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Looking Back and Moving On By Annie Highwater

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Looking Back and Moving On

On a recent visit home after quite some time apart, my son “Elliot” and I did a dual interview to discuss our experience roughly five years ago with Substance Use Disorder (referred to as SUD, most of which is detailed in my book Unhooked).

With a list of questions from various parents and family members who have been affected by the opiate epidemic surging through homes across the nation, we sat down for a very real, open conversation.

In our interview conversation, Elliot gave his perspective as one who has been to the depths of darkness with this disease and I gave mine as a Mother who was deeply affected.  We touched some on our background and story and then went right into the most intense dynamics we faced as a family.

 

Relapse occurs mentally long before it occurs physically.

When asked if he ever “hit bottom,” Elliot’s response was “Yes, several times and each time was worse than before. But life would then eventually come together again,” he explained, “things would level out and almost as if forgetting, I would drift back to that mindset again and find myself on track to another bottom.”  Elliot explained that it wasn’t until he decided to live a life with different goals and began refocusing his thoughts toward staying on track that he began taking preventative steps to avoid circling back through and repeating dangerous cycles.

 

Family relationships will recover if you allow for time and forgiveness.

As is common when substance abuse has raged through a family, our family dynamics were a disaster for a while. Crisis tends to bring out whatever pathological “trash” (meaning; it causes everyone’s dysfunction to rise to the surface) lies dormant.  There were hard feelings, bad blood and fractured communication on all sides.

Where we are today is a far cry from where we were then.  Recovery is possible and I believe, it works best when everyone does individual work on themselves (therapy, relevant books, support groups etc).  With time and compassion, we both began to realize that in the midst of some terrible circumstances, everyone was doing the best they thought they could do.

 

It’s not personal

Regarding stressful conflict, texts that get hateful, conversations that turn toxic and behaviors that involve betrayal, lying stealing etc. Elliot’s explanation related to a speaker he heard teaching from the book Choice Theory, written by William Glasser. The idea is that there are times we internally commit to choices.  Sometimes we will commit to a choice even if it’s wrong, and drive it all the way home, believing it is the best choice, the only choice, in that moment.

When it comes to a Loved One committing to a wrong choice that is having terrible effects on others, Elliot’s suggestion was to not engage it, protect yourself, and back away.

When someone is deep in struggle with a dependency upon a substance, their thoughts are only on what they need to do to meet that need. Anyone they affect or argue with is either a steppingstone, a source, or in the way.

And that is exactly what the disease of addiction does. The mentality of your Loved One is not only unlike the person you know and love, it’s not intentional, but it is adversarial.  SUD takes over the mind and will of the person struggling.

I had to realize, the less I make everything in life about me, the easier it is to logically deal with things.

 

Silence is excruciating

Some of our conversation covered when communication is cut off between the one struggling and the family at home.  Those can be extremely frightening, painful times for a parent.

I asked my son to think of what he feels if his dog is out of sight, even for a few minutes and doesn’t respond when he calls for him.

Or…what happens when he can’t find his cell phone.

Those situations prompt frantic moments of panic and relentless searching. Now, multiply those feelings by a million to understand what a parent goes through when their child is lost, off in active addiction or perhaps has gone silent for days on end.

It is those emotions that drive our decisions to investigate, search you out, walk the floors, and “lose it” emotionally.  These were the times that I had to absolutely prop myself up on my faith.

SUD is a crisis no family should have to become great at handling.

There are ways to go about it with sound, healthy judgment. But there is no way to become perfect at handling the crisis of addiction.  The reality is, it’s a terrible disease that creates terrible circumstances, conflicts and emotion for anyone touched by it.

 

Don’t go crazy in the madness of it!  That will solve nothing.

During the worst of times I literally became a detective, researching, spying, tracking people and chasing away anyone he was involved with.  I even kept binoculars in my car!

Elliot made it clear this resulted in a huge breakdown in communication, furthering the breach of trust between us.  It also caused him to go to greater lengths to find sources, involving much more risk and danger than usual.

Chasing him down, doing the crazy things, going mad in the midst of it – helped no one, solved nothing and didn’t cause anyone or anything to get better.

Had I put up healthy boundaries, enforced consequences, while maintaining a kinder, more logical position and then taken my hands off, we may have been better able to discuss solutions sooner than we did.  Looking back, I did the best I could with the tools I had, we all did.  If I had it to do again, I would have taken a softer (yet firm in healthy ways) approach and been fully equipped with the CRAFT method in place.

