Quote of the Week


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



We are All a Work in Progress
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, June 22, 2013


Relapse at the Rubble Home – written by Betty

 

Tuesday evening I went to play BINGO with a fellow PSST mom who has been working hard at getting me out for some fun.  I am also trying to follow the advice of Barney and Pebbles to "get a life", other than focusing on Pebbles and her recovery.  As you may know, Pebbles returned home recently from 10 months spent in either Shuman, residential treatment centers, drug rehabs, or a few weeks here and there of psychiatric hospitals.  It has been a year of some major accomplishments and setbacks, to say the least. 

 

As I entered the front door with no BINGO winnings, as usual, but feeling refreshed after spending a relaxing evening with my friend, Pebbles was at the top of the steps looking down with half-closed eyes.  My first thought was, she looks high.  She asked me how my evening was, and I asked her how her NA meeting was.  She sounded funny to me and I asked her what was the matter.  She claimed she was really tired, and I knew she did not sleep well the last two nights, so I told her to go right to sleep, because “if I didn't know better, I would have thought you were high on something.” 



I went into the kitchen to talk to Barney and asked him if he noticed anything suspicious about Pebbles.  He said he picked her up from the NA meeting and she had her 9 month key tag, which she offered to him. She said she was so proud of herself and he was too.  All seemed fine.  But now, a little more than an hour later, all did not seem fine.  As we were discussing this, Pebbles came down to the dining room to get a CD off the table to take back to her room to listen to, and she was not walking steady.  I asked her to walk into the kitchen, and we knew as she concentrated hard on walking steady, and from the look on her face, that she had taken something on her 9 month clean anniversary.  I told her, you have taken something.  She denied it, and I repeated – you have taken something, what is it, how much, and are you safe?  She started to cry and admitted she had taken some cough medicine she bought while she was out looking for a job the day before.  My heart sank – Pebbles had relapsed.


 

My first response was anger.  My voice raised and I started to respond, “You told me to go have fun, go out and get a life, and this is what I come home to???”  I stopped myself in mid-sentence. I was emotionally relapsing and falling back into habits I was recovering from, just as Pebbles was relapsing into her drug habit.  I didn't want to react the same as I have in the past.  Pebbles was already crying hard and saying, “I relapsed and I just sabotaged my 9 months clean time.  I hate myself and I already regret it.”  She didn't need me to make her feel any worse than she already did.  PSST kicked in and I told her, “Don’t beat yourself up, relapse is part of recovery.  As long as you are safe, that's all that matters”. 

 

In the past, Pebbles has gotten so upset for letting herself and us down, that she has coped with such disappointments with self-mutilating tactics that I did not want to encourage.  I said “Let's go to bed and we can discuss this in the morning when you are more clear-headed.”  I felt comfortable saying this because she did not take such a large amount of cough medicine to show signs of overdose.  As a precaution, we went through her room and personal belongings to make sure there wasn't any more medicine on her.  I slept in her room to keep an eye on her as well. 

 

She said, “Mom, please forgive me”.  I told her I already have.  That is not the old me.  Honestly, I was devastated, angry, heartbroken, and disappointed, but I was trying to work my own program and not emotionally relapse along with Pebbles.  It would not help her, and instead would only make her feel more upset. I have learned from past regrets that it would only make a bad situation bone-crushingly worse.  We all needed to rest and prepare for the next step.  Barney left for work, and eventually Pebbles and I fell asleep.  

 

The next morning, Pebbles got up when she heard Barney return from work, and they talked about what the options were.  Pebbles suggested we all keep this to ourselves and not share it with her P.O. or counselor, Rachael, and she would just quit using drugs on her own.  Barney told her we couldn't keep secrets from them.  He knew her use would not stop, but instead would only escalate and could be life-threatening.  We had to inform them.  She cried – no, she sobbed – which is what woke me up.  I joined them and was grateful I actually was able to miss out on the beginning of their conversation.  She asked if she could start calling rehabs and try to get herself admitted to one prior to calling her P.O. and Rachael.  We agreed. 

 

Barney went to get some sleep while Pebbles figured out the next step.  I, by now, was wishing I had a cigarette to smoke.  I wanted to relapse back to smoking under the stress of the situation.  I don't know what the drug addict goes through fighting the desire to use drugs, but I do know how difficult it is not to revert back to smoking.  Just how hard it is to simply "not pick up".  I hate it, I can't breathe, it stinks, it could kill me – but I want it.  I sat with my father as he took his last struggling, dying breath from emphysema and I wanted a cigarette. I hate to admit this to all of you.  I am ashamed I ever started smoking (peer pressure to fit in as a teen).  How can I persecute Pebbles for relapsing?  As hard as I am struggling right now, I can't imagine how she copes with the struggle of drug/alcohol addiction. 

 

Pebbles was able to find a rehab, inform her P.O., get his permission to go, and call Rachael and Kathy.  She was on her way by 5:00 p.m.  Barney and I came home to an empty house, without Pebbles, and I just sat down and cried.  I sent out a text to my fellow Nar Anon members who, as the kids say, "blew up" my cell phone responding with support.  There were a number of fellow members who drove out of their way to attend our local Nar Anon on Thursday meeting to give me a hug, bringing donuts and frozen coffee from Dunkin Donuts (because we ladies grieve together eating sugary food).  Nar Anon is another support group I lean on, along with PSST.  I need as much support as I can get to cope with Pebbles’ and Dina's addiction and my addiction to them.  I've learned so much to help myself, as well as to understand this disease, from both of my support programs.  

 

Today as I was straightening up the house, I noticed the CD that Pebbles came down to get that evening she relapsed.  It was a CD she bought while out with Barney last week.  When she came home, she called me to the kitchen, put it in the CD player and said, "Mom, I bought this because there is a song on it I want to dedicate to you”.  She played it and sang along as we danced to it, just 4 days before she relapsed.  The song is Hey Mama by Kanye West, and you can listen to it at this You Tube link:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIZgJ4qYNvo

 

Pebbles has made so much progress.  Even though she has had a setback, we talked on the way to rehab about all the progress she has made.  Through reading the PSST blog, attending PSST meetings, and counseling with Wesley Spectrum and Nar Anon, I  have learned to focus on the positives, and on our growth and blessings, rather than dwelling on all the negatives and setbacks.  We are all a work in progress at the Rubble Home.  

