Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Part 2 of the Wagging Tail by Mommy Hope

First, I drafted 3 focus lists, short term, mid-term and long term. Focus on Me, I called them.  I still have them available, today, but they are more clutter than anything else, at this point.  There are some items on those lists that I have mastered, some fell to the way-side and some which remain variable.

I may not follow those lists word-for-word verbatim, but they are guidance for me.  And not only guidance, but they help me focus myself and prioritize.  I keep myself in check, this way. 
Next, I began engaging in The Gratitude List.  What can I say about this?  Participating in an online group and sharing humbling gratitudes with nearly 30 people, daily,  has been both rewarding and healing.   At first, sharing through it was neither easy, nor comfortable.  How could I ever manage to find 3-5 things, EVERY SINGLE DAY, to be grateful for.  Well, I did manage.  And after more than a year of participating, it has, at times, become the daily reflection which pulls my sanity together.  I take time out of my every day to realize good things about me, I have possession of, witnessed or experienced in my life.  Usually, there is no struggle to do such a thing, as I am generally a half-full type of thinker.  But even I have my moments and have to reach deep within to find solace amongst the pain.  I am successful, though.  Engaging, has not only been writing, but reading, as well.  
I have engaged in the GTL for a year, but it has become more apparent, even in the last few months, people actually read my words.  They read what I write and they process it.  They convert my words to their experiences or those that have been shared with them by family or others.  One in the group has cut and pasted from my words and taped up her coping mechanism up at work.  She shares it with her coworkers.  
I have been inspired to write.  Those who read my GTL submissions have inspired me, very much.  And as I write, I release.  I step off the Hamster Wheel and sit down to my laptop.  At the laptop, I let go.  And often, I start my writing by grabbing my gifted keychain.  My friends' from Indiana knew of the struggles I was facing and immediately sent me a key chain.  It says "With God, All things are possible". I believe it.  I sit in front of the keyboard and God LETS IT GO (in my best Elsa voice).  Needless to say, this has become fabric of my day.

Shortly after the gratitude participation, I realized my personal benefit from seeking individual therapy.  Attending support groups is a wonderful opportunity to connect with those who share the darker side of my life.  I am not happy to know there are other people dealing with similar emotional pain and agony, but I do appreciate the connection and the inherent compassion shared within.  But as I started to develop the skills to not simply spend my days on the hamster wheel, I realized I still had the broken feeling inside.  Through my individual therapy, I am taking and making strides to heal me.  And it's amazing, but I realize I wasn't ill as a result of my boys' disease, I just broke as a result of it.

Somewhere in the thick of it, I started to realize the immense support I was receiving, as well as the increasing membership of Hope and Support.  That is representative in our continued growth in attendance.  We, as members, all have lives and cannot make every Monday meeting, but most of us make it to the majority of meetings.  The attendance is so high because of the intensity of shared support.  We share . . . and we don't judge.

Meetings are not always happy or sad, but they are always helpful.  The name of the group, Hope and Support is quite apropos, as we all. leave feeling supported and hopeful.  It is why we return every week.  Sometimes, we read, together, from support literature, sometimes we listen to audio tapes, we have watched a movie, had a speaker, but mostly, we share.   And we do not just share.  It is give and take-share.  We release some of our brightest and darkest moments to one another.  I struggle with sharing, but realize the therapeutic value in it.  So often, I will start to share, then kind of freeze, and in my moment cannot continue.  Our group administrators and members often will ease the struggle, so we can move on.  I am reassured all in the room are present while I share and are supportive.  And they are reassured, as well.  I started to realize the immense support I was receiving, and knew I had to initiate giving back through my own service.

Accepting help has never been easy for me.  And had I not felt so badly, I never would have accepted the help. Grateful for my positive feelings and enlightenment, I was increasingly feeling the need to return something back and stop only accepting.  This is when I started attending Coalition meetings and becoming more involved with the association sponsoring our weekly group.  The Coalition for a Better Wallingford has been formulating varying ideas and methods to grow into the community as it's needs have been growing exponentially.  The passion of the Coalition has been supported on the backs of just several people, for the last couple of years, especially on two of the warmest and most compassionate people I may have ever met, with vision reaching far beyond the throws of Wallingford, Connecticut, Ken and Jen.

