Saving the Best For Last

Posted on May 23, 2010. Filed under: Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Intervention, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , |

Since learning of Hayley’s seemingly rough time in detox, I’ve felt discouraged.  As usual, I project ahead and go from 0 to 100 in an eye blink.  I’ve done it my whole life.  It’s called, “catastrophizing”, and I learned it from my parents.  My mother could, and still does, turn a hangnail into an amputation with little effort and convincing drama.

So, when I read this passage on May 17th from Al-Anon’s Courage to Change daily meditations, I slowed down a bit.  Maybe it will speak to you, as well:

“When we talk of tomorrow,” says a Chinese proverb, “the gods laugh.” They laugh, I believe, not because they find us ridiculous, but because they know the future is not predictable.  Thus, we have no choice but to live one day at a time – right now – this moment, this day.

I can make plans, but I cannot determine the results.  No amount of scheming about next week can control what will happen then.  Circumstances will be different, and I myself will be different as well.

I can further compress the focus of this slogan to address one hour at a time, or even one minute at a time. In such small increments, life begins to feel not only bearable, but precious. At any given moment, no matter what is going on, if I concentrate on being right here, right now, I know that I am fine.

Today’s Reminder:

My worst fears about tomorrow need not affect this day.  By letting them go, I am free to grow. What bad habit can I change today?  What fear can I face? What joy can I acknowledge? What good fortune, no matter how modest, can I celebrate?  All I have is today.  Let me make today the most fully alive day I have ever experienced.

Do not be anxious about tomorrow; tomorrow will look after itself.” The Bible

Last Wednesday, I decided to phone the detox facility and see how Hayley was doing.  Actually, I was dreading the call and was scared. Six days before, this was the report from her dad, Brad, and his wife, Jill:

We saw Hayley this morning because we were in the area and the staff at First House thought it would be a good idea.  When we arrived she was lying on the sofa with a heating pad and asked Brad to help her up.  She seemed to be in a lot of physical pain and was really drugged up – not completely nodding off, but fading in and out a bit.  She doesn’t look so good, her feet, hands, and face are extremely swollen, but she assured us that the physician said it was a normal reaction to the Suboxone.

Edie, at First House, answered the phone, and told me that Hayley was doing much better.  In fact, she was being weaned off her meds and would most likely be headed to Safe Harbor Treatment Center towards the end of the week.  I wept with relief and reminded myself, to take “one day at a time”.  How many times do I need to tell myself this?

Thursday, I packed a box of things for Hayley: books, photos, stationary, stamps, lotion, and other miscellaneous items, and sent it off to Safe Harbor.  And, I sent her a letter, although, I wasn’t quite sure what to say.  I wanted to be encouraging and loving, ‘newsy’ about home and family, but also remind her of a few important things.  Because Al-Anon’s “One Day At A Time” and “Just For Today” slogans have helped me get through my days, I included the May 17th passage (above) as well as this:

ONE DAY AT A TIME: from How Al-Anon Works

. . . a practical approach to our challenges and fears is to take them “One day at a time.” We can’t do anything about the future because the future is not within our grasp today.  Worrying about it, trying to manipulate it, anticipating it – all these activities simply remove us from the moment. We can’t change the future, but by making the most of this day, we prepare ourselves to be able to handle whatever comes tomorrow.  We can only choose how we will respond today.

We can respond to the changes we see before us, confronting new challenges and fears, and enjoying the gifts that sobriety can bring, or we can allow ourselves to become obsessed with the possibility of relapse or failure.  We cannot know what will happen, and we needn’t deny any possibility, desirable or undesirable.  But wasting today worrying about tomorrow will not make us any better prepared for difficulties that may present themselves.  If they do manifest, those painful problems will not hurt any less tomorrow, whether we have stewed about them or set them aside today.  All of our preparation will not have spared us a single ounce of pain.  In fact, it will have lengthened our suffering, since we’ll have added all that extra worrying time.  So, if there is no advantage to trying to live in the future, it only makes sense to stay here in the present and make the very best of every precious moment we are given.

Another advantage in living “One day at a time” is that we break huge, overwhelming tasks into smaller, more attainable goals.  We cannot do what we cannot do.  Worrying about going hungry tomorrow won’t put more food on the table, it will only make us forget to appreciate the food we have today.  This day is ripe with opportunities for joy, for sorrow, for experiencing the full range of human emotion and experience.  Isn’t it time we took advantage of it?

As I’ve mentioned before, I find comfort and support in Al-Anon – but, I’ve learned to “take what I like, and leave the rest”.  For example, if I had only taken “one day at a time” and had not spent weeks putting together an intricate plan to get Hayley to treatment, anticipating all the possible snags and barriers, she wouldn’t be at Safe Harbor right now.  And, I can’t help but note that for the past year, Hayley has been living her own version of one-day-at-a-time.  Oh, the irony of that slogan.

And yes, according to Al-Anon, doing an intervention with Hayley could be viewed as enabling behavior.  However, my mother’s intuition told me that Hayley needed a ‘hand up’ in getting out of her deep, dark hole – – – and that she deserved at least one chance at recovery – especially since the statistics show that most addicts/alcoholics go through multiple rehab programs before, if ever, reaching long lasting sobriety.  It was time to start.

