Where to go from here

Here is where we are at today. My son spiraled down after signing divorce papers. He was drinking up to 2/5 of vodka a day. His depression, his alcoholism was winning. He decided to go to the emergency room at the local hospital (on his own) which was a good thing. I took him there and stayed with him until they discharged him several hours later with no admission into the behavioral unit. He is at our house now and actively seeking a treatment center for co occurring and dual diagnosis treatment. This is where it gets tough. His medical insurance is not very good, he has no money or resources and he will probably lose his job. All web designers make every treatment center look good. How to choose and how to not rack up so much debt that he’ll never get out from under it but get the treatment he needs to lead a whole life is overwhelming. Please pray for him to find the right path. Yes, his life is worth every cent of debt but if two centers provide quality treatment but at a vastly different cost, then these options must be weighed. It is going to come down to how much he is willing to fight. I hate it that cost even has to be considered in any way. I’m trying to step back and let him do the work because I feel it is important for him to make the decision for treatment. I gave him over to God and now I have to work on myself to not intervene. If you believe in prayer, now is the time to offer up a prayer of guidance on his behalf. His very life depends on it and I don’t want to lose another son.

Give Up or Give Over

I’m finally back to my blog. My previous post was about my son, his depression, his failing marriage and my questioning of God.

I’m still floundering a bit. I seem to have this overwhelming need to “get it right” and if I get it right, all will be well. What exactly is “get it right”? That’s a very good question and one that I am still trying to find the answer.  If I get it right, will God hear and answer my prayers, will my children be healed from depression, ptsd and alcoholism? Will every day bring forth a new exciting revelation of hope and joy? This is ridiculous and I know it but I can’t seem to stop feeling like if I just tweak my parenting and praying and so on, all will have a fairy tale ending. In my mind I know that my driving desire to do all things right to get the best outcome is (1) somewhat self serving (2) putting myself in God’s shoes and (3) not wanting to accept the answers God has given me. And yet, I stop short of criticizing myself at being selfish or having selfish motivation. I just want my family to be healed and with that healing to have joy. I would give up my life for that, for them, so I don’t feel like I am being selfish.

Well, my son came and stayed with us for two weeks. He was very depressed and turned to alcohol which fed his depression which led to some suicidal thoughts. My only criteria for him staying with us was that he would not bring alcohol into our home. He agreed and kept that promise.  The first order of business was for him to see a doctor and he made the appointment within two days of coming to our home. He is trying a new anti depressant. Also, during that two weeks, we sat down with him and looked at managing his finances due to loss of a second income. That was enough for me to be depressed for him!! He makes enough money to pay his house payment, car payment, insurance and gas to drive to work. That’s it! No money for food, doctors, medicines and etc. So the first order of business was to explore options of earning additional income and he also came to the full realization of needing to find employment elsewhere. Progress. He is at his own home now.

So now, here is where it gets sticky. Al Anon says don’t be an enabler. But, I feel like we are dealing with more than alcoholism. We are also dealing with depression and suicidal tendencies. So, we (my husband and I) are in total agreement that with this quandry, we would do the very basics that Jesus tells us to do which is feed the hungry, minister to the sick and love.  So, when I thought about this from a Biblical perspective, I thought of a scenario of someone walking down the street and seeing a homeless person who was hungry and destitute. Would Jesus want that homeless and hungry person to be questioned about why and how they got in this condition and then the questioner decide if they or their circumstances  deemed them worthy of being fed? All are worthy. We will provide food and/or provide meals to our son as needed. He is always welcome to stay with us as needed. We will pay medical and doctor bills as needed. We will not give him money.  We will continue to provide guidance and encouragement in how to better his current financial state.

With all that being said, he is doing better and is figuring out a plan. He is preparing and fixing up his home so he can put it up for sale. After he sells his home, he has more options as to whether to relocate in a totally different geographical area or to stay in this area. He is getting job applications and seeking better employment. He is pushing himself to make more positive choices in interacting with people and doing activities instead of sitting home alone.  He has been to the doctor and is trying a new anti depressant.

I went through a long period of feeling like God had abandoned me. I still feel that way at times. But something in the core of my very being still believes and will always believe in God. I came to the realization that “giving over” to God was not the same as “giving up” on my son. Something inside of me has never been able to accept this seemingly simple but complex difference. Until recently.

