Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Son, My Hero

My oldest son is Alex.

As I started typing this, he was in Sacramento, working to resolve a situation, that has lingered from his past....something he has mishandled, and trying to make it right. He is in recovery. A little over 13 months, clean and sober.

I don't know what the outcome will be, but I know this. Alex trusts God.

Yesterday, he came to me and described his situation, and I immediately said, "They can't do that! It's not fair!", and Alex said, "No, Mom. It was MY responsibility, and I should have handled it, to begin with".

This is amazing to me. He surprises me, almost every day, with his newfound insight, willingness to listen, and efforts to change.

Getting clean is hard. Getting REAL, is almost harder. It's like every day, a new situation presents itself to him, and he goes back to the basics. What does God say about this? What have I learned in recovery? What is MY role in this?

Most "normal" people don't do this, let alone, a recovering addict, who lived EIGHT years, in a world of self-centeredness, day to day survival, and absent from his loved ones. And, he WAS absent. He was there, at times, physically, but ALEX......the REAL Alex, was buried under his addiction, pain, and shame.

Alex has always been, how can I say this.......boisterous?.....kinda loud?....and, yes, even exhausting. He would do almost ANYTHING for a laugh.

**He was late for a high school class once, and so, somersaulted into the room.

**He rode his bike down our road, in just his boxers.

**He got off the school bus, and "mooned" the remaining students (and the bus driver, who was NOT amused), but when he got in trouble for it, he said "I don't know what the big deal was......it was only a 'half moon'".

**They made a video of campus security, following him around all day (at high school), set to the tune of "Bad Boys".

Anything to get a laugh (I don't know where he gets that;)

The other thing Alex could do is, get people, or should I say "manipulate" people into doing what he wanted, and they WOULD! I was always shocked at what he could get people to do for him.

THAT quality I knew would serve him well, if he directed it in a positive way.

We suspected that Alex had a substance abuse issue, (after high school, and not living at home), and I had told him, "when you're ready, we're here". So, in October of 2006, he finally came to us, said he had a problem, and wanted help. "At last", I thought, "now we'll be able to fix this".

I'm giving you the condensed version, but suffice it to say, that was only the beginning of a long journey......a long, heartbreaking journey, where just when we'd think he HAD to have hit his "bottom", he still had lower to go. It was painful to watch. It was painful to set those "tough love" boundaries, and STICK to them, and not everyone could.

Alex has always been a sensitive guy. Even as a child, he was compassionate, and really attuned to people, and their emotions. He's SMART. He's always had the ability to explain how he felt with "word pictures", and you would really GET what he meant.

We always openly talked about addiction (with my personal experience, but while that's part of the story, that's not the story I'm telling now), and he was fully aware that he had the propensity for it. That he had the "gene", or whatever it is, that makes some people "normies", and some people not. He swore up and down, he would NEVER do drugs, he would NEVER smoke, but as we all know, the best intentions........well, they just go flying out the window, when Addiction comes in, through the door.

To say that it's been a rough road for him, would be an understatement. To say that he is NOW, filled with joy, with trust in God, and using those leadership qualities, (that he possessed all along) would also be an understatement. Thank God for our church (GVCC), and Celebrate Recovery, which gave him a starting point, and continues to be a touchstone, in his life.

Alex is a leader. Alex is a sponsor, (for men that REALLY want to get clean), and will do anything to help somebody get & stay clean, or, as he does, as a leader in The Landing, try to share his story, and his experiences with younger teens (including his 13 year old brother, Sam), who might just be on the cusp of turning towards drugs, for the "lie of relief".

Today, Alex is just what I always imagined him to be......"A Man of God". A strong leader, and someone that people just love to be around, because he now has a joy "force field". You can almost, visibly SEE it!

He takes one day at a time, deals with one issue at a time, but doesn't "give in" (like he would have, in the past). He looks upward. He has the faith of a small child. He KNOWS that God will find a way, and he need not be anxious for anything.

He does what he's been taught to do. Every day.

He listens to others. Every day.

