Home Base

West Side Story

I went to the underbelly of my city yesterday….sort of like every city’s west side…

I noticed the run-down houses, the graffiti, the old cars -parked behind crumbling brick buildings- that looked like someone’s sleeping arrangements.

I saw the “tent city” of the homeless.

I waited and paused because I wanted to experience how it made me feel, in contrast to a few years ago, when I probably wouldn’t have advocated for the downtrodden as much- with regards to addiction and homelessness. The last 3 years of having a front row seat to the thirsty fangs of addiction had exposed me to things I would have preferred to never see.
I wanted to feel if I still had judgment for them after that.

As I looked at this car behind McDonald’s with a guy advertising to clean headlights for the drive-thru customers, I felt it. The judgment. The pity. I felt shame for him.
I also saw my son in him.
The scavenging.
The desperation.
The living 15 minutes at a time.
Survival.

Except for my son probably would have too much pride to do that. He would just starve…or steal a candy bar, as much as I hate to admit it.

I wanted to just give the guy $10.

But my old judgemental person said, “you know what he’ll do with it.”
My new heart-broken, marinated in-all-things addiction Mama said, “it doesn’t matter what he does with it. It’s about compassion. It’s about showing that someone cares”.

The moment to act was gone as we moved further down the street.
I saw a lady, by a car loaded full of bags and clothes. She had on an old halter top and shorts. A guy with a dirty backpack came up & spoke with her. What were they planning? A score? A hit? Or just a hamburger?

My eyes stung with what? Tear’s of desperation? Of that feeling that no one has your back? No one cares. People back away from you or avoid you? What does that do to an already shattered soul?

I noticed that they still scared me. I was NO different than all the other people-in- a- hurry in their shiny black or gray cars with tinted windows. Windows meant to keep out the UV rays AND shade us from scenes such as this.

I noticed that they still scared me. I doubt I would dare approach any of them.

They were the street people. They knew this game. Some live it by choice, some by circumstance. I know because I’m part of a local facebook recovery group, where people post about needing to move their car somewhere else because a business kicked them out.
I’m also part of my state’s Unhoused group of volunteers who help feed them.

I should do more.
I’m still in save-my-own-son survival mode which takes up most of my emotional energy.

My son doesn’t live in this area but this is his people now.
It still stings. I’m still trying to help him NOT
“вє тнσѕє ρєσρℓє”

I want him back….
Into the working class.

With a lawn of green lush grass bordering all the way around a- white-plank-siding- and-slate- stone-veneer halfway up the bottom- house.

With kids and dogs running around.

But what I want, and what’s reality is a pretty long stretch.

All I can do is,

ℓσνє нιм ωнєяє нє’ѕ αт.

And where he’s at, is in jail.

He’s a bit quiet now but hopeful.
He’s back into his lifting weights routine- doing the daily survival that’s necessary when living in close quarters to 70 other struggling males.

He’s agreed to rehab while they are preparing his sentencing. He wants to live in a different area if he doesn’t get a long sentence. That’s huge.
I’m hopeful but realistic.

I do what I can.

Maybe tomorrow, I’ll go back and have my headlights cleaned.

ℓσνє αℓωαуѕ ωιиѕ

Uncategorized

Not My Child

Overdose Awareness Day

For all those who see all the purple banners today representing overdose awareness day and you scroll on by thinking:

“I’m glad that doesn’t affect me, I’m glad I taught my kids better” or “Someone should have got them help”.

I applaud you. I do.

I am sooo glad that you have never had to watch your beautiful child turn into someone you didn’t know,
I’m sooo glad you’ve never had to get a call from the inmate phone system asking if you’ll accept the charges as you swallow the lump in your throat.

I’m soooo glad you’ve never had the experience of watching your 28-year-old, Once 220 lb- now 160 lb son, thrash around in the back seat, sweating, then freezing, begging his own mother to please take him to get drugs to stop this sickness, as you’re trying to take him to detox.

