"Life always offers you a second chance, it's called tomorrow...the past cannot be changed, forgotten, edited, or can only be accepted."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Steps continued...3, 4, and 5

Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
                Ah…there’s that God guy again. So now not only do I have to believe that He can restore me to sanity…but now I have to trust Him to take over my entire life? I don’t think so. I had spent so much time trying to fix everything in my life, granted it didn’t get me very far…but now I was supposed to give over everything to this “person” that I still wasn’t so sure existed? That’s where the end of the verse came into play…”as we understood Him”. Now it’s deceiving because it says God, but it doesn’t have to mean a religious figure. “God” or “a higher power” could quite frankly be anything. Angels, the overall universe, love, whatever. Step 3 is a decision to stop trying to manage everything. Instead of incessantly worrying about how to react to the addict, or how to make everything in life work correctly…it came down to just giving it up for awhile. Taking that burden off ourselves is a large relief. It’s a way to finally breathe again, and realize that there are other things going on in life, that ARE within our ability to change.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
                Easy enough. Let’s see, I’ve got lots of friends, I eat right, I never drive uninsured, and my bills are paid. I’m a model citizen…I’m just plagued with this crazy person in my life. Get real now…say it with me…WRONG. Not to say that we aren’t good people…but we most certainly aren’t perfect. And after all…these steps are about US, not about our addict. We’re trying to make ourselves better, and work through our own recovery. Think of a pro/con list. Pros…I do my best in situations I’m stuck in, I provide for my family, and I do charity work. Cons…I sometimes shut out people because I don’t want them to know what my home life is like, I don’t give my addict any credit when they attempt a positive change, and I let people walk all over me. This inventory isn’t for anyone else…it’s for ourselves. It’s to show us where downfalls are, to help us understand them. Why do I do those things…instead of something else?
                The moral inventory isn’t easy…but it’s the best way to learn about ourselves. It helps find the root of OUR problems, so that we can find the help we may need to make ourselves stronger. We can’t help our addicts with their problems, if we can’t recognize our own.
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
                Admitting to ourselves wasn’t too difficult. We were the ones who did the inventory in the first place. The meaning behind admitting it to our higher power was to ask for help and go back to steps 2 and 3. We’re only human, and we have faults. And we can’t fix everything on our own.
                Now the last part of the step isn’t as easy as it may sound. Admitting to someone else all the things we’ve done wrong. In theory it sounds great…kind of give ourselves a “clean slate”. Problem being…as someone who loves a drug addict…we have programmed ourselves to believe that we have to be perfect. Not only do we have to be perfect, but that any imperfection is just another thing that will cause our addict to continue using. Admitting to someone else what our imperfections are is just another way to get perspective. To see that we can only expect to be human…and that our downfalls have nothing to do with our addict’s usage. We didn’t cause it, we can’t stop it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Social with a lack of security

This post is going to be a little random, but it’s something that’s really been on my mind lately. I was going through boxes and I found some government card with my dad’s first wife’s information on it. I contacted a few family members on his side, asking what they knew about her. I had only heard a few stories from my dad about this woman…and my curiosity was eating away at me. Part of me was hoping to find her, and find out what exactly happened between her and my father. It had always been kind of a taboo topic, and he never voluntarily gave up too much information about her. All I knew is she’d been an artist, and it had been a quick marriage. But something didn’t seem right, and I wanted more information.
                So I went to his family. I called my aunts to ask them what they knew…come to find out…they didn’t know a marriage had even existed. They told me that she was just a girlfriend and that they had never been married. I was officially really confused. According to the entire family…my mom was my dad’s first wife.
                My mom however had another story. He was married to this woman, but when they had divorced she had done everything she could to get away from him. She had not only cut off all contact, but had moved away. From what my mom knew, she had remarried and was doing her best to keep my father away from her.
                This brings me back to the card I found the other day. This card had her full name (at the time), her birth date, and most interestingly her social security number. The box I found this in was a box full of pictures that my father had put together for me years ago…that had been sitting in a storage unit ever since. I can’t imagine that card was supposed to be included. But it really got me to wondering what exactly my father was doing with all of her personal information so many years later.
                I don’t know. Maybe I’m paranoid and maybe I think there’s conspiracy in everything. But coming from a very unstable man with a history of stalking…I want to know more.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My own "12 step" program (Steps 1 and 2)

