December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

We've been through a lot together over this last year (and the years before... Its my hope that this year brings peace to parents of addicts, and recovery to their loved ones.

Glitter Words

(I did my decade in review on my other blog, I mentioned my 'parents of addicts" support group, thank you for being here.)

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Barbara and Keven!

I am grateful to have my son home today.  I know not all of you are able to spend this holiday with your loved one.  I am thinking of those of you who are separated right now because of a rehab, jail, a job, or because they are using.  

I just want to remind all of us, time does make a difference.  It seems that most of the addicts I know are moving forward.  Last year Keven was in a rehab for Christmas, the year before he'd just been expelled from his senior year in high school for being under the influence, and four days after Christmas he took a handful of pills in a suicide attempt.  He's had sobriety and relapses many times since then but for today, he's doing well.

I've never completely lost hope, but I've also learned all about being cautiously optimistic.  

December 24, 2010

Another one...

Warning:  If you are in a joyful holiday mood, save reading this for another day (or never) its not pleasant, but it is important.

In the last few months there have been several deaths in our little circle of people we (Keven and me) know.

Last night at Family Group ANOTHER one was announced.

3 from Cornerstone
2 of Kelsey's friends
1 of Keven's old buddies
1 of Keven's good friends

That's deaths that I have personally heard about...just one person heard of 7 deaths in the last few months.

The latest one, a guy from Cornerstone, may have intentionally overdosed according to Keven which I am sure is a rumor going around.  No one will ever know, and does it matter?

In two weeks Anthony is coming home.  Thankfully his grandmother is letting him live with her for a month because there is no way I want him here - we are coveting our peace and quiet.

I am afraid for Anthony.  He's NEVER made it.

Do you remember what was happening last January?

He was out of jail for ELEVEN days, used at his sober living home and ended up on LIFE SUPPORT!

Once he was better he went to another rehab and somehow from there he got busted again and was sent to prison for _______ months, which equals TEN MONTHS time served.

He told his gf that the first thing he wants to do is go to a meeting.  That sounds great.  I hope he does something different because I think he's living on borrowed time as it is, he's not going to have many more chances and he will end up his mother :(

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 23, 2010

A Better Year for Most of Us

After reading many blogs yesterday I saw a hopeful "trend" of  many of our loved addicts being in a better place this Christmas.  I am very sad that Ron's son is in jail, I think its ridiculous, but on the bright side he had been doing super good up to that point, huge change from last Christmas.

Some have come home from jail/prison, others will be home soon.

Some are in Residential Treatment or other types of treatment right now.

Some are on their own but managing to stay clean.

Some have a long time of sobriety behind them (Bmelonlemonade for one).

For those of you who have a child or other loved one still using, I understand.  Its painful.  Hoping, fear, praying, worry, crying, anger, hopelessness, whatever the emotion may be I still feel them all, but at a much lesser level.  Please hang in there, it may take a long time (I hope not) but from what I am seeing MOST addicts eventually get to the point that they are just done with it.  For some its longer than others.

I'll be honest, Anthony will be home in 15 days.  My stomach is in knots when I think of it because he's 23 now and he's been in and out of trouble with drugs and crime since he was 14 (when his dad left him in stolen car since he was a juvenile and would get a lighter sentence!)  I can't say I have high hopes for him but damn it, I want to be wrong.

My son is doing well at the moment.  I am not naive enough to thing he's "done" but I do have a strong hope for that.

I will be thinking of each and every one of you this Christmas.  I am so thankful for this group of bloggers, you have been my support group, my role models, my friends with loving arms and warm words (cyber hugs can be felt, I can feel them!).
THANK YOU!!!!!  

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

P.S. Keven at age ?? months, my little teddy bear :)

December 20, 2010

I need to:

CATCH UP on all your blogs tomorrow.  I am reading a few here and there but my goal is to find out how each and every one of you is doing and then stay caught up.

Can you tell I am in a weird mood?  I think the rain around here has made my brain soggier than usual. I'm not used to it.  Normally I love it but enough is enough already!!!!

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 16, 2010

I Got To Meet One of You Today!!!

I had the PLEASURE of meeting Lisa C today!  It was like being with a long time friend even though we had never met.  She is even more wonderful in person than on her blog (if you can imagine that!).  Oh how I wish we could ALL meet up someplace.  I think other people that know what we experience as parents of addicts can be understanding and empathetic, but there is no way you can KNOW what it feels like unless you've been in the unwanted shoes.