I’m sooo glad you’ve never had to see a dad in a restaurant with his kids & have your heart ache so deeply that your son isn’t with his kids.

I’m so glad you don’t have to sit down at a delicious meal & feel a twinge of guilt knowing your child hasn’t eaten for days & wondering where he is at.

I’m so glad you’ve never had to see your precious grandkids celebrate a birthday & not knowing the words to tell them that their dad has a chronic, progressive, fatal illness that teaches him lies & makes him do crazy things but he’s NOT crazy & this IS NOT happening because they are unworthy of love or did something wrong.

I’m glad that you would never tell a dying lung cancer patient that they shouldn’t have started smoking. I’m glad you would never tell a diabetic patient that they only get ONE chance to get their blood sugars under control, and then they’re on their own.

Or they should just get over this pesky illness that’s inconveniencing everyone.

I truly am.

Because I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on anyone. I would never want anyone else to lay awake at night, unable to stop the tears, wondering what they could have done differently.

I wouldn’t want anyone else to wonder if today is the day that THEY get the call.

I’m very glad that you taught your kids to make better choices, & that you’ve never broken the speed limit or took a drink or had something so traumatic in your life that you just needed to get through the pain for a minute- And if you did, luckily you were able to stop or walk away without any devastating effects.

Great genes, or coping skills! I wonder if you could help teach those to others? Obedience to life and all the rules, like you have done your whole life, must feel great. I’m sure you love your wonderful life.

What say you? Oh, your life isn’t perfect? I must have missed that part when you were shaking your head in disgust, or when you were rapidly typing with your two thumbs on the Narcan post that your tax dollars shouldn’t have to pay for others’ dumb choices.

In that case, we should start looking at ALL the programs funded by taxpayer money AND also the local hospital programs for heart disease and diabetes, HIV, many of which are the result of personal choices and they DO affect others in their own way.

I’m sure you’re normally a compassionate person. I used to be you. I was compassionate AND caring! I donated to the local children hospital fund. I ran in the race-for-cancer cure fun run. I donated coats for the homeless drive every winter when my kids were little. I left cans on my front door for the boy scout food drive.

But when driving by the guy on the corner, avoiding eye contact with him; I just KNEW that he was only supporting his habit and I had all I could do to not say out loud, “Just GET A JOB!

I understand, I do.

Never, ever, did it cross my mind that I would be walking into a police station to pick up leftover evidence that they had from a drug bust. Never, ever did I think I would be watching a nurse drain a cyst off my sons arm and watching him scream in pain. Never, ever did I worry every single day that my sons life would end, except maybe when he was a baby and had a high fever and was vomiting all night.

See, I’m not really that much different than you. The difference is, I’ve had the humbleness bug forced upon me for a few years now. I don’t hold it against you that you have missed that bug.

We need to create practical affordable solutions for all- while eliminating the waste & fraud in treatment.

Shame and embarrassment are keeping people from seeking treatment.

Even if that means opening our mind up to alternative treatments such as Harm reduction.

The death rate is frightening and it IS AN EPIdemic as it affects the core of the family structure, jobs, crime, the jail system, and little kids who grow up with the stigma of a parent in jail or who has died.

Addiction affects every aspect of society whether directly or indirectly. If you don’t have anything to offer to help stop this nightmare, then please please offer your compassion and time. Even if you don’t understand how it gets to this point, you can still give
HOPE to a suffering addict or a kind word to the family of a person with a substance use disorder.

Or what about not arguing about insulin needing to be free. Maintenance meds are not usually free to anyone, but AED paddles and Narcan to revive-not treat, are free to EMTS.

Other people in pain are NOT the enemy.

See, I don't want one more parent to have to bury a child due to drugs or alcohol, but the only way that's going to happen is if we ALL take on a little part of this ongoing and progressive epidemic to get rid of judgements and stigmas so we can forge practical, affordable solutions for all. 
This IS everyone's problem...