 

My daughter has such a loving heart.  Thank you for helping me to focus on that, and not on her relapse.

 

Betty

Read More......

Building a Relationship with your Child’s Probation Officer
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, June 18, 2013


At a recent PSST meeting, we talked about effective communication between parents and their child’s PO, and the importance of having an effective – not an adversarial - relationship.  The group generated a lot of ideas about what has worked for them.   

 

If you have ideas that you’d like to add, please include them in the Comments for this article.

 

The list below includes suggestions made at the meeting, along with additional ideas from Lloyd & others. 

 

1.     Don’t keep secrets from your child’s PO or therapists.  Let your child know that you will not keep secrets.

2.     Keep the PO informed.  She/he is not a mind-reader & only knows what you tell him/her.

3.     Be open & up-front in your communications.  Do not BCC the PO’s boss (or anyone else) on emails, as this will destroy trust. 



4.     Phone calls & texting can be valid ways of communicating with your child’s PO, but use them wisely & sparingly, since neither creates a permanent record.  Communicate important info in writing (via email) to inform your child’s PO, therapist(s), & placement contact (where appropriate). 


o   Using email keeps everyone on the same page, ensuring that all interested parties receive the same information. 


o   It also keeps a paper trail for you of what’s happened, any requests you have made, any actions you have recommended, etc.  Of course it also keeps a trail of responses you have received.

o   Using bullet points can help to keep an email focused and easier to read, especially when you have multiple issues/topics to raise.

o   If you find that you have a lot of questions in your email, and the questions require more than yes/no answers, consider that it might be better to meet with the PO in person.  You can always summarize the results of that meeting with a follow-up email.

5.     Develop a relationship with the PO.  Don’t allow it to become adversarial.  Honey draws more flies than vinegar.  Be sure to express your appreciation for things that the PO has done to help you & your child.  Sometimes you may have to change your own perspective to work better with the PO.

6.     It’s difficult to build a relationship with someone completely via email.  Sometimes you just need to meet with the PO face-to-face.  

7.     Remember that the PO has other clients too, and other priorities assigned by his/her boss.  Even so, your child is your top priority and squeaky wheels do get more attention.  Don’t feel bad about advocating for your child to have services, whether it is from Probation or from other agencies.

8.     Be respectful of the PO’s time.  Don’t create emergencies where they do not exist.  The PO might need a day or so to call you back.  She/he might not work on weekends.

9.     If you don’t know what actions are appropriate for you or your child in a particular situation, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help.  If the PO recommends an action that does not seem right to you, tell him/her, “I am not comfortable with that.”

10.     Remember that every PO is human & makes mistakes.  Don’t expect perfection, but do expect that the PO might try to fix an error that she/he made.

11.    If you cannot get a response from the PO, even after repeated contacts where you have specifically requested a response, then it's probably time to contact his/her boss.  Do this only as a last resort.  You may even want to let the PO know that you are planning to do so (but don't make idle threats!).
 
 


Read More......

There is Always Hope
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, June 15, 2013

Submitted by Alice

 
Last night Ed graduated from Acme Academy.  WOW!  As I sat in the auditorium during the ceremony with our parents and Ralph's sister and niece, I reflected on this experience.

At times in Ed's journey through the school years, I thought we would never make it.  His behavior in school, failing grades, and then drugs, skipping school, leaving school early, and simply not caring, made it extremely hard.  I was frustrated and exhausted.  Then we found PSST!

If you recall, our two boys were arrested in 2010 after our first PSST meeting.  Ed went to placement for six months a few months later.  He hated me for "putting him there."  When he left placement in October of his sophomore year, we knew he could not go back to his old school.  But no fear:  we have help and friends at PSST on our side.  Kathie T. told us about Acme Academy at one meeting, but he needed to get in and have our school district on-board.
 
After the interview at Acme Academy, we thought all hope was gone.  They were not sure if Ed would be right for their school.  With e-mails flying from Ralph, Lloyd, Kathie, and the Director of Acme Academy, he was accepted.  All of the support Ed would be receiving impressed the Director.
 


Ed thrived in the environment.  Months later the Director said that Ed was such a model student, by making A's and B's and helping other students, that she was sorry for having hesitated accepting him. 

As I sat at graduation and watched my son sit with the other graduates, I was proud.  The Acme Academy CEO spoke to each graduate about hope.  It was inspiring.  He had talked to each graduate before graduation, so he spoke about what each one's hopes and dreams were.  It was personalized as he went down the list of graduates.  Ed's hope was about independence, because he had moved out of our house in February.  "…with independence comes responsibility and that can be hard sometimes.  But we always have hope."  Yes, there is hope for Ed and ALL of our children as they walk their own journey through life.  As Ed handed me his cap, gown and diploma, he said, "Here mom, you take this and keep it for me because I did it for you."  As I stared at him, he quickly corrected, "For myself too."

Thank you so much to Lloyd, Val, Kathie, Justin and all of the PSST parents.  We could never have done this alone.
 
Ed is employed and living independently in an apartment, paying his bills (mostly), dealing with a landlord who has rules (gasp!), and buying his own food and stuff.  Currently he is drug free.  Ralph and I do not have to live in Crazytown anymore, ether.  We can leave his apartment after visiting and live our lives.  We do not have to be involved in his life and can just enjoy visiting with him.

Last night, after graduation, the phone rang at midnight.  It was Ed and he said his car had died.  He had made it home by babying the car.  Ralph talked to him about ways he could fix the problem, at least for the short term.  None of the ways required us fixing the problem for him.  For example, buying or loaning him a car, giving him money or getting out of bed at midnight.  We both had a tough time falling asleep after that.  It is hard to let your children figure out life for themselves! 

I hope our story helps others who may be discouraged and ready to give up.  No matter where this crazy life with addicted children and behavior issues leads us, we always have hope.

 

Read More......

Trouble in Bedrock: Wilma's Story
Posted by:Brigitte--Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jessica and Manny’s Mom, 

Thank you for your posts. Unlike you we did not have to kick Bam Bam out but didn’t let him move back after 11 months in placements. He is currently in his 2nd ¾ house since April. After paying his rent at house #1 at the beginning of May he decided to move to house #2. There was a lot of drama surrounding this and I think the main reason he wanted to move was that a good friend of his from ½ house was moving to house #2. He got rent assistance that paid half of the rent and he paid the rest for May. 

