Half Finished

In honor of my ten thousandth view on my blog, I’m going to present a small excerpt from my upcoming book I’m writing. You see, I’m not really a writer or a blogger. I don’t know “the rules” or how to market it to make money. I write for sanity. For peace. For understanding. The fact that so many (or even one!) people and persons came along and read it, is amazing to me. I started writing because I read this book called “Unhooked” by Annie Highwater and was so intrigued at the book writing process from just a normal mother, that I contacted her. She encouraged me to write some “articles”. I thought, “articles?”What about? What are my qualifications? Who will read them? So I got to work on learning and revamping this blog which I originally started in 2012 when blogging was prime.

It was difficult to figure out, as this 54-year-old brain isn’t tech-nerdy at all, but I did it. (and I do it all pretty much on my phone, not a computer!) I still haven’t written true articles unless you count the Elephants Journal and Medium. Then again I’m not a photographer but I still photograph. I photograph for me. So I wrote for myself. Then I found that I loved to share what I learned so here we are.

Thank you. Thank you for reading and for giving me feedback and pointers too.

After a year, I still feel like I’m just getting started. I guess you could say I’m unfinished. Like the houses in my pictures below.

I spotted these houses when my husband and I were coming back from looking at the beautiful pink sand beaches near us, which I wrote about here. The houses on the left seem to be further along. They all have their siding on to cover up their bare wood. But they are just as empty inside as the ones on the right. It even looks there’s a jealous unfinished one in the back row looking obviously at the “finished” ones.

How often do we look at someone else on social media or in our families and think what wonderful lives they have. If we are going through a particularly rough patch, or one that goes on for years -such as a loved one’s drug addiction; we can start into a real pity party spin.

But we don’t have to. We can look at our journey like these houses, they are just in different stages of development and one isn’t “further along” than another if you look at the end goal – which is to have all of them refined, refreshed, cleaned, and new, ready to meet their new families. I guess you could say God is refining you, not by torture but by gently guiding you to your best life, to the best place you can be in, a place of Love, A place of peace, no matter what is going on outside.

Those of us who have lived with addiction before covid, know what fear and chaos is.  We know what's it's like to not know what tomorrow will bring. We know how to investigate and make decisions that will benefit our day-to-day survival. So maybe our "training" was good for something even though we would rather not have had it. 

Last year in my quest for understanding about my son’s addiction, I came across this video from The Piano Guys. It shook me up inside for reasons I explain in the book I’m writing. As I was being blown away by this beautiful sonata and what the words to the song meant to me; I read this comment by one of the members of the Piano Guys, Steven Sharp Nelson.

"OK. Vulnerable time. I had a very emotional experience atop the half-built building you see near the end. It was so beautiful to play cello there. As we were playing this song over and over again while we filmed, I thought about its meaning. I thought about where I was in my life emotionally. I expect a lot from myself. I always have. Often I expect too much. I admit it. And when I don’t reach the zenith of those expectations I can be pretty hard on myself. If ever there was incarceration for self-abuse perpetrators, I’d be prisoner of the month. As I was thinking about how much I still need to build in my life, a very strong impression came to me. Has that ever happened to you? When you feel an impulse that prompts thoughts that don’t feel like “normal thoughts.” They feel weightier, with more perspective or profundity than the average passing notion -- the same way a good bridge elevates a song by throwing you from a repetitive verse and chorus regimen. These are thoughts that teach you rather than learn from you.

I had such a moment. They don’t come that often, but when they do I try my best to listen and learn. The impressions persuaded me to look at my life from the top of a half-built building. Figuratively and literally. I began to think that maybe I spend too much of my life in the bottom floors of my life’s construction project -- that I fuss over the mess of my jobsite, I fret over the lack of finishes -- the ugly marred subflooring or the exposed metal framing. I berate myself for being way behind in the building process. I was taught that I needed to ascend more often to the top floor. Where there’s a view of how far I’ve come, how high part of my building has reached. And most importantly, where there’s an incredible view of the sunset, reminding me that tomorrow is another day and that I should keep building one day at a time. I totally embarrassed myself as I shed tears, trying to describe these “elevated thoughts” to the site’s supervisor after we had finished filming and I was thanking him for the opportunity they had given us to give visual meaning to the music.

