Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

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How to Stay Sober Through a Parent’s Illness – By Amy Dresner 08/05/19


I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable.

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I think it was about a year a half ago when my mother became wheelchair-bound and was diagnosed with dementia. The two trips to visit her in Santa Fe were so stressful that my bestie, also a recovering addict, started vaping for the first time and she still hasn’t stopped. We had five days to clear out her apartment, find her a board and care, break her lease, put her stuff in storage, forward her mail, and much more. I cried most of that trip but it all got handled.

My life is different now. My mother can’t hear well and she’s confused. She can’t walk or use the computer anymore. People bathe her. She calls me multiple times a day about the same thing. On top of that, I was suddenly given the “power of attorney and appointed Social Security payee.” I was in charge of all her bills, speaking to her nurse, speaking to her chaplain, and speaking to her social worker.

Role Reversal

If there’s one thing addicts don’t seek out, it’s responsibility. As an only child, I alone had to handle all of it. Sure I was sober but mature? Hardly.

I recently had to sign a form to approve the use of Narcan should my mother overdose on her Oxycontin. When the nursing staff assistant tried to explain opiates and Narcan to me, I stopped her.

“I’m …um…well-versed in Narcan. I’m an ex-junkie.”

I heard her mutter an “Oh” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

I’ve never had children for a sundry of reasons: my genes, my fertility, my financial situation, my shitty relationships. Suddenly I had a child and it was my mother. The role reversal was sudden and jarring and I recall rocking and crying and whimpering, “I don’t want this.” But it was all mine, like it or not.

My relationship with my mother was always difficult. I was resentful for her physical absence during my childhood and her emotional absence always. But suddenly all that resentment melted away. Resentment is a luxury, I realized, and as her caretaker, there was no room for it anymore.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (2)

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Almost 50, with Zero Life Skills

Having spent 30 years of my life mentally ill and struggling with addiction, having to “adult” suddenly felt premature and impossible. It was like coming out of a time warp. I was almost 50 but I had zero life skills: No idea how to pay taxes or when to rotate your tires or how to hold down a “real” job, let alone handle all my mother’s shit. Sure I had other life skills: making a crack bong out of a Mountain Dew bottle or how to hit a rolling vein or manipulating people into taking care of me. But these weren’t so helpful now.

I was a grown woman but I still felt and honestly acted like a child most of the time. I still needed my mom but now she wasn’t available. I’d never felt like she “heard” me and now she really couldn’t hear me. I never felt she “understood” me and now she really couldn’t grasp what I was saying. I hate to use the “t” word but yeah it was triggering.

We had grown closer during this sobriety but now, suddenly, she wasn’t somebody I could bring things to. She became somebody who brought things to me and they were all “emergency” needs: Afrin, salted nuts, Nars concealer. My mother had always been particular, snobby, and demanding. That didn’t change. I quickly accepted all of these things and began to lean much more heavily on my father.

Gutted

Then, about a week ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was gutted. He and I are impossibly close; he is my mentor, my hero, my best friend.

“You can’t go. You’re my person,” I wept pathetically into the phone. Everything good about me comes from him: my humor, my intelligence, my writing ability. And now he’s ill. Really ill. My first reaction and I’m not proud of this at 6.5 years sober, was to kill myself or get loaded. My brain screamed, “GET OUT.”

We all have those things: if “this” happens, I’ll get loaded. My dad’s death was always that: my hold out, my exemption. When I told him that a few years ago he said, “Too fucking bad, Ames. It’s in my will if you get loaded, you get nothing.” Fuck.

It’s all so selfish. Fuck his cancer, I’m hurting and I need to attend to that. Suddenly I was making it about me. I try not to cry on every phone call but am rarely successful. I feel weak and small.

I started to spiral, lumping all the bad on top of each other as we do: I’m single, I’m broke, I’m getting old. My parents are dying. But if I know one thing, it’s that a relapse would kill both of them faster than the diseases they were battling. It just isn’t an option.

Still, every day I have the urge to escape my body, numb the pain, check out. Not because I don’t have a strong program or I’m not connected to my higher power or any of that bullshit, but because I’m an addict and we don’t like feelings and we get high to avoid them. Six and a half years of sobriety doesn’t negate a lifetime of drugs and suicide attempts as my top and most successful coping mechanisms.