It took time for us both to heal from those days.

 

There’s hope

Elliot’s advice to those who are in their teens, 20s and 30s who may wrestle with SUD, regardless of how it began is that it life doesn’t have to be about leaning on a substance or who can party the hardest. “At the end of the day you end up sloppy and might be living down current choices for decades to come.”

Elliot’s words for anyone caught in the trap of active use who feels lost, alone, hopeless and like there is no way get out, “Please know there are thousands of hands out there ready to help you.  You can find a meeting (NA, AA etc) taking place every day in your city.  All you have to do is call, show up, reach out.”

His hope for families was to let them know, when he came to the end of every resource and had to become his own resource (meaning, lovingly cut off from all supply of money and housing), he had to find his own way.  That is what drove him to the desire for sobriety, recovery and a healthy productive life.

We are all relieved with how far he’s come (and how far we’ve come as a family) these last four years.

 

Recovery works.

I asked my son the other day when he was home, if it bothered him to go into old, familiar places or potentially cross paths with upsetting people there may have been previous conflict with.  I wondered because those things tend to bother me. His response was “Not at all.  Places don’t affect me anymore like they used to.  As for people, I’m aware of energy and vibes, if they’re negative and rude, all it tells me is that the person hasn’t dealt with their issues. I’ve moved on.”

Once you heal and move forward, you really can be done with the residual effects.

We are aware of the work of recovery and its power in our lives in how completely our relationship has healed.  A wonderful aspect of having gone through it is that due to the level crisis we reached, we dealt with our issues and then we put them behind us. There’s no elephant in the room today, or junk swept under the rug that we have to ignore when we sit down to dinner or have a visit. We live in the wholeness of the moment and celebrate life as it is now. Looking back only to learn and reminisce, but focusing forward on where we are now and what lies ahead.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Never give up,

Annie

Call Recovered With Your Questions

150 150 Mark S
Tuesday night, we are trying something different.  We will be answering your questions.  
 
Normally, I ask you a question and you call in your experience, strength, and hope.  Now it’s your turn to ask the questions.  What would you like to know about us, our program, our life outside the rooms of AA?  This is your opportunity to direct the podcast.  This week, Mark is scheduled to be joined with Chrissy, Kayla, and Jason.
Let’s talk about this solution.  Tap Speakpipe (preferred because the sound quality is excellent.  Use this method especially if you are outside the Unites States) or call 1-734-288-7510 and answer the following question(s):
Ask Kayla about being young and sober all while living in the city, going to college , and working too!
Ask Chrissy about being a single mother in recovery while working, going to meetings and no drivers license.
Ask Jason what it was like to “go for a walk in the wilderness”, that is, to stop going to meetings for a long period of time.
Ask Mark what it’s like to be so darn funny.
Ask us anything! If you don’t call, this will be a pretty boring show! We will be answering questions from the chat room too! Join us live on Tuesday.
Recovered Podcast is live online every Tuesday at 6:30 pm EST as we record the show.  Join the fun and be part of the show.
If you would like to listen to the live stream of the show, just tap Recovered Chat and Live Stream.  We give away an Amazon gift card each week, you could win if you join us on Tuesdays.  

Chris and Myers Part 3

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Check out this episode!

Home Group – Recovered 821

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

A home group is a place you come to on a regular basis, we get to know you and you get to know us. A home group is great place to get involved with the fellowship. You can do this by doing service work, chairing meetings, make coffee, cleaning up after the meeting, setting up before the meeting;

What was your first home group?
Why did you select that group?
How did it help your early recovery?
Tell us a story about how that group may have saved your life.
What service work do you do?
Did you meet your sponsor there?
Tell us about the meeting before the meeting and the meeting after the meeting.

What is your home group now?
Why did you change?
How is this one different?
What service work do you do?
Do you have a home group?
How does it help your program?

We Have Calls

Mandy
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Angelo Buddy
https://mail.google.com/mail/ca/u/0/#inbox/15c46bd1cf421f81?projector=1

Timmy
https://www.google.com/voice/fm/00557165274674955804/AHwOX_D7OKGcOpM8eyllxD1e0E8BFyCwWU_DqN9Sq76uPT-kjsYClDKo2CGVKVbnheCZ1f3KUu4pKJ4tFHOuJKZz-rW7F0r9efCd0YZ2LH2yYa_NotJKmH0zLhe2389tmRsTkZBS2PxX1SLRhCGs8TCEdseG8qKN_w

