EVERYDAY GRATEFUL

Granddaughter Iysa and Papa/Son Jeremy

A grandmother wrote to me, On especially hectic mornings, when I’m trying to get out of the house and my grandbabies to daycare, I think God stops me and slows me down so that I take the time to watch my grandson run to the front door and tell me, “I really run fast,” and let my granddaughter “do it myself” as she puts on her jacket. Even if it takes an extra five minutes, she is so proud to say, “I did it.” 

I look back and wonder did I take this time with my own children or was I so busy with work, cleaning house, homework, what have you. Knowing now what I know about addiction and serenity (thanks to Al-Anon), I take the time to enjoy my grandchildren each and every day, especially during the crazy hectic times.

My thoughts: Each day is precious, but often life’s pressures pound away at the present, and I think, “I’ll hug him later,” or “I’ll talk with her tomorrow.” There are memories that are forever stamped into my heart of Jeff running around in his Superman cape or Jeremy covered with mud carrying his treasures of frog eggs and salamanders found in the stream. My sons are now men and I can’t change the past, but I can hold onto my memories and make new ones.

Today’s Promise to consider: I’m not the perfect Mom or Nonna, but maybe there is no such thing as perfect. I can only be the best I can be. I’ll forgive myself for the times I wasn’t there, and today I will be there for my children and grandchildren. I will cherish every moment.

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Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Libby and Jane all of you–sometimes I think magic happens when you reach out. Today I made chocolate chip cookies and welcomed my grandson in my home and watched my fragile son so content to have his boy in his arms. He is such a loving father. Although I’ve been reading the Al-anon literature and working the program as best I could for a very long time, my husband and I went to our first meeting in our new neighbourhood tonight. The topic was gratitude. I said I was grateful my son was alive. That I was scared. And tired. 16 years is a long time. It wasn’t easy to go to the first meeting to say that was what I was grateful for, but it was my truth. Then I came home and saw Jane and Libby had responded to my last post and welcomed me here and this post was about Gratitude & grandparents. Thank you -yes, I cherish the smell of cookies, a flicker of joy in my son’s eyes, my grandson saying Oma! look at how fast I run – yes- he did, too! Coincindences like this I call clangs! Clangs! Reminders there’s something at work we know nothing about. Today, I am relieved and grateful to find support. And I needed to be reminded we can make new memories. Hope. That’s what it is. Hope. Blankets of blessings to you who find your way to this wonderful site.

Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dear Hope,

Your message brought tears to my eyes. You and your husband went to an Al-Anon meeting and the topic was gratitude. You spoke the truth, and the truth starts its healing powers. Your “fragile son so content to have his boy in his arms.” I can see this through your words; I remember well Jeff’s fragility, vulnerability and powerlessness in the face of addiction. It almost killed him, and me.

Enjoy the smell of chocolate chip cookies (something very special about chocolate chips :)), the joy in your sons eyes and your Grandson’s running fast. Life gives us gifts and addiction wants us to stay locked in a place of isolation. We need to break the silence, reach out and make new memories.

Love to you.

L

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Thank you Libby. Your love and the generosity of your soul comes through on every page of Stay Close and here as well. I will share your book and site with as many families I meet on this kindred journey.
If Jeff has any advice to give a mother trying to support recovery but afraid when seeing the deep depression in this phase of recovery, I’d love to hear. What does my son need most right now from us? Doctor, check. Counsellor, check. His motivation for meetings is slipping. Detaching while under the same roof very hard for us and I know he feels under a microscope. Today is a good day. When his son leaves, I fear another deep depression. I know I am supposed to live in the now but shouldn’t we have some strategy for what comes next in order to be most useful? We weren’t prepared for depth of his depression. When he says I don’t know and I don’t care — where does communication go from there? What phrase could we use? We love you and see you are depressed, how can we help you help yourself right now. (Answer : let me sleep.) How long is safe? I’m asking here because i’ve asked everywhere else and no one has an answer. One nurse said call paramedics, with police back up. I’m glad we did not. ( he would have reacted with agression and maybe gone to jail. He does not need jail right now. He needs rehab. After four days he came out of it. But I’m just trying to find words needed. Timing seems like everything.

Enough. i wrote this last night. Good therapy.

