As my Mama used to call it way back when. Memorial Day brings such memories of visiting small town cemeteries and putting the obligatory brightly colored plastic tub of Mums on the graves. It may sound weird that a cemetery would be a pleasant memory, but seeing all the flowers on the fresh spring grass and walking around reading all the names, was something we looked forward to.
My parents have been gone for 14 years.😰 Oh how I wouldn’t give for one more day of “Decoration day”.
The situation my husband and I were faced with yesterday, had the makings of an expensive and long drug out rescue.
We were in the middle of nowhere, stuck between a dried-out wash and miles of the flat white desert. As we were driving up a trail, The side of the trail gave way dropping the tires into a 2 or 3-foot hole. (Seemed like 10 feet, to me)
The situation seemed hopeless like many others I’ve faced the last few years. Maybe hopeless is too strong of a word. Let’s say: immediately unsolvable & perplexing.
The intense feelings that arise in me- rather suddenly- while sliding down a ravine into a hole, or having a family member verbally assault me- seem to make my whole world collapse.
If you watched Sensitive, The Untold Story, on Netflix, you will understand.
As a child, feeling misunderstood, and as an adult, feeling misperceived- keeps me in constant friction in relationships.
It shuts me down.
Just this week I was told that I was “doing it wrong”…… again. Not doing enough…again. In a situation that is perpetually doomed to all involved simply because there is no linear “how to” do it right instruction book.
Luckily in our situation yesterday, my husband was able to hook the winch up to a sagebrush -a sagebrush! The bush with the shallowest roots ever! -and pull itself out.
It happens over and over again to me: My stinkin- thinkin proved wrong.
In these times, I have to force myself to take a step back and question my ingrained beliefs of doom and gloom. Just like this article states from very well mind.com:
…… just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Your thoughts may be distorted, inaccurate, or downright wrong.
I can certainly blame it on being a highly sensitive person where my feelings and emotions lead the way. Some people might change that label and say I’m a pessimist. ( I actually fit more with a realist especially when im analysing other’s thoughts and feelings).
But regardless, if I want to save myself misery- in- the- moment, a poor quality of thought & life, I must learn to explore the validity and accuracy of my thoughts.
Katie Byron’s book, “Loving What Is” explores this very thing.
As one of her reviews state:
"Suppose you could find a simple way to embrace your life with joy, stop arguing with reality, and achieve serenity in the midst of chaos. That's what Loving What Is offers. It is no less than a revolutionary way to live your life. The question is: Are we brave enough to accept it?"-Erica Jong
Just to show this theory in action, these are the beautiful things I discovered after my chaotic HOUR– mind you.HOUR not day, week, or month. All these things are surviving & showing their beauty, even among a seemingly dry barren environment.
And probably not even a bad day either- if you can find the beauty.
Over 20 million Americans struggle with addiction, but many don’t get the treatment they need.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Addiction is a public health crisis.
The addiction crisis is deadlier than ever before.
Overdoses are the #1 cause of accidental death in our country. 81,230 overdose deaths occurred in the United States from June 2019 through May 2020. That’s the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a single year. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the biggest drivers but the use of stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines is also on the rise. From 2013 to 2018, the rate of cocaine overdose deaths tripled.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, this tragedy has gotten worse. In some communities, overdose-related emergency calls are up as much as 40% and 42 states reported increases in overdose deaths during the pandemic.
And it’s not just overdoses taking lives: In 2018, more than 175,000 deaths in the U.S. were related to alcohol and other drugs. That makes substance use the third largest cause of death in the nation.
Effective addiction treatment is hard to access and rarely covered by insurance.
Only 1 in 10 people who need treatment ever receive it, and even fewer receive high-quality care that’s rooted in scientific evidence. Medications are one of the most effective treatments we have for substance use disorder but many cannot get them. 60% of residential treatment facilities don’t offer addiction medication and only 1% offer all three types of medications.
Even though addiction is an illness, treatment has long existed outside of mainstream medicine. In a survey of physicians and nurse practitioners, only one in four said they’d received addiction training during medical education.
While much of the coverage of the opioid epidemic has focused on white, rural populations, the epidemic affects white, Black and Latinx people proportionally.