But if I’ve finally learned anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what I feel like doing, it matters what I do. I can’t control my feelings or thoughts but I can control my actions.

When I’m Not Crying, I’m Angry

When I’m not crying, I’m angry. I’m so fucking angry. Fuck you, God. God never gives you more than you can handle?! Well, this feels like more than I can handle. And fuck me. Fuck me for having been a complete wreck for most of my adult life.

And then in between the tears and the rage, there’s numbness, where I feel nothing because it’s all just too much. I catch myself just staring into space, zoning out on the multitude of Pyrex dishes at Target. Not lost in thought, lost in nothingness.

I don’t think anything prepares you for the death of your parents. I don’t care how old you are or spiritually fit (insert eye roll). Sure, they’re in their 80’s; it’s bound to happen, it’s part of life, blah, blah, blah.

But you still never think it will happen. And when it does, you are suddenly faced with an aloneness that is inconceivable, an unending void that will never be filled.

I look back now at me mourning a break-up for over two years. What a fucking joke. You can get a new boyfriend. You can’t get a new mother or father.

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I've been through a lot of tough times, more than my fair share and these words are very true.

How I’m Staying Clean

I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable. So how am I staying clean? Well, I started vaping again (judge away, fuckers). I’m talking to my sponsor every single day, I’m talking to my friends, I’m working with my sponsees.

I’m crying. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m trying to be of service to my parents and process my grief elsewhere. I’m calling friends and asking for support. Sure I don’t always answer the phone, but don’t take it personally. Sometimes I’m just too shut down to talk. I sleep and nap …a lot. Depression or escape? Does it really matter? It beats the alternatives.

When I asked other people in recovery how they made it through a parent’s illness and death, almost all of them said the same thing: They didn’t. They drank and used during the whole process to escape the pain and it was the biggest regret of their lives.

Whether the parent had known or not was immaterial. They were haunted by the guilt they felt and if they could do it all over again, they’d stay sober, give their parent the gift of being completely present, and not run from the feelings. I can and will do that, as ungraceful as it might be.

I said to one of my sponsees: “You are about to witness a magic trick. You are about to watch your sponsor go through one of the most painful times ever and not get loaded.” I think I was telling myself as much as her.

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Amy Dresner
is a recovering drug addict and all-around fuck up. She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012.

When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29AlternetAfter Party ChatSalonThe FriskyCosmo LatinaUnbound BoxAddiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books. Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.

 

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Keeping Sober and Aware Through The Holidays ~ Alek S. Is Our Guest Today.

Keeping Sober and Aware Through The Holidays ~ Alek S. Is Our Guest Today.


“Don’t Let The Season Take Away Your Sobriety With Temptations Abound” 

 

The Biggest Threats to Long Lasting Sobriety ~ by Alek Sabin


Long-lasting sobriety can seem like it is so far away when a person starts in recovery because recovery is a long and arduous journey. As such, when an addict is recovering from addiction, it is important for them to be brutally honest with themselves. One such thing to remember is that it is incredibly likely that a recovering addict will relapse, at least once, when they are on such a journey.


These relapses may happen early on, but they can also happen years down the road. Relapses are all too common, but they should not be viewed as a failure. Instead, a relapse should be viewed as a stumble on the path towards lasting recovery as long as you learn from it …

Relapses can be better prevented if an addict, or their friends and family, are more aware of what particular things are likely to trigger a relapse, even though this can change from person to person. Relapse triggers are the main threats to long-lasting sobriety, and here is how you can recognize some of them in your own life…

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Threats Sobriety 1 (1)

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Mental Health Issues


One major relapse trigger and something that may have had a major impact on somebody getting addicted in the first place is mental illness. Things like depression from “holiday blues” and anxiety have a long history of increasing the likelihood of addiction,
partly because they heavily impact the emotional sensitivity of an addict.

When somebody has both a mental disorder as well as suffers from gambling or substance abuse, this is classified as a dual diagnosis. When an addict is recovering, it is very possible that the same effects of a mental disorder can push them towards destructive behavior that leads to relapse.

 

Social Events or Pressures

As many recovering addicts know, peer pressure is a powerful motivator. Oftentimes, it is what led a person towards addiction in the first place. For this reason, it is important for recovering addicts to carefully consider social events and celebrations to attend. If someone at this event is going to be presenting an opportunity for a person to engage in substance abuse, again, then it probably isn’t worth it to attend. Relapse is more likely to occur when you give it opportunities to do so.