“When they are doing well we are happy but fear that it won’t last. It’s all as it should be for what parent wouldn’t feel those emotions?” This comment from Lloyd really struck a chord with me. Bam is clean and sober for over a year for which I am happy. When I think of last year when his drinking in conjunction with taking prescription medications and illegal drugs could have killed him, I am so glad that we did everything we did to get him help despite the fact that he didn’t feel he needed it or wanted it. 

So here we are today. We have been on the Phantom’s Revenge now for two months. After moving into house #2 Bam quit a full-time, benefited real job that he got injured at within his first week of working. Several people, including Fred, didn’t think he would last at this place. I, however, hoped that the fact he was making more money than he did in fast food, could walk to work and was working with a guy from house #1 would be enough for him-he could pay his rent, maybe save some money if he wanted to get his own apartment, learn to drive and buy a car, go to school and still have enough to support his cigarette habit and social activities--anything. He decided he would rather work with his cousin at seasonal job that pays less money with no benefits. Although I’ve heard it’s a fun place to work. 

I am sick to my stomach everyday when I wake up and cry almost everyday while I’m driving to work. If I didn’t have some obligations I probably wouldn’t get out of bed most days. My cell phone is almost always on do not disturb with the ringer off (i can still see missed calls and texts but don’t have to hear it) and last night after returning home from my nephew’s graduation party (our 3rd family graduation in 3 weeks and yes Bam has attended every one) I turned the ringers off on all of the house phones and disconnected the answering machine. What mother would do that when her only child might have yet another crisis? And that is what it is everyday with Bam. Last Saturday night after family graduation #2 Bam called at MIDNIGHT, waking us up, because he was going to get kicked out of house #2 because he couldn’t pay his rent. What? didn’t you just get paid YESTERDAY (last check from former employer) and didn’t I give you almost ½ of the rent for your birthday present? Ever since he left the ½ way house he would ask if we could pay towards his rent for his birthday and I always said no because it wasn’t his birthday!

Well, on Friday he turned 19 and since this is what he wanted as his gift I said yes this time. So last Saturday night (well I guess it was really Sunday morning) he told me that he had spent $150 (RENT MONEY) on i-tunes gift cards because he deserved it since it was his birthday present to himself so could we help him out with his rent until Monday when he would be getting his first check from his new employer. I lost it. Why would he do that? Didn’t he assure me just the day before all was taken care of? So for the next two hours it was badgering through phone calls and me telling him I wanted to talk the house manager NOW. Well, MANAGER was at the midnight meeting so I told Bam I didn’t care I wanted to talk to him when he got back. That never happened. So by 2:00 a.m. he was tired, said he was going to return the gift cards and why didn’t I get some sleep. Are you kidding me? And he said he couldn’t return the gift cards although I am 99% sure he had redeemed them already and so another lie. 

Later that day after almost no sleep I came home from work (yes on Sunday) Bam starts texting me that I HAD to take him to the doctor because he had pink eye. He works near an urgent care I told him to walk there or go the minute clinic near where he lives. WHAT, how could I suggest he take care of this himself and expect him to WALK? Well, it turned out he was sent home from work so wasn’t near the urgent care which was closed anyway. I told him put warm compresses on his eye and have it taken care of the next day as he was off of work Monday. I even consulted with my pharmacist friend for some expert advice on what to do or not do with the eye! after all, it’s not life threatening, we’ve been through his before although it’s been awhile. Well, he texted that I just didn’t care about him or ever help him, etc, etc. A symptom of bad mother syndrome I guess. Then on Monday he starts calling our house that he needs $10 to pay back a friend of his who lives in house #1 who loaned him money to pay his rent and he was a little short so if WE didn’t pay the kid the $10 then Bam would have to ask for it back from the house manager and then he would get kicked out. He would just get a ride out here for the $10. We said NO. He continued to call, texted me that he was packing his stuff NOW, he was leaving. I frantically called his P.O., since Bam said he talked to him about all of this. I then called the house manager who told me Bam was paid up until July 1st and he wasn’t at the house. It went on for several hours and I was exhausted. Fred and I both turned off our cell phones and wouldn’t answer the landline. Wednesday rolls around and we have a family meeting with the pros. Bam declares he doesn’t need our help and is going to be more independent, get his own ride for the party. Wow, good for you Bam. It didn’t last 24 hours. The next day it rained all day so work called him off. Then Fred took him and another recently released buddy from the ½ way house grocery shopping-how is this not helping him? Oh wait, that is Fred helping, I guess the fact that I work and pay for it isn’t helping him. For the record we did agree to help him out with groceries and Fred (he is retired) goes to Aldi’s, gets stuff on sale-and he usually doesn’t have Bam with him. He doesn’t get to just fill up a cart and we pay the tab. Is this helping too much?? 

Yesterday Bam called off work I think because he wanted off since it was his cousin’s grad party. Although he told Fred he lost his bus pass, then he said someone stole his bus pass, I think he didn’t want to take the bus. So I don’t know if he still has a job today. He had lied to us earlier in the week saying he was off but I knew from my sister he was scheduled to work and had switched with someone so he could work early and be off before the 6:00 party. So Fred picks him up and brings him to our house where, according to Fred, Bam slept all day. I wasn’t home for this. Anyway, at the party Bam lies to me about going out to the parking lot as his friend from house #2 is picking up and wanted to say hello. What he really wanted was to ask me if he had gotten any birthday cards (hopefully stuffed with money) because if he didn’t pay his phone bill by today it would be turned off. 

This is just some of what’s happened over the past week but is representative of what has been going on for two months. Bam thrives on creating chaos, he lies so much I don’t believe what he says (then he gets mad at me for not believing him!) he does not budget and is irresponsible with his money and then he tries to make his irresponsibility my responsibility. I have told him I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for his lack of responsibility. When he hasn’t gotten his way he has thrown out the “I’ll just have to use” comment I guess to try and guilt me into giving him what he wants. Instead of pleading with him and trying to reason with him I tell him he has to do what he has to do-It’s his decision. Last month in a doctor’s office he told me that since he was clean I should give him a laptop for his birthday, he’s entitled to that. When I told him my NO ELECTRONICS for gifts still stands he said that was F’D so why did he bother working so hard to stay clean? I will give him credit that he has worked hard, he goes to meetings and seems to be committed to sobriety. He looks good and that is not just from me- a lot of people he hasn’t seen these last few years have been telling me at the grad parties that he looks good and he has been pleasant with them and truly seems to be glad to be part of the extended family again. This past week he said he thinks his judge will let him off of probation in July although his next hearing isn’t until October. If he does that billboard he probably has a shot!! (You have to read his essay in Juvenile Court to get this!). I’ve been wondering if he is doing what he needs to do to satisfy probation and once he’s off he can go back to his old life. I hope not. I really worry that if he is desperate for cash he will start selling drugs again to supplement his income. I know that he has had contact with at least one of his friend drug dealers recently. 

