Christmas Love

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You know there are some businesses that never close.  Hospitals, Public Works, Police and other service orientated companies.  Such was the case one Christmas Eve, 1988. 

I was working at Marionjoy Rehabilitation Center in Wheaton Illinois when the luck of the draw had me working Christmas Eve.  Usually, Marionjoy’s Pharmacy closed at 6pm but this night my boss and I were working on some unusual compounds and had to stay.  Needless to say I was not happy about this.  One hour dissolved into two hours and still I was at the Pharmacy.  I wanted to get home to my kids, I wanted to see them open presents and I actually wanted to have some Oyster Stew at my parents but I was missing it all. 

At 8pm my Boss said to make one more round through the hospital and I could go home.  Why bother?  Everything was ruined.  I missed all the fun. Big deal I could home – yeah me… 

Making my rounds, nursing my annoyed feelings, I entered the second floor.  The halls were quiet but I could hear muffled sounds of the nursing staff celebrating a Christmas Eve party.  Great! I thought.  I get a cold sandwich, they get canapés and EggNog. Hmmmph…. 

Turning to go back to the elevator after filling the drug cart, I heard a sound that I thought was Hi! Whipping my head around, I spied a little toddler girl in a playpen.  Standing there smiling at me was one of our latest arrivals from Marklund Children’s Home.  This little girl called Kathryn was severely brain injured at the hands of her Mother and was rehabilitating at the Center. 

Well, I could not turn away so I approached the playpen and she held her arms up to me.  I bent and picked her up, careful to not dislodge her feeding tube and found a rocker where I could sit with her.  I had planned to only spend a few moments until the nurses noticed she was still in her playpen, but I found myself talking to her. 

I spoke to that little girl for what seemed like hours. I rocked and sang a carol or two. After quite a while, I felt a nudge on my shoulder.  A nurse stood smiling and whispered, “I’ll take her now”.  I realized I had fallen asleep with Kathryn in my arms.  I glanced at my watch and saw that it was 11:30pm!  I had rocked myself to sleep with this precious child in my arms. The nurse said I looked so peaceful she did not want to wake me but little Kathryn needed her crib.  3 ½ hours I was with this sweet child.  And in those hours I forgot my annoyance, my selfish irritation and found a sense of peace that sometimes is rarely felt in the fast, fast world. 

Walking to my car, I realized that I had just been given the greatest gift from the most unusual place.  A little girl, wounded beyond comprehension, taught me what the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas isn’t about EggNog or presents or the occasional party.  It is about a small child that brings you love when you least expect it. 

Love, Peace and Serenity to you and your family.

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And the Political Penguins Start To March

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John Harris, Blaggo’s Chief of Staff resigned this morning, his lawyer said.  Harris dropped off his letter of resignation today in person and will not be going back to the office, according to his lawyer, Terry Ekl.

The body exit is a bit like the March of the Penguins but in that respect, I think Penguins are nicer and probably more honest…. 

So Jesse Jr??  When are you going to defect?

Out Dammed Blaggo, Out!

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There has been quite a bit of fussin’ about Patti Blagojevich being this generation’s Lady Macbeth because she has had her star turn in the latest Govo-Blago mess!  See Washington Post’s turn of the screw HERE

Now, we all swear.  Some of us drop the occasional F-bomb as well but come on!  Is Patti dipping into the narcissitic pool her hubby has been bathing in?  Did she really think that “investigation” only meant at his office? Ya need to keep the ole F-bombs from dropping in the public eye or in this case ears even though you think that you are too insulated in your husband’s dream world.  You were vulnerable Patts and showed a bit of your ugly side.

Instead of washing out the “dammed” spot, she should chew on a bar of Irish Springs and encourage her Macbeth to step down.

Snitch or Not to Snitch: That is the Question

I am riled! My bristles are up on my neck and I am ranting a BIG rant! My girl Nanetta who is not only my confidant but is my navigator through all things in the chasm that is the social divide, we were discussing the latest shootings and boy did it get my dander up!

Can someone out there please educate me as to why the Chicago School system sanctioned students to be allowed to attend a gun control rally instead of attending school? Now this is a system that has a 52% of all students NOT graduating high school and they think it is a great idea for the students to skip school. Their parents should be coming together cohesively and start to strategize how to weed out the bad element in their neighborhoods not sit passively on their backsides and not get involved.

I am really sorry that 20 students have lost their lives to shootings. I do agree that this wave of violence has to be stopped. It is vile and should not be allowed in our society ever. But it is. And why? Because the people that should be raising the biggest stink ever, don’t. And by that I mean the parents and any witnesses to a shooting claim they “didn’t see nothing”.