So I guess for me, and perhaps for anyone listening, that could be a takeaway. You don’t have to live your life on floor one. Or floor two or three. Or on any floor that isn’t yet completed. It will get there one day. And so will you. Don’t worry that the building next door is at floor 10. Just take a trip to your top however often you need and watch the sun set on all that you’ve strived to accomplish. Remember that there is Someone who built that sunset for you. And He doesn’t care how high your building is, just that you’re willing to keep building. And He says you’re plenty high enough for Him to see."- Steven Sharp Nelson

I’m being vulnerable here also and I understand if this doesn’t resonate with everyone or even anyone, but that day was a pivotal time in my journey through the pain of my son’s addiction. I was awestruck to realize that he was still precious and loved, in the eyes of God. It was such a good lesson because at that time I was about ready to kill him!

It also helped me see that I was unfinished also. That I was still learning and growing.

My message today is if this “non- writer”, grandma of 54 years young, mother of a very loved person with substance use disorder can hit 10 k views then what can YOU possibly do too? Anything.

And everything.

Thanks for reading. 💯💘💯

Extreme Independence is a Trust Issue

Photo by Word Press

I recently received a text from my 35-year-old  amazingly talented, funny, entrepreneur son who is currently homeless, jobless, IRS sought-after, county police department sought- after, which said:

“Hey, we need to talk. I don’t think we’re on the same page. You seem to have this vision of me that I use drugs; passed out somewhere, on the verge of overdosing. I’ve never been more in control of my drug habit. I only use {twice a day} to stay well, so I don’t get sick. I don’t have a drug problem, I have a money problem”.

“Okaaaaay son. I would love for you to get to a more stable place. Let me know how I can help”.

“See that’s what I’m talking about, you seem to think I’m living more dangerously and out of control than I am.

I’m Fine.

I just need a break with money, to get ahead to get back on my feet”.

Aside from the obvious brain hijacking that years of substance use has caused; this is quite the most INDEPENDENTLY ridiculous statement I’ve heard.

I mean, he’s NOT OK! But I guess that’s just me.🤷‍♀️

I read once that with addicts you have to look at their actions, not their words, and they look TO your actions, not your words. In other words: they lie, and need OUR boundaries to contain those lies.

I think.

Regardless, my son is in deep do-do.

His refusal to get help is maddening at times. I suppose it’s a great lesson in giving someone their right to their journey and having autonomy in their life, but where does that end when they are at risk and unable to act to protect themselves and others?

Although their behavior has proven that they aren’t functioning with rational thinking, involuntarily commitment {to treatment} varies from state to state. It’s a touchy subject bordering on a person’s rights to free will versus their danger to themselves and the community.

Think about it. People who have lost the ability to regulate their need for dangerous substances and furthering their risk to commit crimes to feed their cravings are doing things that we would never let a mentally challenged person do.

I know I’m making them sound like they’re incapable of a rational clear thought. I understand addicts are not high ALL the time. They have moments of clarity in which they understand the mess they’re in. More on that later.

What I really want to talk about is this stubbornness or refusal to get help.

‘Bull-headedness’ as my Poppa would say. I had a counselor tell me once:

“If they refuse help then they can suffer the consequences.”  

This was also the same counselor who compared a bank robber to an addict. “They just do it for the ‘rush’. He said. 

I prefer a more heart-centered approach. When I came upon this article, it rang true for my son. Always the go-to guy. The Leader. The captain went down with the ship but is still holding on to the last rudder. For probably the same reasons he started using drugs. The failure to process trauma Or Trauma BLOCKING  (which can be ANY death, divorce, loss, or even changing schools); has taught him to fear his emotional state without substances. So he is unwilling or flat out scared to go back to that vulnerable out of control person he was before drugs.

