Life's Sweet Journey: Addiction
Showing posts with label Addiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Addiction. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carrying the Story

I do not know much about what it means to be on the road to recovery from substance abuse other than my own, often bitter, sad or jaded feelings on the subject. I have watched what it can do to someone, I have seen how it can push at families to the point of breaking and I have seen what it means when someone doesn't reach the end of that road on this side of Heaven. What I have come to realize though is that we are all, in some sense, on a recovery road of our own. We are all broken and we all fall and we all stumble. We all go down that road in some fashion; battered hand over battered foot, pulling ourselves up rocks that seem too immense to climb. And that is just speaking of my own everyday struggle. I have never known what it means to fight an uphill battle with the weight of substance abuse trying to pull me back down. I saw my brother take that road time and again. For many years it was mostly at the prompting of those who loved him. And in the end it was his own wish, his own drive that kept him clean for over a year. I know what that hope feels like, I know because I felt it myself. I have heard the words that a father uses when he shares his story and the pride he has in his son as he hands him his year medallion. I have watched that same father break just months after, break into a million pieces that will never fully heal on this earth, as he comes to the realization that the redemption story didn't end the way he hoped it would.  And I have watched, most often in awe and envy, at the way he chose to carry on. It did break him, the fact the story wouldn't be redeemed the way he had hoped, with his son here on Earth. But he also realized that it didn't mean the redemption ended, it didn't mean that the story was over. Sometimes the redemption story is given to the broken left behind. God entrusts those of us that know what its like and have seen what substance abuse can do, to reach out to those struggling and share the story of a life that can still go on. It goes on through the loved ones still here. It goes on through my brothers daughter and through my dad and through those who won't give up sharing his story and trying to reach people who need help.
They are just men; your common everyday dads, sons, friends, brothers and husbands. They wear no visible capes. But to me they are warriors, warriors on surf boards. Men who took a passion and are using it to share the story of a lost son, of a friend, so that hopefully another family won't have to know what it is like to continue on with just the story. So that hopefully the redemption can be seen through the beauty of a life lived out, clean and fully and free. My hope now is that this message and these videos will reach you where you need them most. 

Maybe like me you are a sister struggling to understand what it means to be the sibling of an addict. 
Maybe like my parents you are at war about the best way to help your child, to keep them and the rest of your family from going under. 
Or maybe you are the child, the spouse, the parent, the friend, the one struggling to figure out how to keep your own head above water. 
My hope is that you find a "board" or whatever it may be that drives you and that you let it take you as far away from drugs (in whatever form that may be) as it can. 
My hope is that if you need help you reach out; to those who love you, to those who want to help or even to someone who you know is simply willing to lend a listening ear.
It matters. Your life matters. The things you leave behind matter. Your story matters. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking Granted for Granted

Last wednesday's post topic left my mind somewhat reeling. After I got done, the list of the things I take (or took) for granted just kept running through my head at warp speed and growing larger with every second. And then I thought, "taking something for granted is a funny term." Everything I take for granted is something that had been granted to me. It wasn't something I was born with, it wasn't something I really worked very hard to get for myself or something I work very hard to keep. Then when it really came down to it I thought, my entire life is something I was granted, every last bit of it. Everything is something that God bestowed upon me for whatever purpose He had in His intentions for making it a part of my life.

I thought, "God grants us things and in that granting we are already taking those grants for granted."

How is it that the word granted has such opposite meanings. A grant is a gift. In the granting of something from one person to another we are given something... usually something precious, at least something that was/ is precious to the person granting it. Yet to take something for granted, we almost devalue its worth (basically like giving it back all while keeping ownership of it).  We take that thing or that person (even ourself) and in our own minds almost make it less than it is. We give is less of its original value. And it is not as if that thing ever really lost its value, it is still just as worthy as it always was, we just have to except it for what it really is. We have to value it for the true gift that is being given to us in the granting. Taking something for granted is like opening a gift, looking at it and then turning our head to something else that better captures our attention. It's as if we are a child whose toy is not shiny enough; like taking an antique and trading it in for a cheap, mass-produced product that could be found on any shelf, in any store.

I no longer want to live that way. I no longer want to take the things so lovingly and painstakingly granted to me for granted. I no longer want to use the word granted in terms of the "taking something for it" but in the "these are the things I've been" type of way. I want to give only one meaning to the word granted in my vocabulary. I know that is is not going to be easy... since Wednesday I have already found myself taking small things for granted. I have found myself feeling let down for the way life has unfolded recently. Yet, I have also realized how many times I have been able to stop in the past few weeks in awe because of things in my life that I had so easily over looked before.