In fact, overdoses are rising more quickly among communities of color. The annual growth rate from 2018 to 2020 for Black individuals (16.1%) and Latinx individuals (12.6%) well surpassed the rate of white individuals during the same period (3.8%). What’s more, overdoses among Native Americans are above the national average, and the rate continues to grow.
Stigma makes it more difficult to receive compassionate, high-quality, evidence-based care — and racism makes this worse for Black individuals.
Access to treatment dramatically favors white individuals, who are 35 times more likely to receive a prescription for buprenorphine, a medication for addiction treatment shown to increase the odds of successful, long-term recovery.
People suffering from addiction receive punishment more often than treatment.
Addiction is the only medical illness that’s criminalized, but punishment does not reduce drug use or overdoses.
Approximately 137,000 people are in state prisons or jails in the United States on any given day for drug possession, often for possessing small quantities of illegal drugs. And penalties are doled out inequitably: Racial and ethnic minorities, especially Black and Latinx Americans, are significantly more likely to be arrested and receive stronger sentences for drug-related offenses.
More than half of those in state prisons and two-thirds of people awaiting sentencing in jail exhibit problematic substance use, or meet the criteria for addiction. What’s more, while people with substance use disorders serve jail time, they have incredibly limited access to evidence-based treatments.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Addiction costs our country more than $740 billion each year. And the costs keep rising. We’re hemorrhaging money on this crisis, and all that spending is not doing much to protect our loved ones.
Yesterday, I rolled up to the gas station with ZERO miles until empty. How ironic. I feel it. Most people know the feeling of being on auto-pilot. Doing things out of habit, not mindfulness.
When I am pressed by people as to why I don’t do this or that, or why I don’t seem to care; it’s so hard to explain the emotional energy depletion, and what I have left to apply. (my give a damns are gone)
Where Attention goes Energy flows; Where Intention goes Energy flows! James Redfield
Just like my gas tank; when our emotional buckets are not full; & our energy is all directed toward one problem or situation, we are constantly driving on empty.
That same day I heard this story on the radio about “keeping- on” paddling. It’s a little different context in the sense of “don’t give up“; but you never know when all your paddling will make a difference.
I was at my sons house this weekend which happens to be my childhood home, and as I wandered into the back yard I was startled to see this old tin tub….I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it…..that old tub used to sit in our kitchen in the late sixties & seventies. We didn’t have a washer and my mom would wash clothes in it….but it had another use that I’m not quite sure why….. I remember bathing in that tub! Obviously it was when I was small but it just blows my mind to remember that…… We had a bathtub…… But I don’t remember ever using it….
Yes humble beginnings…
For years and years I based those humble beginnings on my self worth… Still do sometimes..
Small town mentality does that to you at times…
It takes a lot of deep searching, a lot of misjudgment, painful experiences.. To come to realize that your past doesn’t define your future…
And your present circumstances never have to be your future.
I truly believe I was meant to have the parents I had, I think I was brought to help THEM….not trying to be conceited….. just stating facts…. And in the process it molded me into being determined to not just survive….
"All Addictions are attempts to regulate internal emotional state"
Rob Waters January 10, 2019
Dr. Gabor Maté, a well-known addiction specialist and author, spent 12 years working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighborhood with a large concentration of hardcore drug users. The agency where he worked operates residential hotels for people with addictions, a detox center and a pioneering injection facility, where drug users are permitted to shoot up and can get clean needles, medical care and counseling.
Born to a Jewish family in Budapest at the time of the Nazi occupation, he and his parents migrated to Canada, where he earned his medical degree at the University of British Columbia. Maté, whose personal experience informs his work, is known for tracing substance abuse problems to trauma that often starts in childhood and spans generations.
His work has been acclaimed, but a Psychology Today columnist suggested that his theories are reductionist and unsupported by data — a contention Maté disputes.
Amid the severe opioid epidemic in the U.S., Maté recently visited Sacramento, where he conducted workshops with addiction specialists and families affected by addiction. California Healthline contributor Rob Waters caught up with him there. The following interview was condensed and edited for clarity.
Q: A big part of your book “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts” is about how you came to see that childhood trauma and pain lie at the root of addiction. Tell me about your insights.
Downtown Eastside is North America’s most concentrated area of drug use. In 12 years, I worked with hundreds of female patients, and every one had been sexually abused as a child. Men were physically, sexually and emotionally abused, suffered neglect, were in foster care.
