The Battle Against Giving Up

I begin by walking on two legs
Up and down, here and there, strong and steady strutting,
Even … just to stand, I am strong.
that’s how it is as the dawn breaks and the glimmers of the grays turn into blues and the mist lifts to reveal clarity caught in the sunlight’s path.
There is purpose. I declare.
He nods in agreement.

Interruptions come when I don’t expect them like a sucker punch to the gut
And a hole blows through my center
Buckling and bending I trip and stumble as my head spins and whips around.
What now? And why, and winds up my thoughts…
Purpose, is there? I question.
He nods in agreement.

One after another, the unexpected warbling of words that wound, shatter my standing and I fall to my knees …
So hard is the floor,
the sound thuds and reverberates up my spine and my hands break my fall;
I am on all fours now and it’s primal as I groan and grovel from my gut.
No way is there a purpose! I cry out.
He nods in agreement.

I can’t take it anymore and I collapse on the floor – prone, with my cheek pressed into the floor…
Cold it is and the tears trickle.

The stillness is loud.

He stands.
He bends his knee, first one, then the other.
He slowly falls forward onto his own hands and gently relaxes next to me.
It’s cold for him too as his cheek is pressed as well…
He looks at me and grasps my gaze that overflows the sorrows and pains and hurts and reaches into my deepest of places with a cradling caress.
He sees me whole and it’s ok… and He invites me up.
Hard and heavy and hungry,
Together we lift the weight and brush off the dust.

With a firm and sound voice,
He compassionately says, “purpose.
I know he’s right.
I nod in agreement.
And I stand again,
ready to go on.

***

This.

The battle against giving up.

This, in the grief!

This is a very deepest and truest of loves.
For me, I would lose the battle against giving up, if it were not for my earthly husband, “He” is my steady and faithful, always at my side, meeting me no matter where I am and encouraging me, as an authentic reflection of the ONE who is the ultimate “HE” in my life; My Lord Jesus, who stands with me in every battle, leading the Way.  

Who, is your “He?

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You Can’t Fight Flesh with Flesh

The truth is: we are all the same; human is human and each of us fights a battle of some kind. That’s why we are the same.

Mainstream culture and society tries to tell, or sell, us differently.

Like a caged animal in a zoo,  I pace the house back and forth, from room to room; looking for a way out…

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My mind races with swirling thoughts and I cannot lasso them. I grab for the open bag of chocolate chips in the cabinet and hope the sweet, smoothness in my mouth will focus and settle me.

Nope.

After some energy is expended on the chores at hand, I find myself back in the kitchen making a grilled cheese, surely this will do the trick! Warm cheesy, goodness is surely the comfort that will hug me into a calm for the day.

Nope.

Disappointment fills me instead.

Obligatory errands take me out of the house and two hours later I find myself exactly in the mind space that lured me to the chocolate chips.  Salt is one of my go-to’s when I want to pacify my weary, wounds and so I plop on the couch with a bag of chips and crunch, crunch, crunch.

Am I filled?

Am I calmed and focused now?

Am I settled?

Nope.

As if someone turned on the lights, I realize, all day, I have been mimicking the behavior of one who is addicted; I was seeking something, anything, hoping to find the specific- particular thing, to satisfy an emotional and physical need in order to center and calm the things that unsettled me.  My flesh was out of control and very needy and I used flesh desire and pacification as the remedy and it did not work.

Nope.

It did not; I just feel depressed.

My son was addicted. And I know that he, like many others who are addicted to substances, are caught in the same patterns of trying to satisfy the daily need, whatever that  may be for each person. For my son, he sought to settle his anxiety and soothe his depression.

He tried to fight against his flesh with flesh, with drugs.

I tried to fight against my flesh with flesh, with food.

Herein lies the trouble.

You can’t fight flesh with flesh!

You need something stronger than flesh to fight your flesh.

The Son, of the God who made you, is the One thing, the One someone, that can fight against your flesh and win for you, the victory that is desired. Jesus is the answer.

How?

Seek a personal relationship with Him by talking to Him and seeking Him.  No formality or special language needed.  Cry out to Jesus and He will hear you – read His Word in the Bible and He will speak to you. Walk in Faith and He will make your paths straight and focus you for every day.

