A Love Note To Mothers on Mother’s Day

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Photo @ Randy Mason

Dear Mothers,

When my youngest daughter was actively using heroin, the holidays were difficult. Mother’s Day was, by far, the prize winner. I spent the day dwelling on the possibility that I might never have a Mother’s Day with all of my children by my side; the reward for having dried oceans of tears, wiped noses and butts, and attended every type of game or performance imaginable. Having raised four children I found it impossible to enjoy the other three knowing that one of them may not be alive at that time next year.

I was not over reacting. I had watched the previous year as mother after mother lost her child. I went to funerals and hugged broken families and whispered the same meaningless expressions of sympathy, where no words suffice. Helpless to offer comfort for which there is no comfort. My own fears of possible loss reinforced.

A very wise woman who I look to like a mother now that my own is gone told me once, “You are only as happy as your most unhappy child.” It was painfully true.

So many years later I am blessed that I will spend time with my beautiful daughter and enjoy my other children. That fear of her not being here next year is all but gone, replaced by the normal fears of an ordinary mother who worries too much, making her text me when she goes home from my house, as well as the occasional fear of avalanches, alien abductions and myriad of other things that defy reality.  I look back and wish I had spent more time enjoying my other children over the years on this day because the truth of the matter is that, although when we exist in the hell of active addiction, our chances of loss are exponentially increased, we are not promised any more than the minute we exist in with anyone.

So, if you are lucky enough to have your children healthy, try not to spend too much time worrying about what might happen tomorrow. Live in this moment, even if just for today.

If your child is struggling or you are missing a child today for any reason and you have other children, remember that they didn’t ask for this any more than you did. Try to count your blessings rather than your heartaches. They need you and you need them.

If your only child is out there somewhere and you are living in the terror, a feeling I will never forget, try to take a few minutes and do something nice for yourself. For me that always meant a pint of Ben and Jerrys, but do what makes you happy.  You deserve it. Try to be hopeful too, because this time next year you might be, like me, celebrating with your child who looks a lot better than you ever dared to dream.

And for all of us, pick up the phone, text, email or send some flowers to the mother that has lost her child due to addiction or any other reason. Ask her if she wants to get out for a while. Don’t assume you know she wants to be alone. We never know what someone else needs. Ask!  Then be there. Listen to her stories if she wants to talk. Call her child by their name. The women that have paid the ultimate price, many of them mother to their own grandchildren, deserve a day to celebrate themselves and all that they have been through.

I carry you all in my heart. God bless and Happy Mother’s Day to us all.

– Maureen Cavanagh

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I Am Never Tired.

So incredibly powerful

Heroin Heroine

I am never tired.
I am consumed by the what-ifs.
A 100 pound mother in boxing gloves with starry eyeteeth.

You can not tell me to let it die.
I will not let it die.

My furnace is stoked with yesterdays newsprint
dirty fingers licked by white sleeves,
silver smoke smothering all rational thought.

But rational thought is a white flag,
and I am a-boil in shaky embers and the bluest of ash.
I am aware that we are both a-simmer
vein deep in illogical warfare.

But I will not accept the prophetic precision
with which you stick your self made kewpie doll.
Make no mistake this is a race
Desperately filled with
red poppies, red poppies
ground into artificial blood.

But I will not be detracted from my stoking,
gathering tiny fairy twigs and discarded birthday ribbon.
I am a swollen bonfire
belching a message to the sky:
There…

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Music and Addiction

guitar

 

Can They Help Recovering Addicts?

Michelle Peterson, Founder of Recoverypride.org

What is Music Therapy?
Music is powerful. It can change a person’s mood and provoke the best and worst memories. The power of music is so potent that therapists have found ways to use it in order to improve patients’ moods and relieve stress and anxiety. Music therapy can help address a number of cognitive, social, and emotional issues in people of all ages and backgrounds. It can involve listening to music, making music, and analyzing music as a way to explore emotions relating to an illness. Learning to play an instrument can help retrain the brain– something incredibly helpful for people struggling with mental illness or addiction.

