The Sad and Suffering

My Life In The Middle Ages


“It says here that less than a year ago you tried to hang yourself?”

I’m asking this of a young woman, not yet thirty, as part of her intake assessment to the drug and alcohol rehab facility where I work.  I HAVE to ask questions like this in order to assess if someone is safe enough at that moment to be admitted or if they need to be taken to a more appropriate facility or what is known as “a higher level of care.”

This wasn’t her first attempt and during her rattling off the details with little-to-no affect she initially remembered two others, and later in the conversation remembered that there was another one that she had forgotten about while she was in fifth grade.  Fifth. Grade.

It’s not lost on me or people who know me well that asking those suffering from addiction about suicide attempts comes with…

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Chasing the Butterfly

From Each Day A New Beginning, July 19:

‘At fifteen, life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice.’—Maya Angelou

“We had to surrender to a power greater than ourselves to get where we are today. And each day, we have to turn to that power for strength and guidance. For us, resistance means struggle—struggle with others as well as an internal struggle.

Serenity isn’t compatible with struggle. We cannot control forces outside of ourselves. We cannot control the actions of our family or our co-workers. We can control our responses to them. And when we choose to surrender our attempts to control, we will find peace and serenity.

That which we abhor, that which we fear, that which we wish to conquer seems suddenly to be gone when we decide to resist no more—to tackle it no more.

The realities of life come to us in mysterious ways. We fight so hard, only to learn that what we need will never be ours until the struggle is forsaken. Surrender brings enlightenment.”

Thank you, Amazon customer, for this wonderful review of my book, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym):

“One of the most honest and insightful accounts to date of a mother’s struggle to win the battle over her daughter’s addiction. Told in unsparing detail, it takes us step by step through the dark tunnel of despair with all the triumphs and mistakes on the road to recovery. It is an inward journey that reveals three important concepts: understanding the powerlessness of addiction, the willingness to let go and the courage to change. This is not just a recovery book but a riveting story from beginning to end that flies in the face of despair and embraces the strangest paradox of all – absolute surrender in order to win.” ~Claire Demers

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Dr. MacAfee told me, When families are in the throes of struggling with addiction, they do what they know best: They help and support the addict. Families, however, do not anticipate that the nature of addiction is one of exploitation, manipulation, and betrayal. Oftentimes, the addict exhausts and abuses a family’s resources and good will, leaving the family in a state of psychological and financial desperation. It is not only how addiction destroys the addict, but it is also how addictions destroys the family.

My reflection: When our children struggle, we move in to help; however, the addict exploits this natural act of love and protection. Quickly, the chase of the drug is overpowering. The addict loses himself, and we, the family, lose our loved one.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction takes the natural love of a family and smashes it into pieces. The lies and deceit – it’s what addiction does best. Today, I’ll stay close with love and compassion, but it’s imperative that I stay out of the chaos.


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Letting Go — Magnolia Beginnings

I resolve to take back the remnants of my life, and then it happens- in the shifting swiftness of everything, cyclone-like, pulling me into the center of the chaos without a chance to grasp on to myself- I plummet, head-first, all too often, into the lives of everyone, patching their open wounds with fragments of […]

via Letting Go — Magnolia Beginnings

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Magnolia, Process, and a Flawed System

The Addict In My Basement

This is the story of one young man’s willingness to get help, and the three women with the determination to find him that help. Picture it: The year was 2017, the month June. Three women with no prior relationship or association are brought together by the sheer desperation of one young man. It all started with a young girl. That young girl saw that her boyfriend needed help. He was going down a bad path and it was terrifying to watch. She turned to the one person everyone turns to in their hour of need: her mother.  Let’s call her Karen. Karen and her daughter sought advice on how to get treatment for this young man by someone who had been through it more times than she cared to discuss: me.  They wanted to know how to get him help, where to go, what to say, who to tell and…

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The Yellow Brick Road

A Member Shares on Recovery: “The Yellow Brick Road”

“We are both on a path, the addict and I. When I think of this path, I often remember the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz. Has anyone ever noticed when Dorothy starts down the yellow brick road there is also a red brick road? As a child, I always wondered what would have happened to Dorothy if she had taken the red brick road instead of the yellow brick road.

Well, I look at our paths, the addict’s and mine, as being on those two roads—me on the yellow and her on the red. We are not supposed to cross over to each other’s paths. That would not help either of our programs…

Sometimes I catch up with others on my path, or they catch up with me: other parents, other spouses, other loved ones affected by the disease of addiction. I know I am never alone. The same thing happens on the addict’s path. She may meet other addicts, some in recovery, some not.