Thirty percent of people there are native Indians, what we call First Nations people. For generations, the government abducted their children and sent them to residential schools. Parents were barred from seeing kids. Kids were physically and sexually abused by teachers and priests. Tens of thousands died. Because of multigenerational trauma, native communities have high rates of sexual abuse, violence, addiction and suicide. It’s the most addicted population in Canada.
All addictions — alcohol or drugs, sex addiction or internet addiction, gambling or shopping — are attempts to regulate our internal emotional states because we’re not comfortable, and the discomfort originates in childhood. For me, there’s no distinction except in degree between one addiction and another: same brain circuits, same emotional dynamics, same pain and same behaviors of furtiveness, denial and lying.
Q: You were born into a Jewish family in Budapest during the Holocaust. How did that affect your life?
I was born in 1944, and two months later the Germans came in. Hungary then had the only population of Jews in Eastern Europe that hadn’t been annihilated. Now it was our turn. My mother had a stressed pregnancy. My father’s away in forced labor; she doesn’t know if he’s dead or alive. When I’m 5 months of age, my maternal grandparents are sent to Auschwitz and gassed to death. My mother is 24, terrified and depressed. In October, they start killing Jews in Budapest, taking them to the Danube and shooting them.
When I’m 11 months, she gives me to a total stranger. She said: “Please take this baby out of here because I can’t keep him alive.” I didn’t see her for six weeks. In a child’s mind, that’s abandonment. I got the template for addiction: a lot of emotional pain, which I suppressed.
Q: You write about your own addictions — being a workaholic and binge shopper of classical music, once spending $8,000 in a week on CDs.
I was not addicted to substances but I might as well have been. I couldn’t stop myself. I lied to my wife. I lied to my kids. It doesn’t matter which addiction you’re looking at; it’s the same dynamics.
Q: Last year in the U.S., an estimated 72,000 people died of drug overdoses, most from opioids.The U.S. penalizes drug use harshly and has the largest prison population in the world — 2.3 million people, almost 1 percent of the adult population. Meanwhile, 90 percent of people with substance use disorders in the U.S. are not getting treatment. What’s your take on this approach?
The more pain you cause people, the more you shame and isolate them, the worse they’ll feel about themselves. The more suffering you impose, the more you strengthen their need to escape. If you wanted to design a system to maintain drug use and enhance the profits of the illegal drug trade, I would design the system you have.
Q: Let’s talk about the science. How does trauma in the early years of life affect brain development and predisposition to addiction?
Studies show that early stress affects both the nerve cells in the brain and the immune systems of mice and humans and makes them more susceptible to cocaine as adults. If you look at brain circuits implicated in impulse regulation or stress regulation or emotional self-regulation, all are impaired in addicts.
Q: Why do you think the opioid epidemic exploded in the way it has in recent years?
On top of the childhood trauma and the profound social and economic dislocation so many people experience, most physicians are completely uninformed about trauma and don’t understand how to address chronic pain or treat addiction. Hence they have a propensity to prescribe opiates all too quickly without looking at root causes or alternatives. Most people introduced to opiates in recent years started on medical prescriptions. When these are stopped, they turn to illicit substances. All this is greatly exacerbated by pharmaceutical companies’ well-documented drive to induce doctors to prescribe.
Q: Critics like psychologist and addiction specialist Stanton Peele say you’re proposing a reductionist vision in which abuse history and biochemical changes to the brain inevitably lead to substance abuse.
Peele totally misconstrues my argument. Nobody’s saying that every traumatized person becomes addicted. I’m saying that every addicted person was traumatized. There are other outcomes of trauma including cancer, autoimmune disease, mental illness — addiction is only one of them.
Q: You write with compassion about the people you worked with. But you also write about them as broken people who rarely seem to recover. What good are you doing?
If somebody had cancer and pain and you couldn’t cure the cancer, what would you do? Would you say, “I’m not going to help you any more”? Or would you try to ameliorate their suffering? The essence of harm reduction is you reduce the harm. You don’t impose abstinence. If they choose that at some point, I provide whatever support they need.
I realize why ONE DIRECTION picked this name for their band . It’s Genius! Yesterday I went to a meeting in a room where there was one of those butcher block wood tables. It immediately took me back in time, 20 years ago, when I wanted one in my kitchen for my little family. I looked and searched and saved. It seemed like it took years but I finally got it. Then it was on to the next project or “thing”.