Today, I enjoy a place of keener clarity in my life.  I am probably near the top of my hierarchy, in terms of my mental health, and still reaching.  But I not only have the ability...I AM REACHING!

I struggle with my boys' disease of addiction, and some days are decidedly worse than others.  But value cannot be placed on the gift of life which has been returned to me by strangers.  Well, they are not strangers to me, today, but they were when they started helping me.

Ken Welch approached me, only to hang a poster.  Changed.My.Life.  
Through his pain, suffering and loss, he managed to purvey the importance of his and Jen's passion of the Coalition.  Ken could have been in and out in a couple of minutes, hang the sign, never to see/hear from me again. But he was there probably 15-20 minutes.  And he spoke in a manner in which I could listen.  He just had no clue how ready I was to listen. 

To my enrichment, I thereby attended the 2013 Red Ribbon Week event entitled, Faces of Addiction.  I heard speakers there who left me with profound awareness. I had no idea how unraveled my family was already and about to become, how saturated drugs were in the community and how abnormal I was not.  And when it happened, I had the resources available to me to act, even amongst the feelings of loneliness, helplessness and despair. 

Somehow, I built up the courage to reach out, first to Ken, then to Rich.  Rich helped intervene with my son, then with resources to get him into treatment.  Those resources helped my son, but then Rich alerted me to this new group starting up in Wallingford, Hope and Support.  He suggested I may benefit from it, as it may be a little different environment than the 12-step program I had already attended.  Little did Rich know, this 'little group' has become my Monday night gig.  And without it, my week is incomplete.  Well, I have benefitted from it, on scales I may never be able to re-tell.  

As a Mom of sons with addiction, I have felt and carried the very heavy burden of shame and guilt, shared by many others.  I used to accept the responsibility for their actions and felt crippled by the inability to change them.  Through the support I've received, however, I no longer feel that way.  The resources made available to me, through the Coalition have unleashed me from that burden.  I'm busy, very busy, with the healthier life I've established for myself.  
I focus on me, these days.  I go out with friends, I look for humor whenever I can, I do not allow the kids to pull me into their dramas, I work in my yard, go for walks, write.....a lot......prepare meals in advance, focus on eating healthier and keeping my body active, break bread with friends, drink tea, make my bed daily, work on cleaning the clutter, just a little bit, every week, bestie night, spread cheer whenever possible, and minimize speaking ill of others.  I arrive on time at work, daily, pay my bills on time and basically, do what I have to do.  Doing those things gets me through my days and keeps me off the wheel.  Time spent off the wheel is time well spent on me!
Today, I am among many Coalition members putting our thoughts and ideas into place to make Wallingford a healthier community.  I have begun to open up more freely regarding how my personal family has been touched and look forward to continuing to reaching out, and even if reaching only gets as far as one life, it would have made a difference.  Lord knows a difference has been made in mine!

My visual acuity is much more vivid and picturesque, today.  I suspect this is, in part, due to my change in view, and from a much larger perspective.  My view, you see, has been detached from the tail.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

I'm a Wagging Tail

So when I think of the words, wagging tail, I don't envision myself.  My vision is of an excited dog, flipping it's tail around wildly.

But why does the dog's tail wag?  Well, according to animal planet:

The original purpose of the dog's tail was for balance. It prevents him from toppling over as he makes sharp turns while running or swimming. The tail also balances him when walking along narrow structures, climbing or leaping. Over time, the tail adapted itself to playing a vital role in communication, particularly when a dog is just walking or standing around.
Puppies don't come right out of their mom's tummies wagging their tails. The majority of them don't begin wagging until they are about a month and a half old when they have a need to communicate with their litter mates or mothers.
For example, if there's too much "rough-housing" between the pups, one of them might wave their tail like a white flag to signal a truce to its litter-mates. As they grow, they wag their tail to beg for food from the adults in their canine family.

