This picture is obviously a picture of a man at the beach.
I went to California on a vacation with my husband and one of my dogs, the only dog we had left. We were planning to have both of our dogs with us but our beautiful Daisy girl passed just weeks before. She had liver problems and while we were waiting for our vet to come to our house and let her go peacefully, she passed with her head on my husbands lap. She wanted it to be a private passing. It was as if she knew and she wanted only family around.
Sadly we drove to California with our other dog Precious. She was definitely in mourning along with us. She was normally a very active dog in the car but this time she sat quietly in the back on the little bed we put there for her.
We got to our rental; it was a nice place with french doors that opened on to a patio where we could sit or brush the sand off our feet before going inside. Precious would sit here and stare out the window. Almost like she was waiting for Daisy to appear.
There was a larger patio about 30 yards away that we could sit at and watch the surf. I sat there quite often and stared out into the ocean looking for answers.
I also did a lot of walking. That’s what I do-that’s who I am, I am a walker. I walk when I am anxious, angry, happy, sad. I walk to get into my space; away.
So, I am walking one day with my husband and our dog Precious. I see a man in a long black trench coat with black pants and black shoes. It appears he is standing on a ledge that drops in to the ocean. He is standing there and letting the waves break against him and drench him from head to toe. It appears he is going to let the waves pull him into the ocean and carry him out to the sea. He just keeps staring, looking out into the endless horizon. Wave after wave keeps crashing over him and drenching him. He doesn’t even lift his hand to wipe the droplets off his face. I stared at him as he stared at the ocean. At first I thought he was attempting to end his life I realized he was just in his world of whatever created the need to be washed by the ocean. He was there again the next day and the next day. I was alone the last day that I was walking and I stopped behind him. I didn’t want to interrupt him so I just stood and watched the waves with him, behind him, as I looked out into the ocean for answers. He turned to me and asked me if I was enjoying the surf. I said, “yes, I really am”. I turned around and a mother and her son were stopped in a car staring at the man in the long black trench coat. She mouthed the words. “is he ok?” I mouthed back, “yes, I believe he is.” This was the 3rd day I saw him out there in the same long black trench coat, with the black pants and the black shoes. This was his daily ritual. The next morning my husband, myself, and our dog Precious went down to the beach by our rental and allowed the wind to carry some of our wonderful Daisy out into the salty sea air and into the ocean. That was three years ago but I think about this man often. I have pictures of him in the room I call our beach room; it is a guest room. I’m not sure why but I do think about him. I try not to imagine who he is or what his story is but I do. What intrigues me most is that normally I would have gone up to a person like this and asked if he was okay. For some odd reason I knew that that would be a violation of some sort of unwritten rule.
I envy his ability to stand out there like that and not care about what anyone might think about it. I want to go back and stand in his spot and let the waves drench me from head to toe and wash away my weaknesses, my sorrows, my hurts, and my past that tries to make me believe I am worthless.
Today, I am focusing on trying to find an answer for a problem that does not belong to me but is creating so much anxiety and fear that I feel like I am trapped with no way out.
I have always been able to find a way but this time it seems impossible and I don’t feel like I can handle the outcome by letting it happen. The emotional pain is excruciating. I am praying for answers and a solution. You see the problem is not mine but is so closely related to me that the fallout will affect me.
And here I sit at what feels like rock bottom again but this time it’s not because of a chemical addiction and again I feel very alone.
Just passing through the next stage of life.
I once read about an underground cave called the Lava River Cave in Flagstaff AZ . I decided it sounded like it could be a fun trip. Within the description of the site there were recommendations to bring a flashlight and extra batteries because it is dark inside. That sounded like a great adventure so off we went. When we got there all I could see was a rather large hole in the ground but people were being birthed out of it so I knew this was the place. I climbed in and down and walked a couple of steps and it was dark, rather, pitch black. I could see other people’s lights but they were of no use to me so I turned on my flashlight and carefully made my way through the cave. The terrain was very uneven with occasional cracks. We made our way through the cave and then something started to happen and I didn’t understand. My vision became dim and it was getting harder for me to see. I was getting quite anxious and my heart started to race. I didn’t know where I was in the cave and I didn’t know how or where to plant my next step because I couldn’t see the ground. It was no longer a fun adventure-I needed to get out NOW. I tried to navigate with the other lights I saw but it just kept getting darker. I could see the shape of my husband and all I could say was “babe, I can’t see, I don’t know where to go. I can see other lights but it isn’t bright enough for me.” It was getting so dark that I could barely see my hands. It was like my brain was shutting down. Then the logic half of me (my husband) casually said, (didn’t he know I thought I was dying) “Maybe your flashlight needs a new battery” Oh yeah the information about the cave did say to bring extra batteries. That was it, I wasn’t dying and I just needed to put new batteries in my flashlight.