Cathy from Ga
https://www.google.com/voice/fm/00557165274674955804/AHwOX_BVac0fM62GFyI9xRWpex2HLRVhIdp2wcREsLWg5YNKtgKyM9zPBzvr7KJgNOTEWtjfYZluHSY1tdpSfC-MHqOhh_ERWjFiaBp41Ijn0wGig–R5VuZ-fgKL4zjSoLjTxOxb49ABJhIlZant_7t40eM64QvzA

Aviad From Israel
https://www.google.com/voice/fm/00557165274674955804/AHwOX_CcoC4ZgQuwFB1qLX01SVL3HoDEyCgDhYbFjDFfXQQG2FGLAwgETn6KyKTevZIwAHlKYTqZgIHzlBpLw1dSIQBZKB9saR8UDFazxRq_10HX5ESB4glqTSu_Bk1VoIEcXaKQyglrIZIITM-4QS4llNIBbIWacQ

Alex from Austin
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Check out this episode!

Summer Camp, Empty Nest and SUD, the practice of letting go By Annie Highwater

150 150 Mark S

“Summer Camp, Empty Nest and SUD, the practice of letting go”

 

 

“All of a sudden the nest is empty.  The birds have gone, and what had been a constant blur of activity is now nothing more than a few discarded feathers.  Silence mutes all that was colorful and it is time to reestablish our significant place in an ever changing world.”  ~Marci Seither

All parents know the day will come when the kids will leave home and go off into life.  It can be a strange, sinking time for any Mom and Dad.  But when the launch happens abruptly and includes upsetting circumstances, it adds an extra amount of worry to the loneliness and longing you may feel for years gone by.

Huge, abrupt change is a process to work through, one day at a time.  Sometimes one breath at a time.  There were days I moved through it moment by moment.

I myself was not prepared for the hole my life would have once my son no longer lived with me.  It was so engulfing at times that I felt the sadness would never lift.  I had a difficult time seeing a baseball field, being around athletes and hearing things like kids laughing and playing, or cleats on pavement.  I felt so sad, strange and empty in those moments.   Walking through a grocery store and hearing someone yell “Mom!” sent a shock wave through me, filling my eyes with unexpected tears.

I know lots of parents who have had a son or daughter leave the home to go off to college, get married or head off into a life of recovery after the tornado of SUD (Substance Use Disorder) has ripped through their lives.  Believe it or not, that is becoming just as common.

Whatever prompts the changes, for a while we are left with a gaping hole of emptiness and a noticeably barren schedule.

Empty nest happens, and really, it’s supposed to. When it happens out of change that involved turmoil, it’s not the normal “next steps of life,” yet it can still lead to good things and a great next phase of life for a family.

Knowing that the emptiness does pass and life will become joyful and new again (if we work with it) helps move us through toward meaningful days again.

***

“To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job.  They are not ours to keep, but to teach to soar on their own.” ~Unknown

When my son was little, we went to a summer camp together every year, I volunteered as an adult leader so he would have the presence of a parent with him.  It was something we looked forward to every summer.

One summer, feeling confident and independent at around age 11 or 12 (and knowing many of the regular campers), he asked if he could go to summer camp by himself.

Meaning…without…me.

Similar to experiences detailed in early chapters of my book “Unhooked”, this was one of the times I realized my son was growing up, branching off and wanting independence.

My heart initially felt the sting of rejection.  Then my mind seemed to shift gears into my usual fear based thought patterns.  Worries of all that could go wrong and that it would take over an hour for me to get to him if he needed me swirled through my mind.

Swallowing the negative thoughts, I told him I supposed he was old enough and probably ready, like the majority of his fellow campers, to go without his Mom.  So I gave him my permission.  He was more thrilled than I would have liked.

Once plans were made for my absence from camp, day after day I walked around feeling heavy-hearted and sullen. Somberly going to work, brooding and mourning, silently dreading the day I would drive my son to camp and leave him there; alone.

Obviously I believed he would only survive in my care!

At that time I worked for a man who counseled families. One afternoon, my boss asked why I seemed so moody and discouraged lately.  I explained my worrisome circumstances.

