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Chains

Chains– from Kathleen Donahue’s Facebook

“My Shoes
Don’t judge me because as far as I know I haven’t let you borrow my shoes to walk in…
My shoes have a story
Do you wish to step into them???
They hide many muddy prints
Beneath the dirt are
Blisters, broken toes

My shoes have a story
Do you wish to step into them???

They hardened from many
Beneath the steps of many are
Buried, broken hopes
My shoes have a story
Do you wish to step into them???

They hurt from walking
Beneath the hurt are stories
You may not understand
The miles and miles I have ran
See my shoes have story
Just as your shoes have story
So, do you wish to step into them???
Before judging my path I walk
Remember…
Don’t judge someone’s choices if you don’t understand their reason’s… and second never judge someone by what you hear from others”.

Photo by author

The shoes above are my 35 yr old son’s after he had been “gone” and spiraling in his illness for 9 months. I didn’t see him the entire time. Now, w-e are 2 years later and I haven’t seen him for 11 months. My heart aches at the travesties of this insidious disease. I understand people have free will but this particular “choice” is complicated. The more I read about Purdue and the Sackler family and also of the history of the governments’ involvement in this industry; I am saddened.

We, as a middle class, slightly poor but blessed- family will never recoup what my sons addiction has caused our family. He lost a million dollar business that he built up himself and now has nothing to his name. Each of us in the family, are out thousands of dollars at trying to sustain his life and find recovery for him. He has lost over 100 lbs & its difficult to not want to feed him every day. As it is, I might buy him a hamburger once a month when he gets desperate enough to ask. I do send him the church free lunch into for the homeless, but my son has a disease that tells him he doesn’t have a disease and that he will eat tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes though and he still has enough pride left to not think he is “homeless”. It breaks my heart and I will always have compassion for the homeless & for substance users because I have seen how quickly they can spiral and lose everything. It’s just not so simple as “get a job”.

Please can we stop arguing about choice vs disease, clean vs MAT, who’s worthy of narcan & harm reduction and just save lives where we can????

Thank you😭

Especially if they felt like they were going to go crazy in the initial stages of trying a substance just to feel better, as i stated in this post

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:5

My goal right now is to love my son despite his choices💔💯💔
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The Black Bag

The bag.

That blasted black bag.

It sits there in all its lonely glory, awaiting to be carried, slung, moved & re-arranged. Hoping for a final home that seems only a dream.

The bag has been drug around for months. Every holiday – in fact- for the last 10 months. Transplanted from it’s temporary base in a cold garage only to be reduced to the seat of a car, then many a cold tile hotel floor.

It’s contents of candy & shoes sit willingly and patiently awaiting their owner to adore them with greatfulness.

Doesn’t seem like much. But it makes this momma feel better. That is, if it’s ever delivered. I haven’t seen my boy for 10 months.

The future recipient of this bag, is a little boy who once spent days digging a moar- a canal really- to bypass the spring flooding that, in his mind, threatened his childhood home.

In reality, it was just mild spring run-off from the small fishing pond above our house.

He would rush through the back door of the house like a whirlwind, a muddy wind-of -whirl that is; looking for a treat or a drink or another tool to make his project more efficient. He would leave as fast as he came, leaving you perplexed but with a certain envy at his vigor and vivaciousness & curiosity at what drives them both.

The future recipient of this bag, once as a 23 year old hard-working construction foreman was driving home through a dark deep canyon over a rural mountain range. The work week of 60 hours was complete and he had a wad of cash in the front seat with him. He then rolled his huge $50k truck into a ravine where he had no service. He actually walked away from it without a scratch, up to the road where miraculously his electric personality drew in a morsel of service long enough to make a call to get help.

This would be the first of many appointments his guardian angels would make with him. And the first of many “wads of cash” that tumbled over the dark edge in his grasp.