I am sick of seeing people on TV lamenting the latest vile shooting but when asked who did it they don’t know. They don’t know because they choose to not get involved. And that my friends, is the despicable action that needs to be addressed first before any protests, shouts to the Mayor or the inevitable “woe is me” attitude that sweeps our neighborhoods. They know who the bangers are! And you can’t tell me that no one knows who committed the Lane Bryant murders. It is their uneducated assumption that if they call the authorities they will be labeled a snitch. So what! Take that label and be proud of it! At least you are doing something!

And you cannot tell me that parents do not know who the gang members are. You also cannot inform me that I do not know what I am talking about because I do and I have been in situations where I had to open my mouth regardless of the preconceived risks I might be taking. You see I did not always live in whitebread suburbia, I spent a lot of time in downright awful areas.

I will never tell you that my sons were saints. In fact they were downright miserable teenagers that tortured me at every intersection. But I will tell you that when the big bad Chicago drug dealer set up shop in my complex, I called the cops and stood by his car so that they would have a proper identification of it. I did make a visit to his connection JoBo and warned him that I would not tolerate his BS and reported him to the authorities as well. Granted my sons were angry, embarrassed, whatever. But I let them know I was not placed on earth to be their friend.

So parents in violent neighborhoods open your mouth! Tell the authorities what you know. Tell them that so and so is causing trouble. Snoop on your kids, go through drawers and be aware always that your children know more than they claim to. Parent your children so that society does not have to in your irresponsible wake.

Opening the Door: My understanding of the 12 Steps

In my March 7th blog post Celebrity Rehab: Wrong or Healing? I opened the door to my own understanding of what I perceived to be the secret world of addicts. I have been asked since that posting to explore my feelings, gut emotions and raw observations of my world of the non-addicted. So instead of hanging out in the doorjamb of this volatile experience, I need to enter the room of walking the walk of the addicted so that I may understand their truly unique experiences by baring the soul of my own.

I started this exploration by reading parts of the Big Book; The touchstone of the addicted. I was shocked to realize in all my dealings, I never sat down and tried to understand Friends of Bill W. I thought that I had all the answers, had completed my tour through hell and considered myself the wise sage of survivors. How wrong I am. I have not completed my journey. I have only touched the tip of the white hot iceberg of understanding.

A person dear to me questioned whether I should talk about the subject of addiction and wasn’t I opening myself to condemnation by people in my life. Hell Yeah I need to talk about this. It needs to be said and I do not need to bow my head in shame. If I can gain some wisdom or open that secretive door to honest communication, then yes I will listen and learn. I need to explore my take on the 12 Steps to Recovery. I need to address my wisdom as well as my shortcomings.

By reading the 12 Steps that are a time honored help tool for the addicted, I realized that these steps could be applied to own journey as well.

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. Yes I am powerless. I am unable to heal you or fix you. I have to realize that this is so much bigger than myself.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. I have to come to the realization that because I can not fix you, I have not failed you. I need to truly let go and let God. This is the hardest thing to do because I think my love is enough.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. I need to let the addict make this journey by themselves and to be there when they want me to. But only when they ask. Instead of worrying what you are going to do, I need to work on my own reactions.

4.Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. What have I done to promote, enable or dissuade the addict. Change what I can with myself only. Change my behavior, not control my surroundings.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. When you do complete this step, I need to forgive you. I need to search my soul and make amends for blaming you for not doing what I think you should be doing. Blame, refusal or inability to forgive along with resentment go hand in hand. Oh boy did I have a shopping list of real and perceived wrongs. Instead of talking about them, I buried it. I spent many years resenting the hell out of Daniel when I was equally to blame because I locked my feelings away.

6. We are entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
I need to trust your version of higher power so that I can trust you. I need to be willing to accept every day as a new day and that you too are ready to change because you too are learning to trust.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Every morning I need to greet it with hope not despair. I need to remain positive that today is a good day. I need to stop being angry.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. I need to stop thinking that because I can say I am sorry you should too. I need to realize that this step is small part of a bigger journey that I need to let you keep private.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. I need to accept your apology. I need to stop making you pay for all the wrongs in my life. From what I understand, this is an extremely difficult step. My experience with Daniel was that I waited for my apology and gave up when I did not get it. This bred resentment in me for so many years. The days before his death, Daniel said he was sorry. I felt many years of locked away pain were released.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. Can you imagine having to do this step? The daily self examination must be grueling to say the least. What may come easy to the non-addict can be intimidating to the addict.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. If we could do this every day, think of how centered you would become. This step to my is a daily lifeline that can applied to the addict as well as the non-addict.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Coming from the old school ways of “Don’t Talk – Don’t Tell” I see the most destructive point is to not share your experiences with others. Let the addict talk about their experiences. How are you going to understand if you make it impossible to listen.