 

Relationship Problems


Relationships with friends, family, spouses, or lovers can lead to a great deal of emotional tumultuousness that can be difficult for a recovering addict to deal with. The emotional tides that come with relationship problems can push an addict towards behavior that they associate with comfort, which can lead to relapse. The isolation that is caused by emotional strife in relationships can also have a similar effect.

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Threats Sobriety 3

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Stress Triggers


Any sort of stress triggers, whether they have to do with job stress, relationship stress, self-esteem issues, or any other variety of things to be stressed about, will have a profound impact on the chances of a relapse occurring. Oftentimes, substance abuse is a reaction to stress that is ingrained in a recovering addict’s mind.

For this reason, it’s important for them to be aware of what their common stress triggers are so that they can be identified and addressed when they come up. As a note, one particular reason that stress is so impactful in relapse is that it can lead to high levels of self-doubt, which pushes addicts to a comfortable mindspace of substance abuse.

H.A.L.T.

H.A.L.T. is an acronym for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. This is referred to in the addiction recovery world as emotions or states of being that put a person at greater risk of relapse, because substance abuse can present an easy way out, in many of these situations. For this reason, it is important for recovering addicts to take special care of their physical health. This means getting regular amounts of sleep, having a healthy diet, and getting the emotional support that they need to stay emotionally healthy.

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So enjoy this Holiday Season maintaining your Sobriety and have a Happy Stress Free Season in RECOVERY!

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CAN YOU KEEP YOUR SOBRIETY SAFE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE? YES! Holiday Spotlight on The Lakehouse Recovery Center.

CAN YOU KEEP YOUR SOBRIETY SAFE ON NEW YEAR’S EVE? YES! Holiday Spotlight on The Lakehouse Recovery Center.

YUP! New Year’s Eve is almost here!
Here is how to keep
your Sobriety in TACT!

By The Lakehouse Staff

New Year’s Eve is a big deal for a lot of people with addiction issues. It’s akin to a free-for-all booze fest, and everyone is invited. It’s also one of those holidays that we tend to future trip about, meaning, we worry how we will ever do an NYE event sober. Once you make it through your first, take notice of the bonus points sobriety offers for holidays like this. You will actually remember everything that happened, you won’t wake up and have no idea where you are, you won’t spend New Year’s Day trying to get out of jail, and you won’t be hungover like everyone else. Remember, it gets easier as you go, but you have to keep going. Here are a few tips to stay on your roll:

  1. Stand Your Ground – You may be surrounded by drinkers, so stick to your guns and turn down any offers of alcoholic beverages. If you don’t have sobriety, you have nothing, and this doesn’t need to be explained to anyone. “No” is a complete sentence. Don’t let anyone pressure you to drink; people that do, often have a problem themselves.
  2. Exit Stage Left – Have a plan in place so you can leave whenever you want to. If you drive, drive yourself. You can even let the ones you care about know beforehand that you may dip out early. What others think of you is none of your business, but keeping yourself safe, is.
  3. BYOD – Carry your own n/a drink. This will prevent others from trying to give you beverages, and it could also make the situation feel less awkward.
  4. Skip Alcohol-Fueled Parties and Do Something Different – Go out to dinner with friends who don’t want to drink, play board or hit a movie…whatever it is, these are the things we didn’t get to enjoy when we were using or drinking, and now you can.
  5. Alcathons – These are round-the-clock AA meetings that are often a party in and of themselves. The holidays can be tough on addicts and alcoholics, and spending them together is a prime example of strength in numbers.

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Welcome to The Lakehouse Recovery Center – “Southern California’s Premier Residential Treatment Center for Men & Women.” The images below are simply a brief depiction of us and our beautiful facility. We aspire to optimally merge the benefits of quality care with comforts, amenities, and surroundings most conducive for recovery. While the images below may only present a brief glimpse into our wonderful program, just know our staff is here for you at any time should questions arise… (877) 762-3707

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If you are struggling with addiction, the holidays are a great time to get sober. There isn’t a better gift you could give yourself and your family, than recovery. Call The Lakehouse Recovery Center, we are available 24/7, toll-free at (877) 762-3707. Imagine what the holidays would look like a year from now in recovery. You can do this, your life can get better, and you can recover. Call today.