I’ve been told that we have to stop helping him so much and I think I tend to the extreme of NOT helping and Fred is the other extreme. And I can’t control Fred. A good friend of mine even said Fred would do what he is doing for Bam for anybody which is true. And so far we are both on the same page of not allowing Bam to move back home, at least not right now. We have all this chaos and tension and he doesn’t even live here! I have also had close friends and family who also feel that would be a mistake. However, I do think in the next few weeks we will be facing another rent crisis and then what? Thanks for letting me vent! 

Wilma

Read More......

Moving On
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Moving On - written by Betty
 
I have wanted to write since sitting at last week's meeting when so many parents were sharing similar stories of having teenage adult children, who in spite of all your efforts have chosen to continue to follow the path of their addictions and the consequences of this life. Along with the anxiety and fear we cope with when we need to hold fast to our no-active-addiction boundaries in our homes, for the sake of our other children as well as ourselves. My heart was breaking as you shared at the meetings as well as this blog, as I am thinking how many of you I have now met and grown to love as we have supported and understood, without judgment, what we are dealing with.
I have been thinking, "they are entering into another phase of dealing with their children's addiction after the safety net of juvenile programs and probation has expired, as I have done with my oldest daughter, Dina, for over 15 years now." I am sorry and wish this on no one. Through those years there have been countless efforts to help her help herself. Only, in our case, to have relapse follow each and every time she attempted to get clean. She has been in and out of our lives like a revolving door. It's been rough. I wish I could tell you it hasn't been. There is no easy way of dealing with this. But there is hope, always. In my case, even though Dina has had little clean time, I have been able to let her live her life as she chooses, as I live mine. This has only been possible over time, with program support groups such as PSST and others, therapy and prayer.
As heartbreaking as Jessica's blog posting was for me to read, I was chuckling at the picture of Joan Crawford because Dina has accused me of being like her and has called me Mommy Dearest. I too have been accused of being the main reason for Dina’s drug addiction throughout the years. I know it’s the addiction talking when she is attacking and blaming me for her situation. My response has been to please go to rehab and see a therapist and tell them all about me and the issues you have with me, whatever it takes to get off drugs. Let me share also that as time has passed, Dina has admitted she understands why I could not tolerate her drug use, and why I keep my distance and limit my contact with her.

I know the thought of living with your child’s decision to choose a life of addiction for as long as I have sounds horrifying. That does not necessarily have to be the case for any of you. Most people I have known through support groups do share stories of their loved ones seeking an addiction-free life. Always when they were at the same point some of you are, they made similar decisions about keeping their boundaries, releasing their children with love, and letting them feel the pain and consequences of drug addiction without rescuing them. In other words, letting them hit their bottom.
Even though I started to attend PSST to deal with our youngest daughter’s (Pebble’s) drug addiction, I have heard valuable suggestions to use with Dina as well. Keep in mind there are also other support groups that, in addition to PSST, I can't imagine coping with Dina's lifestyle without. On my own, I could not in any way have done what I have had to do for her, for my family, and for myself.  I suggest that you attend support group meetings.  And last but not least, Pray.
 
Betty

Read More......

Clean rebel
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Sunday, June 09, 2013

Click to see source

One of the tasks of adolescence is to move towards independence from family. It's part of growing up. Once teenagers get involved with drugs a couple things happen to complicate this natural age appropriate task.



First of all, in most families where teens have become drug abusers, becoming involved with drugs is THE WAY to rebel against family values. Once the drug abuse happens the teenager feels as though he has succeeded in becoming independent. In other words he has struck a blow for independence because he has adopted values that are strikingly different from his parents. In other families the teen might decide to become Conservative if his parents are Liberal, or perhaps join the Catholic church if his parents are protestant. Perhaps if his parents don't bother recycling the teenager might adopt a radical protect-the-environment group. If higher education is an important family value a teen might opt to drop out of school. Of course, many times becoming the "rebel" isn't that obvious or perhaps sometimes teens don't really get the rebel thing going all that much, or at least it doesn't appear so to the outside observer.



Now let's consider the teenager who adopts a lifestyle of drugs and/ or crime to his rebel's stance; however, he get's in trouble and ends up in Juvenile Court or in drug rehab. Now, he has become less "independent" and more "dependent" on his family and now on the system that begins to intervene in his life. Especially, with Probation involved, the teenager can soon feel as though he is being treated like he is 12 years old and, indeed, we hear a lot of screaming from teens at this point saying, "But I'm [insert age] years old! You can't treat me like I'm 12!" Of course we can and we do treat the teenager like he is 12 because suddenly we have a window of opportunity to keep the teenager safe from harm, and really with the fatal nature of this drug addiction we are struggling to keep these teens alive.

At this point we have a frustrated teenager. If he submits to the plan and to the expert recommendations then he is no longer striving for independence but he has surrendered all independence. We point out that down the road he will be calling some of his own shots but not now: now he needs to recover.

At this point with the striving for independence thing sort of put on hold another interesting thing happens. The parent now discovers that with the help of the rehab and/ or with the help of the Court they now have a bit of power. Wow! We are talking contracts and using such techniques as "nevertheless" and "regardless" to avoid arguing. We attend meetings and become educated about what exactly constitutes a good recovery from addictions and even more important we buy into the "non-enabling" approach to supervising our teenagers. All is good. But there is something that can go very wrong at this point.

As the pendulum swings the other way it is only natural that we parents try to micro manage. We sort of have to don't we? We are talking about helping the teenager choose his friends because we know that if he chooses to hang out with the same people that he got high with then there is a 99.999999 percent chance that he too will get high. So, how is the teenager going to get back on this Independence thing?