So today I will start this new terminology by sharing... 
Ten things that I have been granted through this experience 
1.) An awe for people & their love for my brother/ family (more on this in a post I have been working on)
2.) A better and deeper relationship with a girl who will ALWAYS be considered my sister
3.) My youngest brothers return from Afghanistan and the time I have gotten to spend  with him
4.) Seeing the innocence of a child shine through in some of the most adult situations
5.) Seeing the kindness of strangers
6.) An affirmation of the meaning of friendship (I would be so lost without it)
7.) Memories
8.) A deeper respect for my father and the man he is (actually for all the men in my life for that matter)
9.) A chance to take a better look at myself 
10.) A greater understanding for circumstances and struggles and learning about life

What about you? Anything you have been granted through the hardships in your life? 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some of Life's Words aren't so Sweet

I never planned to write about this so early on.  However, I am finding as I really explore this "new world" that there is a certain freedom in blogging.  Freedom for myself.  Freedom for my thoughts. Freedom for my feelings.  Writing has always been a source of expressing myself but the feeling of it seems a little different when I know someone else may potentially read what I put down on "paper".   Jenni's prompt for today really had my mind in a battle over what approach to take.  What is something I know a lot about? Or am "good" at? My plan for something I know a lot about had originally been to take a funny approach to being a "successful" housewife.  With recent events in my life changing (oh I love that word) yet again, the topic of addiction has been heavy on my mind.  Unfortunately, this is a topic I know a lot about.  Not my own personal struggle but the struggle of caring for someone who suffers under the weight of it.

This is a weight that doesn't only fall on him.  It is a weight that can also consume and devour those who love him.  My brother has suffered with addiction for what seems like as long as I can remember (and he is younger than me).  His dealing with his demons is his story.  This is mine.

 I am the sister of an addict.  I don't think is something you can be good at but being a good sister is something I am working on being good at all the time.

Caring for someone who suffers from addiction takes on many faces.
- Anger; there is was a lot of that
- Enabling; I have played my part
- Judgement; I still struggle to not throw stones
This list could go on...

However, there is also...
- Hope; even in the smallest of doses
- Redemption; because sometimes even each week could mean turning a new page
- Grace; there has to be or the battle would have been lost long ago
This list is sometimes harder to find and harder to add to than the other but this list grows too. 

Right now those faces change sometimes moment to moment.  His most recent relapse began yet a new season in this journey but I think it was the most important lesson I have learned so far.  For years I would step back from it, live my life and pretend that this was not something that defined me. While I still don't see it as a definition for my life it is something that has shaped me and defined who I have become.  Addiction, even when it is not your own, changes you. I didn't use to fear change, until things changed with the speed of an oncoming train and kept changing with each passing car.  I used to be a little more carefree, until I saw how riding that line can push you so far past it you can't find your way back.

Now though I am finding a new way to understand "knowing a lot" about addiction. Addiction is a disease, which is something I still have a hard time wrapping my head around.  I have always called it selfish, but it is not something I struggle with and therefore can't truly understand.  I have come to learn though that no matter how hard I may try it is not something I can fix.  Sometimes there is nothing I can do but pray.  He has to want to change.  I can support him, when he is sober.  I can be there to help, when he is willing to be active in recovery, but I can no longer intervene.  It doesn't help and it doesn't do him, me or anyone any good.  Trying to take it all on leads to damage, destruction and heartache.

As a hurt teen I was quick to anger, quick to hate addiction, quick to want to hate him.  It's a strange feeling to have so much hatred for someone you also love so much.  That anger comes up from time to time.  That is the fear, that is the human reaction.  Shooting jabs and lashing out on him for the pain it has caused me just precipitates more anger in the moment and leads to guilt later on. It's in those moments when I try to play the game at his level, "throwing punches" to save my own pride, that I really see the destructive pattern of it all.  In order to help someone who sometimes can't even help themselves we can't crawl in at their level and hope to rescue them.  We have to keep our hearts strong and offer the hand down because otherwise there would be no one to pull them up.  In the same respect I am trying to learn that the greatest lesson of all is that the most I can be is a helping hand.  I can not be his savior.   So for now, I will continue to offer a hand when he is willing to take it.  I won't pull him up with my own strength but with the strength that comes from knowing that there is a reason he is here, that there is more to his story (to the whole story) than just the seasons that he spends in the pit. God is not done yet.