Relapse is a Part of Recovery. NOT.



In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma.”

Today’s prompt was to write something about ourselves that no one else knows. Many know that I have a child and step child both who suffer from addiction. What you don’t know is the inner turmoil and tenacity I experience all at once on any given day as a result of these two lovely souls. My heart aches every time one of them acts out in a way that tells me they are getting high or drunk again; the guilt over comes my being in such a way that I could turn to substance abuse very easily myself (wouldn’t be hard considering all the meds I have to take for daily pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia). But I don’t turn to the meds for help; I pray, and pray, and pray some more. I used to talk about it; but soon got the feeling that burdening others with my problems was getting me nowhere and making my friends and loved ones miserable.  So, I joined Al-anon and started the road to recovery for myself. Things were not perfect, but I was learning to deal with the state of my life in a positive way. Then my daughter made me so proud I could burst!

One month ago yesterday we brought her home from an intense 30 day rehab; this time she stuck it out and we just knew she was on the road back to being the daughter we knew before Heroine. She was interested in getting back to nursing school, getting a job, and getting her kids back. I worried that she was taking too much on too quickly but she assured me that the busier she was the better. Then she let a guy, a ‘wonderful-guy-who-cares-about-me-more-than-anything-Mom!’ stay with her; why care that she met him in re-hab? He seemed upstanding and smart, he was sober and really did seem to care about staying sober. They went to meetings together, even helped out at an AA/NA convention. Then I saw the changes-oh, I recognized them immediately. She quit wearing makeup, started sleeping in, didn’t care to spend time with her kids or with me, and finally the falling asleep. I mean, how does anyone fall asleep while standing in line at the grocery store? Oh, she tells me she is not using, but yes this guy is and she needs him out of her house because he keeps her up all night talking. I agree-he needs to leave. He admitted to me yesterday he had relapsed; and the girl shushed him before he had a chance to tell me that she was using too. He didn’t have to tell me, I know. I caught myself saying those tired old words ‘relapse is a part of recovery’. Bull shit.denial

What you don’t know about me is that I live the life as the mother of two addicts; the daughter is addicted to Heroin and the son an Alcoholic. I have run the gamut-been to meetings, talked to counselors, and read everything within reach about addiction. My conclusion? RECOVERY IS RECOVERY; RELAPSE IS NOT PART OF IT. Saying this trite little comment “that’s ok, relapse is a part of recovery’ simply allows the addict to feel better about slips-but that is it; there is a big difference between a slip and a relapse. A slip makes a true, committed addict say ‘oh, shit, that was stupid’ then call a sponsor and attend a meeting, or do whatever it takes to safe-guard their sobriety. A relapse is going right back to their comfort zone, using drugs to numb whatever feeling they are trying to escape from. A relapse tells me that the person has not taken the new problem solving tools they have been taught to heart. Don’t tell me this is too hard, that I am being cruel and closed minded. What you don’t know about me? You don’t know that I have faced this reality square and taken the bull by the horns; I have embraced my heartache and worry and owned it. I cry every day because I do not get to see my grandbabies; I worry with every siren or story on the news that my child(ren) has been arrested, found comatose in a ditch or worse, found dead. I have every right to expect my kids to embrace their sobriety and guard it like a newborn baby, and I have every right to my anger when they treat that sobriety like a fad-something they can play with for a day or two and put away when it suits them. What you don’t know about me? I smile on the outside, I counsel others, I carry on moment to moment, and I fake it brilliantly. What you don’t know about me is that I die a little inside each time I see an addict because I know what that addiction does, how it is a cancer that infiltrates the victim and makes victims out of everyone else involved; especially the mother. Especially me.

Relapse not Recovery


If I had a Trowel

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “If I Had a Hammer.”

If I had to choose a skill set to keep in my back pocket it would be landscaper/master gardener. Oh, I dabble in the art of gardening at present; I have peppers in a small backyard veggie garden, tomatoes in containers and flowers all over the place. But to have real skills, now that would be awesome!

To be able to look at a space and know what types of plants, trees, and flowers would go well and grow well is an amazing skill. How I would love to take a seemingly barren yard and turn it in to the neighborhood showplace. I have never had much of a knack for decoration or design; I know what I like but it never seems to end up like I pictured it. I imagine Monet and it ends up Picasso-at best. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing in the dirt and coaxing things to grow; however I just don’t feel like I have the appropriate skill set that one needs to design a beautiful space. But who am I kidding? I am not even sure how to decorate inside let alone outside.

So there you go, I not only need to learn landscaping but room-scaping too! How happy I would be with the ability to plant this here, throw that there, and paint this and thus and have it come out looking like Better Home and Gardens.  Think of the money I could make on the side too!If images (2)

Tend the Garden

This was a perfect read after visiting my daughter in rehab this past weekend. There were so many Pokeweeds there-a veritable Poke-salad! What a beautiful reminder that no soul is here on earth without a purpose; and we have all been or will be a poke weed of some kind at one time or another.