I know this firsthand.

And I also know, on the days when I take my eyes off of Him … I am seeking the chocolate chips, grilled cheeses, and chips of the day and I get nowhere but fleshly depression.

This is an invitation to close your eyes and listen to the words of this song and consider the best way to fight the flesh that holds you captive like an enslaved prisoner:

Don’t have His Word? Contact me – I will get it to you.

Don’t know what to say? Contact me – I will talk to you.

The truth is: we are all the same; human is human and each of us fights a battle of some kind.

Let Jesus be your way to victory in the battles.

 

 

 

 

 

Plainly Speaking to my Son, who Relapsed & Died

There are moments in life when you gotta cut to the chase,
speak your mind,
and get rid of the filter.
No side stepping allowed,
or in through the backdoor,
and no pussy-footing around.

So, I am going to say it plain,
Get ready,
I am going in through the front door:

You have broken my heart.
You have destroyed your life and mine, never ever, ever, to be the same again.

There it is … like a dump truck offing it’s load.

How come I don’t feel better?

Here is something else I will say just as plain…
I would do it all over again to have just one more chance to give you a hug,
make you an omelet,
and tell you I love you, so I could hear you chuckle.

I wonder if I would feel better?

Sadly, I don’t think I would,

because I fear you would still break my heart and destroy your life and mine, never ever, ever to be the same again.

That’s that … round and round like a cement mixer mixing its stuff.

Plainly speaking,
it was what it was,
I did my best,
and so did you…

It was all so incredibly hard for both of us to endure.

As plain as plain can be,
it is,
… just as it is:

This grief is heavy on my heart then, and now… 

and I will not ever feel better.

Done … Tandem trailer jackknifed, flipped, and in flames.

 

I will love you forever, Caleb.

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“I have loved you with an everlasting love;…” Jeremiah 31:3b

I posted a paraphrase of this verse above my son’s bed when he came home after detox & living at a sober house; I wanted to remind him…
God loves, and loved, my son into the everlasting realm that even a mother’s deepest of loves cannot fathom.

It is ONLY there, that I find peace, as a grieving mother.

If you are grieving a loved one lost via this drug epidemic, please know that you are not alone; and you too, are loved with an everlasting love.

Not Talking about Plums, Just Drugs

Have you ever heard of William Carlos Williams?
I mean what kind of a name is that anyway?
A fun one I suppose…

red plum fruits on round brown wooden plate

I had not heard about him until his poem became a prompt for the writing group I attend. The assignment was to mimic his style and write a This is Just to Say poem; Here is what I wrote, but I warn you, it is not very fun.

This is just to say…
I went in your room while you were gone and I cleared up all the dirty dishes and moldy food scraps, I gathered your smelly clothes, and made your bed ‘just so’ because I was searching for whatever it is you were hiding and I found it and I threw it out.
You know what it was I am sure,
…Forgive me, but I love you too much and hate what you are doing.

Yup.
Here I am to talk about something not very fun: being the parent of a child who became addicted to drugs, right under my nose. TODAY, marks 9 months since my son died of an overdose.

Practically speaking, this is my creative hook to share with you fellow-parents some items you might be seeing, or items to look for, if you suspect at all that your son or daughter may be into stuff he/she should not be into. I list them in a rough order of how I found these things in my son’s bedroom and in my home, honestly, the timeline is now blurred.

  • Lighters and matches
  • Little plastic Baggies, in pockets, in the laundry, crumpled on the floor
  • Razor blades
  • Pens, with the innards taken out of them
  • Straws cut short
  • Cigar innards
  • Weed seeds, weed leaf flakes – it’s not oregano
  • small butt ends of joints
  • Glass or metal pipes, bowls, and contraptions in parts
  • My kitchen box of Baking soda
  • Ziplocs with white residue
  • Foil scraps, and even my foil tube
  • A large propane lighter
  • Sticky-gummy stuff on the night stand
  • Burn marks on the quilt
  • Funny looking tiny papers w/ little cartoon prints
  • Spoons gone missing, found in the bedroom with soot and burn marks on the backside
  • Random colored pills with random letters and numbers, in a Ziploc baggie
  • Tiny vile bottles, unlabeled, with some kind of oil in them
  • Stuff on wax or parchment paper that looks like someone melted a lollipop on it – only it’s a golden brown color and smells bad

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I did not find them all at once…
It was one item here and there, at weeks or month intervals between times at first…
I dismissed the oddity and believed the excuses from my son, when I asked him about the items:

we use the lighters at work”… “it’s my buddy’s, not mine”….