Always kind yet wise, his response was;

“Oh no, don’t do that.  Don’t impede him with your emotions, that will hinder him.  Don’t put that on him.  Your son is confident and independent, isn’t that what you’ve told me is your goal for him?  Don’t be the type who hinges your emotional weight on your child.  Mourning over missing him is not proof that you have a great relationship!  That’s about you, it’s selfish really.  He knows you are going to miss him; he knows you love him.  But if you hang the weight of this sad, pitiful display on his shoulders, making sure he knows Mom is going to cry her eyes out while he’s gone and then expect him to walk into that camp carrying your issues and enjoy himself, go swimming, fishing, do campy things and have fun while weighed down by that, you are doing him a grave disservice.  Let him experience this without all that.  Tell him you’ll miss him but you can’t wait to hear all about it afterwards!  He knows how to reach you if he needs to.  Let him know; Mom and home will be waiting for him to get back.  Tell him Mom may go do some fun things herself that week!   Tell him he’s brave!  And then…let him go.”

That advice was a wake-up call that I never forgot, how right it was!  All of it.  I had been making it about me.  And about fear.  But mostly, about me.

I didn’t need to hang my sadness, worries or issues on him, how unfair that would be.  Just like I intentionally never put on a long face when he went for weekends with his Dad, or spent a vacation away from me, how could I possibly make this about me and then send him off to cope with my weight on his back?

Thankful for the enlightenment, I spent the next few days with my son shopping for camping supplies, recalling great memories from previous summers there and preparing him for the new ones he’d make.

I also told him over and over how proud I was of him for wanting to go off on his own like this; what courage!  With that, I gave him the emotional freedom to go without my needs and worries strangling him.

He called home twice that week, once was to tell me he caught a huge fish and once after he got stung by a bee. He was proud of himself for having survived the pain of it and couldn’t wait to show me the mark it left.

GASP!!  He didn’t call me when it happened!

Instead of feeling rejected by that, I felt relieved that he was brave enough to stay and deal.

My son was learning to live and survive without me.  He needed to. That was not a threat to our relationship, it was a coping skill he’d need for the rest of his life.

***

Years later, when my son moved states away to enter recovery and then begin a life for himself thereafter, I often thought back to that summer camp advice from my wise boss.  In my rough moments, instead of calling and sounding like a blubbering, mournful “poor Mom” kind of mess, I would truthfully tell him about my grief and nostalgia, my fears, and worries.

And then I’d speak of my great confidence in him and how insanely proud I am of the man he has grown into.

I am thankful to know that I don’t need to make anyone responsible for how I feel.  It’s not my son’s burden to make sure I don’t feel lonely or get swept up in nostalgia. It’s up to me to regulate my emotions and keep them in check.  He has his own life to focus on.

My son knows I miss him and he knows he’s loved.  And he is strong enough to face life with the knowledge of my love for him as a launch pad, not a liability.

The best thing we can do for our kids is to be as strong, healthy and well as possible.

I believe much of life is about letting go.  My son and I enjoy the time we have together; to the very fullest!  Even still, my job is to encourage his strength and independence.  Which allows him to build momentum on his own as an adult.  And that ensures he can cope without me.

Our paths are intertwined forever. They separate, wind back around and return adjacent to one another, that’s the ebb and flow of life. Our relationship isn’t threatened by that.  As different as our lives are now, they’re wonderful and full.  We have days filled with ups and downs, joy and sorrow, there are great and terrible moments as well as lots of routine and mundane.  We share our lives as often as we speak, but we are not dependent upon one another.  What comfort and freedom that gives our relationship.

***

There are many wonderful tools and resources available that help ease the transition of empty nest, life change and grief.  Tools that help us rebuild so that life is not only manageable, but joyful.

I found personal strength on the toughest of days in therapy, recovery work, a few trustworthy friends, relevant books and found new projects to fill the empty moments.

It’s a new life for sure.  But the old one was due to fade anyway.

It takes time, it’s a process, and it’s okay to be gentle with yourself.

“Nothing is permanent, make peace with this.” ~Unknown

Chris and Myers Part 2

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Check out this episode!

Call Recovered About Your Home Group

150 150 Mark S
Tuesday night, the Recovery Topic is “Home Group.”
 
A home group is a place you come to on a regular basis, we get to know you and you get to know us.  A home group is great place to get involved with the fellowship.  You can do this by doing service work, chairing meetings, make coffee, cleaning up after the meeting, setting up before the meeting;
Let’s talk about this solution.  Tap Speakpipe (preferred because the sound quality is excellent.  Use this method especially if you are outside the Unites States) or call 1-734-288-7510 and answer the following question(s):
What was your first home group? Why did you select that group? How did it help your early recovery? Tell us a story about how that group may have saved your life. What service work do you do? Did you meet your sponsor there? Tell us about the meeting before the meeting and the meeting after the meeting.
 