Lisa and I talked about how it is to find a new blogger just starting out on this "journey" and remembering having the exact same reactions and ideas when we were new to all this.  I just want to encourage those people by saying:  There will be a day when you can sit and laugh and have a wonderful time again.  I sure did today!

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 10, 2010

Processing Thoughts on a Funeral....

Wow.  The funeral service for Gilbert was very intense.  Very.  I have to talk about it so here goes:

First of all, Keven, his friend and I were the only non-Mexican people there.  The service was in Spanish and English and the pastor did a great job of flowing back and forth between the two languages in a very natural way, I was impressed by that.

I was not prepared for an open casket.  There Gilbert was, looking so incredibly handsome, with a peaceful smile on his face, but he was DEAD. I have seen quite a few dead people before but he didn't look dead at all.  He looked like he was sleeping and I kept expecting him to open his eyes any minute.  It was painful to see him like that.  His two daughters had drawn pictures and they were in the casket next to him.  He also has a son I was not aware of, he was about 11, adorable, sweet boy.

The thing that made it intense (other than the obvious fact that he is dead) was that he was at one time a gang member but was no longer active in the gang because he was older and had a family.  But you could tell a lot of people that spoke were still angry with him and bitter about his gang lifestyle.  Most of that talk was in Spanish but one guy that got up to speak gave a great speech on why that part of Gilbert's life was over, that the bad things he did were in the far past, that we needed to focus on the positives, forgive and let go of any hurt or anger.

I also learned that he suffered with the heartache of knowing how his addiction hurt his family, his mother, his children, his wife.  They talked about how he was out of pain now, no longer suffering, no longer looking for peace through drugs.

Mostly people talked about his smile, how wonderful he was.  And my son got up there and (I swear I'm not bragging - this is just how it went down) did the best speech of all.  Why was it good?  Because he just spoke so innocently and honestly the truth and by doing that he made everyone laugh really hard (the only laughter of the whole service) and everyone went "awwwww" and I think he said some things that needed to be said.  Yet I know Keven didn't PLAN it that way, it just came out that way.

He told the story of how they met at probabtion and how he was a bit surprised when this gang looking guy (you can tell from the tats on the neck) sat down and started talking.  He said "the next thing you know Gilbert had invited me to his mom's for the best frijoles in the world."  Then he said how much his daughters loved him because when they saw him they would each grab onto one of his legs and not let go and he'd walk around with them like that.  He talked about how Gilbert asked to see how Keven lived so he brought him down here to South OC and Gilbert felt out of place at the mall, but at home at Keven's house.  He talked about how he felt cared about and safe with Gilbert, how they could talk about deep things and he trusted him, etc. etc.  It was very moving and I think it showed everyone there a side to Gilbert they weren't aware of (the side that had a gringo for a friend!).

Then Gilbert's son spoke.  Wow.  Just a child, a little boy.  Losing his dad in such a horrible way at such a young age.

Gilbert's father spoke in Spanish so I didn't get much of it, but he cried even though he tried so hard not to.

It was very emotional.  I just can't get over how he looked so non-dead.  I never, ever, ever want to see my son in one of those caskets or hear of any of your sons, daughters or loved ones in one of them either.  It was painful to see this young man - so full of life when I saw him weeks ago - gone.  A shell.

Thanks, I needed to share this.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

Very Fortunate for Keven's Rehab

I have mixed feelings about writing this because I don't want to sound negative but I want to be honest.  Also, it makes  me mad but also makes me feel fortunate.

The current Rehab he is in is really, really good.  The people that work there, the personalized attention given to each person, the program structure, everything about it is high quality.  BUT, that's because you have to pay for it.  We have insurance that covered a large portion but check out how much Keven's 90 day stay would be without it:  $25,000!  Twenty five frigging thousand dollars.....that's almost a  year's salary for me when I am working!  For 90 days!  And the thing is - there are no guarantees.  If there was a guarantee that this would "fix" him it would be worth it because it would be like buying his future...but there are none.  A young man from there OD'd (and died) last week after completing the program and being out for less than a month.

On the other hand there is the Rehab he was in last year.  I am not knocking it, it was also wonderful but it was FREE to us and if we would have had to pay it would have been $9,000.  Still sounds like a lot of money but compared to 25 - 9 is not that bad.  I'd say that 90% of the people there were in the county paid program.
There were also very qualified and caring people working there, but the counselor/client ratio was a lot different and they simply weren't able to offer all the resources this other place has.

