Even the most outgoing parent of an addict may find herself dreading those ubiquitous holiday social events. For the most part, I’m an extrovert and LOVE a good party. But, some years I’ve wanted to ignore every f…ing invitation and go underground until all of the festiveness and fellowship is over. Even though I have a pure and profound interest, it’s hard to hear the litany of accomplishments of everyone else’s child when yours is holding on for dear life.

Somehow, the show must go on. And it does, by the grace of the season and every ounce of energy you can muster.

Christmas 2012 could be described as controlled chaos. That, I can celebrate.

Shopping, buying, wrapping, delivering, decorating, dressing, socializing, unwrapping, worshipping, undressing, sleeping, grocery shopping, cooking, eating, cleaning … repeating. And a  little yoga in between.

Blended family, extended family, keeping in touch with out-of-town immediate family and communion with friends. Through this whirlwind, two unexpected gifts emerged.

(1) My son was transferred from the permanent housing unit into a sober living/halfway house. He will remain under the umbrella of the State Prison System for the duration of his parole. The halfway house will give him more freedom and flexibility within walls of accountability. He can take advantage of two meals a day and hold down a full time job. A percentage of what he earns goes towards sustenance for the house.

(2) He now has a full time sales job, a huge boost for all of us, especially for him.

Halfway houses can provide a much-needed support system for offenders so they are able to readjust to the demands of daily life. With monitoring and aftercare, the hope is to reduce relapse/recidivism.  A halfway house can also be a viable solution for the addict who has not been incarcerated but is in search of a neutral zone in which to live, regroup and redirect.

Here’s to:
early mornings of peace and quiet…
positive transitions…

Happy 2013 !!!

Team Therapy and Tucker’s

Today, I am at a peaceful place, in my head and in my heart.  I’m still on the same uncertain journey with my son, but I now have the tools to start each day with clarity and resilience.  It wasn’t easy to get here – it took a tremendous amount of soul-searching, emotional work.  Although much of my life was pretty typical, a contentious divorce and an at-risk child just about did me in …

Aside from family, friends and my husband , I would not be where I am now without the tag-teaming efforts of my counselor and psychiatrist …. 

who are actually married to each other.  
10 plus years of team therapy.  How lucky can you get?  

Pat taught me so much about healthy boundaries.  She reminded me that 
“shit happens” and what’s most important is how you react to it.  
One of my favorite Pat sayings is .. “don’t create the story”.  
Meaning, don’t conjure up something that hasn’t happened yet, because it may
NOT happen that way and then you have to live through it twice….  

Shortly after my children’s father and I separated in 1998, fear of reality set in.
The wheels were already falling off with our son.  I had my first, full-blown, knock your head off, think you are dying, wish you were dying, panic attack.  
It happened in my hometown in South Carolina.  
My mother had to drive me back to Virginia several days later.

I had experienced anxiety before, once, when I broke my arm, but nothing like this. I didn’t have a psychiatrist back then, so I called on one of my son’s doctors.  He fixed me right up with an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant and it held me through a lot of ups and downs for a number of years.

Remember the Christmas that my son’s arm was broken?  Just when you think that it can’t get worse… the next Christmas, the anxiety came back to bite me and I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Tucker’s, a Richmond psychiatric hospital. Pat’s husband, Dr. B admitted me upon my feeble request and the recommendation of a few friends…
I needed a lot of rest…. and my meds tweaked.  In case you’re wondering, 
they do have a Christmas tree on that floor… I took a knitting project (for relaxation), but they had to lock up the needles – hospital rules… 

Every decent-sized town has a psychiatric hospital which has long since been the 
reason for whispers and the brunt of jokes.  In South Carolina, it was Marshall Pickens (Greenville) or “Bull Street” (Columbia).  
I remember my grandmother, Margaret, joking about ending up on “Bull Street”
after it was all said and done.  (Of course, she never did)

In no way do I want to make light of my brief visit to Tuckers, but it does provide some good material for a few laughs with close friends and the 
Book Club ...  especially, now that I’m in a peaceful frame of mind. 

A little levity is good medicine, too  …..

2 New Normals

While watching the nightly news recently, my husband made an indignant, but compelling remark about one of the many reasons our country has reached a 16 trillion dollar national debt.  I won’t quote him because it wouldn’t be ladylike, but here is the gist…  the American people have been repeatedly (nudged) towards overspending, by those who are large and in charge. 
A fiscal ambush.  
Each time we are pushed out of our comfort zone, we get used to it, settle in and     it becomes the new normal.

I believe that we have also reached a new normal in parenting.  Who’s to say whether it’s harder to raise children in today’s world; but I do feel that it’s considerably more complicated than it used to be.

The Price of Privilege, a New York Times bestseller, by Madeline Levine, Ph.D., eloquently explains this current state.  “In recent years, numerous studies have shown that bright, charming, seemingly confident and socially skilled teenagers from affluent, loving families are experiencing epidemic rates of depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders – materialism, pressure to achieve, perfectionism, and disconnection are combining to create a perfect storm that is devastating children of privilege and their parents alike”.

Levine goes on to say that “privilege is a relative term in this country.  The fact is, the United States is one of the most affluent countries in the world, and large numbers of our children lead lives of privilege unimagined in many places.”

This book hits the nail on the head. 

I would consider it a page-turner of self-help books.

Technology Pandemic

This morning, I saw something online that stopped me in my tracks.  
An unflattering picture on Facebook of a familiar teenager who looked high as a kite. No, it wasn’t the camera causing the red-eye.  
I’ve seen that same photo of my own child. 
I decided to write about what I consider to be a new age pandemic

We can all agree that the computer might be both the most ingenious and the most controversial tool of our modern age. Our children do not know life without it.   When it’s used for it’s intended purpose, it is invaluable. 
When we overshare without a purpose, it can haunt us for the rest of our lives.

Back to Facebook…  A brilliant social networking service.  
A great way to reconnect with old friends, advertise a new business or 
promote a cause.

What some might think to be an appropriate post on Facebook is subjective.

For example, I do not believe that it is in good taste, or responsible for that matter, to post pictures of teenage girls in bikinis.  It is amazing how many mothers splatter the walls of Facebook with half naked photos of their high school daughters. 
Helloooooo ?

I have seen pictures posted of young people who are obviously drunk or high or both.  I have seen pictures posted of young people in compromising positions on sofas and in beds with others.  It may be subjective, but I think that it is dangerous. If we don’t think that present or future employers look at this kind of garbage, we need to pull our heads out of the sand.  

We have got to put a daily APB out there reminding the Facebooking world, 
and especially our children, to use some discretion. 

Let’s leave something to the imagination.