He makes amends. Every day.

He is putting all his trust in God. Every day.

This "recovery thing".......it's tenuous. But when you stay the course, and do what you KNOW you're supposed to do, EACH DAY, then you WILL be okay.

Alex is more than okay (today). He's awesome. He's the man that I KNEW was in there, and to see what he's doing, with his life, right now? Exciting

To see what his future will hold? Don't know, but suspect that it is beyond his wildest dreams, and that God will use him, in a mighty way.

Me? I'm just the "mom". I take that back.....I'm not JUST a mom. I get to be Alex's mom, and even though it was painful for awhile, the reward is, wait for it.......

I get to be Alex's mom.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I've Been Thinking About: My Self-Image

"You're too sensitive", I was recently told (again). Yes. I know this. I have total recall of every critical thing that has ever been said to me. I know what time of day it was, what I was wearing, and which direction the wind was blowing. Now, mind you, I have had plenty of positive feedback during my life, but my (borderline pathological) mind takes the criticism, mulls it over, flips it all around, analyzes it, then logs it as "accurate". Am I aware this is not what I'm supposed to do? Um, yes. And yet, this IS what I do.

Here's a sampling of some of the soundbites rolling around in my brain:

"Oh. That looks better on you than I thought, cuz you tend to be a little 'hippy'"

"You kind of have a trout nose"

"Are you pregnant, or have you just put on a lot of weight?"

"Your voice can be a little nasally, at times"

"You're too sensitive" (it bears repeating)

"You don't let go of things"

Those were just a few of the things that have been said to me by others. The things that I say to myself, are far worse. I have always struggled with body image. When I heard about a guy who had rigged up a way to "spy" on women in dressing rooms, I gasped, when I realized that I had actually been in THAT dressing room. However, I soon was convinced that I had actually provided him the equivalent of a "commercial break" (to go potty or grab a snack), because there is NO WAY he would want to observe me wriggling in and out of clothing.

I even apologized to my infant son, strapped into his little seat, waiting patiently for me to get out of the shower."Sorry", I said, "Don't worry.......not ALL women look like this". I have never felt okay about my body. I saw some video, shot in the late 80's, early 90's, and it took me a few minutes to realize the denim-clad rear end I was looking at, was ME. I wasn't fat! I looked pretty dang good, if I do say so myself! And yet.......I never thought I did. I even cut off the bottom of a picture of me, in a bathing suit & shorts, proudly holding up the first fish I ever caught (taken when I was in my late 20's), because my "legs looked gross".

I've always had designated areas that I considered "okay", but as I've aged, those areas have decreased. Also, I've had multiple abdominal surgeries (beginning at age 20), and about 18 months ago, had open heart surgery, so I have quite a few scars. My husband (a mortician), helpfully pointed out that if I had two scars from both shoulders towards the center chest scar, it would be "like an autopsy".

Back to the sensitive thing........there's the issue of getting my feelings hurt pretty easily, but there's also the "cry at the drop of a hat" thing. As a kid, my Dad would just throw a box of Kleenex in my direction, whenever he heard the theme music to "Little House on the Prairie". For some reason, the males I'm related to, find it hilarious that I am brought to tears so easily. If we are watching TV together, and it starts getting all touchy-feely, my kid starts sneeking peeks at me to see if I'm bawling yet. I am trying so hard NOT to cry, that I actually feel like my throat is closing up, and then eventually, it bursts out of me: a big intake of air, like I just surfaced from the bottom of the ocean, and then I'm off the cliff, sobbing, trying to explain WHY I'm sobbing, but they can't understand a word I'm saying.

I get emotional watching sporting events, anything that includes an American Flag, and even at work, when I see a family member being loving with their sick relative. Beautiful music makes me cry. Beautiful images make me cry. If somebody else tears up, then I tear up. I cry at church, pretty much on a regular basis, and know to NEVER be there without tissue.