And now – for the best news I’ve had in a very long time.  Friday evening, I received a phone call from my daughter.  She had just arrived at Safe Harbor from the detox facility.  Her voice sounded clear and strong.  She told me how grateful she was for this chance of a new life, and that she was ready to do the hard work required.  We both cried.  And then, in true Hayley fashion, she added that she ‘needed’ to get her hair highlighted and cut, and that her dad had agreed to pay for this – and, that she also ‘needed’ a massage to get more of the toxins out of her muscles.  Hmmmmm – entitlement at its best.  She’s very good at it.  I just spent $102 getting her a pair of glasses so she can read the daily material she’s supposed to read in treatment .  I told her to just take “One Day At A Time”, and we would see what priorities became obvious.  I still struggle with setting boundaries with my daughter and knowing what is reasonable, and what is not.  And so, it continues . . . “one day at a time”.

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26 Responses to “Saving the Best For Last”

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Any news, Peggy?

I laughed my head off when I read about the “need” for highlights. My daughter pulled that on me when she was here for her grandmother’s funeral. The entitlement issue really does kill me though. It’s hard to deal with because it takes them so long to learn that they are not entitled. Thanks for the update, I’m glad to hear that she is doing well and moving on to rehab. I will contimue to pray for you both.
Carolyn

I read with interest the progress being made and it was the one day at a time philosophy that has got me through crises. I particularly like the Chinese quote. My mother was somebody who spent hours anticipating every aspect of what might happen, go worng, go right etc and I determined I would never do that though of course I did…..but not for very long because we exhaust oursleves with the what ifs!

Hi, Peg and friends- I think the issue of “entitlement” is typical of many addicts. It is said addicts quit maturing emotionally when they become addicted and don’t begin to grow again until the addiction is behind them. It sort of ties into taking responsibility for yourself and your actions, all of which will probably be addressed a great deal during rehab. If she is anything like my daughter (and others I know), she’ll continue to test the waters of entitlement long after rehab, but that’s when you and the rest of the family need to decide what you will and will not assist her with. You can’t throw a newly recovered addict out in the water without making sure they remember how to swim, so there’s a little push and pull as they move forward. Lately, my daughter is beginning to take over the cost of her meds, which is a major move, but it is a slow process as she learns how to spend her money wisely – something she’s never known how to do. It was a wonderful first step when she moved out and started paying for her everyday needs in the last couple of months, but it remains a major learning experience for her – but she’s moving forward, and that’s what matters. I find it’s very important to constantly remind my daughter in recovery (and myself) that the goal is that she ultimately learn to live sober, responsibly and independently. And with slight variation, I say the same thing to my younger daughter as she prepares to graduate from college this summer. I’m very guilty of over-nurturing my girls throughout their childhood for a variety of reasons, but that’s in the past, and I’m a work in progress, as they are. As long as they are moving forward more than not!

Your heart and your head will guide you, Peg, so I know you’ll be fine.
-Gal

catastrophizing- Love that word, I happen to be very good at it too.

What a great post – and great news at the end! And the “true Hayley” fashion could be my daughter’s as well… hmmm… I just sit here nodding my head. I am so glad how well she sounded – that says a lot as we know our kids!
Praise God!
I’m glad both the above books gave you guidance and you were able to “take what you wanted”!
Love & (((hugs)))

I love these exchanges about “one day at a time”. A dear Alanon friend told me that when she first heard this slogan she thought she could never go to the beach again. After all, going to the beach (several hours away) meant making plans, motel reservations, etc etc. How could you go if you only lived in today. She said she then learned the slogan “make a plan, but don’t plan the outcome”. Then she knew she could go to the beach after all! I’m very good at imagining conversations and planning everything I am going to say AND everything the other person is going to say. Of course, they don’t actually say anything I’ve planned, so it’s all wasted effort.
Here’s another poem for the collection. I like its message about not planning outcomes.
NEW EVERY MORNING
by Susan Coolidge (1835-1905)
Every day is a fresh beginning.
Listen my soul to the glad refrain.
And, spite of old sorrows
And older sinning,
Trouble forecasted
And possible pain,
Take heart with the day and begin again.

Ahhh manipulative even in detox…you just have to love them. The last time J was in detox he realized he hadn’t changed his contacts in a long time and he was wondering if I could hop in the car now because if I got there before 8:00 pm he would have new ones for in the morning. It was almost a 3 hour trip! He thought I would just bop up 3 hours and bop right back home for quick little 6 hour round trip. LOL It was actually quite funny…I will say he really was not in his right mind at that point and he was not at all amused when I laughed. We drove up like a week later on visiting day.

I love your post! It is just what I needed today. I am so thrilled to be reading about her ongoing recovery. My prayers are with you!!

I am glad to hear that Hayley is doing ok. The One Day at a Time slogan can be confusing. It doesn’t mean that we don’t make plans, or wait to be ‘In the moment’ it means more that I don’t plan the outcomes of events. If you helped Hayley into detox, that was making a plan. If you are intending to lock the door with her inside and sit guard outside of the facility…Then you are planning the outcome.
Take Care.