Sometimes addicts may stop and sit for awhile; they may ponder whether this is the right path for them. We can only hope they will move on, but we cannot pull them forward because we are not on the same path and it is not our job. That job belongs to their Higher Power and the timing of it is completely out of our control.

Sometimes both of our paths are fraught with obstacles the same as Dorothy’s with the Wicked Witch, the flying monkeys, and the poison poppies. How we deal with obstacles and how we manage to keep moving on is the learning part of this journey. Sometimes we get help from others on the same path such as the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion, in the form of experience, strength and hope. This helps us to stay focused and grounded.

If we keep going, the addict and I, we will one day get to Emerald City. But please keep in mind, even after Dorothy reaches Emerald City, she still had challenges to overcome, just as my addict and I will.

Keep coming back! Don’t leave before the miracle happens.

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My reflection: My prayer is simple: may this entry bring comfort to another mom or dad, brother or sister.

Today’s Promise to consider: We must join our voices into the resounding chorus that clamors for help for our addicted loved ones. There can be no rest until those who are suffering get the help they need. The hurting never stops for those who have lost a child. We must all hold hands and walk together.

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This is part of a series of monthly posts that reference many conversations with Dr. MacAfee. Thanks, Doc.

A client and friend of Dr. MacAfee, the mother of a recovering addict wrote to me: One of the most important lessons I learned from Dr MacAfee was to hold a mirror up to my son and reflect back to him, without anger or judgment, the honest truth of his behavior and actions. Dr. MacAfee encouraged me to be truthful at all times because without truth both of us would live in denial about what was really happening.

My reflection: I was never very good at honesty when my son was in active addiction. I walked on eggshells, trying diligently to avoid confrontations. This didn’t help my son, our family or me.

Today’s Promise to consider: Addiction survives in lies, while sobriety thrives in honesty. The Big Book reiterates that point saying, sobriety is not possible without rigorous honesty. Today, I will find my courage and be honest with my addicted loved one, without judgment or anger, and with love and kindness. Neither of us needs another battle, but we both need truth.

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MEGYN KELLY JUN 25 2017, 7:00 PM ETHow to Find a Good Drug Treatment Program and Avoid the Bad Onesby LISA RIORDAN SEVILLE, HANNAH RAPPLEYE and ANNA R. SCHECTER

There’s also a vibrant network of online groups have also cropped up, like those run by the nonprofit Magnolia New Beginnings. Founder Maureen Cavanagh said members in the closed groups are vetted, so once they’re inside, they can trust that the advice they get is good and can feel free to voice their pain and provide emotional support.
“They realize, sometimes for the first time, that there are other people going through this and they’re not alone,” Cavanagh said. “The worst thing in the whole world is to feel like you can’t talk to anybody about this.”

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Suffering Is Optional


Photo Credit: Randy Mason

From Hope for Today, January 30:

“The alcoholic was obsessed with alcohol, and I was obsessed with the alcoholic. I watched, monitored, controlled, and exercised my need to feel hurt. I felt self-pity, embarrassment, superiority, resentment, and anger. All of these took obsessive turns filling my mind and heart. I wondered why I indulged in these draining behaviors and emotions, which only resulted in further misery for me.

In Al-Anon I began to realize that wretchedness and gloom, though familiar and comfortable to an extent, were optional. Serenity is possible with changes in my attitude, expectations and responses. Today I want to exercise my option to be happy, to feel calm and good.”

I indulged in these draining behaviors because I was sick too, a fact that many of us find very hard to accept. Joining this recovery fellowship has been a real education for me, as I gradually learned that loving an addict and/or living with him/her has taken a powerful toll on me in ways that I often couldn’t see.

What may have appeared to be healthy coping mechanisms when I was a child—trying to control the chaos around me, for example—has become a losing battle when I’ve tried to take control of the addict I love. “My life had become unmanageable…” Yes, when I needed pills to go to sleep. Yes, when I couldn’t afford many things for myself because I was giving money to my addict. Yes, when  I took responsibility for the tragedy of addiction, isolating myself behind a curtain of shame, like a bad person, certain that God was punishing me.

Now, I sleep at night. Now, I sometimes treat myself to things. Now, I don’t feel responsible or ashamed. Now, I know I’m a good person. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

And therein lies much of my happiness: acceptance of what is and faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to. My Higher Power, far from punishing me, walks with me always. I just have to offer Him my hand.

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