I cried at the store once, because there was a "sad-looking" man, cried driving down the road, because I saw an extremely overweight boy sitting at a bus stop, and I was worried that he "didn't have any friends". I cried the Christmas after Princess Di died, because I was thinking of her "poor boys" (as an aside, this last thing happened in the middle of my husband and I wrapping presents. I started crying, and he looked up, startled, then I was able to say "Sad.Princess Di. The boys", and he completely understood). And once, shortly after my husband and I got married, we had my family over for dinner, and all of a sudden, I was just overcome with emotion, and ran out to the patio. My husband followed, wrapped me in his arms and said "You're happy, right?", and I was. Realizing that I FINALLY had the right man, the right relationship, and was experiencing true love. That bubble was burst pretty readily, because upon re-entering the house, my parents(who had also figured out why I was crying) were completely mocking me. My Mom was in my Dad's lap, fake crying and repeating "I'm so happy, I'm so happy". (Now, it should be clear to everyone why I'm the way I am).

I know that most people think I'm kind of cynical, sarcastic, and smart-alecky, but there's other parts to me. Good parts. I also realize that sometimes I use snarkiness and/or anger because that's easier than feeling the discomfort of being "unacceptable", or "not good enough". I know that to do that, to feel that, is against everything I've been taught about being created in "God's image". Who I am to assess His creation as being "not up to par". Wow. That's pretty arrogant when you put it like that. So, intellectually, I KNOW what the answer is. I KNOW that this vessel my soul occupies, is temporary. I KNOW that I am loved and accepted. But my humanness is constantly butting in, with those negative messages, and it's a daily battle within, that requires pretty consistent work (and prayer) to keep it from being my "reality".

I believe there's a reason for everything I am, and everything I've gone through. There's a reason for the things that have happened to my family and friends. There's a reason for EVERYTHING. I just don't always know what it is. In fact, MANY times I don't know, but it's okay, because thank God, it's not up to me. There's Somebody who oversees it all, and keeps me afloat, like loving water wings. So, if I start feeling "less than" or "not good enough", etc, etc, I know that message is not the RIGHT message. It's a lie, that I do not have to accept.

"Too sensitive?" Probably. But I don't necessarily think that's all bad.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Going to the "down there" doctor

Back home, after a visit to the doctor. Let me first state that, unlike many other areas of my medical care, I DO adhere to the annual visits to my OB/GYN. Well, this last time, there was a "slight abnormality", which necessitated a repeat exam. It's like, once a year is not enough fun for me, so what the heck, let's do it TWICE a year!

I've posted before about being in the exam room, hurriedly getting undressed and/or re-dressed, as if the building was on fire, never taking my eyes off the door handle, lest someone unexpectedly enters. I don't think I could move any faster if there was a gun to my head.

Let's talk about the waiting, though. The WAITING, in the exam room, wearing the paper towel gown and "lap mat". I spend the entire time, trying to strike just the right pose for when the Dr enters the room. It's not as easy as it sounds......I actually laughed out loud today, because I realized I looked less like "Totally-at-ease-with-this-and-couldn't-be-more-comfortable", and more like "COME HITHER". It really doesn't matter what look I'm going for, anyway, because I always end up clutching the Bounty-made gown so tightly, in my sweaty hands, that the gown essentially dissolves. I've also tried the super casual, swinging my feet, while we talk (pre-actual exam), but there's really not that much room to swing, so it looks like I'm seizing.

Then, when you lie down on the table, and the actual EXAM part starts, I always assume this "Oh my, ah've got the vaaapors" pose, (my arm thrown up, back of hand against the forehead) At least this time, I didn't blurt out "MY FRIEND KRISTEN RANKIN SAID TO SAY HELLO" right as the cold metal thing made contact. (She DID, in fact, ask me to say hello......there was just probably a more appropriate time to mention it)

Then there's the upper parts exam. Everything in my being is screaming "YOU'RE NOT MY HUSBAND", but I just lay there, compliantly, answering yes to every question: "Do you do self-exams?" "Do you KNOW your breasts" "Do you wish you were anywhere but here?" (Ok, I made up the last one)

This time was kind of unique, in that they were very busy, so the medical assistant took me to the room, said she'd be right back, and meanwhile "go ahead and just weigh yourself". HA! SCORE! I get to say whatever I want!!! But then, I considered the possibility that this was a trick, a ruse, a trap. That they would have me do it, then THEY would do it, and expose me for the liar that I am, and then I would be humiliated for all eter...........it's possible that I'm overdramatizing.....I do that sometimes.