A longtime friend commented during dinner that her next door neighbor’s son was on the path to nowhere and constantly in trouble. She thought herself clever referring to him as “a weed in the garden of life”. Although an avid fan of barbed words and wit, I found her comment harsh directed at a kid who was barely a teenager. He was dismissed and labeled as worthless. A weed.

“But maybe he’s a pokeweed!” I said in a positive tone.

She rolled her eyes. I recognized the look of resignation on her face. The look many of my friends have when I spit out a puzzling one-liner and they know a story is coming. She sipped her drink and grinned, arms crossed in silent permission for me to proceed.

Years ago I had a yard packed with plants. It was full of boxwoods, azaleas, and geraniums surrounding a dogwood centerpiece…

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Procrastination and The Law Of Attraction or ” Why Has My Next Post Taken So Long to Write?”

render of a glowing sphere attracting cubes For a long time I have been planning my next blog post. Planning-really? Why not call it what it really is-procrastinating. Oh, believe me I have thought about writing a new post daily; but things got in the way, daily. Job, family responsibilities, community service, just the every-day things we all deal with. Then of course came the research; I needed to research a subject that readers want to read-after all, I had already taken so much time planning this post, I couldn’t take a chance of disappointing what few readers I have, right? So it went-a horrible cycle of wanting to write a post, afraid that whatever I wrote might not be good enough, changing my topic, reading about said topic, afraid said topic wasn’t good enough then thinking of a new topic. Next thing I know months passed and I was still staring at a blank screen the cursor taunting me with its incessant blink-blink-blink. Then it struck me-why not write about procrastination? The same day I thought of this topic I read a passage about the Law of Attraction and I thought well, those are two things I am interested in why not try and find a connection and write about that? After all, nothing I read during my research and planning had put these two concepts together. How are these two things related? First, let’s quickly review what each mean and then I will tell you how they are connected (in my opinion). While researching the definition of procrastination I found a common theme. Procrastination is simply the act of delaying or postponing something; particularly something that requires immediate attention (, and I already knew that; I have been postponing writing my second blog post for months, so I guess what I wanted was a reason one might procrastinate rather than just a definition. Then I found a whole website devoted to the concept of procrastination (a whole website? why am I surprised). If you are interested you should go to this site: Watch the video included here by John Kelly; I think you will agree with me that he nails it. Included in the video are comments such as “procrastination is avoiding something, not being able to get started”, or “finding the most difficult way of doing something” and my favorite “doing 8 things at the same time and not finishing any of them”. That is me, I am a master at doing several things at once (not one of them the task I should be doing) and not finishing any of them. Oh, and don’t forget what I said in the first paragraph, once I decided to research the subjects of my post, well the best way to sum that up is found on “too much research is one of procrastination’s most elegant disguises”. Aha! and here I thought I was making progress-not procrastinating! What about the Law of Attraction? Many of you may be familiar with the Law of Attraction, but just in case I will provide a quick summary. According to Wikipedia, the law of attraction is simply “like attracts like”; in other words, by focusing on positive or negative thoughts one can bring about positive or negative results. explains the Law of Attraction as a simple concept that takes lots of practice: you get what you think about whether it is wanted or unwanted. To me the Law of Attraction means that if you are a positive, optimistic person who practices gratitude you will have positive things in your life; but if you focus on all the negative horrible things that happen, or worry all the time about horrible things that might happen the universe will give them to you. Now don’t get me wrong-I am not saying that I am another Ghandi or DePak Chopra, not by any means-I am a newbie at this way of thinking; but I have been working on looking at life differently in the last few months and I have noticed that as long as I trust rather than worry I am a much happier soul. Now you ask, what in the world do these two things have in common? Look at the reasons we procrastinate; the ones I have discovered for me are 1) fear (of rejection, criticism, etc) and 2) perfectionism (I don’t have time to write my best, I can’t start until I know I can write my best). Both of these are negative (now, I know perfectionism may not sound negative, but believe me, perfectionism for me can be paralyzing-especially in the creative sense!). Using the Law of Attraction, the more I focused on my fear and never having enough time to make a post perfect the more I put off writing a post and my blog remained empty-the exact opposite of what I really want. So dear readers, however few you may be for now, I submit to you a commitment: that I will continue to “strive to always be moving forward in some way” (stolen from @suddenlyjamie Writing from the Gray Space). So what if my posts are not perfect, and I am sure there will always be some criticism and rejection; at least I am feeding my muse and maybe doing some good in some way. If any of you have tips or tricks, or even just comments please share; I am a dry sponge willing to soak up everything you are willing to throw my way!

Are There Really Unanswered Prayers?

How “many times have you heard the phrase : “Thank God for Unanswered Prayers” and said to yourself “yeah, that is true, maybe that is not what I should have prayed for anyway” or “true that! if _____ had happened the way I prayed then I would not be happy like I am now!” . Let me play ‘devil’s advocate’ if you will-are these prayers really going unanswered….really? Maybe they are being answered, just not in the way we expect.