Recovered Podcast is live online every Tuesday at 6:30 pm EST as we record the show.  Join the fun and be part of the show.
If you would like to listen to the live stream of the show, just tap Recovered Chat and Live Stream.  We give away an Amazon gift card each week, you could win if you join us on Tuesdays.  
 
Click on our Show Notes we will use Tuesday night.

Anger Versus Wrath – Recovered 819

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

The topic this week was inspired by listener Jennifer
Linda, Can you read the email from Jennifer?

Jennifer wrote:

I’ve attended Al-Anon for about 3 years as well as O.A. I’ve been thinking about the difference between anger and wrath with the definition of anger being “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility” and wrath being “vengeance or punishment as the consequence of anger.”

Anger is an important emotion. It lets us know when something is wrong, sometimes inside and sometimes outside of us. It motivates us to make change, because we are uncomfortable, dissatisfied or unsafe. However, anger is a secondary emotion. It’s protective of more vulnerable feelings such as fear and grief.

For many years of my life I was out of touch with the feelings protected by my anger. Growing up, I lacked good role models to show me how to value my dignity and the dignity of others while addressing anger.

Wrath comes out of uncontrolled anger and a desire to punish. Wrath holds no space for compassion or human dignity, neither for self or other. Wrath requires purity of intent and of outcome. It is insolent and volatile. It seeks to shore up its own ego. It is intolerant of the uncertainty and imperfection inherent to the experience of being alive. It holds an unattainable ideal that will eventually leave it cast into exile along with the “offenders.”

I’d like a discussion about:

What is anger for you?
What is wrath for you?

How are they different?
How are they the same?

Is anger ok? Why or why not?
Is wrath ok? Why or why not?

At what point does anger turn into wrath?
Why is wrath bad for you? What are the consequences?

-What are the barriers to feeling our anger and getting to the underlying feelings?

-What are the rewards of doing this work and what are the consequences of not doing it.

-How can we make ourselves ready, willing and able to do this work.

WE HAVE CALLS

Alex
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Buddy from Ga
https://www.google.com/voice/fm/00557165274674955804/AHwOX_Cx9WQ2z57xKmYLWwx3ephrQoIoLje2WguUbnXfcQ9esNe2S1gqhYg7FCFXXy3dMyfiWadv1RmGlLN4ij3jYp-Pfa0qkECEiWFAus0NSTcBK1DL6Xt6A6Rh6buJXEm-qOp_6ACgX7X7E8M6DGe-2XQpNnrHAw

Check out this episode!

Disappointment and Grief, finding a new normal by Annie Highwater

150 150 Mark S
Annie returns with an article published in Allies in recovery found at http://alliesinrecovery.net
        “Disappointment and Grief, finding a new normal”
In this week’s Allies in Recovery conversation we concentrated on disappointment and grief. Which for me, are interwoven.  Grief involves loss, which means hope deflates into disappointment as plans and visions are redirected, if not completely cut down.

I’m very familiar with the shock of upheaval and change, along with the processes of struggle and resistance that soon follow.  Many times I have had to make my way through dark times to reach a place of acceptance and peace, where I could find hope again.

In my own life, I have personally experienced three significant seasons of loss, grief and disappointment.    As a result of those times, I’ve grieved the loss of people, homes, pets and plans.

As described in my book “Unhooked”, the first experience was during the death of my Father which mercilessly occurred during my divorce.    The second was after my son experienced an injury in football and a dependency upon pain medication followed, tearing through our lives like an out of control freight train.

The third was when my son moved out of state, just before the sudden death of our beloved family dog, as a handful of other unexpected things happened that turned my life upside down.  I quickly and without warning found myself almost overnight becoming an Empty Nester, having several unexpected job, home and life changes occur in a short span of time.  I was soon deeply mourning the life I thought I would have.  It was a lot to process.

Loss. Shock. Change. Upheaval.

I don’t know about you, but for me – when it rains it pours.

In these times I tend to become wide awake and acutely aware of my life, my pulse and my surroundings, with all senses heightened. Seeming to emotionally and even physically lose my balance, unable to regain stable footing, with every frame of reference familiar to me altered.  On my worst days I found it hard to breathe in public.

(Please note – if you’re close to someone going through a loved one’s struggle with SUD, or other types of loss, shock, change or upheaval, it’s a powerful thing to come alongside with comfort and presence.  Gestures of kindness and compassion are extremely potent boosts of encouragement and hope for anyone enduring dark, painful days.)