In closing, let me just state for the record, I really like my "down there" doctor. He's the nicest guy EVER, and he delivered both of my sons (14 years apart!), and has been a big help to me over the years. It's not him, it's ME. I just have this weird thing about being upright and clothed when I talk to doctors. It just makes for a more even playing field. Which just gave me an idea! Would it be more comfortable if HE also was wearing a paper towel gown? Huh?!

On second thought......that's a really BAD idea.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I'm a Quitter

I'm missing something, in my genetic make-up. When the Lord was handing out crafting ability, maybe he used an "every other" type system. This is nothing new. I've spent my life, trying to do new things, going totally overboard, getting frustrated, then giving up (there's a lot of crying in there, too).

My parents used to give me a hard time, because I was always starting things, but "never finishing". (Thanks mom & dad, for the encouragement ;) Here's just a partial list, of things I've tried:

**Hooking my own rugs (sorry, I don't know any other way to say that). I gave up the hooking, because it made my fingers sore.

**Making candles. That's a distant memory, but pretty sure it involved burns of varying degrees.

**Coloring those posters, with all the number sections (you know, use this color in all the fives, this one in all the sixes). Never finished. Same with coloring books. Rarely finished an entire picture.

**Needlepoint. Boring.

**Seal-a-meal. Cook for the next six months, seal it in the thingy, and stock your freezer. Could never get all the air out, so no good seal.

**Scrapbooking. HA!

**Knitting: multiple attempts.

**Sewing: Took a class in high school. Too many disasters to recount, but one highlight was making a shirt for my dad, adding a special touch of embroidering to the pocket, which rendered it completely useless, since I sewed it shut. I ended up paying other students to do my projects. My sewing teacher, a "glass half-full kinda gal, signed my yearbook "To a persistent seamstress".

There's a couple of things I didn't quit. I wanted to play piano, so I taught myself to read music (not like, expertly, or anything), but if I wanted to play a particular song, I would make it happen. And, if you didn't know better, you might think I sounded halfway decent. That reminds me, though, I couldn't have a piano, as a kid, because my dad was military, and we moved a lot, and "we aren't gonna drag a damn piano" everywhere we go, so I used an old plastic Magnus chord organ to learn. Then, when I was 18, and had my first job, that's the first thing I bought: an old upright piano for $500.00. I still lived at home, and it was in my room. I had tons of music; lots of those books, with multiple songs. I would start playing, get bored with a song, and flip the page. My family says, they would hear a song start, be getting in the groove a little, and then SWISH,SWISH (pages flipping) on to another song.

I wanted to learn cardiac ultrasound, and I did it. Was a single mom, worked 12 hour shifts in Intensive Care, went to school at night, and did the externship on my days "off". Passed the boards, (that included PHYSICS, btw) so clearly, I CAN do some things.

Was always interested in cooking and baking. Talk about frustrating!! So many botched recipes, so many attempts at the SAME thing, until I could get it right, but I didn't quit. No lie, tried making fried chicken, no less than a dozen times, til I saw someone else doing it, and I noticed she didn't take the skin off. OH! OKAY! Thanks, MOM! My mom didn't like the skin (what up with that?), so she had always taken it off, when she cooked chicken, so I thought that's what EVERYBODY did. That's why the stinking breading never stuck! I also recall making spaghetti sauce, that simmered all day, but I had put the meatballs in, at the beginning, and by the end,they had soaked up all the sauce. Just a pot of big balls...no sauce.