At this point let's divide our teenagers into two arbitrary groupings. The first group we have the teens who are clearly not trying to recover. They want to be treated like adults and yet they continue to make decisions that put them in danger. For these kids the drive for independence is still all about finding a way back to using drugs. We must prioritize our parenting and remaining aware of how we might still be enabling our teens is still the most important thing. When these teens accuse us of "micro managing" we need to agree that we are and state calmly that we will continue to do what we need to do to keep them safe. Even for these teens, once we know that they are safe, for example if they are in a halfway house, then we need to back off on the issues that are not so much about safety.

Let's call the second group of teens those that either have adopted a strong commitment to stay clean or at least are considering a commitment to stay clean. For these teens it suddenly becomes really important that we allow or help them to find a way to rebel. For these teens their whole way of striking out for independence was that they thought using drugs was the way to be different from family. Now they need a new way.

Another way to see this is to realize that teens must make some mistakes. They have to learn by making mistakes. We want to keep them out of danger but we don't want to protect them from all chances to learn by making mistakes. And where possible we want to encourage the whole rebel thing. Keep in mind that for teens risk taking is an important part of becoming independent. Teenager brains seem to be designed to accept risk taking as an activity.

We had a good example of this phenomenon at our meeting in Wexford yesterday. A mother in group described situation where her and her husband who happens to work in law enforcement cautioned if not outright forbid their daughter who is recently returned home from rehab not to get involved with some people who are in recovery and who have a crisis that involves the police. The daughter got involved anyway and while she was still clean she became an embarrassment to her parents especially because her father is in law enforcement. She claimed that these people who are in recovery (but who may not be clean any longer) needed her help. She took a risk by going to help them. She became a rebel because it was forbidden by her parents. She stood for something. She took a stand. She remains clean and apparently committed to recovery, at least for today. She tells her parents not to try to work her recovery for her. She may discover that trying to hard to help others is not good for her recovery at all. But it might just be the thing she has to learn herself.

Mom: You know we asked you not to go over there to help those people with their problems.

Teen: I had to. THEY NEEDED me. I can't turn my back on my peers like that.

Mom: You know that was embarrassing for your father.

Teen: Don't work my program for me.

Mom: Look, just listen a second. OK?

Teen: Yeah go ahead.

Mom: We wish you wouldn't throw us under the bus like that. We wish you could appreciate that we have been through a lot with your addiction and try to show some respect and gratitude for what we have done. Still, I see that you want to help others. I know you are a good person, a loyal person, and I know that you can be a great friend. I love that about you. We are proud of you. Very proud of you. Maybe we need to start giving you a little more room. This is your life honey. You are trying to be clean and you know, it's hard sometimes for us to realize that you have to find your own way. We can handle the embarrassment. And in fact the hell with what other people think if you are clean and working a program of recovery then we will stand behind you. OK?

Teen: I didn't expect to hear all that.

Mom: Well, it's nice to know we can still surprise you.

Teen: I'm sorry I make it look bad for daddy but mom I just had to do my part.

Mom: I know. We love you. Let us know if we can to anything to help- OK?

Another parents in group during closing comments shared that "the bond between people in recovery can be incredibly strong. We went to a meeting to see our son pick up a clean tag and celebrate an anniversary and we witnessed people reaching out to him and my first thought was, 'wait a minute- how long have you known this person?' but we are learning that when it comes to meetings and recovery, and out son goes to a lot of meetings, the bond that they form is really strong."

If not for these bonds our teenager might not be able to stay clean.

Our teens in recovery have a huge job. Work a program of recovery, become independent, take risks, discover who you are that must be quite different from who your parents were, at the end of the day don't pick up a drug. Suddenly, our teens aren't just dysfunctional people trying to get better and trying to be more normal, they are heroes who amid much risk and turmoil find a way to not only help themselves but find a way to help others. They discover who they are by being brave.

Read More......

Another Victim of "Worst Mom" Syndrome?
Posted by:Jenn--Friday, June 07, 2013

<Written by Manny's Mom, Cher>

Jessica, OMG, I can't believe I just read your post (Worst Mother Ever Syndrome). 

I too just did what you have done. I am sitting here at 3 am in the morning struggling to sleep over our decision. It has been one full week since we made and implemented our decision.  Sadly, it has also been very difficult for my three other children, one who has recently moved 900 miles away to college to "get away from the addict", and another who has joined the military "hoping he can too move out and get away from my main focus". Unfortunately his 12 year old sister (who idolizes our son) can't go anywhere, and for a week was pretty angry with me because "Manny" our addict is the only one she relates with. SCARY!!! 

I actually bought a book today called DONT LET YOUR KIDS KILL YOU by Charles Rubin. It tells of his struggle with two boys who were on drugs. I started reading it this evening and really haven't been able to put it down.

I know mother to mother that I have contemplated the same thing you have with laundry etc. But I ended up in December, when Manny was missing (one of his many, for 4 months), having what my mother calls my mid-life crisis and got a Tattoo - yes I said Tattoo - on my wrist that says SURRENDER. It has gotten me through a lot of moments when I was weak. I needed to surrender Manny after 4 1/2 years of all the same luxury hotels, not to mention Shuman/Auberle which Manny scoffs at, to his own life and accountability. I too have had people in our neighborhood be amazed at what an awesome mother I am. Never giving up on him, they surely couldn't do what I have and especially for this long.

When I came to the first PSST meeting there was a woman sitting in the corner. She made one statement directed at me, and let me say it really made me ANGRY. Her exact words were "The sooner you realize that the relationship you so desperately want with your son right now is not going to happen or may never happen, the sooner you can start healing yourself". I thought, how dare you!  You don't even know me. My relationship with Manny was everything to me - he's my son, my baby, my life. Funny how a year and half later that one statement is still so fresh in my mind. Now and only NOW do I understand what she meant. 

I have figured out just today that I did not turn my back on Manny, I still love him with all my heart and soul. I am turning my back on Manny's Addiction. The pain is still there everyday. I miss him so much and still worry for a phone call that I may not want to get. But in the end, whether good or bad, I KNOW that my husband and I, including my other children, have done EVERYTHING we could possibly have done to try to help. Just like Dr. Phil always says, "And how's that working for ya?" Easy, it's NOT.