This boy-turned-man-turned entrepreneur-turned-dad-turned substance use dependant; now owns no truck, no cash, no home and hasn’t seen his kids in over a year. The deals he once maneuvered with crane companies, inspectors, pipelines, & electricians are now replaced with deals for hits or points or whatever else will fulfill his audacious cravings that this monster has made him a slave of.

My little boy is lost.

I’m bringing him his favorite candy. The candy he always asks for when he detoxes or is clean. I want weight on him. I want the big brawny son I remember being proud of. I can’t even look at the pictures of him now. The ravages of drugs are not just some picture in a Don’t Do Drugs pamphlet. These ravages are visible front and center on the sunken-in skin and pale eyes of my beautiful first born son.

My strong, funny, determined warrior of a son.

My son who loves fully & completely. My son who feels deep shame. My son who is so embarrassed of the mess he made of his life that he stays locked in this self- determined prison. The ligitimity of his devotion to this disease is evidenced by the rough corrosive steel chains that bind him to the day to day depravity of that lifestyle.

Hence the black bag.

The bag that this mom hopes will breathe a wisp of life back into a boy who has lost his sense of everything good and healthy.

This cloth & leatherish vinyl bag, stitched together with my last threads of life strung with hope for my boy.

In it, some simple candy to remind him of the sheer taste of joy & pleasure of life outside of drugs.

A new pair of shoes for him to remember the privilege of a regular life and where those shoes can take him if only he leads the way to honor and
integrity again.

Also in the bag is a pair of gloves. New, stiff faux leather. The droopy finger spaces longing for human hands to fill up space and mold them to what they were designed to do. To remind him of his incredible talent. Of how his hands have not lost that talent and how they can make his dreams come true again.

I will find my boy. I dream of him running to the bag. His face full of adventure like that muddy little boy running in the house looking for treats.

My dream is he will accept the gifts offered as a hope that he is still worthy of a life of joy and respect again. That he will go back out into the world and take that shovel back. Take it and dig his way out of this darkness into the light of true joy and happiness.

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A Day in the life of the Mom of anAddict

Carry Yourself Darling

No, no one said that to me. What they really said was:

“What exactly is your deal?

You look like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders…..

I mean it can’t be THAT bad……

Just tell whoever’s bothering you to go away…..

Have you gained weight?
You look….different…..

Your hair….. it’s so thin….”

And what I’d like to say back is:

“Do you know what’s it’s like to wake up and not dare look at your phone for a missed call?

“THE CALL?”

Do you know what’s it’s like to fix coffee & breakfast when you know your son has lost over 100 lbs and probably hasn’t ate since a week ago when you sent him a hamburger while he was stranded in Vegas because his “friends” got arrested?

Do you know what’s it like to struggle with the simple choice of getting your son a $54 hotel room until morning when the bus leaves to take him home?

Do you know the reason you struggle with it is due to the risk of having the hotel call you and say there are loud people in the room and now a dog and now it’s a $450 cleaning fee added to your credit card.?

Do you know what’s it’s like to have your son say security keeps escorting him out because he stinks & isn’t gambling and only has one shoe on?

Then have him say that he can’t stay outside for longer than 10 minutes or his fingers go numb?

Do you know what’s it’s like to finally convince him to  Uber to the homeless shelter only to have him send a picture saying it was closed & he was running from some guys who jumped him?

30 long minutes of imagining my boy being beat & stabbed in the darkness of Vegas’s back street while trying to get the Uber driver to go back?

Then ubering him to the shuttle to which he didn’t make the 6 am run.

Then, Suddenly he texts his ex-wife that he loves her and isn’t going to make it because he can’t move, his lips are blue and has no where to go and no shoes to get there. 

Do you know the feeling of your son being in a large city somewhere between the Uber dropoff and a slow cold death?

21 phone calls made to resources throughout the night, hundreds of texts begging for help, 3 Uber rides, a missing person report after 30 minutes of trying to call 911 into a different state…..