***

Finding a new normal

 “Every disappointment, every failure and every heartache carries with it the Seed of an equivalent or a greater Benefit” ~Napolean Hill

Finding hope again takes time, it’s a process and we may experience at least a few of the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; grief.com) before reconciling ourselves to how different life is actually panning out from what we’d envisioned.

After loss, change and disappointment, things will never be the same, but that doesn’t mean life can’t become good again.

Sometimes things fall apart and are rebuilt stronger.  There are times when a massive life change is actually an awakening to the value of life.

I recently had a conversation with a man named Brad regarding his obvious energy and enthusiasm every time I see him.  He began telling how he went through a heartbreaking divorce that he didn’t want or expect.  He was beyond devastated and quite naturally, unsure how to start life over.  Brad described for me how it seemed as though one day he was grilling dinner in his backyard, mowing the lawn, driving a sedan and planning to spend the rest of his days doing so…to the next, sitting alone in a one room apartment in the city, isolated and bewildered.  His life had become unrecognizable. I believe many of us who have suffered loss and upheaval can relate.

The defeat and loss he felt were overwhelming, lasting months and months.  One day, a compassionate friend stopped by to see Brad.  The friend scheduled a fishing trip for the two of them to Miami where for the next few days he intentionally spoke hope and possibility back into the grieving man’s soul.   Stepping outside of his routine of loss and hopelessness woke Brad up to the idea of a new lease on life.

When Brad returned from the trip he thought long and hard about his new set of circumstances, he decided to take the reins of his life without focusing on unfairness or blame (and not connecting his energy with anyone who does) and he began truly living.

Brad told me he intentionally wakes up every morning with the motto “What great moments can I experience today?”  He gets up early five days a week to work out and meditate, spending time on his physical, spiritual and mental health before heading to his business.   Some days he does something extraordinarily thoughtful and special for someone close to him.  Weekly he signs up for a workout class he would have never tried before, just as often he will stop into a new coffee shop or boutique to try something he’d never heard of and leave a large, unexpected tip…and so on.  He keeps life flowing this way, free from becoming stale, idle or stagnant.

On a daily basis, Brad runs his life with this enthusiastic pace.  Once he got into the habit, it became his lifestyle, he’s lived this way for more than two decades.  Listening, I couldn’t help but catch his enthusiasm!

This once distraught man who thought life was over, is now in his 70’s and has not missed out on a single day.  He’s more active and alive than many who are a third his age!  Brad opened my eyes to the possibility of living a life fully awake to the value of time.

What seemed at first like a ruined life ended up being a change of direction toward a life he may have missed out on had he not experienced loss and disappointment.

Not that he would have wished for divorce, but sometimes you just have to play the hell out of the hand you’re dealt.

Brad’s attitude is truly an example of someone who took adversity and turned it into his motivation for making the most of all of his days.

It takes time, healing, support and mindfulness – but life can become whole again after loss, shock, change and upheaval.  It’s often after great darkness that we become most aware of the value of light.

The broken will always be able to love harder than most.  Once you’ve been in the dark you learn to appreciate everything that shines.”  ~The Positive Diaries

Wishing you peace, hope and effervescent life,

Annie

***

End note:

“The funny thing about suffering life-changing tragedy…you are afterwards, afraid of nothing. When you’ve faced the worst sorrow and fear life could possibly bombard you with, what worse can you go through? What can a mere person do to hurt you after that? You become permanently unafraid and void of the petty concerns that tragedy-free people lose their cool over. And in some small way, that’s a comfort. This is a truth I’ve paid dearly to claim – I don’t scare as easily as I used to.” – Barbara Johnson*

*I wrote this statement down at a conference where Barbara Johnson was a speaking as she was saying it.  She has many published books on finding your way through the deep, horrendous waters of grief.  While I personally cannot speak as someone who knows the agony of losing a child, Barbara writes with full knowledge; having lost two sons.  Her books are on finding hope and even joy again.  I cannot recommend them enough for anyone struggling through the grief of unimaginable loss.

Some losses will always be with us, the loss of a child, partner, or any close, precious and much loved person changes the dynamics of who were are and how we live. It becomes a matter of managing life while carrying their absence within us.  But in their honor and with the best of memories, we must continue to live and find our way forward until we meet them again.

***

Unhooked book link:

https://www.amazon.com/Unhooked-Mothers-Unhitching-Coaster-Addiction/dp/1942497210/ref=zg_bsnr_7916444011_2

For information, support and comfort:

http://tapunited.org   and    http://alliesinrecovery.net

Chris and Myers Part 1

150 150 Mark S

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