Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It doesn't matter how old you get you still need your Daddy!

Its crazy how time flies. Tomorrow marks 5 years since I lost my Daddy to cancer. I loved him so much...It’s been playing in my mind, not only losing him to death, but how we lost each other for so long prior to his illness, prior to Angela’s death.

Daddy and I were so close but until around 1993. He was always my hero! When I was little and we would make the 4.5 hour drive to the cabin he would tell me these tall “big buck” stories and of course the story of “Falling Rock” (you know the signs you see). They were crazy tall tales but I hung on his every word! He taught me every “Marine Corp” trick he had up his sleeve, like how to keep a boy from getting fresh by pushing inward on any of the tips of his fingers. He taught me to ride 4 wheeler, shoot, skin rabbits and deer, sharpen knives with a sharping stone…all the things a girl needs to know (actually I think he tried desperately to make me in to a boy for the longest time). We had so many wonderful times…far too many to mention. Then as things go…it all began to fall apart.

I remember the first time I heard of his affair. It was devastating…he was destroying Momma; he was destroying my family… Angela’s family…I was already divorced from my abusive, cheating, husband, and now Daddy. The entire situation was a horrible, painful…mess to say the least. Initially, it was difficult to not take sides…but I really did stay neutral for the most part. Daddy stayed in contact with Angie and I at first…but the calls and visits became less frequent, as the his new love moved in and they created their new life together.

Over time I grew to except the situation, so it wasn’t like I was bashing it or creating tension. I just wanted to keep my Daddy in our lives. I needed him, Angie needed him and yet… her kids became his new family. They got to go to the beach house all summer, they got to go to Disney World, and they were invited over for holidays. Daddy had to sneak around to visit me… usually at work. I couldn’t call after 5:00 and never on Friday’s when she wasn’t working. I couldn’t understand why there were so many rules when it came to our relationship. Bottom line…I had him first. She didn’t want us around…we were the connection to his old life. During this time he denied it, but that year and a half we spent together when he got sick there were a lot of things that finally came out about the whole sorted situation. Maybe he didn’t realize what was happening over those ten long years….maybe he did… maybe he began to believe I was the problem…and that she had no accountability. Perhaps that’s why when Momma would try and talk to him about it he would say it was my responsibility to maintain the relationship.

MY responsibility? Seriously? Wait a minute…he’s the one who stepped out of bounds. He’s the one that decided to change the entire family dynamic. He’s the one who moved, figuratively speaking and it became my responsibility to maintain what we had. Did I have some responsibility sure! But just because he had a new life, a new wife, didn’t make him exempt to being my Daddy and Grampy to Angie. I grew weary of hearing how victimized she was, how she wasn’t comfortable she was around us no matter how polite we were to her.

The night before Angela died was her birthday. We were all sitting around the table while she opened her gifts. She opened the card from Daddy and it in was $50.00 and a note signed Love you Lum Lum, Grampy…I remember her voice cracking as she said “I would have rather just gotten a phone call from him”. It had been a long, long time since he had even called her. The next day she was gone. A week later Daddy was at the University of Penn in critical condition from Leukemia. Every day I drove the new wife to Philly and back. When Daddy came home I refused to be denied access to him. I visited often but never was given time alone with him. Everything was her business…so unfair. Truth is NOT everything was her business. So, I started taking off work early to get there an hour or so before she got home just so I could be alone with him. We talked about everything, we healed… we reconnected…how I loved him. She still had control though…he loved when I called him Daddy…she hated it therefore he asked me not to call him that around her because it always started a fight. For him I would do whatever made things easier for him. Spending time with him again flooded my heart with so many memories and regret for our lost years. He too had the same reaction…sad isn’t it?

The day Daddy died I was never left alone with him for more than 2-3 minutes. Even though he knew he was dying it was not allowed to be mentioned. I never got the chance to say goodbye to him while he was still coherent. I remember every moment like it was yesterday, every painful moment. I prayed and gave thanks that we had that last year and a half together. God gave us that time together and I am forever grateful and blessed by it. I miss him terribly.

After the funeral, I was told I was the worst daughter ever. I was informed of how badly I hurt him and how she had to deal with all his pain…forever the victim I guess. I received not one of Daddy's that I requested because I didn’t deserve it. But no one can take away our time together or the truths I learned about the “goings on” behind closed doors. No one can take away the love.

Do I still sound bitter? Actually, sometimes I still am…but what I describe here isn’t coming from a bitter heart just the plain truth. Have I forgiven them…absolutely…have I forgiven her…yes I have…because I am commanded to forgive, because I don’t want to carry anger in my heart…because I refuse to play the role of victim.

Friday, November 1, 2013


Okay so maybe I'm just hyper sensitive because I have lost a child. But yesterday I experienced possibly the biggest display of insensitivity I have witnessed in 50 years on this earth. It happened during a speaking engagement that I was doing along with a dear young friend in a local high school.

