Guest post

“It won’t happen to me”

or

Party animal

I live on a steel bunk in a warehouse. Everything I own in this world is in the footlocker beneath me. It ain’t much; a photo album, a stack of letters, a few books. I’ve been in prison 10 years this time. My release date is 2032. A few hazy, drug-soaked months of strip bars, casinos, and fast living cost me most of my adult life.

I run across old friends and associates from that era on the yard sometimes. They look bad — rotten teeth, track marks, gnawed nails on shaky hands. They give me news of other old friends who weren’t as lucky: overdoses, shootings, suicides. Occasionally I’ll recognize the names of women in the arrest report of my hometown newspaper. Those wide-eyed college girls who were just beginning to experiment with coke and ecstasy in 2003 are now haggard streetwalkers, hardened repeat-offender prostitutes.

This is the natural evolution of drug abuse. Cause and effect. I know you’re thinking it won’t happen to you. I thought I was an exception too. Believe me, no one plans on destroying their life and coming to prison. No little kid daydreams about growing up to rob gas stations for dope money, or getting doused with pepper spray and beaten half to death by abusive guards in a confinement cell, or dying alone in a motel room with a needle in his arm… We call getting high “partying” and like any party, there’s always a mess when the party is over. In fact, the bigger the party, the bigger the mess.

The irony is that the kids we label squares and lames and dorks because they refuse to party grow up to be the doctors who resuscitate us when we overdose, the psychologists who attempt to help us put our broken lives back together, the lawyers who represent us in court when we’re arrested, the judges who sentence us to prison, and the men who step into our families and become the fathers and husbands we failed at being.

So if you’re 15 (or 17 or 24) and you’re popping bars, snorting Roxys or dabbling in meth or molly or whatever, this is what middle-aged drug life looks like. Guaranteed. And if you think it won’t happen to you, we can talk more about it when you move into my dorm. The bunk behind mine is open right now. We’ll leave a light on for you. The one from the gun tower.

From a brother of a brother @ malcolmivey.com

It’s ok if you hate me

“I love you enough to let you hate me.”

I believe that there are times when expressing your love toward someone can lead to their being angry with you.

Does that sound strange? These days, it appears that this way of thinking is very much in the minority. But, hear me out.

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I’m not talking about abuse

I’m pretty sure that any (loving) parent worth their salt has been “hated” by their children, for a short time, anyway. If my kids didn’t “hate” me occasionally, I’d figure I wasn’t doing my job.

Let me explain

No child is happy to receive discipline. Not gonna lie, I hated my parents more than once when they stopped me from some foolishness. They had wisdom that saw where I was headed, left to my own devices. They loved me enough to risk dealing with my anger.
Of course, because I knew that they loved me, eventually my anger subsided. After a while, sometimes years later, I came to see their reasoning, or at least I understood that their actions were done out of love. I accepted that they weren’t  perfect, and that while there were things that they regretted doing (or saying), as parents, their hearts were in the right place.

What’s this got to do with addiction, ab?

I’m glad you asked. When we are running our lives in the throes of addiction – to WHATEVER – in our self-centered determination to “look out for number one” or “teach them a lesson”, or my favorite “F*** them!”, we injure the ones that (when in our right minds) we love. Often, they are so determined to “help” us, that they inadvertently become the target of our destruction. Repeatedly. I suppose they just can’t bring themselves to step away, knowing that the result could be that we end up hurting ourselves, or someone else. I’m  just going on what I’ve heard, here, as more often than not, I was the addict in this scenario, “rippin and runnin”, and causing so much chaos and misery for those who loved me.

Ok, so what’s the answer?

Sometimes, as the parent of a headstrong child, we have no choice but to look for help in learning how to handle them. Or maybe we have to see a Professional in order to heal from wounds (physical or otherwise) inflicted during a temper tantrum. Even moreso when dealing with a person with an addiction. The thing is, at some point it will become clear that you can’t control them. Whatever you have done in your desperation to change them has failed.

Real change requires courage

I’m thinking of a friend who’s living with a person in active addiction. I don’t know how long I’d last if I shared a home that was filled with so much insanity.
The thing is, in recovery I’ve had to learn to create boundaries, and also how to keep them. After a while, clean and sober, my instinct for self-preservation returned, and I began to more carefully choose those who would be a part of my life. Before that, though, I was given a precious little (7.7#, 23″) tremendous reason to exercise caution in choosing my associates.