This ingrained independence, even in face of devastating conditions such as homelessness, can keep a substance user stuck in the cycle of “Chasing the Dragon”.

I firmly believe that my son is petrified at failing at recovery. He believes since he technically “failed” at life (he didn’t); and has now identified himself as a loser, drug addict, and deadbeat dad;  he’s unwilling to disappoint himself and everyone else again. His hijacked brain has him believing that the ONLY way for him to survive is to keep hustling.

Furthermore, in his mind, the people who he had helped before the sinking of the ship, do not want anything to do with him as an addict, so the bond with the criminals and other addicts is one of acceptance-regardless of the negative circumstances. As he has told me many times, “I have nobody”.

Although Jamila White’s article isn’t geared toward addiction, how many times have we heard that trauma is one of the main causes?

This. Hits. Hard.

The inability to receive support from others is a trauma response.

Your “I don’t need anyone, I’ll just do it all myself” conditioning is a survival tactic. And you needed it to shield your heart from abuse, neglect, betrayal, and disappointment from those who could not or would not be there for you.

From the parent who was absent and abandoned you by choice or the parent who was never home from working three jobs to feed and house you.

From the lovers who offered sexual intimacy but never offered a safe haven that honored your heart.

From the friendships and family who ALWAYS took more than they ever gave.

From all the situations when someone told you “we’re in this together” or “I got you” then abandoned you, leaving you to pick up the pieces when shit got real, leaving you to handle your part and their part, too.

From all the lies and all the betrayals.

You learned along the way that you just couldn’t really trust people. Or that you could trust people, but only up to a certain point.

Extreme-independence IS. A. TRUST. ISSUE.

You learnt: if I don’t put myself in a situation where I rely on someone, I won’t have to be disappointed when they don’t show up for me, or when they drop the ball… because they will ALWAYS drop the ball EVENTUALLY right?

You may even have been intentionally taught this protection strategy by generations of hurt ancestors who came before you.

Extreme-independence is a preemptive strike against heartbreak.

So, you don’t trust anyone.

And you don’t trust yourself, either, to choose people.

To trust is to hope, to trust is to be vulnerable.

“Never again,” you vow.

But no matter how you dress it up and display it proudly to make it seem like this level of independence is what you always wanted to be, in truth it’s your wounded, scarred, broken heart behind a protective brick wall.

Impenetrable. Nothing gets in. No hurt gets in. But no love gets in either.

Fortresses and armor are for those in battle, or who believe the battle is coming.

It’s a trauma response.

The good news is trauma that is acknowledged is trauma that can be healed.

You are worthy of having support.
You are worthy of having true partnership.
You are worthy of love.
You are worthy of having your heart held.
You are worthy to be adored.
You are worthy to be cherished.
You are worthy to have someone say, “You rest. I got this.” And actually deliver on that promise.
You are worthy to receive.
You are worthy to receive.
You are worthy.

You don’t have to earn it.
You don’t have to prove it.
You don’t have to bargain for it.
You don’t have to beg for it.

You are worthy.
Simply because you exist.

-Jamila White, @inspiredjamila
-photo credit: Randy Orange

I believe the best way to help them see that its ok to ask for and receive help is to offer those positive phrases without mentioning what a mess their addiction has caused. They KNOW what they did! Its just too painful for them to face right now. We have to appeal to their sense of human-ness completely separate from their drug use, by not labeling that AS their identification of WHO THEY ARE as a fluctuating human. Shaming and blaming doesn’t seem to help ME want to do better, so I can imagine it’s even worse with them. 

If they can start to believe that they are capable and worthy of achieving a life without drugs, they MIGHT take that first step and reach out. Ultimately, every recovered addict says the same thing: it’s a matter of surrender.

Surrending to the will of something greater than yourself. Surrending to the peace of realizing you might not have all the answers. Surrendering to the relief that someone is willing to meet you with all your demons and walk you out. For a better life. Exposing your vulnerability and being willing to trust the process. Ultimately it’s caring enough about yourself to WANT to get better.