My young friend had recently lost her infant son of 9 months. This precious little boy who I loved so very much was diagnosed in the NICU with a rare chromosome disorder 1p36. One of his chromosomes were missing throughout his DNA chain thus he had developmental issues across the spectrum. He needed a feeding tube and saw a multitude of specialist almost weekly. So yes he had his struggles...mainly with reflux and vomiting (which of course made him a bit unhappy) but when he smiled or laughed or made those awesome little baby sounds it was purely delightful. He was a typical baby in that sometimes he was happy and sometimes he was grumpy...but when you looked into his beautiful eyes they told an amazing story. Love and joy shined through like a beacon for the heart. Yes, he had struggles, but he was such a bubbly, joyful little man more times then not. I was blessed to spend a great deal of time with him and he loved to be held, snuggle, kissed!

His mommy and daddy loved him so much. They made a courageous choice to do whatever was necessary to ensure he had the best life possible...and as he grew he was making great strides. His parents tended to him and loved him...watching them was life changing for me and many of his caregivers. Every life he truly touched was changed for the better. He did more in his short 9 months then most people do in a lifetime. My heart aches for my little buddy, everyday, how I miss him. But he is with Jesus now...playing in glory!!

Ok, that's the for the horrible experience. Right before we were getting ready for our first class one of the teacher's we both knew approached my young friend asking her how she felt about losing her son. Of course she said it was sad and difficult...this woman was like saying things like well he isn't suffering, it must be a relief, your lives would have been such a struggle and miserable, etc...on and on. I was standing there stunned and my dear sweet friend's face looked totally appalled as she should have been. Crazy thing is this woman, this teacher, couldn't even read her face, her body language or the tone in her voice when she kept answering "no". At some point during the day she did try and back-peddle saying this is what she was hearing from family members. Regardless if she had incorrect information...why oh why would anyone with common sense and an ounce of compassion even go there??? How very sad...not only for this individual but for those who really didn't understand this little ones situation to discuss it in such a way with others.

My heart was breaking for my already heart-broken young friend... words can be devastating folks...think before you speak...project in your mind the effect your words will have on others.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Wow, it's been a long time since I have posted to this blog. Life has been crazy in so many ways. Death, birth, life and yes unfortunately more death. Life hands us such a mixed bag. I am grateful for God's grace and mercy, for His strength and unconditional love. I am blessed with a husband who continues to love me and stand by me even when I am a complete basket case; wonderful family and loving friends that continue to love me and support me and for my amazing church family, (which includes my youth group kids that just rock! Without them, I doubt I would still be here. This blog is going to change a bit. I intend to maintain it on a regular basis and the content will vary. The focus is still going to be on teen substance abuse issues and all the peripherals associated with it. However,  I have decided there will also be more personal content from me on both living through the experience of my daughter Angela's nine year addiction and the searing pain and grief which has cloaked me since her death. Blessings my friends...get ready for a bumpy ride...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Are you listening...really?

How often do you take what you hear at face value, excepting it for truth? Do you find yourself perhaps doing a little reading between the lines? Before you answer consider if you are actively listening, fully in the moment; or are you distracted your mind wandering in numerous other directions?

Being an active listener is something that most of us have to learn. Our minds are so cluttered with the business of daily living that we are often times not completely “tuned in” when others are speaking to us. This is especially true with our youth, when they want to talk, you need to be listening. You need to be fully engaged at that very moment. It’s not just about what is being said, but how it is being said; are they looking you in the eyes when they are speaking? What is their body language telling you? Are you only being feed that which they think you want to hear? Are their important missing pieces that need to be flushed out? Yea, I know so much for parents to consider. Can’t we just have a normal conversation with our teens, one in which we just talk. Sometimes yes, absolutely – other times the consequences of what appears to be a simple conversation could result in something more serious. That is why regardless you need to give them your complete undivided attention.

When young people become involved with drugs/alcohol on any level of consumption it’s a deal changer. I have heard many parents (more than I care to think about) be very unconcerned when their teens are “experimenting with drugs/alcohol”. Experimenting are you kidding me??? Do you know how many experiments turn out badly, even deadly? We are not talking about a controlled environment here. Their experimentation is not controlled in any way. There isn’t anyone standing by their side in case it blows up. If you are minimizing their use of pot or alcohol or whatever it is then shame on you! Seriously, why would you do that in the first place? Is it because ‘hey I did it and I turned out okay”, or maybe you don’t consider it enough of a threat to their life at this point to be worried about it. Well, your wakeup call is here folks! It’s your responsibility as a parent to let them know how unacceptable their behavior is and to do everything you can to contain it and curtail it. Knowledge is power, but only if it is put into action.