And a quick suitcase pack to drive the 6 hours to possibly identify my firstborn son’s body.😭

4 hrs later an airport security policeman calls and said: “He can’t sleep here, he needs to get on the shuttle or leave…..”

Relief.
Anger.
Sorrow.
Sadness.

Naranon go-ers would cringe.

“Go to bed they say.
Give it to God. ” They say with pierced lips…..

But they’re not me.
And my son is not theirs.

So I look at the rising sun, and I drag myself to the shower to actually start my day…….

So you see dear co- worker…..
I may not look like I came from a spa, but I surely just climbed out of hell and I’m damn lucky to have shoes on………

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“You Knew The Risk”

To those wonderful commenters on addiction/or an overdose post who say no one forced people with SUD to stick a pill down their throat or use a needle, I say to you: Thank God.

Thank God, it wasn’t YOUR CHILD. Thank heavens you don’t know what it’s like to feel helpless when you find out your successful son; the hero of so many, the big hearted business owner who took his family on vacations and bought his workers new tires to get to work; is now homeless without a car or a suitcase to his name.

Thank heavens you never had to buy your son Ciggerettes because you were so relieved he wasn’t using heroin.

Thank God you never cried when you saw a simple cement driveway picture.

Oh, but about that forcing thing? Did you ever buy a lemon car? Did the salesman ever promise you that it ran great, would last you years and years, and damn, you would look great in it, very stylish and on top of the world. Then when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, listening to John Phillips Topanga Canyon:

Oh Mary, I’m in deep waters
And it’s way over my head
Everyone thought I was smarter
Then to be misled.

https://mojim.com

And you’re cussing the salesman AND yourself first being so naive?

Well here’s proof that they (‘someone’ in pain or otherwise distressed) were swayed with misinformation (from physicians, brochures in Dr’s offices and a huge marketing campaign) that MAY have led to their drastic downslide into addiction and some into death 😢

Here’s what the investigations found

  • 1. A well-intentioned effort among some physician groups to better manage chronic pain2. False marketing claims about addiction to new, longer-acting opioids
    3. Lack of physician education on the use of drugs with high abuse potentials
    4. Direct-to-physician marketing
    5. Provider-run pill mills
    6. Culture of drug use and abuse
    7. Multitude of cheap, widely available drugs of abuse including black tar heroin
    8. Over-prescription of narcotics
    9. Expansion of Mexican drug cartels
    10. Corporate greed

This is a great video ( if you can call the whole thing great) explaining it. This is what chapter 4 in my book coming out this year is about.

Even Walmart admitted there were Red flags

Whoever and whatever may have contributed to this crises, the remnants of it’s hurricane force winds go on. Not only are the grieving families still suffering the kids if their family member; but others, who have the nightmare of a child still involved, is excruciating.

It’s easy to tell someone to “let go” or ‘live your life” because you can’t control another person’s actions; but that doesn’t make it easy.

Despite, the solution, or the correct course of action, when people are suffering it’s NOT the time to tell them it’s their fault. If its the person suffering with substance use disorder, shaming them into recovery has never worked.

If it’s the the suffering parents, saying such things as:

“You should have got them help….” Is just cruel.

I will never understand the social media comments that are so insensitive towards such a massive problem in our society, no matter what or who is the cause. It doesn’t matter how it started really…… Just how we can give suffering people hope….

God help me to never become that callous🙏🙄🙏

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Invisible Stories

Invisible stories

What a great documentary series on addiction and homelessness this channel has especially This one. He reminds me of my son. I suspect this was on a really good day because he doesn’t look very disheveled, but I also don’t know what he looked like before. Some of the comments say he died, but I didn’t research it.

Also my very assumption that he “should” look disheveled, is part of the stigma. He obviously has figured out how to make the streets work for him. He also doesn’t appear to have any mental Illness. This could be, would be my son if it wasn’t for his ADD component, I believe. His entrepreneur and driven ADD personality has him getting into more & more trouble with his use. He would like to just be this guy and enjoy his DOC like a smoker enjoys a ciggerette. But hard drugs don’t let you stay there. I believe this guy is an exception.