Manny has tried to call me a few times this past week, from his 27 year old Stripper/Escort/Heroin Addict/Multiple Personality Disorder/Hepititis C carrying Girlfriend's house. You know - everyone's dream future daughter-in-law. Which funny, but not, he told us that he's in love with her and he needed $40 bucks to pay off a ring he bought her in Kmart because he wants to marry her. Sadly Manny just turned 19, so guess what, he CAN! My 25 year old son laughed and said "Yeah, every kiss begins with K - KMart!" Anyway, enough with that scary humor. 

Manny needs his clothes and Xbox. My husband Sonny told him finally NO. I say finally because his dad was starting to get soft on me and was thinking he probably needs his clothes for a job interview, etc. and the Xbox might allow him to give the girlfriend's mom some money.  Oh, by the way, the girlfriend's mom said that he can live there if pays rent. Nice, it always seems like Manny finds a place to land.

Manny won't talk to me either, just like Herman won't talk to you. Of course I have made his life harder, I have given him a horrible childhood and I should look up the definition of Mother in the dictionary and study it. My response to that text was (after balling my eyes out), "Funny how after all this time you still blame me. Well, at least I get a clear picture of where you are in recovery." 

Anyway Jessica, I just wanted to say I am with you. I have walked in your shoes and am still walking in your shoes. I have SURRENDERED Manny but now Manny has to SURRENDER. I have to trust myself as I struggle now with my decision. I have to save and rebuild the rest of my family. Especially myself. 

One other thing that I heard from my Pastor that I repeat quite a bit, especially to Manny, which naturally he loved. Change only happens when the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change. Funny, I used to write that to Manny in all the placements and whisper it in his ear when we would leave him. I guess now I have to apply it myself. Thank you, and I pray for strength for you and your family.

Cher

Read More......

Worst Mother Ever Syndrome
Posted by:Brigitte--Wednesday, June 05, 2013


I, Jessica Rabbit, recently declared myself a bad mother. I am struggling with trying to shake this self-imposed title that for the most part is seen as irrational by the majority, including my husband and the four Rabbit children. I have five children, so one of them does agree that I am indeed a bad mother to him. It is because of this one person, my son Herman that I am writing this.

I do not want to share this with him; I am writing this as a means for therapeutic catharsis, hoping that by putting my thoughts in written form, I could gain more insight into myself. Even though Herman is the second child of five, Herman’s addiction made him the child that I fought for the hardest, walked on egg shells for , cheered enthusiastically for behaviors that were simply expected by the other children, lost sleep over, cried the most for, ruminated on , and almost lost myself over. I was also the one who called the police on him and according to Herman “lied and got him locked up with horrible people”. I do not regret the latter. I remind myself constantly, that I have four other wonderful, talented, honorable and accountable children. Somehow their love, respect, and accomplishments cannot fill this gaping void of pain in my heart right now. This is just one more thing that also fills me with guilt. I had such a hard time letting Herman go, although in theory I knew it was the right thing to do. I am now holding him accountable, which also includes knowing that I cannot have a relationship with him until he embraces recovery. The fact that my own son, heart of my heart, is toxic to me and my family is very painful. His addiction, which brings out his disrespect and belligerence, is something from which we needed to separate ourselves. I remember once when Herman was sick as a child, we isolated him from the rest of the children, so they would not become infected. I still stayed with him, and braved getting ill, because I was his mom. However, I became ill with the same virus, and passed it on to several other family members. In a lot of ways, the same thing is happening now. Herman is sick, and poses danger to our family. I can no longer stay with him until he gets “better”, or risk infecting the family. The rest of my family is thriving in the new calm that Herman’s absence is providing. I was told by them that it now finally feels like a real home. For me, I feel horribly that someone is missing, although I am grateful for the calm. So there will be no more Sundays afternoons spent with Herman, for the sanity and safety of my family. 

My son Herman is an addict, although if you ask him, he will tell you differently. For those of you that have addiction in the family, you are aware of the chaos it provides. Loving and mothering an addicted child is so much more than just chaos. As mothers, our bond and love for each of our children is not measurable. In my case, I loved Herman so much that he actually had me convinced at one point that down was really up, black was really white, stop was really go… I got so caught up in the insanity, that I was compromising my true convictions, and feeling guilty and horrible about myself in the process. My initial plan was to fade quietly into the proverbial woodwork of PSST, because I felt that I was not the sort of messenger the dedicated parents from PSST needed. Adding insult to injury, Roger and I received the 2012 Parent of the Year award. The beautiful plaque that the courts gave us said we worked hard to save our son, but was also a stark reminder of our hypocrisy, because we recently gave up and quit on our son. I grimaced in embarrassment when I thought of our speech that night, proudly smiling for photos with all the juvenile justice system. What would they think of us now? 

For unexplained reasons, I felt compelled to let the group know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (so help me Lloyd). I tested the waters by sending out an update during the last virtual meeting. I typed out the words” Roger and I told our son we could no longer have a relationship with him until he embraces recovery”. I was certainly not fishing for any compliments, and I had immediate email sender’s regret the second I clicked on send. I felt like I had quit and given up on our son. Our last interaction was a huge disaster, and could definitely go down in the PSST record books as script for best role play of what not to do. I did not remember hearing or meeting anyone in PSST who ever did that to their child. I do not remember ending the relationship ever even being considered as an option. After all, we had spent so much time together in family therapy at Herman’s many placements, practiced the tried and true skills of PSST, and now we chose to no longer have contact with each other. How could this happen? We all know the answer, addiction. 

In our neighborhood, we were the shining examples of good parenting. Herman left our house handcuffed in the back seat of a police cruiser in early August 2010. A mere 17 months of placements and many PSST meetings later, Herman was transformed into the all American boy next door. People no longer recognized him, and several that did actually shook my hand, complimenting me on a job well done. The community was actually thanking me! It was a true Cinderella story, a miracle. Maybe Herman could be one of those miracles that we all applaud. However, slowly my miracle was falling apart. Herman was using again, and we stood by our word as per our contract, that after three strikes, he was out of our house for good. On January 4, 2013, eight days shy of one year that he came home, Herman moved out. Several months later, the neighbors who once complimented me were now showing concern .Through some portal, they were able to find out what I already knew,that Herman was no longer looking or acting the same. They wanted to give me a “heads up” because they were confident that I could steer Herman straight again, Roger and I just needed to re-do the magic. My initial magic was Lloyd Woodward, Kathy Tagmyer, PSST and the legal system. However we had exhausted all of the good /magic that could have ever been gotten from our dream team. Roger and I actually asked that Herman be taken off of probation in March of 2012. It was definitely the right thing to do, because we were at the point of diminishing return with Probation and placements. Roger and I felt we could and should handle this as his parents. 