Repetitive finds began building and then multiple items were found at a time as I went in to clean his room A.K.A. –  compulsively and obsessively search his room, daily after he left the house for work.
Suspicions became confrontations….but by then, it was too late, because I had been too naïve and too afraid to bring it out into the open much sooner; Ignorance never pays.
So…
Once again -the purpose of this post is to alert you and other fellow parents what to look out for – and if you spot one or two of these items – do not think:

Oh, not my child…”
“Every kid experiments, it’s not that bad, I know his friends…”

Remember Parents: Knowledge is Power.

And that doesn’t just apply to our kids.

 

“But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,….” Ephesians 5:13

When it becomes visible and known, then a parent can deal with it and perhaps save their kid before it’s too late. Don’t be afraid to look…

 

Where the Drug Deals Go Down…

I always assumed the drug deals to go down in a dark alley, a shady neighborhood, in a rundown complex, and of course, in the big cities.

But I was wrong, in part.

Sure – some of them do certainly happen in those places… but there’s a lot that do not.

I never knew, until after my son overdosed and we had a look at his phone.

Two years prior to his death, he was introduced to his first substance by another athlete at school; typical, and hey – experimentation in high school has been going on for years and years – not one generation has been able to avoid it; sad, but true.

Two years after that first introduction, was another story.

Where the drug deals go down may surprise you… it did me; I was angered when I found out.

“How did I not see?”

thRCO12E63Like an innocent sheep with the wool pulled over my eyes… I was dumb, unaware, and never saw the wolves at my back door – literally.

Cars would pull up alongside the driveway for a few minutes every so often, every few – 5 days or so, and when we asked, “Who was that?” My son would say, “Just a friend who stopped by to say Hi!” And we believed him, oh so naïve.

Exchanges on the bike trails… Oh wait!  I had seen my son’s car sitting there in the  parking lot several times before, odd afternoons and early evenings – and he said, “I was just chillin”  – meeting up with “some friends”… and I believed him, oh so naïve.

The friend card  –  (*sigh*)  – we all want our kids to have friends, so we don’t question too much, and we give them space (assuming that all the friends are good friends) … and we relax when they are just chillin’ with a friend… at least I did, oh so naïve.

Little did I know… there were deals being made, and drops going on…

in the mailbox,

in the woods,

by the dumpster…

just yards and a few miles away from home, oh so naïve.

Parents:

Where the drug deals go down (?) is right in your backyards, in your neighborhoods, and on your sport teams in your idyllic little towns; the wolves are at your back door… literally.

Post my son’s death, one source told me, “Oh, I had people drop right at the front door while my parents where watching T.V. – they never suspected a thing!”

My only point to this post today is DON’T BE NAIVE my fellow parents!

My hindsight is 20/20, just as the saying goes.

Parents:

Take note when your kids’ friends “stop by” in a habitual manner, every so often, and don’t stay very long at the end of your driveways, in parking lots, or alongside your house, or your neighbors house. Take note when your son or daughter often slips out of the house for a few minutes for no apparent reason, no matter the time of day. Note the patterns, question the nonchalant-ness, know who these friends are…

Trust me:

You don’t want to be caught unaware, where the drug deals go down.

 

 

First Moments with my Dead Son

In my battle with daily grief, I share my first moments with my dead son.

The Time to Let it Go

Walking by the stares that tried not to look, they kept looking…
but I was certain not to lift my eyes.
One step in front of the other,
I followed until the curtain was parted
and I stepped into the space that became enclosed as the curtain was let go.
A soft sway of the fabric gently moved, until the stillness was bigger.

Machines stood around me,
Entangled wires left to hang.
No beeps or whirrs or steady drones to hear.
Just silence echoed, bouncing in the space like a torpedo bomb looking for its target.
My sons body lay there, his long legs and muscled shoulders filled the table and stretched the sheet right up to his chin.