So, what is this defect in my character, and why does it only rear it's ugly head seemingly, with artsy-craftsy things? Let's talk about the knitting.......I think my Knitting Mentor knew she was in trouble, when I looked at her blankly, in response to her inquiry "you CAN tie a slip knot, can't you?". She helped me get started. I had the dreaded first row ON. Then, well, we don't live in the same house, so she can't oversee every knitting attempt. She suggested looking "online" for helpful videos, but they are all so perky and annoying, PLUS I couldn't do slo-mo, and I just couldn't get it!

Tonight. Tonight was going to be the night. No one home, but me. A fire going...music...a little drizzly outside. Cozy, right? I got out the knitting. Tried the knotty/knobby yarn, that looked so dang pretty in the store. I can't get past the little knobs. It just made a mess. So....I moved on to another ball of less knobby yarn. Could not find the end of the yarn.COULD.NOT.FIND.THE.END. Pulled whole thing apart, finally finding the end, but guess what? It has knobs, too. They're smaller, yes, but I was still getting hung up. In sheer desperation, I returned to the original thing that my Knitting Mentor started me with. I KNEW that was right. I was going okay for a little while, but then noticed a loopy thing, that shouldn't be where it was, and then realized that, somehow, while pulling out some of the botched stitches, I ended up with the yarn coming out of the MIDDLE of the row. This is when the weeping started. (I'm sorry, Jen. I know you said there's "no crying in knitting"). As I said on FB, "It's yarn armageddon over here". A lot of carnage (or should I say "yarnage")

Had someone come to my front door, right then, they would've thought I just received news of someone's demise. I was a wreck. (Oh, who am I kidding.....I would not have answered the door....just done the GI crawl to get through the kitchen, and hide in the bedroom, as usual). Also, mixed in, with the wailing and gnashing of teeth, there may have been some "language" (just keepin it real).

I think it also needs to be said, that we have been duped by the media's depiction of "knitters/crocheters". They always look so serene. BUT, if necessary, they can carry on a conversation, discipline their children, or just gaze adoringly at their spouse, whilst creating some elaborate item, or just darning socks (I'm imagining Caroline Ingalls. If they had chewing gum, she could probably do that, too, simultaneously. Oh, wait....she probably MADE her own gum. GAH!)

Welp, that's it for me. I'm not starting any more projects, or learning any new things. I'm just going to go work, come home, go to bed, and repeat until I die. Just kidding........kinda.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Handsfree phone

Handsfree phone

Do NOT Touch my Bacon

I cooked some bacon this evening, and after I realized that my HUSBAND had taken some of it, it reminded me of an incident from my childhood. My dad was a colonel in the Air Force, and that involved a lot of social commitments, as well as the "whole risking your life" stuff. As we got older, my sister and I were home quite a bit, by ourselves. I'm thinking I was like 12? 13? years old, and my sister was three years younger, when THE INCIDENT occured.

On that occasion, I had also cooked bacon, and as she casually walked through the kitchen, she took a piece. SHE.TOOK.A.PIECE. I was filled with a murderous rage, I didn't even know existed within me. Immediately, realizing her "crime", she took off running, with me in hot pursuit. My mom had all these fancy schmancy, knick-knacky things all over the place, and some BIG brass candlesticks. Like five feet tall. They had big candles on them, and there was a tray, halfway down, where she had bunches of fake grapes displayed.

I hit my sister, with a flying tackle, that sent us both into one of those candlesticks, which drove it into the wall......leaving about a half inch "divet" in the sheetrock. Well, then, I went into damage control mode, wherein I alternately begged her not to "tell" or threatened further bodily harm, if she did. (This technique NEVER worked with my sister. Some people are born tattlers, and she be one. No matter what she promised, she cracked under the slightest pressure.) So, I finally got her to agree not to tell, then went to work on the wall. Somewhere, I had seen, or heard someone talk about using toothpaste, as a sort of caulking substitute, but we only had the gel kind. It wasn't like colored gel, but the consistency wasn't as paste-y, as I would've liked. So, I carefully filled the hole, re-positioned the candle, and put those dang grapes back in their tray.