Dear reader, may the God who provides peace during the storm, provide you with a feeling of peace, contentment and even joy.  I will always believe in my God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

 

A Winter Smile

My son, who suffers from depression, stopped by for a few minutes the other day.  It’s winter and gloomy and this is the season in which his depression rears it’s ugliest head. A typical winter brings a sense of despondency in his life which leads to his “family team” to make multiple suggestions and ask questions such as “maybe you should try a new medication”, “have you seen your doctor?”, “how about trying light therapy?”, “are you feeling suicidal?”, “drinking in excess?”, “are you ready for rehab and/or inpatient?” and so on.  I have come to the full realization that I am helpless to help him.

Several years ago, more like 25 years ago, I dreamed that he was full of joy.  He was looking at a woman and a young girl and on their faces were looks of adoration and on his face was pure joy. I’ve always held on to that dream and I’ve prayed to God so many times for him to have joy. My wish for him is not fame or fortune, but pure joy.

So anyway, getting back to his visit, I invited him to stay and eat with us.  As we were eating and chatting about nothing of importance and ignoring the elephant in the room, he told me that this year is different. He doesn’t know why it is happening but he said “I catch myself smiling for no reason.”  I thought about that long ago dream again and a glimmer of hope fluttered in my heart. This!! This is what I want for him!! Smiling for no reason! Joy! I’m afraid to hope that it will be long lasting but I would give anything for it to be true. I’m almost afraid for the next visit or the next phone call that may indicate a downward spiral into that dark pit of despair.  But for today, I am so very happy for the winter smile. I love you, son.

 

Dysfunctional Thanksgiving

It is now 4 days before Thanksgiving and everything is up in the air as to who, what, when, where and why.  Traditionally my sister has hosted Thanksgiving at her house. Sometimes we go and sometimes we do something different. Last year, we went camping because we just wanted to do something outside of tradition to keep our mind off of our son that passed away earlier that year.

Anyway, we planned on going to my sisters this year for two reasons. 1. My brother lost his dear wife six months ago after 37 years of marriage and we want to be with him.  2. My mother is getting more and more feeble and may not make it through the winter.

Everything was planned: menu, who is bringing what food dish and who is driving my mom to my sisters. We even finalized plans for the following day: meet at mom’s the next day to set up her tree and put her Christmas decorations out so she could enjoy the holiday season. Again, this Christmas decorating at my mom’s is something my brother and his wife always did for her so this year we planned to all do it together to help my brother get through this first year without his wife.

So, it’s all set. Then, two days ago my sister called my mom, who in turn criticized all of us which led to my sister telling my mom that her hatred was not welcome in her home and if she couldn’t leave it behind, then she couldn’t come to Thanksgiving. This leads to my mom saying she was uninvited which led to my brother telling her that she misunderstood and my mom saying she won’t go unless my sister calls her. But, she will send food!!

There is this whole crazy, unhealthy pattern in relating to my mom that is not an easy pattern to break. My sister reached the point where she was done with it. We’ve all been there at one time or another but then old habits die hard, or the guilt sets in, and we meld back into our roles of enabling or accepting or denial or whatever the case may be of trying to keep mom happy.

We will never have the relationship with mom that we desire. We accept it, we gripe about it and we still love her.  We make sure she has all of her physical needs met, we take her to doctor appointments, take her to run errands or do shopping (last week I spent three hours in one small store, ugh), and yes, we do tell her we love her. But, Mom doesn’t think we love her because we do not meet her expectations or her concept of love.  We cannot do or be enough. It is such a shame, because we do love her but she can’t recognize it in the ways we express it. I’m sure she loves me, but I don’t recognize it either.

Do the best you can to show and express love on this day and all future days.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

A verse with no chorus

My oldest son suffers from depression and suicidal thoughts.  He self medicates with alcohol. As you may or may not know, we already lost one son due to alcohol. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop with fear and trepidation. I hope I am wrong. I pray I am needlessly worrying.

When my oldest was in his late teens or early twenties, I would wake in the middle of the night and pray for him. As parents, we did pursue the usual avenues to help him such as hospitalization, counseling, medication and so on. But when it all fails, what is left but a miracle?

During one of my all night prayer sessions, I wrote a song. I tried to put myself in his mind and it was so very dark there. I imagined what it must be like for him to look in the mirror and thus, I wrote the following song. It starts out as a slow, sad tune but just before the chorus, the tempo changes and the chorus is jubilant. You will just have to use your imagination.

Title: God is greater

Verse:

I look in the mirror

Tell me, who am I?

Down deep in my eyes

Are pools of pain and despair.

Darkness surrounds me

Feels like I’m drowning in this world of sin.

(transition as tempo builds)

But a message of hope

of peace and a light

Shines deep from within.

Chorus:

’cause God is greater, greater

and greater is in me.