The fear, the panic, and the illogical thinking of a codependent; it is paralyzing. So we learn how to control to avoid pain at all costs. The way it mostly plays out is by trying to control the people around us so that their lives don’t cause us any pain.
Now, as I try to navigate away from the disease of codependency my vision has become blurry, very blurry and it is getting dark and I am having trouble seeing.
My heart is having trouble navigating through the dark cave of the anxiety brought on by worry; worry caused mostly by my imagination. My present is constantly making up stories based on my past and it causes me to worry. Up to this day I actually thought I was worrying about others but it was about me. If they…will they…should I do something so they don’t…I can’t leave home so I can prevent the fights, do their laundry, find their equipment, stop them from using, preventing them from being alone, being there if they need me or something.
How do I figure out when it’s healthy to help or be there?
Am I enabling the homeless person on the corner with a sign if I give them money?
Maybe if we all stop giving them money and providing them with shelter and clothes and food then they will hit rock bottom and get real help to get out of their situation.
Am I enabling the person walking along the road with a gas can if I give them a ride? Maybe if I let them walk they won’t go as long before they put gas in their tank.
Am I enabling the person running to the next bus stop if I give them a ride to their next stop so they don’t miss the connection?
Some things are obvious. Don’t give an addict drugs or money. After that, my hearts vision is dim. Other people’s lights don’t help because how do I know if they are right. Maybe they are just tough ragged souls that don’t like people and don’t want to help anyone at any time. They would never understand my dilemma or my heart so how can I trust them.
Maybe they had a hard life and no one ever helped them so they think that is how life is.
I don’t have extra batteries to put in the lantern of my heart.
Back in the day I would just drown myself in whatever would take me away from the pain but I know I can’t do that now. I know it’s time to face the dark beast that brought me to using as an adolescent. It’s been 31 years since I have used but euphoric recall is beckoning…. bringing me more and more reasons that it is ok to just have one, do one.
It is so hard to say no to the eyes that are filled with sorrow, so hard. Instead of using I have learned how to come up with excuses which in reality is lying. The excuses are valid but it’s not the reason I would say no. The real reason is because I don’t trust; I pretty much don’t trust anyone. So I use the excuse and say no but if you keep looking at me with those sad eyes and heavy heart then I will eventually say yes. And yes, now you have learned how to puppet my heart and make me do things I don’t want to do. That is my current way of avoiding the pain. I try to prevent you from experiencing pain. What is interesting is that I am learning that it is my imagination that makes me believe you are in pain most of the time.
My hearts vision is so blurred
But damn, man I am going after the beast even if I do have to fall through a few cracks here and there.
I love the story of the metamorphosis a butterfly goes through. The fact that they survive the caterpillar stage amazes me. They go through so many different stages before they break through their chrysalis, exercise their new body part and finally find the freedom to fly and grace the world with their beauty.
I remember taking a trip one time and I saw up ahead on the highway what looked to be paint splattered all over the road. When I got closer I saw that it was a MASSIVE amount of caterpillars wriggling across the road. Do you know what that does to a codependent? Let me share the twisted unhealthy thought process. My first thought was that I needed to turn around and find another route. My second thought was about how I could stop all the cars and scoot all the caterpillars across the road so they don’t get smashed, (Yes, I really thought that)
Logic does not take hold in a situation where it looks like someone or something might possibly suffer pain. We must prevent pain at all costs.
The driver (my husband) was not in agreement with me (imagine that). So, I closed my eyes and ears so that I would not see or hear them get smushed.