My heart was pounding, when I heard my parent's car pull in the driveway, but I felt pretty confident that I had covered my tracks. My mom walked in, no lie, and said "what happened?". At that, my sister dissolved into tears, and spilled the beans about the whole story. I don't even remember what punishment I got.....probably grounded (that happened on a regular basis.......the grounding business, I mean. It might surprise you to know that I haven't always made the best decisions).

Other sibling stories, will necessitate an entire blog entry, but for now, it's all about the bacon. Several years ago, waiting for my mom to get out surgery, my dad, Scott (the aformentioned HUSBAND), and I were having breakfast in the hospital cafeteria. I was facing the part of the cafe where the cashier/server was working, and I'm ashamed to say she witnessed this event. Scott, sitting across from me, reached over and took a piece of bacon off my plate. The "witness" says that I got a look on my face, like "NO YOU DI'INT", (but times 100), and she started cracking up. She was the only one laughing, though, because I actually think that was the first time, my husband saw the "bacon face", and he drew back in fear.

This is what made it all the more puzzling that he would, tonight, think that it was a good idea to touch my bacon. AND, he tried to be sneaky about it, too, ......he just broke off the ends of a couple of pieces, and then plastered on his face, what he thought was "innocence". It didn't work. I KNOW my bacon, and I knew it had been altered.

I have some deal breaker issues for my relationships, and I'll just give you the top three:
1. Don't lie to me.
2. Don't cheat on me.
3. Don't touch my bacon.

Not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I Just Wanted to Take a Bath!

This past summer, we moved to a different home, which meant that now we only have two bathrooms, and unfortunately, the lone tub is situated in the "Sam/Guest" bathroom. This means that I rarely take a bath in there, because I KNOW that when he "cleans" it? A 12 year old boy? Well, it's probably not that clean. So, the other day, my husband went in there, and thoroughly cleaned it, so I knew that I had to jump at this narrow window of opportunity.

We went for a walk this afternoon, then out for sushi (that'll be another blog entry), and as we walk in the house, I remember "Hey, the bathtub is clean", so hurriedly go to the master bathroom to collect my bath items. I get into the other bathroom, and after about 3 minutes, figure out how to actually get the tub filling, then go back to retrieve a towel. Sam is standing in the hallway, outside the bathroom, with a weird look on his face. "What's wrong?", I say.
He replies "I have to poop".
Me: "So, poop. In the other bathroom".
Sam: "I don't want to".
Me: "Well, I don't want you to poop in HERE, right before I'm trying to take a bath"
Sam: "I don't want to go in your bathroom"
Me: "It's just a toilet. What difference does it make? You need to just GO in there, because I'm not gonna be able to RELAX, if I know you're out here WAITING TO POOP!"

At this point, my husband, enters the house, oblivious to this entire exchange, and I yell "SCOTT. MAKE SAM POOP!"
Scott: "Huh?"
Me: "He needs to poop, but doesn't want to go in our bathroom".
Scott (totally matter of factly) sighs, and says "Sam, just grab the plunger, and go on in there".

Feeling the matter to be resolved, I head back into the tub-filling bathroom. Then, knocking on the bathroom door.
Me: "What?"
Sam: "jdie kefoie dkiieo brumph"
Me: "What?!"

So, I put my robe back on, open the door, and he says:
"Just so you know, sometimes you might think the door is locked, but it's not really, so just wanted to tell you that".
Me: "Were you going to try to come in here while I'm taking a bath?"
Sam "EW! NO!"
Me: "Okay, then. We're good. Thanks for the info".

By then, the tub is overfilling, and I'm kinda panicking (not being familiar with it, and all), and somehow, the shower head is partially on, so I'm getting sprayed all over my hair and robe. I FINALLY get it turned off, and get into the bath. Well, now, I just want this to be over.

I get out, gather my things, and head back to my room. Sam sees me, and follows me into our room.
Me: "Did you poop?"
Sam: "No. It went away. Why is your robe all wet?"