Alcoholics, addicts, and family members of the two always hear about the 12 steps. And while the steps are slightly different for the user compared to the family members…they give the same idea. These “12 steps” are supposed to help promote healing…12 steps to a new way of life. A chance to really start over, and give yourself a better life than you had. But those steps…aren’t nearly as easy and simple as they may seem. I can’t say much from the addict’s perspective, but as a family member…those steps can be incredibly frustrating.
Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over drugs and other people’s lives – that OUR lives had become unmanageable.
                Seems easy enough right? “I am powerless over drugs and other people’s lives…my life has become unmanageable.” WRONG. I could say it all I wanted, doesn’t mean I believed it. It’s just like any other kind of problem…the first step to recovering is admitting to it. You can’t get help if you “don’t have a problem” after all. But this step isn’t all about admitting that we have a problem. It’s about admitting that even though we know drugs (including alcohol) have taken over in our loved ones life, and ours…we can’t do a darn thing about it. We can only change our own. After all, most of us had already tried talking to our addict, we’d tried begging them to stop, we’d threatened that we’d be gone if they didn’t stop, and we had tried to fix all of the trouble they’d gotten themselves into. But none of it worked.
                So what did all of that do? Frustrated us. It created hours where we sat and cried, blaming God, ourselves, the neighbor…anyone we could think of. It turned us into enablers, and helped us to play the victim. It sent the rest of our lives into total chaos because we couldn’t pull ourselves together. We spent so much time trying to help the person that didn’t want help…instead of realizing that there were ways we could help ourselves. This step is about letting go. It’s about giving up control (not that we ever had it)…and it’s about giving ourselves a chance. It’s about realizing that we couldn’t micromanage the addict’s life…and all we really could do was love them.
Step 2: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
                First of all…we weren’t the crazy ones. The second step used to frustrate me because I wasn’t the one with the problem! I was sane…he was the one that was a mental case. I was just trying to help him get back his sanity…mine was perfectly fine! Wrong again. Think about it. Addict’s lie and manipulate…they are the ideal con artists. It’s how they survive, and keep so many people in their courts. And we let them. We spend hours and hours researching addiction and trying to show them how dangerous it is. We tell them one second that we never want to see them again, and then hours later…go looking for them when they don’t come home in the middle of the night. When they finally seem to understand it and go into “recovery”…we ignore every tell-tale sign of their using because after all...”they promised.” Clearly…we’re not the crazy ones. Yea…ok.
                Second…”a power greater than ourselves.” Easy for you to say. I was raised in a Catholic household. I went to church every week, I went through PSR, communion, confirmation…etc. But I didn’t believe for one second. I mean how could I? These horrible things were happening to me...and no matter how hard I prayed…I couldn’t get it to stop. If there was some “higher power”…what was He waiting for??? I was a good kid, I said my prayers, I listened to my mom (sometimes), I brushed my teeth…why wouldn’t He help me? And on the other hand…maybe I wasn’t a good kid. I spent so much time thinking that I had done something horribly wrong. I didn’t have the slightest clue what I’d done, but why else would I be punished so harshly?
                Step 2 was hard to accept. Possibly one of the hardest for me. But it came with time. I saw the craziness in the things I was doing, and I gave this “greater power” a chance to help. I couldn’t live that way anymore…and I wanted some glimpse of what a life without all the chaos would be like.

Glimpse into the madness

                I lost my job recently, and for the first time in my life I had to file for governmental help for unemployment. I had to do a phone survey because of my age…so they could determine if I was an “at risk youth” (or something like that). And as the operator went through the questions I found myself responding like a robot…”Are you a runaway…” “No” “Are you a high school dropout…” “No” “Are you a child of an incarcerated parent…” “No…wait. Yes…actually I am.” Talk about a shock to the system…
                But let’s backtrack…to the morning of January 23rd, 2011. A day I will never forget, no matter how hard I try.
I woke up with my phone going off over and over again. I had just gotten out of the hospital and had been sleeping on the couch. It was early on a Sunday morning and I didn’t have to be up for anything, so I continually rolled over, silenced my phone, and pulled the covers back over my head. After the third or fourth time I gave up and finally looked at the screen. 727. I knew that area code. That area code almost always meant bad news for me. It was where my father lived…and after the last encounter we’d had…the last person I wanted to talk to was him. Granted…it was only a few days after my birthday so how shocked could I really be that he wanted to talk to me. I unlocked the screen on my phone and went to browse through the messages.
                I read through the first text. What the hell? I was still half asleep and clearly someone had the wrong number. The texts made no sense, and quite frankly I was still too groggy and impatient to sit there and decipher whatever this crazy person was talking about. I responded asking who it was…half of me thinking that one of my father’s drug buddies had gotten a hold of my phone number and was enjoying their early morning harassment. I rolled over to attempt sleep again, and my phone chirped almost instantly. Damn it. I looked at it again, and all the person had sent back was a website. Curiosity got the best of me, so I stumbled and found my computer, and pulled up the address that they’d sent. It wasn’t until the page fully loaded that I realized my life had just been permanently changed.
                It was the main news site from down in Pinellas County, Florida…where my dad lived. And the front page of their website was my dad’s mugshot. There were pictures of a burning house, police, firefighters, crime scene tape…and his mugshot right there. Big and in my face. I swear my heart stopped beating while I processed what I was seeing. The text message that morning had been from his ex girlfriend. And she hadn’t been on drugs…she was telling the truth. I read through the story and felt my stomach twist into knots. “Arrested,” “arson,” “investigation.” I didn’t know what to do first…call my mom, cry…or pinch myself to wake up from this nightmare. I clung to my husband and cried…this couldn’t possibly be happening. My father had burnt this woman’s house down.
                Unfortunately that morning was just the start of the hell that has been the last 9 months. Almost to the day. It started with phone calls, facebook messages, and texts from people I went to high school with. Lucky me…my father’s family was relatively well known in my community…so the news of his “ventures” in Florida made it up here quick as wildfire. It hit the local news for a quick second broadcasting his last name (which of course was my last name in high school). People I hadn’t heard from in years (if ever) wanted to talk and wanted to know what I had to say. Newspapers called for comment. How they got my phone number I guess I’ll never know. It would have been flattering had it not been for such horrible circumstances. No child should ever have to respond to reporters about their parent’s problems.
So there’s your first story. Thought I’d go for the big bang on the first shot. This is just a little glimpse into the insanity that I somehow call my life. My father is still in jail, awaiting trial for the 9 counts they eventually ended up tallying up against him. Between the arson, burglary, DUI, and possession…it’s probably safe to assume that he won’t be getting out any time soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My voice