It’s important for these videos to show the human-ness of the invisible people-not just those who are homeless.

There is not a one answer solution to homelessness or addiction. Harm reduction IS one way to avoid help reduce long acting affects such as HIV and Hepatitis AND help get people connected to proffessionals, at least for a few minutes.

Isolation kills.

Another Californian I have huge respect for is Jen Elizabeth Here’s her instagram she’s a former addict and an author of This book which I just ordered. I’ll let you know what I think. ✔️🧾.

Addiction is one of those you-have-zero- clue until you’ve been there diseases.

I refuse to argue whether it’s a disease anymore, because just like in politics, you can’t change anyone’s mind. To me, too much energy is wasted on this argument, because are you really that much of a cold hearted person to use the “choice” argument to say these people don’t DESERVE help? If that’s the case then where’s does this argument stop? Would an AIDS patients fit with this theory? Who is the gatekeeper to decide who gets saved? Is it cops with the narcan? As a nurse, I know I can’t make that choice whether to treat patient or not, just because he made a bad decision, so I don’t think anyone else should play God either.

I’m devulging a whole chapter in my My Book coming out next year so I’ll stop. 🖐️🚫🛑

Random thoughts on this emotional Tuesday. Hope you enjoy the videos above.

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A Moment To Feel Ok

This quote is so interesting to me, because we (society in general) “seem to” look down on addicts or homeless people in some fashion. I’m not saying there’s ingrained ‘bias’ at all. I’m just going on what I’ve felt myself & seen in my culture and community before addiction hit my family head on .

I realize that not all homeless people are addicts, and of course not all addicts are homeless; but we still have these fleeting first impression thoughts of self-righteousness and judgement when you see that guy -or gal- on the street.

“Why didn’t they just quit
when they first realized they had a problem-or how sad-it’s too as they didn’t get some help“. Or the biggest one “Why doesn’t he just get a job in this thriving economy?”

There isn’t one answer to all those questions, but that doesn’t stop us from seeing them as some sort of weaker species.

As we drive past quickly; thankful to not be under pressure to look at them and face the stark reality of our society- along with the relief of the burden of NOT having to decide to give them something-. (“Because we all. know what they’ll spend it on) or ( “the news stories have proven some are scammers”).

So we gladly drive by, with an exhale & pull out our phone to see what we’ve missed.

What will make us laugh or who liked our last post.

Or we reach for the chocolate covered pretzels to let that delicious fructose melt on our tongue signaling those endorphins to release the dopamines so that the serotonin in our brains will make us happy.

Hmmm. Same process, different ‘drug’.

I mean it’s normal, we are human. We NEED these endorphins to even get out of bed in the morning.

Everyone needs to self regulate their emotions and find their happy place.

The problem is when we fail to see that what we are doing is the same thing ‘they’ did, no matter their reason for starting. ( Drugs or alcohol)

Whether it was surgery or one drink on the weekend to relax, some of us don’t have, or lose that ability to self regulate the amount and be able to stop.

Is that a character defect?

Who knows? Gabor Mate might. Many other experts might. But bottom line, we are all human. We all need comfort, to feel warm & loved & that we belong.

The fact that 21 million Americans have an addiction, with only 10% being treated; tells me that we still have a huge way to go in reducing shame and sigma of addiction.

One way to do this is reduce the judgement that they are somehow any different than us, in the way of willpower or strength.

We have zero idea of what choices they had to choose between, whether escaping from abuse one day or a traumatic event or just normal life’s stress that we all have.
Maybe next time you see someone who’s obviously struggling or “looks like they’ve had a rough life” maybe we could offer a McDonald’s gift card, or hand them a heart shaped chocolate candy, or if they seem safe, ask them if they need you to go buy them anything just for today to help them get by. 💞🙋‍♂️💞

How good would that feel to boost our endorphins for even more than a brief moment, probably for the rest of the day?