Category Archives: marijuana

Thoughts on Amy

Three years ago I warned you I would occasionally post about addiction. I have not posted much because what I have been through as the spouse of a former addict is very personal. I am still coming to terms with most of it as I type this. Three years later, yes, and I am still wading through the hole ripped through my life in just seconds when my car slammed into the back of another vehicle. I had no idea my night would get worse. Today is one of those days when I feel compelled to post. 

Yesterday, Amy Winehouse died.

Twitter lit up.

With speculation.

With accusation.

With assumptions.

Without compassion.

Without understanding.

Without realization that Amy Winehouse was a person. A friend. Someone’s daughter. She was real. She breathed. Just like you and me.

Was I surprised to hear she had died at a young age?

No.

You play with drugs and as Russell Brand states, there’s always a phone call. There’s the one you hope to get. There’s the one you don’t want to get. But there’s a phone call.

I got the phone call you hope to get the night I wrecked my car.

The one with the addict on the other end admitting that Hell yes, there’s a problem and I want to fix it. Please let me fix it. Stand by me as I fix it.

So I did.

Despite his habit which landed me in jail. Despite the anger which swallowed me whole. Despite knowing I could walk away without judgment.

I stood by his side for three years as he worked to change. As he walked forward without looking back. As he proved time and time again that we, his family, were far more important to him than any substance.

Today, he’s still sober. He is active in his recovery.

In the maelstrom though, I failed to work on myself. Family, spouses, friends… we are all affected. We need support. We need to work on ourselves. We should not put ourselves behind the needs of our loved one with an addiction. WE MATTER in this. In this, I failed. I’m finally working on this part of me now but it’s far too late for me. Don’t let it be for you. If you know an addict, don’t wait for them to get help before YOU get help. Addiction is a pebble in a pond. If you’re there, the ripples will affect you. They’ll toss you about and swirl you around until you can’t tell which way is up. Get help. The stronger you are? The better equipped you are to help the addict in your life. The stronger you are the better off you’ll be if you end up getting the call Amy’s family got yesterday. No, it doesn’t make loss easier. But it makes standing back up after a little easier. Recovery isn’t just for the addict. It’s for the ones who love them too.

Our family joined the local Celebrate Recovery program, based out of Saddleback Church in California. It’s a Christian family oriented program with support for everyone – the addict, spouse, children – it’s a community. It’s not just a meeting. It’s literally a family reaching out to you with open arms. Open arms which won’t judge you even if you relapse. They welcome you right back and start over with you.

I am proud of my former spouse’s accomplishment. 3 years recovered is no small feat – especially with everything we have been through since that horrific night.

I also know he still battles demons. Not as often as he used to, but they’re still there. Recovery from addiction is like remission from cancer. Vigilance is key. You have to check in with yourself. With your support system. You have to be mindful of your life, of the things you let into your life. It’s a daily battle for some.. for most.

Addiction kills.

Addiction destroys.

But there is always hope.

No matter what, there is always hope.

Never let go of this hope. Even if the hope requires tough love… even if it means walking away… cling to hope.

The moment we let go, we’ve lost the battle too.

And there is nothing more tragic.

Whatever Wednesday: The Exploitation of Charlie Sheen

For the past three years, I have been attending, off and on, family recovery meetings with my husband. There’s childcare. The meetings have grown from a small group of 10-15 to a group almost three or four times that size.

I have sat in group with hurting people. I can’t disclose their issues because what is said in group, stays in group. It is a safe place in which to heal from your addictions and the very real wounds they cause within you and in the ones you love.

Three years ago this month, actually, I was in a car accident. Not only was my car totaled, my life as I knew it would soon follow suit.

I was not the one high.

My husband was the addict.

He spent money on marijuana instead of on our car insurance.

He spent money on marijuana instead of on vehicle registration.

He even fashioned a FAKE sticker for our license plate, y’all.

Addicts lie. It’s part of the lifestyle.

Here in Georgia, driving without insurance AND vehicle registration is a jailable offense.

Yes.

Oh yes.

Not even three months after the birth of our son and I found myself sitting in a jail cell. For something I didn’t do. For something my husband had lied to me about because of his addiction.

We never dealt with the mania that Charlie Sheen is now exhibiting on a daily (if not hourly) basis.

We never thrown into a media circus because of our issue.

Our issue had ripples too – it hurt me, it hurt our kids, our families, enraged my brothers, destroyed my milk supply (I had to put our son on formula at 6 months old when he was diagnosed as failure to thrive.)

We still deal with the fallout today. Sure, we’re better. But we’re far from perfect. And we sure as hell aren’t screaming it from the roof tops.

I’m not a professional. I’m the wife of a recovering addict disgusted with the media for the giving Charlie Sheen the time of day instead of encouraging him to get help. I’m disgusted that this is happening. I’m disgusted that Charlie Sheen is being called crazy, insane, nuts, and several other offensive things. As this week has worn on, I have watched my Twitter stream explode with Charlie Sheen jokes. Jokes about addicts. About how crazy they are. Sure, Charlie Sheen is the case in point and I get that, but I also see the many faces of the addicts I see on Thursday nights when I read these jokes. They are hurting, people. Hurting. They, thankfully, are getting help. Charlie Sheen is not. Instead, the media is literally glorifying his lifestyle. They are putting his words and his mania on display. And people are eating it up.

It’s sick.

It’s reprehensibly irresponsible.

You wonder why we have a bully issue? Why we have kids who think it’s okay to make fun of people who have issues and act strange?

Perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror, America.

Perhaps it’s time.

 

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Just Talking Tuesday 11.23.10: Husbands, Wives & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders, Oh My

"Argue" by jk+too @flickr

“I wish my husband understood that I’m not just trying to get out of Motherhood.”

“How can I admit to struggling when he seems so happy? I’d hate to rain on his parade.”

“He doesn’t believe in mental illness. Neither does his family. So I fake it.”

“I can’t take medication. He won’t let me.”

“My wife won’t admit she is struggling. What can I do?”

“Everything I do is wrong. I’m scared I’ll lose my wife and my child.”

“She’s awesome with the baby. Me? I suck. I’m failing at fatherhood.”

“I’m the Dad. I have to be the rock. I can’t be depressed.”

“I drink/do drugs to hide/numb just how bad I’m feeling from her.”

Every single one of these statements are real things parents who have reached out to me have expressed. These statements are extremely telling. What do they tell, you ask? They tell just how much communication has broken down within the relationship. The breakdown may have occurred before baby. Or it may be a new thing. Until now, everything within their relationship may have been picture perfect. They were the perfect couple. Never had to work hard at their relationship. They may have been “THAT” couple. But now that everything is dashed to hell, smashed to pieces by an innocent new life, their relationship struggles to stay afloat. Everything they thought they knew about each other is also up in the air. They wait with bated breath for it all to crash back down, hopefully back into the right place.

We did just that six years ago.

Things are still falling back into place.

We met at work. Yes, we were like Pam & Jim. We met the weekend after Thanksgiving in 2000 after our Supervisors relocated us to adjoining cubicles. Our first date? A flirtatious invite to a non-existent steak dinner as I bragged to him about my evening. I dashed like a mad woman to the grocery store to turn this imaginary meal into a reality. We’ve been inseparable ever since. In 2002, we got married.

In 2003, we got pregnant.

In 2004, we officially became parents and I went off the deep end.

Suddenly he couldn’t do anything right. I knew everything, he knew nothing. I snapped at him because, well, I could. He got frustrated. We stopped talking. If he did talk or get upset about something, it was automatically my fault. My self-esteem took a nose-dive. I did not think I was verbally abusive, irritable, angry, or crazy. Turns out I was. This continued well into my second pregnancy.

Then our second daughter was born. She spent time in the NICU. I was hospitalized 56 days postpartum after a near-psychotic break. Think we weren’t communicating before? Now we really weren’t on the same page. He had been medicating with marijuana along with the same anti-depressant I ended up on after my hospitalization. We yelled. We screamed, we fought, I cried, I begged him to tell me he wasn’t okay about all of this – that he was hurting too. He lied and said he was fine because that’s what he thought he was supposed to do – he was the man. The rock. He was supposed to be okay.

Turns out he wasn’t okay after all.

After the birth of our third child, I was involved in a car accident at just 3 months postpartum. I went to jail. Why? Because my husband had been spending money on marijuana instead of on important things like vehicle registration and car insurance. Again, failure to communicate.

He’ll be 3 years into recovery this coming March. So will I. Wait – did you say  – I did. I’m no longer a co-dependent. I’m no longer enabling his habit. Believe me, you didn’t want to be in this house the day after my accident. It was not pretty.

Our fallout from PMAD’s and Paternal Postnatal Depression took nearly four years to explode. It’s taken close to seven years to claw our way back to where we are now – a place very closely resembling normal and healthy. Even here though we have our issues. I suspect we always will. To assume perfection is to ignore the flaws in front of you. Flaws are not always a bad thing. Sometimes they are just what we need to learn and move forward.

We have mistakes in our past. We have learned from them. Moved on. Trusting in God and His enduring support as we grow to trust in Him for everything. Our journey has been full of hell. But it’s also been obviously filled with grace and tenacity. On our part and on God’s part.

There are times within the past almost seven years at which I could have walked away and no one would have faulted me. I chose to stay and fight. Certainly not the easiest path but definitely the right path – especially as I sit here in the glow of a Christmas tree, a fireplace, and my husband beside me.

For us, our brush with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders ripped the band-aids off situations we may not have otherwise faced head-on. We were thrust headlong into trauma, grief, mental illness, and forced to decide how to move forward. I am thankful we clung to each other and made the decision to move forward together. I know many other couples who are not as fortunate for whatever reason. Each situation, each person, each Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorder is different. Therefore, the results will be assuredly different as well.

What challenges have you faced as part of your PMAD? Has your husband axed certain avenues of treatment? Has that affected your recovery? Your marriage? Did your PMAD ultimately lead to divorce? Or is your marriage stronger as a result of coming through the fiery storm that is a PMAD?

Let’s get to just talking about Husbands, Wives, and Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Oh My.

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Sen. Menendez holds Press Conference at Valley Hospital

This past Monday, Senator Menendez held a press conference at Valley Hospital to speak about the MOTHER’S Act. Susan Stone, Sylvia Lasalandra, and Mary Jo Codey were all in attendance.

Emphasized was the fact that the MOTHER’S Act does NOT mandate screening. According to the Susan Stone’s blog post announcing the press conference, Dr. Fred Rezvani, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood NJ, emphasized the need to include all forms of treatment for new mothers suffering from these disorders including nutrition, massage and acupuncture and other complementary therapies, to home services, social support and psychological counseling.

Senator Menendez was presented with a petition of national organizations and individual constituents representing millions of Americans who understand the need for this legislation can no longer be ignored. With the bipartisan support that currently exists for the legislation, its likelihood of passage among the priority of healthcare reform seems likely, but the advocacy efforts must continue! The entire audience expressed their thanks to Senator Menendez for his determined advocacy on behalf of America’s mothers.

~Susan Stone~

You can read more about the press conference by clicking here.

One Year Later

We have said goodbye to marijuana.

She hasn’t shown her funky green face here for a year now. She is not missed.

It’s been a hard road. There have been fights. There have been tears. Lies, broken hearts, scars, wounds, screams, regrets – both good and bad.

But there have also been long talks. Good talks. Open doors, open hearts, forgiving souls, forward motion.

We’ve learned some difficult lessons through all of this. The biggest lesson of all is to keep moving forward and not linger in the past. For if you are not careful the past will painfully dig its claws deep into your heart and never let go. You will suffer catastrophic heartache if you cannot leave the past behind.

Philippians 3:13 -15 sums it up well: “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things.”

I know our journey is far from over. I’d be an ignorant ostrich if I didn’t admit that there are many bumps in the road ahead of us. Burying my head in the sand won’t do anyone any good in the long run.

This past week has been rough. I’ve been hashing last year’s events over in my head – the soft rain falling as my fingertips and toes went numb after my car crumpled into another vehicle in the dark night. The rescue worker who spread his arms and jacket above me to shield the rain from my face as I was lifted into the ambulance. Memories of sitting in our living room wrapped in two blankets as I clutched a cup of coffee and with a quiet anger read the riot act to my husband for my three hours in jail.

Last night we had a great talk as we sat on the front porch with a couple of pre-embargo vintage Cuban cigars. I admitted I had occasional regrets about not having seized the opportunity a year ago to leave. As good as it felt to get this off my chest, I am glad I’ve stayed.

I’m glad I’ve been here for the rebirth of my husband. He’s truly come into his own and has shed quite a bit of old skin. I’ve been reborn too – learning patience, forgiveness, peace, strength, and love all over again. I’m excited to see what the next year holds for us. Right now, we’re on Day 7 of The Love Dare. I gave it to Chris for Christmas but we waited until Fireproof came out on DVD to start. It’s making a difference already.

I want to take a moment to thank my husband.

Thank you. Thank you for being man enough to admit you had made a mistake. Thank you for growing. For being brave enough to shed your shell and let people get to know the real you. For not hiding behind the marijuana anymore. For truly accepting God’s word into your life and your heart. For stepping it up and coming into your own as a father and as a husband. For finally being here for our family. I’m so lucky to know you. I’m blessed to be married to you. I’m thankful to be by your side as you emerge from your chrysalis. I can’t wait to see your shining colors. I can’t wait to face whatever challenges lie ahead of us. Together. Forever. Just as we promised on June 15, 2002. All I want is you. It’s all I ask for – the real you. I love you.

The Little Things

This morning for breakfast, I had a muffin delivered and unwrapped by a three foot tall princess in a beautiful purple gown. That muffin was the best muffin I’ve ever eaten!

I am so blessed to be able to appreciate the little things each and every day in spite of all that is going on.

Speaking of everything that’s been going on, Chris has achieved 30 days of sobriety. Today marks day 31. He has been going to two meetings a week now and we have been doing devotionals and praying together each night. We have no secrets from each other and frankly, I’m relieved everything is out in the open which I know is one of the reasons I am doing so well with everything.

I bought Chris a cross necklace for his 30 day mark. I’m so proud of him.

The Hand of God

The direction of our lives took a sharp left turn this past weekend. The following post was written last night and I sent it to my husband for approval prior to posting it today. I am prefacing it with the response he sent me regarding the post.

 Though this post is intensely more personal than I expected it to be, I believe that you should post it. I have nothing to hide anymore. I only hope that someone else can learn from my mistakes so that they don’t have to go through this horrible experience. Thank you for being there for me and also for your willingness to help others at the expense of your own privacy. You are an amazing, strong, and beautiful woman. Even though I haven’t really shown it much lately, I love you and respect you. I am actually excited to see what wonderful work God is going to do in our lives and our marriage in the coming days.
 
Love forever,
 
Chris

As I sit here, I am taking deep breaths and my hands are shaking as they hit these keys. What I am about to share with you is starting to truly sink in and I am thanking God that I am already in His Hands,  already on anti-depressants, surrounded by a powerful support system and have access to a wonderful therapist.

Saturday continued to be a very rough day and at nine p.m. that evening I went out to Borders to escape and breathe. I ordered a Honey Latte and meandered about the store, even purchased a few things. Once I left Borders, I headed over to Wal-mart because Chris had forgotten to pick up a can of air and I needed to pick up a few grocery items as well. I never made it to Wal-mart.

At precisely 10:00p.m., I rear-ended another vehicle just one intersection away from Wal-mart. This vehicle’s driver had slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a white pick up truck threatening to swerve in front of him. After having hit the brakes once, I slowed down with him, then the car sped back up and then slammed on his brakes again and I would have stopped had it been dry but with the wet road and light mist, my car slid into the rear of the other vehicle. I strongly believe the white pick up truck symbolized an angel even though it caused me to wreck my vehicle. The driver got out and asked if I had a cell phone and I did – I phoned the police and then Chris to let him know I had wrecked the car. He was understandably worried about my well-being. At the time I felt ok. However, by the time the police arrived and we moved the vehicles off the road, my fingertips and toes had started to tingle and feel a bit numb. I opted to go to the hospital even though I do not have health insurance right now. (In the process of getting Medicaid set back up) I was put in a C-collar and on a backboard.

As the EMS was taking my vitals, the police officer started to inform me that there were a few problems. He didn’t get past the first one which was that my tag was expired and had been expired since September 2007. My jaw dropped and I told the officer that my husband had taken care of the tag and that it had been paid, the decal was on my tag! There HAD to be a mistake. No, the officer said, it was not in the state of Georgia’s computer and my decal was fake. My blood pressure was 170 over 100 or so at the scene and they kept checking to make sure I didn’t have a history of high blood pressure. Upon arrival at the hospital I waited for ages to be seen and finally was cleared to be released. The diagnosis was strained neck (whiplash) and believe me, I was praying to God and thanking Him for letting me be there staring up at the lights. It could have been worse. God was with me the entire evening, holding me and comforting me. I felt his presence as soon as I hit the other vehicle. My in-laws had come to the hospital to be with me.

As I was discharged, I left the room only to see the police officer from the accident scene. He informed me that not only was my tag expired but that I did not have insurance. I grabbed onto my father in law to keep myself from falling. My mother in law sat me down. I feared what was coming next. The police officer had to take me to jail for not having insurance even though I believed I had insurance. He did not put handcuffs on me and was extremely apologetic the entire time. I was escorted to the local county jail and sat there for three hours while my in-laws got my prescriptions filled then got a transfer bond to get me out. The entire time I was sitting in jail, Psalm 40 and James Chapter 1 vs. 1-3. Of course, Psalm 40 kept repeating as the U2 song but hey, it’s almost word for word.  I did not return to home that evening. We all got back to their house at 5am and I slept until 7am.

I called my mom to tell her and she shrieked. I also called my therapist’s office and had a discussion with the therapist on call. My mother in law and I had a two hour conversation before I came home. When I finally came home I nursed Cameron and then sat down to talk with Chris. I talked for about three hours, I think. I truly lost track of time. He had informed his dad the night before that he had a drug problem and needed help. He admitted to me that he had been using for the past two years and spending nearly $100/month on his habit. He had lied to me about several financial items and the insurance had lapsed two months prior to my accident.

After our discussion, I had him bring me his wallet and I removed all of his debit and visa gift cards. I went through the bag he takes with him to work. I will continue to randomly check his belongings as well as randomly drug test him throughout the coming months. We also put together a Recovery Goal plan, starting with just one week at a time. I have given him until the end of April to be genuinely making forward progress with his recovery and if he has not been doing so, I will become a single parent because I refuse to stay in this situation and I refuse to raise my children in this situation. This week he is staying with his parents and took the day off yesterday to make phone calls to get his recovery started.

So far he has been doing everything we set up and I sincerely hope he continues on this path. Chris seems to be genuinely remorseful regarding his actions yet I am continuing to be cautious, understandably so.  As with any recovery path, there is forward movement and there is backward movement and as long as he is continually fighting for forward motion, we will be okay. The outcome and status of our marriage is in his hands as he will need to prove to me and not just tell me that he is doing better.

You will find that additional links will appear that provide information for addicts and their family while going through recovery. I am blogging this because my goal with this blog, while focusing on PPD, is ultimately about being honest regarding the human experience in relation to the response of emotions during times of trauma. In that vein, I feel that I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t share this experience with you. The direction of my blog is not changing; I will still primarily post regarding PPD however I will definitely update regarding this situation as there are changes to share. In the meantime, I could certainly use all the support and prayers that you can send our way.