It’s ok to NOT understand the complexities of this disease and to not have a solution!

You can still give that person holding a sign on the corner, a $5 McDonald’s card to let him know that yes, someone does give a damn today- no matter what their motives.

Without hope, everyone suffers.
🤗🍀🙏💔💕💜☂️
Home Base

NOT ᗰY ᑕᕼIᒪᗪ

For all those who see the purple banners during overdose awareness month or see the videos of people with substance abuse disorders passed out and you scroll on by thinking, “I’m sure glad that doesn’t affect me, I’m glad I taught my kids better” or “someone should have gotten them some help”.

I applaud you.

I truly do.

I am so glad that you have never had to watch your beautiful child turn into someone you didn’t know.

I’m so glad you’ve never had a call from the inmate phone system asking if you’ll accept the charges.

I’m soooo glad you’ve never had the experience of watching your 28-year-old, 240 lb son thrash around in the back seat sweating, then freezing, begging his own mother to please take him to get drugs to stop this sickness, as you’re trying to take him to rehab.

I’m sooo glad you’ve never had to see a dad in a restaurant with his kids & have your heart ache so deeply that your son isn’t with his kids, that you go out to your car and burst into tears.

I’m so glad you don’t have to sit down at a delicious meal & feel a twinge of guilt knowing your child hasn’t eaten for days & wondering where he even is.

I’m so glad you’ve never had to see your precious grandkids celebrate a birthday & not knowing the words to tell them that their dad has a progressive illness that teaches him lies that he doesn’t have to be a dad & that’s it’s NOT because they are not worthy of love.

The innocent victims of substance abuse disorder

I’m glad that you would never tell a dying lung cancer patient that they shouldn’t have started smoking, and they should just get over this pesky illness that’s inconvenienced everyone and just get a job!

I truly am.
Because I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on anyone.

I would never want anyone to lay awake at night, unable to stop the tears, wondering what they could have done differently.

I’m very glad you haven’t ever got THE CALL.

I’m very glad that you taught your kids to make better choices, & that you’ve never broken the speed limit or took a drink, or had something so traumatic in your life that you just needed to get through the pain for a minute… And if you did, luckily you were able to stop or walk away with any devastating effects.

Great genes, or coping skills!

What about helping teach those to others?

Obedience to all the laws and principles is great and admirable and yes it does make for a safer and all- be- it more productive life.(I mean who doesn’t want to be perfect) but not if it makes us look down on others who-for whatever reason didn’t go down that ←→ path.

This problem IS everyone’s problem.

Addiction affects every aspect of society, whether directly or indirectly. From the homeless to the prisons to the overwhelmed court system with possession charges taking up so much time. Stringing people through the system costs taxpayers almost $100 k per inmate.

I don't want one more parent to have to bury a child due to drugs or alcohol, but the only way that's going to happen is if we ALL take on this epidemic as our problem, & truly make an effort get rid of judgements and stigmas which bring MORE SHAME to all involved. 

Shame and embarrassment are keeping people from seeking treatment.

We need to create practical affordable solutions for all- while eliminating the waste & fraud in treatment.

Even if that means opening our mind up to alternative treatments such as Harm reduction.

The death rate is frightening and it IS AN EPIdemic as it affects the core of the family structure, jobs, crime, the jail system, and little kids who grow up with the stigma of a parent in jail or who has died.

If you don’t have any idea how to help, how about start with the words we use, such as junkie, tweaker & worthless. These are shaming and hurtful to the families & children of addicts. And don’t forgot, under that hardened core of a dysfunctional chaotic addict, is a person in pain with zero healthy coping skills. The least we can do is not to add to it.

Or what about not arguing about insulin needing to be free. Maintenance meds are not usually free to anyone, but AED paddles and Narcan to revive-not treat, are free to EMTS.