Hope ‘s Prayer

I prayed last night upon my knees until my knees were sore
I prayed last night like all the nights I’d ever prayed before

I prayed for every parent’s wounded child who needed healing
I prayed for every parent, friend and spouse who knew how I was feeling

I prayed my prayers would fill the sky like stars
Settle down on families, heal our scars
Restore our faith , erase our fears
Keep us keeping on and “staying close”
Staying loving playing praying hoping — Here.

God bless this site and this small square white space for taking comments and embracing my words. I draw great strength.

Susan
Susan
10 years ago

Dear Hope,

Your prayer is beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

Susan

Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dear Susan and Hope,

Yes, I agree – the prayer is beautiful. It gives me strength. Keep writing. It’s good for the soul.

Love to you,

L

Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Hope, For your questions, I have no answers; however, I’ll email your message to Dr. MacAfee and ask him if he would like to respond. He is the expert and he’ll know better than I. In the meantime, Jeff and I made a video for the Partnership for DrugFree America. Jeff’s words are very powerful and you might find some wisdom in what he says.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2O7fCRRx0I

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Thank you for the link Libby. Excellent. Hard. Just for today, I will be happy. Love, Hope.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Hope,

I just read all of your comments. My heart bleeds for you, as my son died 4 years ago from an overdose of heroin. He battled this disease from Hell, all of his life. After his death, I read Libby’s book and joined this forum. It his helped me in ways I could never fathom. This website has been a Godsend to me. I am so grateful for everyone who shares their heart and bears their soul here. I will forever be thankful for our sincere and compassionate – Libby. She has been my teacher, and friend through all these years.

I was full of guilt after the loss of my son and since I’ve joined this forum, I have found acceptance. Something so monumental for me, it’s difficult to put into words.

I will pray for you and your son. I pray he finds the path to recovery. I pray that you will find the srength to help your son through the depression that comes so quickly after the using stops.

With warmest regards and deep respect,

Love,
Barbara

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Libby,

I love this week’s meditation. I will be forever grateful for the good memories of with my son. It brightens my days and warms my heart each time I think of them.

Thanks to you and the forum you started, I have forgiven myself for the times I wasn’t there for my son and daughter. I will also be there for my daughter and grandchilren. I cherish the times with them and look forward to many more.

Love you,
Barbara

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Dear Barbara & Libby — anyone —

We learned it was not just depression. It was a crash after relapse. He told us. But we knew in our guts. (Still off chance could be depression ,side effects of antidepressant or jus the flu! -etc, hence -crazy making .)
Note to self :
Next time, these symptoms, we call paramedics with police back up. He was sick from withdrawal. He could have died in there.

Mothers are not made for this.

We do not give money.

We are giving shelter and food.

Shall we say go find another way?

Or do we say, relapse is not the end of the world. Keep on trying we are here.

He does not look like he is trying . Not really. But maybe getting up is trying. ???

He made us supper tonight. Them i lost it later and screamed was he going to a meeting tomorrow?

Retreat. All of us.

Me ,the crazy one.

Right now , my husband is strumming the guitar –stand by me -and I am so grateful for his love! I know not everyone has this and for us — the different ways we handle things–is not always great either— we have cried for each other and railed against each other in this .

But we vowed. This will not destroy us. We are united.

So again, I realized I want my son’s sobriety more than he does …
and blame that on the grip this disease has on him. ( and me obviously!)

Yes, it is out of my control and his — I know this in my head — in my heart —no never never never- I want my son alive. Sixteen years. I am so tired.

Barbara- tell me how to surrender to my biggest fear – To watch my child suffer so. So fearful he will die. This relapse could have overdosed.

Libby, how does a mother stay close only to watch a son kill himself slowly. Under out roof. (He is here with a police curfew.)

We have meeting with addiction counsellors. more. yet more. New ones. where shall we begin ? In Grade one ? The teacher who failed him without preparing us and the kids at daycare got his report card and taunted him and told him he was stupid? And he never recovered ? No matter how much he was loved?

We are doing al -anon—but right now I ask God is this a horrible waiting game ? An endurance test? If so, I’m losing.

Libby — if you want me to keep a lid on this- do send an email. The fact that this site takes comments so readily is a sign of your generous soul. But I understand if this is not the place to ask/vent these things.

Barbara — I lam so happy that you have peace . A miracle really — peace can be born of this much pain. HOPE , gives me hope.

Hope. Hope. Hope.