So the sad truth is - if you are "privileged" (i.e. have money) your get better treatment.  And even though my son was raised by a single  mom with a low income most of his live, he is still privileged because of his aunt and grandmother's generosity.  I don't know how the rest of my family feels about their "inheritance" being spend on Keven's rehab, but she said she would have spent it on his college education if not for this.  Don't even get me started on how depressing that or rehab (i know many of you can relate).

So, all this to say - last night we had an AWESOME family group.  I wrote about it on my other blog.  Keven was called on the carpet and asked some tough questions that related to me.  I sat there listening with half my brain (the co-dependent half) thinking "oh no, this is so hard on him, poor Keven...) and the other half thinking "YES!  FINALLY SOMEONE HAD THE GUTS TO ASK HIM THIS QUESTION IN FRONT OF ME AND HIS PEERS AND FORCED HIM TO LOOK AT IT AND SEE IT EVEN IF HE WON'T CONFRONT IT DIRECTLY".  It was a breakthrough moment for me personally in MANY ways.

I even told the group and Keven that he did't have to use me as an excuse "I hate upsetting my mom" because guess what - your mom is stronger than she was two years ago when this hell started and she does not get upset in the same way and she can take it now!  It was awesome, cause it was TRUE!

Thanks for listening to all this.

I am headed out to Gilbert's funeral and will be reading  your blogs when I get home later.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 9, 2010

How Cool Is This ???

I think many of us have wished we all lived close enough to meet up once in awhile face to face.  I'm very excited to say that I will be meeting up with one of you soon (I won't say who in case she doesn't want me blabbing it all over my blog).

I wish we could have a big party sometime, I guess we'd have to plan it for smack dab in the middle of the USA to be fair - so that would be KANSAS!  Perfect, we'll meet at Ron's house!  We know he is the king of throwing a good party......


Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Keven

Today is Keven's 20th birthday.  He had a court date and I went with him.  It was a positive day, everyone noticed that he's making progress and they were impressed that he accepted a new limitation that was put on him without his usual "negotiating tactics".  Then they judge, DA, his attorney, the inmates in custody, the bailiffs, and the entire court room sang happy birthday to him - I could tell by his expression that he got a major kick out of that!

The judge noted that he is still the youngest person in her program.

Later on his attorney called me to tell me that they talked about Keven in chambers today because of Gilbert's death, wondering how he handled it.  His PO said he took the news with maturity but she and everyone else agreed they needed to keep an even closer reign on him and be sure his time is well structured.

Of course there are no guarantees.  I found out that Gilbert was actually a resident of PH when he died.  He went out on a pass, bought heroin, used it in the car and they found his dead body just blocks away from PH.  His funeral is Friday, Keven requested a pass to go.

I am very tired.  I am thinking of many of you tonight.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 6, 2010

Another Heroin Death

One of Keven's close friends OD'd on Saturday.  He was found alone, dead, after shooting up heroin.

I have to write about this young man because I am very, very sad.  I don't know if this happens to other people, but my heart literally aches sometimes and that's how I feel today.

This morning I drove Keven to probation.  When he got back in the car he handed me an envelope that his PO had given him, it was some photos of Keven and Gilbert taken about a month ago at the NAMI walk (they both volunteered to help).  As I sat smiling at the great photos of these two handsome guys I heard Keven say "he's dead".  It was one of those moments that you just want to shake your head and say "no, I didn't hear those words, lets pretend you didn't say that....lets rewind and start over because he can't be dead...."

But he is dead.

The first time I met Gilbert was when Keven brought him home to spend the night, he had met him at Phoenix House and Gilbert had no where to go.  This was not unusual because Keven knows I let his friends stay here for a night or two when they need a roof over their heads.  I was a bit surprised because Gilbert was older (26) and had the obvious tattoos of a Mexican gang.  He didn't seem like a gang member - he was so polite, softspoken and friendly.  Apparently he got hooked on Oxy after an on-the-job injury which led to heroin use.  But at the time he and Keven were clean (this was before Keven's initial relapse so he had about 7 months clean at the time).

Gilbert came over several times after that and I also saw him at court a few times.  He ended up moving back in with his mom and four sisters in a two room apartment in Santa Ana.  His family loved Keven and had never had a white kid at their house before so they made a big deal out of serving him lots of good Mexican food.  Keven looked up to Gilbert.

The last time I saw him he was in a dress shirt and tie and looked like a young professional.  He was smiling and excited about a job interview he had that day.

What happens between moments like that and the moment they pick up again?  I don't know.

Gilbert has two young daughters, age 5 and 7.  Since he was part of Recovery Court they are planning to do a toy drive so that his children will have some gifts on Christmas.  The judge will announce it in court tomorrow.  I am sure there will be lots of tears, to know Gilbert was to love him.