So what did I do or not do that caused me to feel like I was a bad mother? I will tell you it was not from the many placements and stays at Shuman. From 1/4/2013 to 4/21/2013 I let Herman show up hung over, reeking of drinking the night before, or high and smelling like weed into my home. In retrospect he was very disrespectful in many ways to both Roger and me. The other four siblings would hide in their rooms whenever he visited. Somehow I had developed a different set of standards for Herman than the other four Rabbits. Initially I was grateful that Herman was just smoking weed and not spice or thankfully to our knowledge, not using heroin. He was only expected to pay his bills, stay out of the legal system and stay alive. This was very different from the bar we had set for the other four rabbits. I was just happy to have a relationship, and let Herman be Herman. I foolishly believed that since he was no longer living in our home, I could roll with things when it came to Herman’s drug use. He was my son, my flesh and blood. A mother’s love is not measurable. I could not imagine ever not having a relationship with him, no matter the cost. I was willingly chugging the Herman Kool Aid.

I suspected Herman was abusing amphetamines, namely Adderall or “college crack” .I told him my concerns about the amphetamines, and was relieved when he told me he was just drinking and smoking weed. Things were now getting pretty bad, for I was now endorsing his drug use, a line I thought I could never cross. Meanwhile the other four were expected to not use drugs or drink alcohol, until they were legally able to drink, get good grades, excel and be honorable and accountable. Clearly I was setting a double standard. I chose to be blind to injustice, as well as to the degree of damage that the Herman chaos I was permitting was causing my other children. If you look to the right column on the blog, you will see the heart felt and powerful post written by my 17 year old daughter Kitt, titled “My God Darn Screw up Brother”. She wrote it for a school English paper, and received an A. My other daughter, Kitt’s twin sister Katt, informed me of how much time I spent helping and talking about Herman, to the point that she was very angry and sick of it, she said that she felt invisible My oldest, Zeke, who is Herman’s older brother by 14 months said that he was glad to have some respite and live at college because of the chaos. Zeke’s has many academic achievements, including consistently making the dean’s list. My youngest son Zach said he did not care, and had nothing to say. However I believe that the ones who say the least have the most to say. 

Then there is Herman, the reason I am even aware of this blog. He showed up to our home still celebrating 4/20 on Sunday 4/21. Roger was working on some administrative work related things, and the other siblings were hiding in their rooms, which was the norm. I should add that I pretended to not find it strange that everyone hid when Herman came, leaving me to chatter away with mindless conversation, while washing his laundry, and clearing out my pantry of food to give him. I was saving him at least 25 dollars per week in laundry, plus saving him food expense. He now had a bigger weed/alcohol budget thanks to me. Still my head was in the sand, a fact I knew. I just loved him so much that I wanted to believe him and his delusion of doing well. The blatancy of Herman’s drug use, compounded with his diatribe of how I “wronged him by placements”, hit me squarely in the eyes that day, I cannot accurately describe the events that led up to the interactions, but succinctly said, I had it. I believe it was ultimately his disrespect of his father that finally got to me. 

Roger and I both sent Herman letters to clarify our positions. I apologized for my name calling, and explained the stance we are taking. I told him that I made a huge mistake in thinking I could roll with his drug and alcohol use. The words “hear us now, believe us later, your drug use has cost you your family, but will prove to be more costly in the future”, were emphasized. Herman blames us for his drug use, and says he is using less with us out of the picture. Herman refuses to interact with me, saying I am one of his people, places and things. I guess I am, if Herman is trying to feel justified in using. In my heart of hearts I see no other way of handling this. I did everything imaginable to get him the best help and support. I did the responsible thing as a parent. There is no way that I can endorse Herman’s criminal behavior any more. We needed to protect ourselves and our family from Herman. Things were becoming progressively more chaotic and dangerous. Sadly, this was our only option. Herman told his father that this break was for the best, and that I needed to let go. So now I have Herman’s permission to let him go. Would more did I need? There is a saying “Let go, or be dragged”. I think I sometimes chose to be dragged. However I know that is not rational thinking, so I am letting go. I think it is a process that includes mourning. It has been almost 2 months since I have seen or heard from Herman, and I feel myself getting stronger. I think most rehabs say it takes 30 days to detox, I am feeling a tiny bit better about our decision. 

Roger, Herman’s father, has a very different view of the situation and what we are dealing with, as well as what it did to the family. He states “As per the contract, Herman must be on his own and must now face the consequences of the real world. The dialog became abusive, disrespectful and he was still using. We needed to protect our family. We still love him, and will be there for Herman whenever he embraces recovery”. 

So there you have it, the Rabbit family statement on the record. There is one last thing that I would like to share in closing, never forget the power of one kind word. Personally speaking, the comments and support I received when I reached out really helped to uplift me, to the point that I am starting to feel like myself again, and worthy to give out advice . 

Read More......

Moments that Make a Mother Proud
Posted by:Jenn--Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Graduation with Admiration, ‘Say Cheese’

by Roxie
 
Days before walking down the aisle for a diploma, Lenny was locked in a cell with barely breathing room and wearing those Shuman sandals that make boys feel emasculated. After serving his time, Lenny walked out of Shuman into the auditorium on Friday, May 31stto obtain his High School diploma with twin sister, Lena. 

How many counseling sessions were required for him to finally acquire this goal? They are too numerous to count, with topics so painful that the words are seared in my heart forevermore.

Seeing Lenny and Lena with a cap and gown reminded me of when I held each one on a left and right arm as babies. They were so small that I bought doll clothes for them to wear. Now, Lenny is taller than Roxie and is wearing a real cap and gown, not the petite cabbage-patch clothes they wore for the first month of life.

I’m so proud of both my children, but especially Lenny. He told me while in placement this year that he wanted to repeat 11th grade. After coaxing, counsel, and support, he put his best foot forward and headed toward 12th. The teachers have been our cheering section from the very start. They knew from Roxie’s crying at school appointments, that I wanted the best for Lenny and it included graduation. I begged for them to forgive Lenny for his abhorrent school behavior, and asked for mercy. The school, and God, listened.

