Quote of the Week

"If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way" ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Flying Above the Storm - by Ralph Kramdem
Posted by:Sally--Sunday, May 09, 2010

Eagles: When they walk, they stumble. They are not what one would call graceful. They were not designed to walk. They fly. And when they fly, oh, how they fly, so free, so graceful. They see from the sky what we never see.”

Have you ever seen an eagle soar? No wonder it is our national bird. The symbol of soaring above everything gives our nation, us, the feeling of control and leadership. Wouldn't it be great if we could soar?

But, down here on earth, trouble brews. Things, bad things, happen. Our children get into crap, bad crap. Sanity goes right out of the window when chemicals, drugs, or alcohol move into our families. As our children put it: this sucks! It's like a storm, a huge thunder storm with lots of wind blowing everything out of place. Lightning is crashing and destroying things all around us. The rain is coming down so heavy that we can see only a few feet in front of us. The sky is dark. Day has become like night. We are in the middle of the target of the storm. And it doesn't feel good, not one bit.

Well, recently I was on a trip, flying cross-country in an airplane. The plane was over some wonderful part of the eagle's great country, at 30-some thousand feet. There were a few clouds, but mostly the plane and my window, were bathed in sun, bright, warm sunlight. Looking out the plane's window, I saw a large storm. The clouds went from the ground, all the way up to our flight level. The earth below was being pounded with rain, lightning, and storms, heavy storms. I knew the people below were being devastated by the turmoil. They were in the thick of it, literally and figuratively. They were not having an easy time. The storm was ripping through the towns below. However, like the eagle, I was soaring in the sun. I was flying above the danger and damage.

So, I have been learning a lot about how children manipulate their parents. I have also been researching what I call the "drug mind", or how young addicts think. And it hit me: my son had been manipulating me for a long time. He set things up, said things, told me lies, told me he would or would not do things (idle threats, I call them), and all manner of things to manipulate me so that his life style, his "mind", would be able to preserve itself. And I was enabling it. I was not stopping the drug addiction, but was being manipulated into allowing it to live. I was so wrong to enable it. But, once we recognize the manipulation for what it is, the enabling can begin to stop. Now, when he makes idle threats, I realize that I am being set up. Now, when he tells me yet another lie, I see it for what it is: survival tactics of a "mind" that is trying to hang on or is losing its stronghold. Now, when he plays the games that let me enable him, I can see them for what they are: not love, but manipulation.

And suddenly, the rain started to lift a little. The lightning wasn't coming so close. The storm was moving off. ... Wait, it wasn't the storm that was moving. My son is still a drug addict and alcoholic, who doesn't want to get clean, and is facing serious charges. My son, from my point of view, is still trying to wreck his entire life. The storm is still there. The storm is still destroying things and lives. It was me who was moving. I was learning to fly above his problems. I was the one who saw that I could become an eagle. I still have a long way to go. My son will probably learn better manipulation techniques. But I can learn too. I can fly higher above his problems. I can work on my own problems. But most of all, I can learn to fly above the storm.


Sally said...

Thank you, Ralph, for the good post. You and Alice have only started to come to meetings recently and you both have learned so much so quickly. You have taught me how important it is to "fly above the storm" of manipulation. Your wisdom, your good sense of humor and your resolve are so beneficial to all of us.

Lloyd Woodward said...

Thanks for sharing this Ralph. I enjoyed reading it and enjoy your perspective when you share it at PSST. This post makes me think of riding passenger in an airplane and suddenly the Put Your Seatbelt sign is on. The Captain tells us there is going to be some turburlence. It's scary because you never know. But usually it's just turbulence and it will pass.

Your analogy is better because you are the Captain of the plane and you can choose to take the plane to another level and Fly Above the Storm.

Sally said...

Rocco's comment to Ralph,

What an interesting analogy.

I was just reading Sully Sullenberger’s autobiography “Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters”. One of the recurring themes throughout his book is people pushing themselves, learning and training how to “think on their feet”, to make quick decisions and most importantly to live with the decision that they make.

We have received (and continue to receive) this type of guidance at the PSST meetings. There are a lot of good resources out there but at the PSST meetings we have a chance to learn about and to role play various parent-child situations out. Then when our teen confronts us we are prepared to think on our feet and to make tough decisions. If we do have second thoughts we have the chance to talk it over.

Captain Sullenberger acknowledges that if it wasn’t for the “USAir Flight 1549 Miracle on the Hudson”, that we would never have heard of him. And if it wasn’t for his continued routine of training and preparing, the miracle would not have happened. But he would have continued training anyways, just in case.

We, the parents of troubled teens will probably never be known for anything outside of our small group. But we know that we have done whatever we could to save their lives.



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