Scientists and doctors began exploring the healing powers of music in the 1960s. Over the years, hospitals, clinics, schools, nursing homes, and substance abuse treatment centers began using music therapy as a way to help patients express difficult emotions in a nonverbal way. Music therapy can help with many kinds of emotional issues, including:

● Anxiety disorders
● Emotional and behavioral problems
● Depression
● Memory loss due to dementia
● Chronic pain
● Terminal illness acceptance
● Addiction recovery

What is Art Therapy?
Like music therapy, art therapy is a remedial activity used to address cognitive, social, and emotional issues. Creating art can help reduce stress while improving self-esteem and awareness. With the help of a professional, the patient then explores the underlying messages communicated through their art. This helps with the healing process as the patient works toward resolving their issues and managing their behaviors relating to their emotions.

Art therapy combines the therapist’s understanding of human development and psychological theories with the healing potential of art. It can be used in various therapies for individuals as well as couples, families, and communities. It’s used in mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, forensic institutions, community outreach programs, nursing homes, and corporate structures. Art therapy can help treat issues that include:

● Trauma recovery
● Anxiety disorders
● Depression and other mental disorders
● Cognitive problems
● Emotional difficulties
● Grief or loss treatment
● Addiction recovery

Addiction and Its Causes
Substance abuse and addiction affect millions of people all over the world. In the United States alone, one in every 10 people over the age of 12 are addicted to drugs or alcohol– that’s an estimated 23.5 million people. The causes of addiction are unclear. While general consensus categorizes addiction as a disease of the brain, some people see it as a condition that requires continued management throughout the addict’s life.

The disease model for addiction recognizes that while the substance abuse began as a voluntary action, after a certain amount of time, it causes changes in the brain that make it difficult to function normally without drugs or alcohol. Over time, substance abuse becomes less of a choice and more of an involuntary compulsion. On the other hand, the continued management theory promotes the idea that the addict is ultimately in control of their condition, and through behavioral changes, they can manage it.

Treating Addiction
There are various treatments for addiction, and no one option is right for everyone. To be effective, treatment should address all of the various issues that contribute to the addictive behaviors. To do this, many people choose multiple therapies to address their needs. Behavioral counseling is generally considered a good foundation for addiction treatment. On top of that, addicts can also use medication, medical applications like neurofeedback therapy, and alternative treatments including– you guessed it– music and art therapy.

If music therapy sounds appealing to you, consider learning to play a beginner-friendly instrument like the clarinet, which is often touted as one of the easiest options to learn to play. It’s helpful to do some research before investing in an instrument, and there are a variety of buying guides online that can help. If a visually creative venture sounds more appealing, consider purchasing a set of paint and brushes; there are countless free tutorials online via sites like YouTube that can help you brush up on some basic skills, or even teach you how to paint a particular project like a scenic landscape.

One of the things that makes both music and art therapy so effective is how enjoyable they are. Addiction treatment is rarely pleasurable. It involves a lot of emotional conflict and facing mistakes made in the past. By incorporating pleasant experiences like art and music into the treatment, the patient is more likely to stick with it. Long-term follow-up is crucial for recovery.

Music and art therapy use the creative process to tap into difficult emotions. Both treatments can help with the millions of people who suffer from addiction and substance abuse. While no one recovery treatment is best for everyone, using art and music therapy as a supplemental treatment for addiction helps with self-esteem and expression.

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The Cat Is Out Of The Bag- Part 1

The Addict In My Basement

The cat is out of the bag. The. Cat. Is. Out. Of. The. Bag. I wasn’t saying anything to anyone, or posted publicly because, well, you know, superstitious. But, someone, Ms. Fancy Pants, has been posting on Facebook abut 5 seconds after she turned her phone on, so I guess, I owe everyone an explanation.

JoDee is home. She is clean. She is doing well. Much, much better then I have seen in many years. Instead of addictionish asshole-ness, now she is just normal millennial asshole-ness. It’s a welcome change.

How that happened is a story that will be hard to tell. To put certain emotions into words is so, so hard sometimes. Describing the chain of events that lead up to her homecoming involves an article on Facebook, a nightmare and a gut feeling. Buckle in because this is going to be an interesting ride. And it won’t be…

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The Sad and Suffering

My Life In The Middle Ages

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“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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THE CONFOUNDING NATURE OF ADDICTION

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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