For years I used to pray in the following order: 1) always thank God for my blessings, 2) ask Him for what I needed, 3) ask for what my family needed, and 4) ask for what any other friends and acquaintances needed at the time (strength, patience, hope, good health, wisdom, the usual things) then thank Him again, say amen and I was done. It was similar to writing a letter to Santa: 1)make a list, 2) check it twice, and 3) send it to heaven believing He would always know what is best and answer my prayers as He saw fit. Since I was young this is the way I would pray; but recently my thoughts about this process have changed, and not just because of the prose in the photo.

Not long ago I read something-or maybe somebody told  it to me me -or maybe I saw it on one of those gems of wisdom people post on Facebook-anyway it was a statement that got me thinking. It seems that God does answer all prayers-just not always in the way we expect. Bare with me here while I try to explain. First, we are here on this earth to learn, correct? How do we learn the best? By experience of course. As an anesthesiologist once told me when I was learning how to perform a procedure-“see one , do one, teach one, that is the best way to learn anything!” So why would we ever think that God, the Master Teacher, would ever just hand us the answers? Doesn’t it make more sense that He would provide lessons based in experience that so we  gain those things (patience, strength, wisdom, success) we are praying for? For example I prayed for patience and strength when I learned that my daughter was using heroine; patience so that I would not go crazy when things were not improving the way I thought they should and strength to get through the horrible experiences that her drug use was causing-like losing our grand kids (another story for another time). Well, those two virtues have not been handed to me on a silver platter; instead I have learned patience through praying, meditating, all while having faith that everything will be OK someday. Patience came when I finally started taking things one day at a time rather than trying to fix all the problems all at once making everything OK for everyone. The strength came when I woke up every morning to a new day and realized that these experiences were not going to kill me but actually made me stronger. Learning that my soul was strong enough to take all these horrible times with a grain of salt and smile at my grandchildren and enjoy what time I do get with them; or the strength to see the good in a day when I really felt like crying. Eventually that strength became real. I no longer weep day in and day out; I am able to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty that my children’s lives are not all roses and rainbows like I dreamed. These are lessons I am learning every day and will never forget; patience and strength are becoming a part of me with practice and are getting as easy as typing these words. So, is it about as clear as mud now?

There you have it; the idea that we thank God for unanswered prayers is really kind of mis-leading. Maybe in the short term the prayers are unanswered; however when you look at the big picture the prayers are being answered all along, just in ways that are unexpected. All feedback and comments are welcome here; sharing is learning!

Blogging 101: Assignment #2 I did it! My name is changed

To fulfill today’s assignment took quite a bit of thought; but, once I got started the thoughts began to flow like the bathroom drain after pulling out that awful hair plug. Well, if you have long hair or raised daughters you know exactly what I mean. For a few weeks I have been toying with the idea of a blog title that reflects me, my personality, and my family history. Yes, if you are familiar with American literature you will recognize the name Stowe–no, I am not a direct descendant of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Actually my great grandmother was a Stowe and my mother was so proud of the name that she gave it to me as a middle name-maybe she knew something about me even then; If you read my entry for assignment #1 my story telling began early and I once believed writing was my destiny (especially after learning that I was distantly related to the “little lady who started such a big war”) Hence, I was destined to write great things that people will love to read and gain great insight from-or write small things that a few souls will enjoy from time to time. So there you have it, why Stowe was chosen. Now, why did I chose the rest of the title and tag line? Fairly self-explanatory, really; do you remember the old television sit-com Alice? Her boss the cook (Mel was his name I think) had an eloquent way of asking people to hush-he would yell ‘Stow It!’. It is my wish that this first blog of mine will help me do the exact opposite of hush-I want to find that writing voice that has been covered up by so many years of gunk. Kind of like that basket of yarn stashed in my closet-full of odds and ends of fibers that have just been piled on top of each other over the years that it became a tangle of knots. Through this blog I want to untangle that pile; undo the gunk knot by knot. Hopefully I will also reach a soul or two along the way.

First Assignment; Who am I? Why am I here?

Who am I?
I am a woman forging a path through the jungle of addiction-not mine but my two eldest adult children- add to that an effort to re-kindle a passion for writing.Since early childhood I have loved telling stories. The longer and more outrageous the tail the better. As soon as I had enough coordination to put pencil to paper my mother encouraged me to write my stories down-not sure if her motive was to support the craft or shut me up. However it worked and I found that I not only loved telling the tales, I had a knack for writing them down. Long story short, this knack was put on the back burner when the time came for me to choose a career. Writing was not exactly a guaranteed income and having been raised in blue collar country I was encouraged to choose a vocation that would help support my family. So that is me-a middle aged lady juggling career, homemaking,  and co-dependancy struggling with a desire to be a wordsmith.
Why am I here?
If you haven’t already guessed there are two reasons I am here: 1) Fulfill my desire to write and 2) document my travels as I learn how to navigate the world of recovery; not my kids’ recovery-that is their journey-but my recovery from illness caused by their addiction. Maybe, just maybe, someone will read these trappings and glean a useful thing or two.