Another situation. We were walking up to a visitor center at the base of a mountain and the sidewalks were covered with caterpillars trying to get to their destination. I tried to step over them and scooted some over to the dirt. I even put one up in a tree by a leaf.(Here I was “helping them and they had the nerve to wiggle back to the sidewalk heading right back to their potential demise) Don’t they realize I took time away from what I was doing to help them?
I have to admit that I never helped one out of their chrysalis. It’s probably because I never saw one struggling to get out.
So, I got me arse kicked the other day. Not physically but mentally. I was at my mother’s house helping her and the Dr. Phil show came on. It grabbed my attention because it was about a family struggling with their daughter’s heroin addiction. The daughter had almost lost her life and had to have open-heart surgery and have a pacemaker. It scared her but when she got out of the hospital she went right back to using. I wanted to hear the story, no; I needed to hear the story. I wanted to wait until the end of the show to hear the “happily ever after”.
Instead, I got me arse kicked.
I listened and heard the heart of the mother as she spoke and I heard myself.
She got her arse kicked too. She would have been in intensive care and on life support if it had been a physical beating. But she needed to hear it and I did too.
Dr. Phil asked her why she keeps “rescuing her daughter” Her Mom and this Mom here-you see, we can’t stand to see people in pain. As a result, we will do whatever it takes to alleviate or prevent the pain in others.; especially our children. Dr. Phil said, (big and bold,) something to the effect of, “It’s not your daughter’s pain you are trying to take care of, it is you-you don’t want to feel pain.” Ouch-that hurt-right in the stomach went that punch, followed by a knife right through the heart. He got in “our “ faces and said it is partially our fault that they continue in their unhealthy lifestyle. Why, because we make it easier for them. We don’t let them suffer the consequences of their addictive lifestyle.
Melanie Beatty, author of “Codependent No More” says, “We can think of nothing but keeping a lid on things, controlling the problem, and making it go away, it is the stuff codependency is made of”
It’s us codependents that need the open-heart surgery. We have to learn how to detach from others and begin to deal with our own pain; take care of our own hearts, fix our own problems, stop making their problems our problems.
We codependents are the chrysalis breakers. It is too painful to witness the wriggling and writhing of others so we break open the chrysalis thinking that we are helping and protecting. We think we are helping others but we are weakening them. We suffer heartbreak because those we think we are helping have learned how to manipulate us and hurt us into giving in to their demands. We are crippling them. We are not allowing them to be strengthened while they struggle and transform in the chrysalis, We are not allowing them to struggle so that they may break through and come out beautiful with wings to fly with and grace the world with their beauty.
For so many years, I viewed myself as the victim; first as an addict and then as a wife and mother of an addict.
For this I must make amends and say I am sorry.
I am sorry for the times you told me it was an emergency and I gave you money for “gas”.
I am sorry for the times I backed down as you raged at me and I cowered in the corner of my heart and gave in to your demands.
I am sorry for the times I gave you a ride to your “job interview”
I am sorry for the time I drove you around to all the different emergency rooms because you “left your prescription drugs on the bus” and needed them refilled; if you don’t have your next dose it could cause life threatening issues. (In the back of my mind I knew you were selling them to get your illegal drugs)
I am sorry for picking you up because you missed getting off the bus (due to nodding off) to catch the next bus to get home.
I am sorry that I ignored the needles and the blackened pieces of tin foil and the missing and broken pens.
I am sorry for cleaning up your messes so that no one else would see.
I’m sorry for getting you bus tickets so you could “get around to apply for jobs”
I can come up with a million excuses for why I did what I did but it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that I weakened you and made it harder for you to develop strong wings to fly through the sky and grace us with your beauty.
Thank you for being strong enough to come to me and make amends when you attained sobriety.
One day, hopefully soon, I will be brave and come to you and make amends. Until then I will practice taking care of me so that I can break away from this terrible disease of codependency.
By the way, there was a “happily ever after “ with the Dr. Phil show. The daughter agreed she needed help and wanted to stop and went on to a rehab arranged by Dr. Phil.
You have to tune out everything you see to hear it.
It is so faint that you have to turn on the superhero powers of hearing. The superpower that gives you power to hear the cries of the heart.
If you listen, this is what you will hear.
“HELP ME PLEASE!”
It’s inaudible by the human ear because the evil villain whose name is Addiction puts a filter over the heart.