If your child is involved in the drug/alcohol culture already then be prepared to be lied to, over and over again. You think not? Ahh, you would be wrong. That’s where you need to be listening, really listening. Watching… their friends (have they changed recently); their personal habits; their family involvement or lack thereof; their grades; their overall attitude. Ok, so you’re thinking that seems like a great deal of extra work, hmmmm shouldn’t you be doing that anyway? Don’t get me wrong, I remember missing very important details when my daughter was in the throes of drug use. We all do the best we can, but do it! It’s that important. Every moment is a teachable moment… use each one you get and live what you teach. They are certainly watching you.

Pray for our youth… everywhere… everyday!

God Bless!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Chains and prison

My heart cries out to the Lord what I can do to help these precious children see that their addiction is leading them to an early grave. The tears I have shed and will continue to shed go uncounted. Each and every day I am on my knees in prayer for these lost young ones who can’t seem to break the chains of their addictions. It’s not that I don’t understand why they can’t because I do get it. The majority of folks out there feel as if the road to narcotic addition recovery should be a fairly or moderately easy road to travel. All you have to do is just say no and stay away from those that say yes. As our young ones say on Facebook Pfffff… ahhh no it’s nowhere near that simple. As a matter of fact addicts live within their own private prison, chained to a need both physically and emotionally and their soul bleeds and cries out please make it stop.

Most of us can’t even begin to imagine a need so ferrous that we will did whatever it takes to fulfill that need. It’s nothing personal but addicts will steal from their own loved ones, prostitute themselves and rob a stranger blind in order to stop the pain of withdrawal or revisit the high they need in order to function. It is such a heartbreaking situation. In their eyes they have no choice, it really isn’t about hurting those they love, it’s all about taming this horrendous monster that lives inside of them. All too often the more times they try and fail to find recovery, the more they perceive themselves as failures unworthy of ever having a happy, sober life.

When addiction begins early in life, say the teenage years there is a different dynamic involved then when addiction begins in the adult stage of life. Adult’s addicts should for all intents and purposes have acquired a descent set of coping skills. These young ones lack those skills on a monumental level. This issue in and of itself makes recovery more of a challenge. I see it time and time again, these broken children in pieces trying to figure out how to become whole again, only to find they are clueless on how to make it a reality. Intellectually they know how, but there is a huge gap between the knowledge of how to get sober and the ability to put that knowledge into action. Ahhh, there’s the rub folks, knowledge into action…

How I wish I had the answers, sadly I do not. So I just keep praying and loving…

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What are we teaching our children??

Last week during one of my youth drug and alcohol meetings I had a beautiful young woman with eyes filled with fear say “this has been my whole life for four years”. Sadly, she was referring to smoking pot, a large amount of it daily, sprinkled with alcohol and a plethora of pills and other narcotics over the last four years of her life. She is currently 17 years of age. I watched carefully her reactions to my words and questions. Her eyes clearly showed a deep fear and anxiety about getting off of probation and no longer being under someone’s supervisor. She didn’t have a clue how she was going to deal with her new freedom once it was granted. What was she going to be able to pull from deep inside herself to conquer something that clearly had become her whole life; her words not mine. I wondered as I finished up and left the group if she had the proper support system in place to help her conquer her drug use which has been her coping mechanism since the tender age of 13. Or would she wind up like so many other young people out there on their own trying to figure it out and ending up in a lost situation, moving on to bigger quantities of more toxic, dangerous narcotics.

Drug users, drug addicts… wow people sure do have their opinions on the value of their lives. Sad really that so many folks just decide without any real knowledge of addiction to label these individuals as worthless, trash, lazy, and quite frankly those are just a few that are fit to print. How quickly so many are to judge and label their fellow man. I personally find it deplorable; placing labels on anyone. I talk with so many young drug users who had been labeled by their family members. These labels stick folks and it’s difficult for young ones to break free from them. More likely they conform to them because most of today’s youth aren’t taught how to rise above their circumstances. They aren’t given the tools they need to figure out how to become all they are meant to be.

Most of us, as parents are so busy trying to raise happy children that we forget to raise skilled children; children with the skills to cope responsibility with life and whatever gets thrown their way. Society is also busy making sure to gift our children self-esteem. Everyone gets a trophy regardless of whether they have earned it or not. Awards are often given out for less than stellar performance even within the academic community. What does that teach our children? Does it teach them to work to be exceptional? We do so much for them and then expect as they grow up for them to “reach inside and count on themselves” to figure everything out. We expect them to know how to deal with failures and accolades, rejection and popularity. What happens when they fail to our expectations or their own and their inner strength isn’t enough?

