Sunday, December 30, 2012

Number 1 Lifesaver

Frankly, it's not easy to be happy when your world falls down around your feet. It's simply not easy to find joy in anything. That world we used to know is gone, forever tainted by this new version of Reality, and it sucks. Big time.

Friends might stop returning our calls, or sit in stoney silence when we tell them the latest antics from our stressed out teen. A phone call you expect will include a lunch date instead ends in finality when she tells you she found a video your teen posted online showing them in an unsavory situation. When drugs are involved, there's no element of "We're in this together, let's watch each other's back." Instead, the clear message is, "You people are screwed, get away from me and my kids so your disease doesn't touch us over here." Now, instead of being a part of a network where you clearly belong, you feel like you are a Leper. It's a frightful, ugly mess, totally devastating as the word continues to spread, and your support system crumbles at your feet. This wildfire is not anything you caused, so why must you live in this new version of Hell?

(Side note: I suspect there are parents who refuse to admit, support, connect, etc with what is going on with their child. I'm reaching out to those who choose to engage, and move forward with trying to get their child the help they so desperately need.)

So, it's time to get busy, and find some new peeps you can call your own, peeps who are already walking on your new "street", living in your new "neighborhood". Peeps who will support you, and call you a friend, no matter what recent mayhem your kids have caused. For me, this has been my Number 1 Lifesaver.

When our son's actions resulted in police activity, and we had exhausted the community efforts provided by our local school district, we were told he needed to attend an "IOP Program." IOP stands for Intensive Out Patient program, which is a program designed to educate kids on the perils of their drug and/or alcohol use. The IOP we joined included after school classes for the kids, and a Family Group meeting every week. It was in this Family Group meeting that my husband and I were connected with a like minded group of parents who wanted to find help for their kids.

These parents have become our new normal, and have been the most supportive, amazing, wonderful group of people ever. The acceptance we found, and the friendships we have forged are powerful. I am certain I would never be where I am today without the amazing group of moms, who have offered me guidance, and held me up on my darkest days. In turn, I hold them up when their world turns upside down.

There are no answers or rationalizations as to why God asks certain families to walk this brambled path, but all I know is that I have been able to find my way out of the deep woods while walking arm in arm with these people. And the lessons I have learned are ones I would have never encountered without being in this messy Arena alongside of them. We moms call ourselves the Epic Honey Badgers, and we are Badass! Together we shine like diamonds in the rough, and I would not be where I am today without the love and support I get from each of these beautiful women, and their caring husbands. I love you, EHBs, we shine like the sun!!

If you need your own group of EHBs, I suggest you look towards your nearest AlAnon group, or check out a local IOP group. If you are in the Southern California area, I can suggest some amazing groups where you can find like minded families. If you are reading this and live outside of So. CA, and know of a similar organization, perhaps you could leave a comment and list a helpful group in your area. We EHBs are all about helping out our neighbors :o)

You are NOT alone!

x, EHB Val

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Badass Mom

Photo Courtesy of FabForgottenNobility

Hello there! Welcome to my new blog :o)

This is the place where I hope to allow my vulnerability a place to shine. A place for uncertainty that leads to strength. Where risk taking leads to empowerment. Where emotional exposure does not shut me down, but lifts me up. And in doing this, I hope to help you to do the same.

In this life, we walk together, sometimes more closely that we are comfortable, sometimes so distantly to barely touch souls. Baring our hearts is never easy, but unless we can come to grips with what tears us apart, we can never find the place inside of us that makes us whole.

I chose the awesome name for this blog based on a book I am currently reading, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. If you are not familiar with Brene's work, I invite you to learn more about her by visiting her incredible world, which you can find here. Daring Greatly starts out by quoting a powerful speech by Theodore Roosevelt, "The Man in the Arena" and speaks of the importance of getting involved in life and trying your best, and that it is not the critic who counts, but the man in the arena who is struggling to keep it together and make it out alive. It's he/she/(the mom) who counts.

As I write this today, December 29, 2012, (my youngest brother's 40th birthday! Happy Birthday, Steve!) we are nearing the end of a very important year for my family. A year that started out on the most desperate and horrible of notes, and after fighting greatly for the things I know to be right and true, we are emerging as a family on more solid ground, reconnecting in ways we never thought we could.

When I look back to Jan 2012, this is what I see... My 15 year old son addicted to drugs, desperately failing out of school, and suicidal. My 13 year old son dutifully following in his big brother's path, as they do. The relationship with my husband in precarious disarray. The frightful looming necessity to sell our home in order to find the money to care for our older son. My son's school calling CPS over the way they felt we were parenting our boys. The school serving us with a lawsuit to protect themselves against the rehabilitation our son was sure to need. Our insurance company refusing to pay for the care my son so desperately needed, to the tune of up to $15,000 per MONTH.

By the end of this year, my older son, in treatment for the past 10 months, is on his way towards recovery. We learned he has a microscopic seizure disorder in his brain that affects the way he acts and learns. He is on medication that allows his brain to make the necessary connections it needs so he can read, and so he can think before he acts. My younger son is settled in a new school, away from a nasty group of young addicts that both my boys called "friends." The lawsuit? We found success so we did not have to sell our beautiful home, even though we got a full price offer on it! And, that pesky insurance company? I reported them to the CA State Insurance Commissioner, so they had to cover my son's treatment, deemed "medically necessary." And, in a complete 180, the school district has invited me to be a part of a parent advisory council on finding ways to keep kids in our community off drugs. Wow...

Indeed, I have learned how challenging it is to be the one in the Arena, the Mom in the Arena, fighting greatly for her family. I did not know how I could face coming up short time and time again, but I did. I did not think I had the strength to overcome my angst, and face the fight I needed to fight, but I did. All I knew was that our family is worthy, and we are good, and we live life right and true. I asked for strength, and I found it. I tried to achieve, and was able. I am not out of the Arena yet, but I feel the hardest part of my fight might be behind me. I can respect how far we have come during this past desperate and painful year. It has humbled me greatly.

I invite you to walk with me as I continue to dare greatly. I hope you will find strength here to help you to dare greatly in your own world. For as we find strength individually, we can find strength in togetherness. I hope to help others as others have helped me, so feel free to ask me about anything I share in this space, and I will answer you as best I am able. Leave me a comment, or send me an email, and I promise to do what I can to lighten your way too. Be brave, friend!

Let's do this, ok??!

x, Val