During the Turning of the Tassel ceremony, I watched as Lenny moved his cap tassel from the right to the left, indicating that he was an official graduate. For that split second, I saw Lenny blend in with other kids who didn’t rely on drugs. Instead of constantly standing out for bad behavior, he fit right in with successful kids with a bright future. The label, ‘addict’, fell off his back while putting on his commencement robe just for that day.

They say pride cometh before a fall. Well, I felt like I was a participant in the annual Cooper Hill Cheese-Rolling event in Gloucestershire England. A 7lb. cheese ball is rolled down the hill, and the first person that rolls to the bottom is the winner.  
I fell with pride, robustly rolled, and am still waiting for the photographer to say, “Cheese, Roxie!” Lenny, I’m sure, will make me fall again!

Read More......

Hitting Bottom: A Worthy Goal?
Posted by:Brigitte--Sunday, June 02, 2013




written by Brigitte

The PSST meeting this week was chock full: there were several terrific role-plays and good discussions. As often happens, there was not enough time to cover everyone's issues. There seemed to be a theme among some parents whose kids were no longer on probation and no longer living at home. Many are struggling.

This is the scenario for Francois and I. Pierre has been out of our home since relapse after relapse told us to try something different. After leaving a 1/2way house, he went directly to a 3/4 house. For two months, we all started to breathe a sigh of relief that maybe this time he could do it. He was going to meetings, working, speaking for his NA group and enjoying his family again; and we were enjoying him!

Sadly, I can't say that is the case right now. After leaving the 3/4 house, the past three months have shown a steady decline in his commitment to recovery. He doesn't go to meetings, hasn't held a steady job in three months, and doesn't have a place to stay except for couch surfing with friends. He admits to using but claims it was only 4 or 5 times. Neither Francois or I believe that for a second and his actions confirm our fears. Until last week, he hadn't asked us for anything and we were still able to enjoy his weekly visits.

Last week he asked if we could help him find a place to stay. I told him that our offer of paying rent on a 3/4 house is still valid but obviously he would have to be clean. He didn't like that option. I said if he were clean, he could stay here short-term (a week or two), but only if he would agree to our rules, daily drug tests, and be actively look for a job. He didn't like that option either. Instead, he proposed that we co-sign a lease and pay the first month of rent--then he would take it from there. We told him that wasn't going to work for us; we would wait until he is clean and has a job before we could talk about an apartment. Naturally, he didn't like that option either. 

I reminded him that, for three months, we have been pressing him to get a job and a place to stay; we had warned him that the day would come when he will be stuck. That day is now here and now he has to figure it out. He left angry.

He came by again a few days later and tried to convince me that his girlfriend and her mother needed $50. The request was so ridiculous, it was alarming. Surprisingly, he agreed to a drug test. It was positive as I had anticipated. When I refused his request, I saw the intensity he used to show when he was actively using and out of money. "You know that PSST group you go to?" "Yes." "Is that why you have become such a bitch?" "If by 'being a bitch', you mean not giving you money, I suppose." He got angry and said go to hell, quickly apologized, then left. I went downstairs and found a hole in the wall. Now it was my turn to be angry.

Next day he wanted to come by and I said no. He stopped by anyway. Francois asked him to leave and explained that we are willing to help but only on our terms, not his. He left although he didn't seem angry this time.Ugh. This feels like a terrible waiting game--waiting for him to become uncomfortable enough to want change. Waiting for him to hit bottom, yet hoping his bottom isn't life threatening. Each night I pray he is safe. We throw out offers of help that are contingent upon him being clean but he keeps batting them down. One thing that Lloyd said at the meeting last week really helped: Pierre isn't down all time. I often imagine him lonely, homeless and desperate. The reality is, he is out having a good time and shows us his desperate face when he wants something. Francois and I feel like he will need to fall pretty hard before he will make any positive changes but, boy, it is hard to watch. We continue to reach out to him but his addictive, manipulative behavior is starting to make it hard to maintain a healthy relationship. I keep thinking about how different he seems right now compared to when he first left the 1/2way house and it makes me incredibly sad. However, our home has become peaceful and stable since he left and we have told him we are not willing to let his addiction affect our family like it had in the past.


Read More......

My Son & The Addict
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, June 01, 2013


My son will be 27 in a couple of weeks and we once again have a close relationship.  However we had our rough spots.  He was arrested at 17 and the actions I needed to take to keep him safe and get him the help he needed caused him to become very angry. 

I refer to him as The Addict during these times because the addiction had control and he was not behaving as himself.  It is like he was locked away inside while The Addict had control on the outside.  If your son (or daughter) is trapped in this situation, be assured that he is still in there.  Your job is to free him from The Addict. And once he is free, you will see him again.

But it will get rocky along the way.  There were periods of time where The Addict hated me and didn't talk to me for months. However eventually my son thanked me for all I did and we began to rebuild our relationship.  But this may take a couple of years.  It did for my son and I.

So . . . there may be times that it feels that you are losing your son (or daughter). . . but you are not.  What is happening is you are forcing your child to lose The Addict and The Addict doesn't want to leave.

Hang in there and set your child free of The Addict.

Lori

Read More......

Incarceration vs Graduation
Posted by:Jenn--Saturday, June 01, 2013



Lenny’s Incarceration 5 Days Before Graduation – by Roxie

An Ode to Lighten My Load

On Friday, the high-school bell rang for Seniors’ early dismissal.

Lenny leaped out of the school quick as a referee’s whistle.

He noticed a car full of homeboys and friends,

and his outlandish behavior suddenly came back again.

He shoved half his body in the moving car window

to yell profanities at teachers with full senior gusto.

While performing like a contortionist with no backbone at the car door,

An alert policeman eyed him up and said, “Stop. No more!”.

He called me at work to say that Lenny would be cited.

“Do what you want,” I said. “This time, I will not fight it.”

I drove Lenny to Shuman because he wanted to disobey.

There is a Memorial Monday for Roxie, but it is not the holiday.

I hope he walks on Friday with a diploma in his hand;

instead of the school being disappointed enough to make him officially banned.

Lenny’s future lies under Roxie’s wing and a prayer,

so please keep us in your thoughts so Friday, he’ll be there.

Read More......

Credits

This layout (edited by Ken) made by and copyright cmbs.