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dearest Hope,

Your instincts are correct, at least for me. I can’t give advice. I’m only a mom who has one son and we have one story. This blog was born to give hope to those of us who are dealing with addiction. The message is only one: stay close, but out of the chaos. This was never meant to be a place for answers. God forbid that one of us gives you advice and your son dies. No one can live with that responsibility.

However, I wrote to Dr. MacAfee, who has worked with addicts for over 40 years. He is an expert and he wrote in response to your email:

“Many people experience all kinds of conditions coming into recovery … this family may want to contact an ASAM – American Society of Addiction Medicine psychiatrist. These men and women are specialists in recovery. Often, they are recovdering individuals themselves. The mom is describing something which may best be described as a Co-Occurring
condition … additional evaluation seems apparent.”

As you can see, even a professional is not able to give advice in an email, but I think his suggestion is a good one.

We are here for you. You are not alone. In all of this, we can only be what we are: moms and dads who are trying our best to make our way through the pain and trauma that is addiction. We are not experts and have no concrete answers.

Love to you,

L

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Dear Barbara,

Thank you for the lovely email. All we can do is forgive ourselves for what we didn’t do, remind ourselves of the good we did, hold on to our beautiful memories and try to make new ones. My mom once told me, “I wish I could raise you all over again.” I said to her, “Mom, I feel the same way about Jeff and Jeremy. Maybe all parents feel this way. I don’t know.” My mom did the best she could, and when I put myself in her shoes, I understand. I can only hope that Jeff and Jer offer me the same compassion.

My love to you,

L

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Thank you Libby. We know only that we do not know. (Socrates was right!) Staying close. Staying grounded. Staying hope-full. I appreciate Dr. MacAphee’s feedback and yes I value the feedback but do not feel dependent on this as advice in which to act. Sometimes my questions are just rhetorical. We use what is useful and makes sense to us. I value sharing of experience knowing everyone lives their unique journey. Also the genuine love and prayers found here. Love to all– Hope

Just for today I will pretend Everything is not so urgent. Not denial. Just… easy does it.

Mantra: Go gentle in to long term hope for healing.

Barbara
Barbara
10 years ago

Dear Libby,

Your response is so enlightening. Maybe all parents at one time or another wish they could raise their children all over again. It’s something I’ve struggled with for so long. Too long. What you wrote, “all we can do is forgive ourselves for what we didn’t do” and “hold on to the memories and try to make new ones” is what I will say to myself every day (I may even put it up on my refrigerator 🙂

Thank you for being here for all of us.

With lots of love,

Barbara

Susan
Susan
10 years ago

Dear Barbara,
From my heart, I am so very sorry that you lost your son to this dreadful disease. There are no words…
With Love,
Susan

Susan
Susan
10 years ago

Dear Libby,

Thanks to you and to Dr. MacAfee for sharing the idea to reach out to ASAM/American Society of Addiction Medicine…

An article I found there -“ASAM releases new definition of addiction” – from a year ago, will be very helpful, not only for me and my son, but for family members that just do not understand.

Here is the link:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/asoa-arn072111.php

Thank you.

Susan

Hope
Hope
10 years ago

Susan —

Thank you for highlighting this link. It’s very helpful and hopeful. I wiil share it with family members.

Just for today instead of despair, I send my prayers. To all of us here and all we do not know who are isolated/ I’m so grateful for the courage and example of Libby and especially Barbara who I’ve held in my heart ever since her post here –so hard to read, I cannot imagine either Susan, and yet it’s what this fear of mine is all about-of losing him completely. To share so generously and be so strong– Barbara, thank you. To hear your peace is beautiful. To endure all things and still reach out in love is great, great example and lesson.

We are meeting such amazing people in Al-anon and here.

Today my son is up. Out. Said his wellbutrin feels like it is kicking in. Going to acupuncture. Back to his meeting tomorrow.

I still feel like i’m on a roller coaster –this relapse put me in panic attack mode–to see the withdrawal first hand for the first time — staying close without getting caught up is very very very hard. Heart breaking. i was never a screamer . I screamed about him going to a meeting. Everything they say not to do. But I learned new strategies.