So let's think about this.  Momma has a litter.  Most puppies will immediately burst their way in for food, thus leaving the runt to fend for himself.  Well, how does the Momma respond?  Why, of course, she nudges that puppy toward his food.  Exhausted as she is, somehow, she manages to make sure that puppy survives.  She is desperate for him to succeed.

If Momma is a good, nurturing parent, she nudges that puppy a few times toward the food, but does not feed him.  If her puppy will ever grow up as a healthy dog, he will first need to learn his basic skill of eating.  When he starts floundering, however, his tail starts wagging.  Guess who jumps in for the rescue.  That's right, the Momma!  Problem for this puppy starts when his Momma does not set the boundry on this.  Since she struggles with watching him fail, she strips him of the ability to learn on his own and essentially sets him up for all future fails.  This separates the nurturing Momma and the Co-dependent Momma.

The nurturing Momma evolves with the pup, teaching him to clean himself, etc.  The co-dependent Momma becomes the tail.  Yup, the tail.  So every time puppy is happy, sad, anxious, scared or feeling aggressive, he drags along the Momma.  The actual behaviors of which direction it wags, or why, or whether the wag is voluntary or involuntary is not a discussion for this basic scope.  The point of this discussion is what happens when that puppy wags.  This bipolar puppy whips his Momma around when he is excited or sad.  She allows it until she becomes ill from it.

Okay.  This is really my story.  I've been the tail and have become ill from it.  But I'm working on becoming healthy again.  Going to local support groups, specifically, Wallingford's Hope and Support group, has been helping me manage my life.  I've learned a lot from the mistakes I made.  I had, in the past, learned to enable my young pup.  And he has learned, in response,  to whip me around in his chaos and insanity.  He whips me around to his convenience.  And guess what, he has never lost that tail!  I've hung on to it for my dear life.  I've seen way more than a Mom should ever see, but I've hung on!

Now how do I detach from that tail, without removing it?  Hope and Support has been a great resource for me to realize the importance of detaching from the tail.  My son needs his tail, he just does not need me to be on it.  I've realized that the tail-ride is scary and quite uncomfortable.  And besides that, it's his ride, not mine.  I will never be in a place to manage my own life,  if much of my time is flapping around in his moods.  

I've learned I do not need to fix my puppy, I need to fix myself.  Yes, I am a fixer.  That is what I do. I see something broken, I want to fix it.  I  realized that I was as broken as those around me and should be reaching within and fixing myself.  My puppy needs his tail for his balance, not for dragging me around.  

This is my recovery, not my son's and  I accept responsibility for it. Imagine how strong I will become one day, when my focus becomes fixing me, rather than the view behind my puppy!  

This was how I felt in mid-February 2014.  Check back next time to hear what has happened since then.

Mommy Hope

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Questions for Wallingford parents - What are your concerns about your children regarding substance use and abuse? Do you care about the High School risk behavior survey results? If over half of high school seniors are drinking, should we be concerned - or is that OK? or expected by most? 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Recovery High School in CT -What exactly is that?

So what is A "Recovery High School"? 
The purpose of a recovery high school is to focus on the 'recovery' issues while providing a safe and supportive environment while the students get a high school education for those that need it.
 Rep. Mary Mushinsky has presented a bill during this legislative session asking for funding to support this effort. This request is going to review with any number of other bills. 

We need you to write and email to your representatives in Hartford supporting this bill.

Click here for more details:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

What is the Coalition for a Better Wallingford?

The Coalition for a Better Wallingford is a grassroots organization established in 2012 as a result of alarming drug and alcohol addiction abuse statistics among teens and young adults in the Wallingford, CT community.  Me In Red Ribbon
Our Mission is to "Engage Wallingford's community resources to produce healthy, caring, and responsible citizens by raising awareness and reducing substance abuse among our youth."

Our focus was still on trying to understand the scope of pain and suffering wrapped around the inhuman totality of our substance abuse problem. The numbers are staggering – 93 confirmed dead, and counting. Overdose transports and emergency room traffic that boggles the mind. It was and still is to some extent, difficult to define and control all of the influences that contribute to this predicament we find ourselves in. Most people believe drug abuse will be woven into the fabric of our culture forever – and they are probably right.