“Learn to face things as they come, and when they come, with calm deliberation. We may not be able to control events, but we can control our attitudes toward them.” Strange that this was the random quote I found the day I finally decided to start this blog. I guess that pretty much sums up everything I could ever get into in my writing. Situations will arise, sometimes crazy situations that make no sense…and you just have to let them come. You have to adjust, and when you do…you just might learn something.
There are so many stories and topics I have to talk about, and it’s overwhelming to even think of where to start.  It will all stem from a life of addiction. Now, I’m not the addict and I don’t live with the addict. But I used to. I used to have an entirely different life behind closed doors…one that many people have a hard time believing.
I’ve gone through therapy, I’ve gone to group meetings, and I’ve done research. Hell, I spent 20 years of my life trying to understand how I could “fix” my addict. I mean there must be something I could do to make him stop using right? He was acting crazy because of me anyways…he told me so. If only I could pull myself together, be a better support system, and keep him happy…he wouldn’t have to use anymore.
Sure in therapy counselors repeatedly told me how it wasn’t my fault, and how I had to fix me for ME…not for him. Yea…sure. I couldn’t take them seriously. Yes, they went to school for psychology, they’d done specific research on helping people recover from a life surrounding addiction…wonderful. They hadn’t lived it. They hadn’t spent every day in fear wondering whether or not their family member was going to end up dead. Now I can’t say they didn’t help me get over some of my psychological issues at the time…because they did. I learned tools to help myself get out of the darkness of depression I was in. But they didn’t give me the answers I wanted, and according to me…they didn’t understand like they thought they did.
In meetings, things were a little better. People finally kind of understood what I was going through. They understood the compulsive lying, they understood the fears, and they understood the stress that came with this lifestyle we’d been thrown into. But there were still too many differences for me. I couldn’t make the connection that they all could because I always seemed to have one major difference in my story.
I spent hours consulting “Dr. Google,” and desperately trying to find some loophole in addiction. “If you spin around three times, wish REALLY hard, and say some spell in another language…their addiction will be broken.” Quick hint…there’s no such thing as a magic fix for an addict. As much as I’d love to be the one to figure it out…I’ve finally accepted that there is not a damn thing you can do to fix an addict. All you can do…is fix yourself.
You hear about people whose spouses are addicts, alcoholics, or both. You hear about parents whose children are having problems with drugs and alcohol. But what about the kids? What about the children born into the world of an addict, who can’t do a damn thing about it? Those are the voices you never hear. But I’m the daughter of a severe drug addict…and I’m one voice you won’t be able to quiet. I may be only 20 years old…but everything I've gone through has helped shape who I’ve become as an adult.

The recovering skeptic

It took me days to figure out what I was going to name this blog. It seemed a little ridiculous…putting so much thought into the name. But I needed a name that explained everything I was working on, everything I’d been through, and everything I wanted to say. I’d spent years of my life not believing anything that anyone told me. I doubted people’s intentions, I questioned the trust I’d once had for my loved ones, and I didn’t have any idea what the future could possibly have for me. Nothing ever seemed to go my way after all…I had become a skeptic of life, love, and fate.
At the same time as all that…I was the most gullible person you’ll ever meet. I was the never-ending believer in my dad. Every time I saw something that I knew was wrong…I swept it under the rug. I would build myself up so strong, and finally get the courage to walk away from the person hurting me…just to hear that typical “Honey I’m so sorry…you’re my life…and I’d never do anything to hurt you…”. Or I’d get the teary phone call that just tore my heart to pieces. The person crying for forgiveness and promising to get help. The person denying all wrong, and blaming the downfalls on their “illness”. And you can’t be mad at someone who’s sick right?
I was a complete mess. Believing the people who hurt me, and pushing away the ones who just wanted to help. Confusion, frustration, and uncertainty. Not the kind of world I ever saw for myself.
But this blog isn’t necessarily about what or who I was. It is in part…but it’s also much bigger than that. In order to change who you were…you have to decide who you’re going to be. You have to go through your own “recovery” process. Through trial and error, a strong support system, and an even stronger backbone…you can “remodel” yourself, so to speak.
So that’s me. A recovering skeptic. A girl just trying to find her way through this crazy thing called life. Learning how to believe again, and learning how to trust herself for the first time.
             I can be reached on this blog, or at my email at any time.