Feelings aren’t facts

My friend is reluctant to do anything because of the sh*tstorm that will no doubt follow. We don’t like it when you suggest that we might be doing it wrong. I know that the housemate will likely say that she hates her, among other things. It’s, sadly, what we do when our addiction is threatened.

Difficult, NOT impossible

When a person in recovery is living with a person in full-blown addiction, who doesn’t want to change that , there aren’t a lot of options. In my experience, I felt that continuing to be abused and to interact daily with a madman was just too big a threat to my sobriety. I eventually left. Certainly, I didn’t want to leave the person (or, the person they HAD been), and it was a safe bet that they were not going to go, quietly, so it took a lot to actually do what I had to do. Like a child who’s about to lose something they think they need, the addict made sure to let me know that they hated me. I can live with that. I am powerless over other people and their behavior.
Thankfully, I am NOT powerless over whether or not I continue to subject my child and/or myself to the toxic environment that active alcoholics and addicts create, EVERYWHERE they go.

Not gonna accept unacceptable behavior

So, I’m grateful for finding the support of groups like Alanon and Adult Children of Alcoholics. I don’t know how many folks struggling with addiction have finally gone for help after sleeping in their car, or losing their job, or some other catastrophic event. It takes what it takes.

I hope my friend can maintain sobriety and do what she must to care for herself and her kids in this situation. As much as I care, I can’t do anything but pray and share my experience strength and hope.

In my experience, with children as well as individuals in active addiction, I love them enough to let them hate me.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

2 Brown Paper Bags

Adulting on a Saturday morning

It’s gonna be a hot one here, so I put on my Big Girl Panties and got up early and came to the laundromat, while the temperature is still tolerable.
I found a nice little place just up the road from us, and the price isn’t too bad. When I opened the door with my laundry basket in my hands, the cool greeted me: sweet, sweet (working) air conditioning. Ahhhh, yeah, this was a good decision.

Coolness, and quiet

Now I’m sitting here with only the swishing of the machines to keep me company, and I think I’m in that Zone. You know, the one where your old body isn’t giving you too much grief, and you’re able to focus on the Now, and, well…I’m feeling content.

What a difference

Sure, I’d be happy to still be in bed, listening to the sounds of my hubby next to me, and the softly-playing music from the radio in our room. But I would not be in this Zone. No, I’d be thinking about hauling the laundry up and down the stairs at home, and how each minute that I waited, the heat would be increasing by leaps and bounds…definitely not The Contentment Zone.

And…paper bags?

Oh, yeah. So there’s a little convenience store next door where you can get change for the washing machines. Being that I could have slept for at least another couple of hours, I thought grabbing a drink with caffeine in it sounded good. I got a large can of tea, and set it on the counter. While I was digging out my wallet, the cashier did her usual (I’m sure she didn’t even think about it, really), and put the can in a little bag.

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Memories, right?

I smiled to myself, as I remembered (kind of) so MANY times in my early-to-mid 20’s when there was certainly not gonna be anything as benign as iced tea in that brown paper bag. I’d (felt like I) was fairly cosmopolitan, washing my clothes like a good little haus frau, getting sh*tfaced by the time the spincycle had begun. Frankly, it’s a miracle I didn’t lose my entire wardrobe. And don’t get me started on the laundromats with TANNING BEDS! Oh crap! Two of my favorite drinking activities in one?! I wondered aloud to my partner in crime “Why don’t they just add a bar, here in the laundromat!?!” Yeah, I WAS quite brilliant.

In the zone

So, today, I’m here, not “getting away with” anything, doing The Next Right Thing. They tell me that there are kids who figure this sort of thing out, maybe even before graduating high school, but I’m not buying it.
Well, my sleepy-voiced hubby just called to find out where I am. (If this were back in the day, I’d have NEVER answered my phone this early, knowing who was on the other end. Just sayin.) I told him what I was up to, and how I’m just Adulting all over the place, and he was impressed. So, I’m gonna call this post Done, and get ready to fold.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how a simple thing like iced tea in a brown paper bag can bring back memories of so many, many brown bags in the past? Yep, there are triggers, but only for memories, NOT for wanting to return to that place of chaos and insanity.

What are YOU doing to beat the heat today?

Posted from my seat in the laundromat.