allowing yourself to go that place of peace within doesn’t mean you are turning your back.  It means you’re refueling to have the strength to get up and go another round in the fight.
It would be very easy for Martin & Emilio to jump on the media soap-box and cast aspersions against Charlie or issue pleas that he will, while immersed in his disease, ignore. Remaining silent, while supporting Charlie behind the scenes, is the much more difficult choice.  They have my applause.