Although tables are just things… it the MOMENTUM that I’ve been thinking about since then.
The seemingly mundane tasks of buying a piece of furniture, or clearing out weeds are couples making their dreams a reality. At the time it seems stressful. It seems like one more thing to do. It seems as if you will never have the money to do everything you want. It seems as soon as one child gets a bigger bed then the washer goes out.
But all these THINGS are LIFE… they are what keeps us going. It’s what keeps us accomplishing things- the HOPE of making things just a little better for those we love.
When you have NO DIRECTION, what do you do? You tread water. You’re a saddlebag-just along for the ride.
It’s called survival mode..we all do at it certain times in our life. When we are grieving, when we are healing from an accident, an illness, a divorce-we go on automatic pilot. But there are people who, for whatever reason: poor education, poor social skills, or addiction to alcohol or a drug…. seem to live in survival mode…. 🙁
My parents were in that survival mode. I wasn’t raised to plan ahead. I wasn’t told that there are endless upon endless possibilities out in the world. There was no internet. I didn’t even know what existed outside of our little town of TURKEY LAND. I had to learn it all as an adult.
I wasn’t given the confidence to conquer the world or my demons and insecurities. I was taught ( shown) to be a victim- always less than. The tone was “you are a bypasser-someone who watches-watches everyone else move forward.
But I knew there was a better way. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to feel in control of my life. I wanted a perfect love, I wanted “perfect” children; like all the “other” families. (When you are in victim mentality, everyone else has it better).
And I worked hard for all that. I did my best. But the years that I prospered were when I had momentum. When I had a goal, a plan. Nursing school is one example. But the other seemingly mundane years of daily life, that’s where the real magic lies. We dont see it until later sometimes, when we are ailing, confused, or just wafting through the muck. We see the real benefit of knowing where you are going and how each daily task will get you there – or how it won’t.
My son is the perfect example of Momentum. In the middle of his senior year in high school, he was told he couldn’t graduate and didn’t have enough time to make up the credits. So he did every public educations commercials’ poster of “stay cool- stay in school”, and he dropped out. He went to work- and he went to work hard. He busted his butt, proved himself. He hooked up with people who eventually believed in him and he went to town. He has had momentum- he HAS momentum big TIME, and he accomplishes truckloads of stuff. From one end of the state to the other- building, planning, mentoring, budgeting. Creating a life of purpose. Building a beautiful new home for his family, Running his own business & being a fantastic foreman for a huge company. (that’s what he tells me anyway).
How does he do it? Momentum, passion & surrounding himself with the right support. He has a beautiful wife who fully supports him because they are LOOKING IN THE SAME DIRECTION. One definition of love is not gazing into each other’s eyes but looking FORWARD in the same direction.
My personality.. although at times I may seem to be a free spirit and sort of a gypsy, I do come alive when I have direction, when I feel safe, loved, supported. When people recognize the potential in me and appreciate my efforts and my uniqueness.There is NO BETTER FEELING.
When we are in a midst of chaos or confusion (& sooo many things contribute to chaos or confusion: gossiping, poor health habits, messiness & disorganization) ;that is the time to stop and ask ourselves, “Is this what I really want & will this help get me there?
I wrote this 5 years ago.
Today, this ‘momentum boy’ I spoke of, sits in solitary confinement for 12 days now, all for feeding the cravings of his disease and for possession of a substance that his body & brain decided long ago was necessary for LIFE & survival. It pushed out everything else. It took his momentum away from all the good stuff. He has lost ALL of what I mentioned: home, car, business, family & most of all, his drive, his hope, his humor.😢 He’s let out for his hearings for you twice a week so that the judge & the ex’s lawyer can berate him for his “choices” & lack of fulfilling his obligations.
It’s the saddest story of my life.
My family fractured, my grandkids kept away.
Oh, what was/is this supposed to teach us? Don’t be too proud? Always be grateful?
Life’s pressure to succeed is not more important than the body’s need to rest and refresh with the simple things.
That feeling of always “doing it wrong”, saying the wrong thing or not fitting in, or even having the wrong last name. (That’s another story) seemed to plague me. This could be referred to as having a inferiority complex, among other labels. Or it could just be normal human insecurities which come out in times of vulnerability.
So if I am such an expert at this feeling of “lack” and being accepted, why then am I unable to completely accept others’ frailties and unfavorable character traits?