The filter changes the cries of the heart so that when the words come out they are only to manipulate to get more junk.
So, please, put on your superhero powers and listen beyond what is being said.
Have you ever known an addict that said, “I want to be an addict when I grow up.”
I had an addict in my family.
I watched, I waited, and I tried to prepare for the day when they said they were ready to stop.
They are tired, done with it,
But you haven’t finished preparing because the options are so limited.
They are too old for your insurance, they don’t have their own because they don’t work or they work but not enough hours to get work benefits, but they are just over the income threshold to qualify for government insurance, private pay is too expensive, and the free ones have a waiting list. But wait, the ads on TV, they say to call if you need help finding help for yourself or a loved one. Oh yes, you can call and they will help you find help but you still have to pay; A LOT.
So the Momma has to tell the son that he has to go stand in a line first thing in the morning to get on a waiting list to get into a rehab.
The son goes because he really wants to be done with it.
He goes and he waits in line with others. Time passes and his stomach feels like it is going to explode and splatter the sidewalk with its contents. He needs to go use the bathroom but then he’ll lose his place in line and have to start over.
And the evil villain Addiction and his demons arrive on the scene.
They lie, taunt, and seduce.
Their dialogue goes like this.
“You really need to get one more hit just until you can get in the door. Or better yet just forget the whole rehab thing. They don’t care about your pain. They will laugh at you as they watch you writhe in pain. They will make you relive things you don’t want to go through again and make you listen to others talk about their past. You will be locked up, just like a prison-NO FREEDOM. Besides you know you won’t last long without my loveliness that soothes your soul and takes you away from all the crap in your life. Come back to me, I won’t make you wait in any lines.”
So the son leaves the long line and comes home after I have gone to sleep.
He says to me with his head down and tears traveling to the ground, “I’m sorry Mom, I couldn’t do it.”
Didn’t you hear it world-he was ready. Shall I call him an immigrant or a refugee-maybe that way he can get free healthcare.
And no one answers my cries either. They look at me and say, I’m so sorry.
Maybe if I tell them about my friend whose son was found in a praying position, out of it from overdosing and he later died. Or maybe about my son’s friend whose Mom found her son dead in his closet from a heroin overdose. No, sorry is all they have to offer.
I can hear my son sobbing in his room and then silence. I go in to hold him and tell him we can keep looking but he is gone, lost in the haze of heroin.
It makes me want to use again and get lost in the haze with him-it’s just too much. I want to run and run and run to the ends of the earth and fall into the void.
I want to draw a picture of the drug lords and the crops and the runners and the corner drug dealers and the ones that mix it and package it and sneak it into babies strollers and then I want to erase the picture and have it all be GONE.
And oh if you knew everything that goes on in that vile world, I know you would want to join me.
Doesn’t anyone really hear the cries of the masses? Help me PLEASE, they cry.
Addendum: My son found sobriety. A very wonderful person agreed to pay for his rehab. It was his 4th rehab and he made it through. 7 years sober.
This is a very serious problem in this world.
Please share this and let me know what you have done to get sober or help someone else find sobriety.
I have a thought (hopefully will turn into a plan and eventually become an option to help fight the problem of drug addiction.
It was an adventure, always an adventure. From the moment I opened my eyes at daybreak to the moment I closed them at night.
It was fun, it was exciting ;I was a warrior, a princess, a soldier in the military, I was a counselor, a teacher, a mediator, an actress and I was invincible! I was a child full of life.
For the first twelve years of my life I had built in boundaries; a safety net so to speak. My father was in the military so for the most part we lived on military bases.
For some reason no matter where I went I felt safe.
When my Dad retired, we moved, I mean really moved. We moved across the country, away from relatives, away from everything that was familiar to me.
No boundaries, my parents were done parenting (it was all they could do to adapt from living military life to the life of civilians), Dad facing surgery, looking for a job and my 12.5-year-old hormones were raging. The equation went like this; sense of adventure plus no boundaries, plus no parental attention plus raging hormones equals boys using drugs. So I became a girl using drugs with boys using drugs.
That was my life for the next 12 years. I was quite the functional drug user, I was. I was the one called on to hold the drugs, I was always the designated driver, even though I was as messed up if not more than my companions. I remember waiting about 20 minutes for the red light to turn green before I realized I was at a stop sign. But I continued to always be chosen as the designated driver. I was the CARETAKER. Imagine that. Perhaps it was due to all the years I watched the polished discipline and control of the Marine I called my father.