Other people in pain aren’t the enemy.

It’s going to take all hands on deck to help stop this nightmare, just like the virus grabbed everyone attention. This epidemic existed long before that and will continue after. Most of the typical solutions are not working anymore, and needs to be revamped with new attitudes and ideas. These ideas must start with compassion not disgust. Not sarcastic answers and opinions on why they started.

Please offer your compassion and time. Even if you don’t understand how it progresses to such a dysfunction of incarceration or homelessness, you can still give HOPE to a suffering addict or a kind word to the family of a person with a substance use disorder.

You can give that struggling person on the corner, a $5 McDonald’s card to let him know that -yes someone does give a damn- today…

Without HOPE, everyone suffers.

Home Base

It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

I love listening to Brandon Novak’s story. Not because I even knew who he was as a skateboarder or ‘jack…..’; & even though he has seemed to become a certain treatment center pusher, his delivery is so raw & real. He’s perfected the “catchphrases” so well that I find myself quoting them.

He describes how anything that got between him and his ability to get high, had to go. He states that it wasn’t personal, it was just business. His self described:

"non-conformist, defiant by nature, hates authority, I will never conform unless it's my idea……. Because I possess this nature that I know everything…… And everyone else can f. o."

Sounds so very familiar.

When we were driving my son to his first (& only) rehab; the interventionist kept saying that he had to do this surrender thing. I kept thinking, “whatever this surrender thing means; my son will never comply. When he made his first phone call home, I listened with such gratefulness & hope because he was so excited and full of compliments for how wonderful everyone was and how he wanted to open a treatment center like that back home. I was beyond relieved. He had surrendered! I thought.

The rehab turned out to be a bit sketchy and overall he felt like it was a babysitting service with one “kindergarten rehab” class a day. He lasted 9 days after he got home. The worst part is that it seemed to ruin his willingness to go to any rehab even now a year and a half later.

But as I listen to Brandon, I see that willingness is an internal thing. There are other types of rehabs, which I’ve explained and offered to my son; yet the surrender and the willingness just aren’t there.

Am I to judge and shame him for that?

Yesterday I was downtown in my city where the homeless are abundant. I’ve become – in theory – an advocate of these people because of my son being unhoused for over a year now. (Basically since that first rehab). But as I watched them, my old feelings of judgment came crashing to the surface.

They’re dirty.

They’re scary.

They make me uncomfortable.

Why don’t they try harder?

I had to really pull back into what I have learned, mostly from Resurrektion of me and her service of the homeless:

She maintains that it is their right to be unhoused if they choose, and it shouldn’t be illegal to have that choice. I guess the question comes up- where is it legal to be unhoused? On public property is usually where they are at. This makes people so uncomfortable to see that they complain until the city bulldozes them out.

This article explains how:

Some are being forced into making decisions that no one should have to make to survive.
But, survival has to be the priority.
Survival is what gets them through each day.

This post isn’t about homelessness. It’s about giving people who are living differently than WE think they should be living;

The dignity & respect to make their own choices.

It kills me to say that about my son, because those choices obviously increase his chance of death. This fact tears my heart out. I can feel the anxiety welling up inside me even thinking of that possibility. But after 2+ years of intensely studying this phenomenon of addiction, begging, pleading, praying daily for change; plus writing 189 pages of my book; I am almost to the point of my own surrender.

Surrendering to the fate of my beautiful boy. To whatever will & agreement him and God come to, regardless of my desires. 

In other words, I would rather maintain a connection to my boy, than be right. I want him to be the driver of his recovery if he ever chooses that. I want to give him the power to be able to surrender, rather than someone forcing him to surrender. The prison system may just do that, but as we all know, even that is zero guarantees of recovery. People can spend 2 months, 6 months, 4 yrs, & I even heard 8 yrs- the other day, then they get out, use & overdose. This is disheartening and scary, but it is fact.

The power in the surrendering always lies with each person.