God is greater, greater

and greater is in me.

You pick me up when I fall.

Your love, it carries me.

You are the light of the world

and you give me peace.

You are my rock and my hope.

My joy and my strength.

Oh, light of the world,

Shine your light down on ME!

Recently, during a 45 day stay in inpatient rehab, my son left me a message on my phone. He sounded so happy and content. He was feeling peaceful. I saved the message and I listen to it sometimes. His peace did not last long. He is self medicating and depressed again. How sad it must be for him, to live in that darkness. A verse with no chorus. He found peace for a brief time and I listen to his phone message to remind me that it could happen again. You know what my biggest fear is? That I will accidentally erase the message and I will no longer be able to hear those moments when he was what he was meant to be, even for a short time.

 

 

My Saving Grace

When I was 8 years old, my mother married the “other man” mentioned in previous posts. I gained 3 stepsisters and a stepbrother and our blended family began.  From now on, I will refer to my stepfather as my Dad.

My Dad was probably the most influential person in my life. He was a kind, patient, hardworking man who loved us. He was also a new Christian and our life together included attending church and church activities, seeing my Dad reading the Bible at the kitchen table every morning and hearing my mom sing along to gospel records while cooking supper. But, even back then while living the picture perfect family life, there were some cracks, some obvious signs that things are not always as they appear.

A constant battle of wills sums up my entire relationship with my mother from day one to present.

I was not a problem child but on occasion, my mother did use spanking to punish me for some childhood wrong. I don’t resent it.

But, I also recall my mother making me lean over a piece of furniture and my butt getting several lashes with a belt, which is abuse. Cutting a switch from a tree and whipping me with it for a long, long time is abuse. And, the verbal abuse cut the deepest. I believe my mother was and is mentally ill because she is still proud of those times where she took control and made me bend. The times she won and I lost. That surely is mental illness.

My dad took the opposite approach. He would take me into my bedroom and sit beside me and “talk”. Just talk about my behavior, about his expectations and he was so kind and calm. I would break inside because I did not want to be a disappointment to him. He never laid a hand on me. He never raised his voice. With him, it was never about control but about understanding. Our talk always ended with a plan of discipline (grounding or whatever), a hug and affirmation of love. My dad showed me a better way. My dad was my saving grace.

These stark differences in parenting made an impact on me. If just one person reads this and it stops them from picking up a belt, then my story has a purpose. Just stop for one second and ask this question. Is it about controlling a child or is it about shaping a child? Is it discipline or is it punishment?  Is it anger based or reconciliation based? Just stop, put the belt down and breathe. There is a better way.

 

I

 

 

 

Begin at the beginning

Hmmm. So much to share but don’t know where to begin so I will begin my story with my first traumatic experience at age 5. My father committed suicide. The last memory of my father is of him coming to my Aunt’s house. We were playing outside. He came to the yard, put us in the car and drove away. I remember that I was excited because this was going to be a surprise for my mother. “Is it perfume?” I asked. I don’t remember his answer but I know it wasn’t the surprise.

A little backstory: my mother wanted to divorce my father. She had met another man who made her feel loved and special. This other man was also married. I don’t know all the in’s and out’s of what transpired between the two of them and don’t need to know. I don’t blame my mother or the other man or my father. Anyway, my mother and the other man arranged a meeting with their current spouses and stated that they wanted to divorce and marry each other. Long story short, my mother decided to give her marriage another try and we all picked up and moved for a fresh start.

Sometime shortly after, in a new State, my father intercepted letters between my mother and the other man. At the time of the big “S” (suicide), the other man was in the same vicinity and he and my mother had made contact. The other man wanted to take mother, me and my siblings back to our original home town. He felt like we were all in danger.

Back to the big “S” …. My father drove us to our house, took us inside, sat us down and told us to stay there. In the meantime, my mother discovered we were missing. My aunt and my mother pulled up outside in my aunt’s car. My oldest brother, seeing a chance to escape, grabbed me and my other brother and ran out the door. I’m 5. I have no real idea of what is going on. We are on the steps leading down from the porch. My mom is at the bottom of the steps screaming for us to get in the car. We get in the car. My Aunt tells us to get down in the floorboard. I can’t resist looking up and out the car window. My father is on the porch pointing a gun alternately at himself and at my mother. She is yelling “go ahead, you can’t hurt me anymore”. He slowly shakes his head and walks inside the front door. Mother gets in the passenger side of the car and my aunt drives away.

I will share more of this story later. My heart is pounding and it is still so overwhelming. I’ve had 55 years to come to terms with it but I need a break before I continue.