This will be the second time in less than a week that I have sat in a room with a group of people and listened to an announcement that one of their peers/friends had OD'd.  The last time was Thursday night at Family Group at Cornerstone.  I didn't know the young man that people were crying over that night but it still upset me.  This time, it will be painful because I will share in the grief.

I sat in our car and cried after Keven told me.  He just sat and stared out the window.  I said "Aren't you upset?" and he said "You have to be prepared for this to happen when you live this lifestyle".  Well when he said that.... I LOST IT.


I yelled at him and said "F____ this lifestyle!  You don't HAVE to have this f_____ing lifestyle!!!"  I'll spare you the rest of my rant but he hadn't seen or heard me go off like that in probably a year.  I let a lot out that needed out.

In a way maybe it was good for him to see me so heartbroken over someone that I didn't even know that well - he could probably imagine what I would be like if he died.  I don't think I could bear it.  I think my body would simply implode and I would crumble to the floor dead.

Everyone in  Recovery court loved Gilbert.  Its kind of interesting to notice that most of the heroin addicts are non-Hispanic.  The Mexicans are usually the ones selling the drugs, not getting addicted to them.  They fill the jails around here for violent crimes (gang related) and drug sales - but most of the addicts are the middle class white kids.  I could tell he was special to the Judge because she'd always call him Gilberto and pronounce it the right way....and his smile was killer.  He was just a doll.  A good son, a good father....he had left his gang life and was doing all the right things before he got hooked on damn opiates.

I hate opiates.  I hate them.  I can't believe another person is dead...and this time too close to home.  There was a third person who also died in the last few weeks so the word is out that there is some "bad shit" on the streets.  ITS ALL BAD SHIT!

I told Keven if he decides to have this lifestyle and use again to go far, far away because I can't take much more.

I was also denied unemployment today because I didn't make enough money in the last 6 months to qualify for it.  AND to top that off, I am paying $333.00 a month for Cobra to keep my health insurance but they have not been paying for my meds so I have to wean myself off Effexor because I can't afford it and its not a safe drug to take yourself off.  But I am not going to borrow any more money from my family and I don't see another choice because I am not paying over $200 for a months supply of it.

This has been a terrible day.

Oh and to top all that off, it was 35 years ago today that my father died.

I hate this day.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 4, 2010

There is no "Safe" rambling on

The only time I feel assured that Keven has no access to drugs is when he's in the county jail.  This is not true of our state prisons, but its very hard to sneak anything into the county jail and much easier to get caught.

Right now he's out shopping for himself for clothes, his birthday gift from us.  We have him cash.  Hard, cold cash.  We wondered if it was a wise choice but then realized if he wants to use, he will use.  He doesn't need our money to get high.  He does however really want some new jeans.  I think he will be okay.

Last week one of the residents at his rehab who was recently graduated died of an OD.  Last night Keven's closest roommate decided to take off and leave the program because he wanted drugs more than recovery.

Anthony is in prison trying to say no to drugs and will be out in a month.

There is not safe place to go.  No new city, environment or situation that is going to stop an addict from using IF HE/SHE WANT TO USE.  They will find a way.

So here I sit, thinking about my boy turning 20 in a few days.  I never imagined this kind of life for him.  The depression, the constant battle with the desire to use, the feelings of no hope for the future.  Its very sad.

I've learned to separate myself as much as possible.  I've thought about worst case scenarios.  I know this could be going on for many more years.

All we can do is live one day at a time.  I feel very non-emotional today.  Kind of empty.  I love him more than anything but I feel like I don't really know him.  He's not the little  boy I raised that laughed and played and talked my ears off.  He's distant and polite.  His eyes look dull.  He's quiet.  He's not high, but he's not happy either.  I hope he finds peace someday

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara

December 2, 2010

Amazing Attorney

She only works with addicts and dually addicted clients.  She charges very reasonable fees.  She would do her job for free if she could.  She cares.

She texted me today to ask how her "superstar, Keven" was doing.  I told her he was doing good and looking for a job.  She called him to encourage him.

Do all attorneys do stuff like this?  Even when they are paid in full and no longer retained by us?

I think she cares.  I really do.  Keven already told me that when he is finally done with this program and stands up in court to give his speech (they each give one when they complete all four phases which in his case will be another YEAR from now) he is going to say "I wouldn't have been able to stand here today if it weren't for S______ (attorney's name)"

Yeah, we had to pay her to keep him out of prison and in Recovery Court, but it was worth it.

Peace, Hope and Love, Barbara
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