I could lie like nobody’s business and make up a story to get out of everything. I got caught at school rolling a joint (out in the open on the steps leading to the gym) and convinced the principal not to call my parents. I should have been arrested on more than one occasion. It was like I was a chameleon, I could become whatever color would make me blend into Normal and hide my addiction.
Sobriety came after I married my drinking buddy. It wasn’t until I stopped using that I realized he was an alcoholic. Again, I think it was the Marine that saved me. It wasn’t because he said or did anything; it was the example of being responsible that he set before me. Being responsible meant paying bills on time and cleaning up the messes that the alcoholic left behind.
My skill in lying came in handy again. Now I had to lie for the alcoholic and get him out of his messes. I couldn’t let him see how his abuse was slowly destroying me, slowly killing the adventurer, the warrior, the princess in me. I was polished, disciplined and in control. I was becoming a robot programmed to whatever the alcoholic wanted me to be. I was a shell void of life. As a result, I became whoever, whatever people wanted me to be.
When I finally left the alcoholic, I thought I would get my life back but it wasn’t very long before an addict came into my life. The addict now has 7 years sobriety.
I am coming out of the fog and realizing I need to find me and become me again.
I have been caught up in the crazy world that is a relative of addiction-it’s called codependency. To be quite honest-it has been harder and far scarier to consider leaving this world than it was to leave my substance abuse behind.
It’s messing with my mind and emotions on a daily basis.
It hurts down to the very core of my soul. I fight within myself everyday-it’s become like an obsession.
I reason myself out of it everyday. I try to convince myself that it isn’t true but the pain from remaining in it is just as painful as the steps to break free.
I heard some words from an old 80’s song the other day-it’s become my motto-my mantra. “We can take forever just a minute at a time” Bee Gees (More than a Woman)
Just do life a minute at a time-stay in the moment. It feels so similar to overcoming my addiction but it is SO different.
It’s so hard to explain but it also is explaining so much about why and how I became an addict at such a young age and why I married an alcoholic and why my life has been so, I don’t know, I just don’t know what it has been.
I am coming up out of the fog.
So having been verbally, mentally, and emotionally abused and rejected by people with addictions, you might think I would be inclined to write a blog bashing them.
Not only the above but lied to, manipulated and of course they stole things-valuable things.
I should be angry, bitter, filled with resentment towards them….but I don’t.
You might think that I am a fool or pathetic or that I’ve lost my mind.
That’s ok, that lets me know you just don’t get it. Today, that is ok with me.
I’ve learned passing judgment is a waste of time and energy.
Do you know their real story, what makes them act, react, use, abuse? Have you walked in their skin and in their mind?
I’m not saying we should accept their evil ways; the hurt, pain, and stress they cause us. It’s NOT ok.
Sometimes what I want to is explain addicts to a society that only knows how to judge them.
I don’t know but today that’s what I want to do.
I don’t want to tell you this so that you feel sorry for the addict but maybe that the next time you won’t feel the need to judge.
Addicts sort of fall in an obscure dimension.
They aren’t considered mentally ill (although many of them do have a mental illness) or physically ill. They aren’t considered to have a disability.
If the addict comes forward and admits to their addiction, it often comes with shame and fear attached to it.
The shame comes from the judgment and the stigma attached to being an addict.
The fear comes from the ensuing pain as they withdraw and everything they have to face that they have been avoiding.
They feel trapped, alone SO LONELY.
It’s almost like they are stuck in a programmed autopilot; destination-self destruction.
What exactly is it that they really need
A friend would be good. I mean a real friend that knows how to love in a healthy way, with healthy boundaries. One that is willing to speak the truth in love (not anger). One that is willing to share life and not impose it. One that will never leave, forsake, or abandon them. One that will not tolerate abuse, manipulation, lying or any of their other unhealthy antics but will expose it when it is happening-again in love and not anger.
They have to know that you are safe.
They want stability.
Most of all they don’t need you to judge them or assume that you know what they are feeling, thinking, or what they want or need.
Believe it or not, they know what they are doing is wrong and most likely know what they should be doing but struggle with that on a daily basis.