We must be open to how addiction affects you as well as sharing tips to survive a relationship with an addict without turning bitter. It is because we stay silent that prevents the healing. And to me, I would rather get this out in the open instead of wallowing in my murky sea of shame.

Bad Girl, Bad Girl,Whatcha Gonna Do?

Colleen Long, reporter for Associated Press stated in the March 15th paper that “The lawyer for the call girl linked to the downfall of Gov. Eliot Spitzer lashed out at the media on Friday for thrusting the 22-year-old woman into the “public glare” without her consent and publishing revealing photos.”

Okayeee… Since I am a mother of twenty-somethings, I feel the need to let little Kristen know that once you got the pictures out there honey you better be real prepared to live your life in the public microscope or just not have photos like that taken. And also sweetie, when you sign up to be a $1,000/hr call girl, figure in the factor that you just might be at the middle of an ugly sex scandal because the rich and powerful have equally as rich and powerful enemies.
My predictions for this girl? If she plays her hand of cards right, she could get a record deal (think Britney Spears with less clothes on) or a quick scandal tell-all but in her chosen line of business she better be equally prepared for the IRS man to come knocking on her door.

Celebrity Rehab – Wrong or Healing?

There has been much pooh-poohing surrounding VH1’s Celebrity Rehab. Many criticize Dr. David Drew Pinsky’s motives for doing a show such as this. Bloggers, recovering addicts and addiction specialists, feel that it sensationalizes the serious disease of addiction. William Moyers, the Executive Director of Hazeldon Recovery Center, states that Celebrity Rehab is “yet another example of the dumbing down and trivialization of a very serious and chronic illness that robs people of their dignity and respect”.

I consider myself a very compassionate and somewhat understanding person when it relates to addictions. I have many friends that suffer from this disease as well as a few close to me losing their lives, such as my ex-husband Daniel and best friend Bonnie, to this daily never-ending fight. And still, knowing some of the perils and gut-wrenching decisions addicts have to make daily in their lives, I did not understand completely and unequivocally this disease.

At first I admit watching that first show I was disgusted with the concept. People that have this disease that robs them of their lives should not be paraded like circus monkeys for our viewing entertainment. Then it hit me. I wanted to see what went on in a treatment facility. I wanted to hear what addicts had to say. I wanted to finally understand Daniel and Bonnie’s death. You see. Even though I was a first hand observer of what this disease does, I had run away from my own feelings of helplessness. I have spent so many years not fully understanding how this ugly memory of my past works. I am the typical bystander.

Several years ago, after my friend went into rehab, I was told that “I was really great at getting people into treatment but I was lousy at maintaining them”. Ouch! That really did hurt. But you see, I had no idea how treatment worked. Oh sure I had the ground floor understanding but I didn’t see past my own feelings of “Good you are in, now get better and don’t do it again.” I always felt that if the person really wanted to stop they would. Now this is very common feeling amongst the non-addicts but this feeling can also bring great pain to everyone involved.

I never saw what went on in treatment with Daniel. I went to the family meetings but swallowed too many bad tastes in my mouth to ever be really an effective supporter in Dan’s recovery. I didn’t see the disease Daniel had, just the horror it inflicted on me. The addiction counselors at the treatment center weren’t all that concerned at the time with the family, just the patient. Now I know that there have been huge steps in the way of treating the whole family not just the addict but in that era there was not much available with the exception of Al-anon for families. His own sponsor told me I was in the way of Daniel’s recovery. So I was left to struggle with my anger and sadness on my own.

For years I thought Daniel had his private club. A place where I was not allowed and I felt so left out that I could not deal with my own feelings of despair. So I hid them. Hid my feelings away in a nice tidy and mangageable package. I did what was best for my kids and me and I left Dan. Why not! He had all his addict friends, I had the shame that he was an addict. For years I ate my anger for sustenance daily. What a confused mess that was.

Watching Celebrity Rehab, especially the episode where the family was present enlightened me. The wives were saying what I had always wanted to say. The addicts let me know what was in their brains and I really started to heal myself. I started to understand what people with this disease go through. It made sense. I got to see the process. To see how painful it was and to start to really care about these addicts. I felt the years of hurt dropping away and I started to finally understand for the first time in my life that addiction is a disease. It is a disease that robs everyone of their dignity; addict and non-addict alike.

So do I agree with the experts that shun this show as exploitative? For me? No. Because I am seeing what I should have seen years ago. I know now I can ask questions of the addict without feeling I am invading a secret territory. I can stop being angry and hurt and I can understand.

Finally