I am a firm believer in Al-anon, it has saved me from my co-dependent self; but I also think there is a time to act and do interventions. I don’t see anything that involves helping with treatment as enabling. I appreciate your posts very much.

Peggy, so glad to hear that Hayley is in recovery. I see your recovery shine as I read your posts! I am so thankful for my al-anon and nar-anon programs and blogs like your and others. Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope with your readers!

I appreciate so much the quote from HOW AL-ANON WORKS that says “All of our preparation will not have spared us a single ounce of pain. In fact, it will have lengthened our suffering, since it will have added all that worrying time.” How true. A wise teacher told me that, although life is filled with suffering, we can find serenity by not suffering in the suffering. We have no choice about the struggles life throws at us, but we do have choices in how we respond. Being awake in the moment is a way to ease our suffering. I can tell how hard you are working to do that, Peg. Just for today, Hayley is in recovery. Just for today, she is safe. Just for today, she is feeling your love and returning it.

As simple as the “one day at a time” and “Just for today” slogans are, I need to chant them over and over, every day. Jumping ahead and worrying about everything I can think of, is soooo engrained in to my personna, that living just in the moment, and in the day, is a totally new concept for me. And, it feels so freeing – and refreshing. I need to untangle part of my self-esteem/personna, however, because I’ve always been exemplary at avoiding crises, anticipating problems and having plans “B”, “C”, & “D” in place. That is a lot of often unnecessary work. No wonder I’m so exhausted!

Good news! Really good news. I’m not so sure about the hair, but it’s still good news!
I’ve been down this path – and it worked. Not on her (my daughter’s) first rehab, or 2nd or 4th. But her 6th took, and took for good.

Not sure I can make it to a 6th rehab. This one better be it.

It could be. It really could. Have faith!

How wonderful to hear that Hayley is doing good & making progress!! I understand what you’re saying about setting boundaries being hard…I have a tendency to have problems in that area myself, especially when my son does good…I think in my mind it’s like a reward for good behavior which is ridiculous. I don’t get “rewards” for living right!! I suppose it’s part of our “sickness” as parents of addicts. I continue to pray for Hayley’s recovery and for you, peace….((((HUGS))))

Yes, you hit the nail on the head. When Hayley is doing well, I tend to want to “treat” her – – – as a reward, which, as you say, is ridiculous. One shouldn’t be rewarded with a material gift just for doing what she should be doing. However, Hayley has strayed afar from the ‘norm’ for so long, that maybe she needs some kind of feedback as to what is ‘good’ behavior – good for her, for a healthy life? Dunno.

I am so happy for you and Hayley. All you can do is take one day at a time but future looks promising for her if she gets the message loud and clear. My thoughts are with you daily.

So glad to hear Haley is out of Detox and on her way to rehab. I love the daily meditations and also most times have trouble setting boundaries. Oftentimes my boundaries get muddled with fear so it is best to take things one day at a time, if not one second at a time:) It is so good to hear our kids sound clear and bright and I am so happy you experienced that. Entitlement is the way of the youth, not just addicts, they only have it perfected a bit better is all.

I go into tomorrow, and further, several times a day. Sure do. I don’t always remember this, but when I do, I also know that I can start today over today. In fact, I can start today over as many times as I need to. My brother, who’s a baseball coach teaches me something else, through baseball. He says, he teaches his players to break the game down into even smaller pieces. “Win the inning,” he says. Or even smaller. “Win the next at bat.” And even, yup, “Win the next pitch.”
But what a gift, Peggy, that page from Alanon that gets us here. Jim

ENTITLEMENT; MANIPULATIVE……sounds like Stevie….. it makes me suspicious of his recovery. I certainly think Hayley sounds like she wants recovery. I am sure she is. I hope for all your sakes…… I want you to be happy! 🙂 Congratulations!

Well, I totally understand the need to get her hair done 🙂 I think its a good sign! I am so happy to hear that she is THERE and she sounded so good! You have done the very best thing for your daughter and I admire your ability to combine the wisdom of Al-Anon with your own maternal instincts. I love that little you quoted, read it every morning myself 🙂

Peggy, that’s very good news. I am glad that your daughter is on her way to recovery, thanks to you. It reminds me so much of how my daughter used to behave: the entitlement issue. I would drive an hour to pick her up when she lived at the half way house and then an hour back to my house on Friday for the weekend and then take her back on Sunday night. All of this was a given for her. While she stayed with me, nothing was good enough. The bed, that everybody else slept in while visiting was not comfortable and we had to get an egg crate for it. The room was too hot, so we had to get a fan, and so on. As long as she was clean, she was entitled. She was the princess. It always amazed me how the humble addict, once clean, immediately turned into the entitled monster. I had trouble with boundaries, I always thought (stupid) that if I don’t get her what she wants, she will use again. I am very glad, that I don’t have to deal with this behaviour anymore. After a whie, it leaves you feeling used and exhausted.

I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT YOUR GOOD NEWS. PRAISE THE LORD AND PRAISE YOUR EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF A SICK DAUGHTER.


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