I was married to an alcoholic, a VERY abusive alcoholic.
I didn’t know anything about alcoholism. I tried al-anon but I didn’t understand the program and no one there offered any information. I was so embarrassed, lost, confused. I didn’t know what to ask and by all appearances I should have known what I was supposed to do. I sat in a room where I saw women knitting, saying negative things about their spouses…same thing every meeting. I didn’t see that it was helping me at all so I stopped going. I tried another recovery program but my husband tore the workbook up and threatened me if I went back.
People don’t understand why women keep going back to their abusers. That’s a blog in itself and I will visit that.
I’ve learned a lot since that marriage. Yes, I did leave him eventually. It was more to protect our children. I knew they deserved better and feared for their future.
But, I’ve learned a lot about addicts and addictions.
As I’ve said many times about many things…I wish I knew then what I know now.
Maybe I can help some to never have to say that.
So sad, so very sad!
When we read about someone that died from a drug overdose.
It didn’t have to happen’
Those that knew the one that overdosed will say they tried to stay in touch and offer their support.
Isn’t that what we all say about the addicts in our lives…we try to stay in touch and support them.
Stay in touch makes sense; we naturally stay in touch with friends so our addict friends should be no different –right?
The support part, well that’ a bit different with addicts isn’t it?
We tend to support from a distance; a safe distance. If we get too close we might get pulled in by the tremendous magnetic force that addictions can have. It’s sort of like the same effect a strong ocean current has on you when you desperately want to get to shore but it keeps pulling you farther and farther in its direction. Farther out away from the safety of the shore. So we support from where we feel safe.
For some addicts it is too far away.
Ok, so we hear all the same stuff…they have to want it before they will stop.
Let me ask you a question-do you REALLY think they wanted to become an addict.
Do you REALLY think they are enjoying the lifestyle of an addict?
Do you REALLY know what that life is about?
Have you ever searched obsessively for money and even considered stealing; breaking into houses to steal just so you could get your next (whatever you needed)
I mean really (stop using or, go to jail for theft or burglarize a home and maybe get shot and go to jail)
They will lie to you, steal from you, and manipulate you with their stories (they are master story tellers aka liars)
They will sell their children and their own soul.
But, you see, addicts don’t think about those things. They are obsessed with only one thing. So why do they choose all the risky behaviors. Why do they spend their days where every other thought is about the object of their addiction?
Do you REALLY think living like that is more DESIRABLE than living a life full of well, life? Why do they continue to live such a miserable life? They, very SIMPLY put, have lost control.
How did they get there?
It can start by the desire to fit in.
Maybe they were forced in to it.
Maybe it was an initiation rite.
Maybe it started out recreationally.
Some people are more prone to becoming addicts.
Some chemicals have a greater potential to be addictive.
The farther you get pulled in to it, the harder it is to get out.
I would like to propose a challenge to you. Think about your favorite thing to eat or drink or your favorite activity. Try stopping it for a week.
Try not eating ANYTHING with sugar in it for a week. (Almost everything has sugar in it). Are you a coffee drinker? Try it-no coffee for a week. And remember, addicts can’t start back up after a week.
Now that you have stopped-don’t hang out with the people that are still doing those things.
So you might be asking. What’s the point?
The point is that I can tell you that NO ADDICT is enjoying being an addict. They have so much to hide from; all the secrets they have and all the lies they are telling.
You may think it is as easy as choosing say, to go to a movie or not, to stay in your job or get a different one, to buy a new outfit or wait for a sale.
It’s not that easy at all.
Well , you say, when it gets bad enough they will stop-they have to hit rock bottom. Sure that helps but when life gets more manageable after they stop then the desire for that feeling comes back. It can haunt you and beckon you like an old lover. Taunting with old pleasurable memories. The pain of the addictive lifestyle fades and the temptation to use again is hard and heavy desperately trying to pull you back in. Then other stresses of life start to create a pain that you want to escape from and you start to think that it was so much easier being an addict. At least you could get away from the pain.
In all honesty as much as addicts are such liars, once they allow you into their heart, which is imprisoned, you will find an incredibly sensitive person with an amazingly beautiful heart. Maybe you just might be the one that can be the difference in their lives.