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...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Addict’s Private Prison – Part 1

Ok so you wonder is this woman qualified to speak on this topic. To that I would say judge for yourself. I walked side by side, for nine years with my daughter Angela through the most agonizing hell fire you can imagine as she fought her heroin addiction. I have seen things I will never put to paper, I have heard things I will never utter to another soul. I have read her private thoughts with gut wrenching pain… so yes I feel qualified…so we move forward.

We all have secrets. Imagine for a moment you have a secret so brutal, so intense, so beyond the definition of private (and perhaps you do) you feel you can never reveal it to another living soul. Think about that for a second and let the very thought of that sink in, feel it… can you even begin to imagine what it must be like to live with that secret day in and day out – alone? You’re trapped with it inside your own private prison, walls so thick and reinforced with years of guilt and fear. Impenetrable the best security system ever built…no need for electronic gadgets or armed guards; the human heart coupled with beaten down self-esteem is stronger than anything man could ever physically create.

Addicts in their active addiction create such chaos and drama, unintentionally but they create it just the same. Days filled with deception weave an unattractive tapestry. Early on the lies don’t weigh so heavy but as the progression of the addiction makes headway the lies become tangled and hard to keep track of…manipulation is an everyday occurrence and chasing their chosen high is first and foremost in their minds. It doesn’t matter who they have to deceive, or what they must sacrifice within themselves be it physical or emotional to obtain the high. It isn’t because they are callous or evil it’s because the monster that is addiction is more powerful than the human condition can overcome at that time. Like having your arms and legs bound together and thrown into the ocean unable to mobilize, to swim and to save yourself.

Unless you’ve been there or seen it firsthand you probably will never understand it. But those of us who have seen it or lived it firsthand realize the unbelievable power of drugs/alcohol. It is a crippling feeling to watch a loved one locked away behind self inflicted prison walls and to know we are powerless… we do not have the key to set them free.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beyond the Purple Door - Listen,Love, Pray

Last weekend BrokenButLoved was blessed to have a presence at the Purple Door Festival in Lebanon, PA. Already knowing the awesome bands that would be present made the preparation exciting, even though there was a great deal to pull together. I know that both Kimmi (my awesome, loving BBL supporter) and I had our own set of expectations as we ventured north to Lebanon, but I know that even in our wildest imaginations what we experienced there was in truth much, much more then our human brains could have created on our own.

Finding ourselves located in the barn stalls of the Expo Center definitely wasn't what we expected and yet we both knew it really wasn't about us or about dusty location where we were situated. Setting up our "booth" the anticipation was electric and there was a "knowing", a "sensing" that amazing events were about to take place and that God had brought us there, together for His purpose... His will be done!!! Yeppers, it was going to be an awesome day and a half... no doubt about it.

How can I even begin to explain it all. I can't, I don't know that as I attempt to bring it to life on "paper" I will be able to do it justice = but I shall try. The music was varied in style and was rockin'. How cool is it to be doing what you love to do and also find yourself being inspired and entertained by great musician's as well? But, in truth it is what was beyond the Purple Door that made the experience such a blessing... truly... touching every fiber of my being... stretching my heartstrings until they felt they would break. Kimmi and I were given a glimpse beyond the Door... I'm not sure there were many others there that had that privilege. I thank the Lord that we were able to see passed the veil of the music and into the lives of some beautiful, amazing people... God's children... and yes my friends we are all broken in one way or another.

The kids... wow... the kids of all ages... how very cool it was to meet so many great young people. Watching them, seeing their eyes dances as they interacted with one another. Listening... carefully... fully... to them and explaining what BrokenButLoved is all about... our mission...our passion. Talking to them about Angela, her struggles with drugs, with life... her death... our loss, all the while watching their faces, their reactions... that alone continually throughout the day renewed my faith in the caring hearts of a rising generation.

Groups and groups of youth coming and going and coming back again. Each time they would return our conversations intensified and deepened until many were sharing intimate details of their lives and their own pain. Oh how I could feel the power of God's Holy Spirit falling down around us as we listened, talked, prayed and loved... giving what we could of ourselves to them... sharing with them Christ's love, mercy and grace. How much more blessed could I feel? The Lord was allowing me, allowing us the privilege of touching these young hearts, their lives if even for a short period of time. I will never forget that feeling, ever. So many young hearts need so desperately to have someone listen to them, love them and pray for them, with them. Even within our little groups there were those who would minister to each other. People do you hear me???? Youth sharing with each other... encouraging, loving... dreaming... man I gotta tell you it was AMAZING!!!!!!

Of course we also had a blast with these young folks. Their smiles were captivating and their laughter contagious... we made friends... many, many friends and with each new life that entered into mine my heart would leap with joy. Just as my heartstrings were stretched to their limits throughout the festival, so did they also play the most beautiful music. Gentle, flowing melodies that only I could hear. That's okay though, because just like each young soul that I danced with at Purple Door... I shall never forget it or them... it is all forever etched in my spirit. Thank you Lord... thank you!

Tomorrow... the adults of Purple Door...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Is this the new normal?

I have been speaking to youth and their parents now for almost three years regarding the issue of drug and alcohol use/abuse. Let me be blunt! The apathy among both sets is ever increasing and this my friends is a sad, sad trend especially among the parents/adults. A heartbreaking trend at least for me.

It used to be I'd be missing a few parents with each group, but more and more less and less parents are showing up to the group sessions. Okay, I get that times are getting tougher and perhaps some folks have no other option but to be working during that one night for 2 hours. But wake up folks this is your child's future we are talking about here...and sometimes we have to make tough choices in order to get our priorities straight. Now, I am not talking about those who have no choice (those who may work for unyielding bosses)I'm addressing those adults who simply choose not to participate. What message does that send to the youth involved? Gee... I don't know, what do you think it says?

I find myself now not only fighting the drug issues themselves but the 'I just don't care' issue as well. Not with everyone, some of these youth are listening and actively trying to change their lives and I applaud them. I just keep praying that this is not the new normal and just a passing phase. However, with the widespread apathy among the country in general perhaps they are just learning what they live.

Please be in prayer for all concerned.

God Bless