Ah, okay you’re probably thinking… I wondered when she was going to go there. Well, yes I am going to go there. Are we failing to teach our children faith, faith in God? We are so busy teaching them things of this world and yet we don’t give them the opportunity to even explore faith in Christ. Why is that? Don’t they deserve the chance to know there is a living God that they can draw near to for strength and comfort? Don’t our young people deserve to know that they don’t have to go through life depending on just their inner strength to navigate through life’s maze of twists and turns?

I wonder if the young woman I mentioned earlier is equipped with the tools of faith to help her on her journey to stay drug free. I wonder if she was taught that she is truly special and truly worthy of having a life filled with joy. I wonder if she knows that she isn’t alone in her fight; that she is loved unconditionally!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Addict's Private Prison - Part 2

The knowledge that addiction is progressive in nature explains to us why an addicts behavior gets more radical as time moves forward. As the snowball starts rolling downhill it's movement sparks the avalanche... everything goes slowly but surely out of control. It's maddening for those of us who love them and can see what is happening to them, to their health, to their lives... for the addict themselves they often become frustrated. They just can't understand why all this bad stuff is happening to them? The world is against them and they truly believe that the circumstances they find themselves in are totally someone else's doing...I remember trying to explain the obvious to my daughter many times and her looking back at me with an expression of pure amazement, how could I be so misinformed?

Most often the addicts initial response is denial. Deny, deny, deny... if I do not acknowledge it, it doesn't exist... right? The mindset that 'I can stop whenever I choose to... I just choose not to, no matter how unmanageable my life has become' is a lie that they tell to others and themselves over and over again. Just like any lie any of us tell ourselves... eventually we tend to believe it on some level.

For the majority of addicts there does comes a point when reality sets in and it doesn't need to be rock bottom for the revelation to occur. It could be something as simple as a loved one turning away... to finding themselves in the local ER and not remembering how they got there. Sadly, even when reality is finely clearly defined in their minds that doesn't always spark the desire to find sobriety.

For some there will be veiled attempts at living a sober life, only to find that the hole they have dug for themselves is so deep that they have no way of figuring out how to rise above it. Especially true if there are multiple legal issues, unresolved emotional problems and family dynamics that have been destroyed or damaged. Just imagine for a second your own life with the multitude of plates spinning in the air. We're all juggling a dozen things at once and some are good and some "not so much". Now take all that, add some lowered self-esteem, some illegal drugs, a small, unreliable support system (if one even exists) and you have a volatile cocktail that can explode into complete degradation and feeling of irreversible failure.
One of the things that breaks my heart time and time again is seeing someone who is trying to conquer their addiction alone, with all of the 'book knowledge' and none of the application skills. They truly believe they've got it... and their sobriety is short lived.

So now we have the RELAPSE. The addicts dirty word and something that we looking from the outside just can't wrap our heads around... relapse. Why in the world would someone who was able to break free of the chains of their chosen drug even for a short time want to set back into that world. All that wasted effort... that's how we who do not suffer from the hold of the drug see it. Now take a moment and consider the flip side of the coin. Consider you are the one that broke free... that suffered the withdrawal...whether short lived or long endured... you have a sense of accomplishment and folks they earned that good feeling about their efforts. If you've never witnessed an addict in withdrawal... you probably won't understand just how difficult the process is... both physically and emotionally. Now they find themselves for whatever reason (and often they have no real idea why) knee deep in the old familiar high baby... they are loving it and hating themselves all at the same time. So, onward through the fog they go... guilt, feelings of failure, disbelief, self hatred, the list is endless. These are all the things they are now beating themselves up for and the old tapes begin to play. "See you knew it would never last, my life sucks, this is all there is for me"... and to top it all of they have their families and friends to deal with... believe it or not relapse is usually embarrassing, and painful for an addict to admit to those who love and support them. Why would they want to admit momentary defeat? Why would they want to see the look of disappointment or disgust in the eyes of those they want to hard to please??? Relapse doesn't happen out of spike... drugs and alcohol have power beyond our imagination...

One tool that helps an addict increase their chances of recovery is to reach out for help, then actually accept the help, learn, apply and live. It's not a guarantee of recovery, but it sure gives them a leg up. It's not enough to listen, it's not enough to go to meetings, it's not enough to lend lip service... knowledge is power... if you do not apply the knowledge you have it's just air between your ears... totally useless. Oh yea, it may still be up there in the old gray matter...but it has been rendered useless. This is the place, these are the souls that are walking a fine line... playing with death... clinging to life... recovery is hard work. Depression, apathy, toxic relationships, feelings of a failed life and no future plays a key role in the tightrope they are walking upon. There is a huge difference between be sober and being in recovery. They may say they are sober and perhaps part of the time that is reality... but recovery is constantly slipping through their fingers...

Pray for those suffering from this disease and those who love them... Cry out to Jesus... Cry out to Jesus...