I really do not wish I could go back in the past and be a better parent because I know I need my energy now.Not useful. There was a time I wished that every day and the self blame sucked me dry and I knew how much I loved my children and did the best I could wiht where i was and who I was at the time. I do wish NOW I could be a better parent as we go through this healing recovery situation we are in together. This opportunity. Maybe that is why I panic. I see we have a window here … I don’t wan to mess it up. I want it to work —this time— even as I accept this is a day by day life long learning curve for us all and I might not get the results I want, his freedom from addiction. Fear of Death looms.

Expectation is not the same as hope. If I drop the expectation that he ca can break free and just keep supporting him where he is and my Hope— well, that’s a lot of light in the dark long tunnel.

Mantra: Under-react. under-react. See if that feels saner. See time as my friend not my enemy. Focus elsewhere.

Susan
Susan
10 years ago

Dear Hope,

I like your mantra – I too, am trying to stay calm and err on the side of “under-reacting”… At times, it takes a ton of effort, and a lot of deep breathing, doesn’t it? I hope to get to a point where it just comes natural… to stay calm, to under-react. It will take practice, it will be better, for me, and for my son.
I loved finding this, here on Libby’s site:
Today’s Promise to consider: Dr MacAfee once told me, “The soul is too private to handle neon light, but listens wonderfully to candlelight.” Or as I believe children learn best, “The mind responds better to a light bulb than a hammer.”

Sometimes, I have to ‘trick’ myself into not worrying – by quietly reminding myself that through the years my son was an addict and I didn’t know it, he somehow survived. So, for now, I tell myself, he will be OK. If the day comes when this is not the case, if the worst should happen, I will deal with it then, not now. I do not want to live in fear… More ‘survival’ than denial. I know that my son has come close to death more than once, maybe all heroin addicts do? Probably so.

I can not imagine having to deal with this for 14/16 years like you and like Libby, and others, or, forever, like Barbara… I have known for less than a year that my son is a heroin addict. It seems like so-SO much longer. From what I am learning, I need to be prepared to deal with this for lifetime.

I have to constantly remind myself that my son is doing the best that he can right now. Most of the time, it does not appear to be very much, but I have to remember that for him, for now, it is probably like moving a mountain.

Right now, my son is safe, he is at home and we are OK. I am grateful. Very grateful.

I hope that you and your son have a good day today.

Love,
Susan

Libby Cataldi
10 years ago

Dear Susan,

I, too, love the quote from MacAfee about the soul responding better to candlelight than neon light. I spent so much of my life with Jeff in an agitated state that I didn’t help my younger son or Jeff or my family….or myself. I lived in fear of what might happen instead of ‘staying close and out of the chaos.” It was all so hard to learn.

Without Al-Anon, I would have lost my mind and my direction.

Love to you and Hope,

L

Susan
Susan
10 years ago

Dear Libby…

Thank you for your constant encouragement, your words of wisdom, as well as your personal reflections and insight.

Love,

Susan

Rickie
Rickie
10 years ago

@Hope, I so enjoyed Hope’s Prayer, (hope) you don’t mind ..I’ve printed & posted on my fridge.

So many powerful words above from “all”! This site is a blessing as are the people participating. Barbara often states her gratitude for this site. I too am grateful not only for Libby putting this site together & sharing on a reg. basis but for the parents/families/friends that are willing to open up & share their deepest feelings. By sharing many of you have helped me in ways no words can describe. Hope used the word Magic when reaching out…INDEED! For me, MAGIC=those reaching out & spreading HOPE! Thanks to all!

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Rickie – How wonderful that you printed Hope’s prayer and posted it on your fridge! That’s how magic happens. We reach out a hand to a friend!!! Blessings to you both. We are not alone.

Love to you all,

L

Libby
Libby
10 years ago

Susan, Thanks for this link from the American Society of Addiction Medicine. I read it and it’s GREAT! Addiction as disease, but what it says about CHOICE is amazing. POWERFUL!

“Choice still plays an important role in getting help. While the neurobiology of choice may not be fully understood, a person with addiction must make choices for a healthier life in order to enter treatment and recovery. Because there is no pill which alone can cure addiction, choosing recovery over unhealthy behaviors is necessary,” Hajela said.

“Many chronic diseases require behavioral choices, such as people with heart disease choosing to eat healthier or begin exercising, in addition to medical or surgical interventions,” said Dr. Miller. “So, we have to stop moralizing, blaming, controlling or smirking at the person with the disease of addiction, and start creating opportunities for individuals and families to get help and providing assistance in choosing proper treatment.”

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/asoa-arn072111.php