Was this really him?
I stared at his sleeping body as I had done so many times before, through all the years of nurture and care…
What do I do
but put my hand on his chest – no rise, no fall – and I feel the stillness and the silence as it stopped right here.

A tear trickles down my cheek, then another, and another,
and my voice, like a misty vapor, can only say:
God, have mercy on my son’s soul.
For the very last time I kiss his forehead and catch the scent of my son’s body
to savor as a memory forever…
The time to let it go,
Will be
when I meet him again
on the other side.

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This memory is ingrained in my mind and will never leave; the images, the smells, and the visceral pain rushes like raging waters breaking the dam, at any unexpected moment, without warning.

I cannot erase it.

I cannot ignore it.

It doesn’t go away.

I have been writing about the ongoing battles that my son, who died of an overdose, dealt with; I have shared some of the battles & victories that other friends in Recovery face; but today I share a little of the battle I face every single day, in grief.

It is common practice to encourage people to talk about their trauma’s in order to process and work through them. Experiencing the unexpected death of a child is a gigantic trauma; the battle with daily grief is real and not easily understood by onlookers and supporters, even though some try so hard.

How can you help?

Here are 5 ways:

  • Listen; we need to talk about the raw, unedited stuff sometimes
  • Be still with us and maybe hug us; we are lonely in the crowded rooms, and in pain.
  • Do not try to reason our suffering away with staid, trite phrases; we don’t want to hear it, and even if we did, our minds are so overwhelmed we don’t hear what you are saying anyway; I love you, is more than sufficient.
  • Be patient with us; it is scary to re-involve ourselves with life and activities that once were routine for us.
  • Pray for us; grief is a process and it weighs us down, sometimes just getting out of bed is the biggest accomplishment for the day; we need God’s healing.

 

Please share with those who may need to hear my story of grief, to know they are not alone,  or share with someone who can hear and then learn how they might help someone else in similar grief as me.

 

 

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others

My friend, Croix, got his One Year Coin and I was there to witness it!

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This young man was my son’s roommate at the local sober house, Honest Beginnings, and the one my son wept fearful tears with just days before my son overdosed and died.

Proud.

Yes, I was so proud of him as he beamed at the podium. We have emotionally adopted Croix and think of him as a son, as we do others we have met while we were on the difficult journey of trying to help our own addicted son in Recovery.

At the podium, my freind clearly declared and shared his testimony as to how he accomplished this milestone:

“Trust God, Clean House, Help Others” is what he said.

Basically, that was his whole speech..

This plan is so simple; it is profoundly awesome!

Trust God: At some point in our lives, we must admit that there is One over us, One we must submit to and trust with our lives.

  • For me, that is Jesus; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Clean House: No Windex necessary! It’s not that kind of cleaning. This is cleaning out the messes in life that we have created – making amends with people we have offended and hurt – seeking forgiveness and making things right with them.

  • As a Christian, I align this with the concept of repentance, making all things right in relationship to God, first, then with others; “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

Help Others: This is the profoundly awesome part because it is the key that keeps him continuing on the path of Recovery.  Croix said, when he stops helping others, that’s when he sees himself begin to slip in thought/mind and heart and that’s a dangerous thing… a very dangerous thing.

Helping others is the way to stay focused — talk the talk, and walk the talk alongside!

  • Coincidentally, this is the way to follow Jesus as well, He said: be fishers of mendo as I did love your neighbor. Jesus sought out the broken and made them whole by seeking, serving, and loving. This is key to the mission, no wonder it is so effective in Recovery for one to help the other; it’s essential to passing on the wholeness & healing.

So, in case you are wondering…

or know someone else who needs to know what a good battle plan is…. this is it!

BATTLE PLAN IN RECOVERY:   TRUST GOD,  CLEAN HOUSE,  HELP OTHERS!

BUT DO NOTE:

It’s not a one time declaration, it’s a day by day, moment by moment work.

It’s doable.

Recovery is attainable.

 

PS. This is a good battle plan for every life in fact.

Trust God, Clean House, Help Others: Repeat.