I try. And I’m convinced that my intense struggles the last few years were to not-so-gently force me into loving unconditionally. Myself, my kids & other relationships.
First I became face to face with the reality of my son’s addiction. That’s enough to shake up any sense of insecurity. Soon after, I met my husband to be, who further taught me acceptance.
As my family slowly disintegrated from the far-reaching effects of the addiction; I was forced to accept others’ pain in whatever way it manifested. I am learning that in the midst of (& despite) my deep pain & despair, others have their way of coping and being. Some choose to forget it, keep busy, and/ or stay positive. Some remain vindictive & offended (from MY perspective).
The truth is, we don’t truly know what motivations someone has or what their real thoughts are, about the effects of trauma unless they are telling us directly. Assuming things by their actions is just projecting.
People suffer in silence....
In truth, I’ve always admired authenticity and despised ‘fakeness’. My husband says I can spot a disingenuous person a mile away, but I have come to believe that the masks people wear (the real masks- under the masks) are to protect themselves from rejection of their true selves.
"I love the authenticity in this moment. Gender doesn't matter here. It just happens to be be a man and a woman in this scene. Two people had the courage to stand in ALL that they are, and all that they are not, in this moment. One sportin the balls to reveal, the other sportin the balls to receive. Both require bravery. Both require vulnerability. Relationships can be messy. Life is about ALL of it, as it comes, and how we tango thru the mazes that can lead us to our Center, and how the rawness of allowing, feels arising from that Center, that connects us"-Ari Roberts.
If we can put Politics aside, Hollywood aside, if we can look at the the message here…..of accepting someone…in all their messiness…. Whether a love partner, a child, a challenging parent, a or a needy friend; & drop the notion of molding them into the exact replica of the child or lover or supportful friend that we desire- just meeting them where they’re at…..❣️ it will open us up to receive & embrace whatever that moment is for or even what that person is here to teach us.
That’s what makes life beautiful- even under intense pain & suffering- to crack open new truths revealing the beauty that lies beneath.
When I was little, I had this recurring dream that I could fly. I actually looked forward to sleep so I could go on my own little flying adventure. I was always startled when I woke up and had to face reality.
Just like this drone footage my husband took in Texas last weekend, I could fly above my child problems, my insecurities, my dysfunctional family. I could look at all the Brady Bunch houses that I imagined had warm, fun, rich families inside them.
So this weekend while visiting this beautiful lake, my husband filmed with his drone.
I didn’t know it until I returned home but right by that lake in Texas, is a rehab that does the real brain mapping for addiction and other ingrained habits.
I had originally heard about that through the Matthews Hope organization and was fascinated. I’m not sure if it’s the same technology, but it doesn’t matter anyway. I called regarding admission for my son who’s currently incarcerated on a 30 day hold. His pending trial is for possession & back child support that he didn’t pay while in active addiction & in survival mode.
This rehab charges more than Eric Clapton’s rehab in the West Indies-yup, I have looked into sending him out of the country!-so it’s not an option for negotiating in place of jail time. It’s good stuff though. Stuff my son would like instead of the fluffy feely God stuff.
iTMS™ induces neuromodulation. Neuromodulation is the process of resetting the brain frequency to the same rate in all functional areas of the brain.
An electroencephalogram (EEG) measures electrical patterns of the brain. These patterns reflect cortical activity and are commonly known as brainwaves. We use quantitative EEG (q-EEG), also referred to as brain mapping, and an electrocardiogram (EKG) which maps the electrical activity of the heart, to further understand an individual's brain activity.
It looks like a great program.
For now I’m stuck in this powerless, sad mode. My son has been in solitary confinement for 10 days, for a disease that’s so bad it tells him he doesn’t have a disease. It tells him to do anything to feed his cravings. Yes, and now he’s paying for his Do Anythings. I get it. What I don’t get, is how happy that makes some people. To revel in another’s pain. To kick a man when he’s down for how he’s hurt you when he was being a puppet to the most insidious, unrelenting, all encompassing evil disease there is.
Hurt people hurt people. We all know….but where does it end? Everybody’s hurting, but you would think that the more “healthy brains” would be more able to stop the cycle.
But alas, people are people. Inflicting or witnessing punishment will always be rewarding to some…
I’ll leave you with my Mama’s favorite artist John Denver: