Monday, January 18, 2010

Down, But Not Out

So that last post was a little heavy right? Yeah, but it made me feel better. I hadn't written about it or journaled in any way since it happened. So here we are in 2010. Mom had been having migraines without any kind of relief for a while. She lost vision for a little while in her left eye, like so blurry all she could do was lay down because she couldn't see to walk. So she decided that a doctor appointment was more than necessary to see what was going on. She had her first MRI on January 8. On January 11, the doctor called with the results. She had several areas of bleeding on her brain. On January 12, they called to schedule another MRI, this one with contrast to see if they could narrow down the cause of the bleeds. January 14 the new MRI was done and the results were promised by noon on Friday. At least we didn't have to go the weekend wondering. The doctor's office did call as promised, but the person with the chart had no idea how to read the chart and said they would have to get back to her. Wow. So why didn't someone qualified to read it make the first call? Anyway, someone with knowledge of what they were looking at did finally call. Multiple Sclerosis. It explains a lot of symptoms Mom has had over the past several years believe it or not. Not the best news, but not devastating either. I react to serious information like this (and like the situation with my Dad) by arming myself education on the topic. I have not had any kind of emotional reaction. I am not deep in despair, I am not crying my eyes out, I am not feeling sorry for her or for me, and I am not wallowing in any kind of variation of the above. I just don't do that. I don't know how to be any different. I guess it comes from marrying someone who has a terminal illness that changes your outlook on how you process serious information. When John and I started dating and he felt like things were getting more serious, he told me about his CF (Cystic Fibrosis). I went home and searched the Internet for more information. Funny thing about it, John did not make it out to be very serious at all. I don't know if he was trying to protect me or was afraid if I really knew how bad it could be (and that his brother had just recently passed from the same disease at age 25) I would walk away. So when I looked up the information for myself, I was scared to death! The median age for survival in 2001 was 35 I think. Now, take the fact you are contemplating spending the rest of your life with someone, you are 22 years old and you just found out they may or may not live past 35. That sent me into emotional overload. From that point forward I went to every doctor appointment he had, every annual visit which was more in depth, and kept up with his care daily. I was paranoid. It wasn't doing me any good, so I changed. I quit going to his regular check-ups. No need. I went to his annual visits if my work schedule (when I was working) permitted it. I no longer remind him to take this or that treatment. I am not in control. God is in control and I have to resign myself to that. So now I am a former freak out emotionally because that is a natural reaction person. I instead gather my thoughts, gather my information, process it all and react from there. I am getting knocked down a lot these past few months, but I am most certainly not out.


If your family is without any skeletons in their closet, count yourself among the lucky. I never would have imagined that watching A&E's Intervention for entertainment would have turned into a playbook for my life. If you have never dealt with someone who has an addiction who is going through recovery, I can only liken the experience to raising a child. Seriously. I remember bits and pieces of my childhood. I don't have any memories of my Dad not being there. My parents were divorced yes, but I still saw him on a scheduled basis. Every other weekend. How's that for quality time. My Mom got to see me for 26 days out of each month (using 30 days) and my Dad for 4. Every other Friday I would sit in our bay window looking down the drive waiting on my Dad. This was well before cell phones were around-and YES we all survived- How about that?!? Anyway, I think Dad picked me up around 5:30 on those Friday's and I had to be home by Sunday at 6. There were some exceptions to this rule. Memorial Day weekend we ALWAYS went camping whether or not it fell on his weekend to have me or not. We would pack up Friday night, drive to where ever it was we had decided upon camping, set up camp (usually well after midnight) and spend through Monday. I loved to go camping with my Dad. I most certainly was not the compulsive mom who hates grassed stained, mud covered clothes that I am today. I was a kid and had great fun being a kid. Innocence. I oozed innocence. We went camping a few times in the winter, but that wasn't nearly as much fun as the summer. In the winter we spent our time bowling. My Dad used to be a great bowler. Age and addiction have probably changed that now, but he was great then. I've had my own bowling ball since I was 9 or 10. I still have the same bowling bag that my Dad gave me for Christmas one year with my first ball. I recently used it when we went with a group of friends. Needless to say, we were close. I looked forward to our weekends together. I trusted him, knew I could tell him anything without fear of lecture, and most of all felt loved. Our relationship changed a little when I obtained my driver's license. I was no longer "required" to visit every other weekend just as he no longer had to pick me up. I had a car and was free! I was at the age of wanting to hang with my friends and not at home. Typical teenage stuff. I still got to see my Dad often though because he was a volunteer with our marching band. We had a competition more or less every weekend and he was there. He was always on the sidelines helping out and cheering me on. It was enough for me to know he was there. Our relationship really took a turn when I turned 18. Legally he no longer had to pay my Mom child support and I no longer had "required" visitation. I was by law an adult and he was by law freed of his financial commitment. On my graduation day in June 1997, I had the biggest knot in my stomach. Not because we were graduating and "play-time" was over, but because my Mom had vowed to call the police if she saw him there. Funny thing was, she had no right to those type of threats anymore because I was 18. The things that were laid out in their divorce no longer applied. That didn't hit me until just now as I wrote it. However, at that time I did not think about that and was afraid for myself and my Dad if she followed through on her threat. Louisville Gardens is a big place. The fear that my mother instilled in me was bigger. I did manage to see my Dad for a few moments at graduation, but was uneasy and looking over my shoulder wondering if my mom was looking. That day was without incident, but my memories of it haunt me today. So fast forward to October of 1997. I found out I was pregnant on October 31, 1997. At that time I most certainly did not know it was with twins. Why wasn't I away at college like everyone else? Yeah, that is a whole other post. The title of my blog speaks for itself. My Mom and I have not had the type of relationship a mother/daughter should. Through many controlling maneuvers and fights, she held my college money. I wasn't able to go through the admissions process or anything. Like I said, whole other post. Dad was living his life and I was living mine. We no longer went on the camping trips like before and bowling on the weekends. I was about to become a mother and begin a family. I had no idea what path he had gone down. I couldn't wait for him to be a Grandpa. After the experiences I had growing up, I could not wait for those same experiences to be shared by my Dad. I just knew he would be great. He would spend time with them and teach them everything he had taught me. That was my expectation. I should have checked with him first before getting my hopes up. Time flew between 1997 and 2001. By the time 2001 rolled around and my Grandma Jane (my Dad's mom) was dying of cancer, I felt like I barely knew my Dad. We did not have frequent communication and when I did see him, he was always onto something new. A new job venture, a new spiritual path, a new insight to life. For me it was weird and unsettling because this was not what I had spent 20 years of my life getting to know. My Grandma Jane passed in November of 2001. My Dad was the executor of her estate. That was a long, grueling process. That is when in my mind he snapped. I don't think everything was good and settled until late 2002 or early 2003 so it took some time before he was gone. John and I got married in October of 2004 and my Dad was there to walk me down the aisle, my Mom biting her lip through the group pictures. That was that. From 2004 until now, I had not much contact with my Dad at all. It was in 2006 that I realized how the drugs had taken over and he was gone. John and I were headed out-of-town for a weekend and had asked him to doggy sit for us. I called to check in once we had arrived at our destination and our phone call was weird. We arrived home and things got even more weird. In our computer room there were notes and drawings randomly scribbled on some printer paper with a Sharpie. It was my Dad's handwriting and drawings and the notes were addressed to me. The upstairs of our house had a really, really, strange odor. I had never in my life smelled something so strange. It didn't mimic anything I had ever smelled before. As we investigated the upstairs, the strange smell was coming from the twins bathroom. We started looking around and trying to see if there were any cleaners that had been used or anything that would have cause such an odor. Nothing. As I was examining the bath tub, I started to see little speckles. I followed the trail of little speckles and they led me to larger speckles (which were actually large dots) of blood on the ceiling. How in the H*** did blood get on my ceiling?!? I tried to call my Dad several times with no answer. I was worried. When I finally did get in touch with him, the whopper of a story I got beat all. The kids could have come up with a better story than the one I got fed. At any rate, that was July of 2006. In February of 2007 was the last time my Dad was in my home. I at least got the real story of what happened that day. I was more infuriated than I had ever been in my life. He had brought along someone with him-to MY home-that was a known drug user, that got high in my children's bathroom. Now I know what Cocaine smells like. Thanks Dad for that. I don't think that is something I ever set out in my life wanting to know the smell of. I could not reach out to him at that point because he did not want to be helped. He was not ready to quit. He had not reached his bottom.Standing in my living room in February 2007, I made a vow to myself and my family that I would not let him back in our life until he had changed. I would not bring my children around that or let them be exposed to that lifestyle. That was his choice to make, not mine. John and I went through the In-vitro process in April of 2007 and had our daughter(who on my blog is known as Cindy Lou Who) in January 2008. I don't know if he even knew I was pregnant. In November 2008, the day after Thanksgiving he called me. He always would call out of the blue, except on my birthday. He has only ever missed calling me 1 time in 30 years on my birthday. He complained about not having any place to share Thanksgiving because no one wanted a drug user around. Well, what on Earth could you possibly expect? Living with my Mom it's not like I could invite him here. Not to mention, I didn't even know how to get a hold of him. I didn't have his address, I didn't have his sisters' cell phone number (which was who he lived with at the time), and I didn't have any of the above information of anyone who did. John and I took Cindy Lou Who to see her Grandpa for the first time since she had been born. She was 10 months old. We saw him a couple more times and then just like clock work, I didn't hear from him for a while. I think it was around August 2009 that we got in touch again and this time he was getting a job. I thought that things were at least starting to go in the right direction. I didn't want to count him down before he had fallen. I was really feeling like things were on the right track until December. He got arrested for possession and spent a night in jail. Believe it or not, his first time in jail at age 53. I heard from him when he called me from the rehab center he had checked himself into. I have spent almost every weekend with him since. He gets what I call Day Passes on Saturday and Sunday from 8-4. He is going to meetings for addiction and learning about recovery. This past week he reached a milestone that I don't think he ever had in the past. 30 days of sobriety. I have used what I learned from the interventionist on Intervention to know how an addicts' mind works. To know what they are dealing with. To know how I can help. Like I said, it is like raising a child. Teaching them social graces. Teaching them how to be accountable. Teaching them how to be responsible. He is getting better day by day. The first few weeks I saw him he was still rough around the edges. Now I'm starting to see glimmers of the Dad I knew and hope to one day know again. If you have made it all the way through this post, congratulations. Thank you for taking the time out of your life to learn more about mine. You may wonder why or how I could post something so personal? It's easy to be ashamed of something so dark and ugly in your life. If you don't take ownership of it and try to hide it, you'll never know who you are. Everything that my parents did in raising me made me who I am today. If you don't know anything about my past, how are you to know anything about my present?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Warmer Days

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