Thursday, July 26, 2007

white letter revelations

Brandon wrote recently. He's doing his obligatory drug and alcohol classes and shared a bit about that, the lovely recollections of being completely smashed:

"That AOD class is progressing, if slowly. Everyone still likes to debate things completely off topic. I heard parole looks solely at the instructor's comments on your participation, so I try to tell my wildest true stories. We talked about anger, so I talked about the time I blew up my car. She wanted an embarrassing moment, so I told her about the time I pissed down the upstairs wall, fell asleep in a snowbank, forgot where I lived, when I tried to open our front door with a pad-lock key, etc. I could have told her about the time Steve and I were drinking in an abandoned house and I knocked myself unconscious on an exposed, nail-riddled stud. Steve left to get help, forgot where he was and what he was doing, went to Uni-Mart, relieved them of the entire salsa rack without paying, and came back to find me still out on the floor. But hey, this is about me alone..."

Things every parent wants to know...not...and yet, good that he is finally admitting them. Of course we did know about the car and things that happened in the house, or the evidence of them. I keep telling myself it's over. At least that stage of craziness. Tomorrow we go to visit him and the five of us will be together again as a family for the first time in two years.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

the ins and outs of love

I think loving is about making conscious decisions. The movies seem to portray love as this thing that just sort of appears magically, you fall into it, and then everything is great. There may be a few bumps in the road, but if it is "meant to be", even the obligatory bumps on the road to true love just sort of disappear. Well, after years of the long road, being in relationships, marriage, and most importantly, a child of God and active follower, I can tell you that's not real. Most adults know this in their minds, but continually expect the "magic" of no work, little imput and "if it's right it should just work out". I'm guilty, guilty, guilty.

This week I made a very conscious decision in my walk with God. I give my emotions far too much place in my life. I feel deeply. That is simply part of who I am, and not a bad part. The thing is, I did not realize how much I dwell...on frustration, anger, confusion, worry, being overly concerned for people, even when it seems right to do. I have a very hard time being at rest, and figure that's another thing that should "just happen" if God loves me. But what I realized is, rest has to be cultivated. I need to spend time with God, time reading His word, time seeking. And I need to make practical decisions. OOhh, practical doesn't seem to fit with the warm fuzzies we all want. The practical decision I made was to join a weight loss center. When I'm busy dwelling, I tend to be busy eating. I felt so convicted inside that these behaviors are connected, I have to start breaking the connections. If I want God, I want rest and want to express my love more fully, I consciously work to make it better. It's work to have to write down what I eat. It's much easier not to pay attention at all and keep saying to myself, "Tomorrow". But tomorrow really never comes. I know that.

Some relationships I want dearly cause me pain and uncertainty. But I know the only answer is be available and keep trying. Lately my walk with God feels uncertain. I know, once again, I can't dwell on those emotions when I read solid promises in the scriptures. He promised to never leave me or forsake me. That's it. The scriptures say Jesus died once for all-God reached out first and settled the deal forever for all of us. Doesn't matter how I feel or don't feel about it. It's a done deal. His love is eternal. In the end, we need a love that never leaves. Period. I want my quality of love to be that. Eternity is a very long time and it takes living one day at a time, making the decision to do what I've promised as well, knowing if I slip or fail, there is a love in my life that doesn't. That is the model.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

normal life

I realized this weekend I'm beginning to feel normal. I know that's probably a relative term, but in comparison to the past year, particularly last year at this time, I'm beginning to feel normal. That means being able to have a sincerely good time, even to WANT to have a sincerely good time. I attended a friend's wedding and reception yesterday, and I couldn't wait to go. I was glad to be in the prison in the morning, but I kept thinking about the afternoon. I rushed to the mall to get an outfit after we were done in the morning, ran home to shower and dress, and jumped in the car to get to the church, probably leaving a trail of flattened squirrels over the winding country road I travelled. I felt a rush of excitement, and oh, I forgot. Brandon called in the morning, which was really great, but I didn't have time to say more than hello and goodbye and I didn't feel bad about it.

The wedding was absolutely beautiful. Our Celebrate Recovery founder and leader, Andy, married the pastor's daughter. So her father officiated the wedding and his father sang and made introductions. There was something so symbolically perfect about this ceremony. It took place almost two years to the day Brandon was incarcerated and a year to the day that I came to CR looking for help. It was a reminder-such a powerful reminder-that life goes on, that happiness still happens, that the circle of life keeps rotating round and round. Even more so, it is the outward witness of a life turned over to God. Actually two lives turned over to God, individually, and then together. I wish the women at the prison could have been sitting there with me, seeing what happens when you turn your life over to the ultimate higher power, Jesus Christ. Things are never the same again. Hope reigns and peace does come...peace of mind, peace of heart, peace in the midst of the storms. I wish the one who feels heroin will always be the love of her life, could see that for those who surrender the false hopes and false peace to the true, will indeed find it.

The reception was a reminder to me, too, the Baptists dance, right alongside ex-cons and ex-addicts, that no one is left out of the feast. What a picture of what God does for us, in a single day of my life. We come to realize we are alone in the prison of our own selfish will, whatever form it takes, and in surrendering that will, we trade orange jumpsuits for wedding clothes. Scripture says that through God the Father in Christ we are adopted, brought into the family of God, not for anything we do or deserve, but through His desire for us to be adopted and by His kind intent, we become the bride of Christ. That is normal life. And what a life it is!

Friday, July 13, 2007

all things working

Maybe things are really beginning to normalize in my mind, at least in terms of Brandon's imprisonment. I was freaking out last year, so worried about not getting to the prison every month, and now my girls occupy my thoughts at least as much, if not more. We haven't been for a visitation now in a few months. I can't remember when we went last. We do need to go, and I want the whole family to if we can, but I'm not overly concerned about it like I was, depressed and so anxious. Brandon writes and calls, which is helping, the phone calls especially. It doesn't seem like ages between visits, and I know he understands it is hard to arrange such long travels.

I AM trying to cut myself slack. I tend to always trip on the same wire, that sometimes being selfish is more unselfish than immediate martyrdom to things I want. I think it's more appropriate to be honest and say "thus and such is more than I can do", than be backed into a commitment and seething with resentment about it. I have to first of all be honest with myself? Why do I feel like I do? Am I letting fear get the best of me? Am I trying to do too much? I can trust on either end, to believe that God will help me if I feel unable or to take dissolve any guilt feelings I have by not being superwoman all the time.

I also have to look at blame. I do blame people for things unconsciously and that isn't fair. My son did what he did and we in part reap the consequences, but I have to be done with blaming him for "causing" our hugely long visitation trips. It's our choice to go, and things just are what they are. The scriptures say that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose...ok, can a prison visitation be worked for my good, because I certainly fall into that category? The answer is yes. The answer is always yes, if I choose to believe. We will always be affected by circumstances and other people. You'd have to live in a cave not to be. So to face a day ready to accept and believe all things can work for my good is a good way to change my mind and my heart.

Monday, July 09, 2007

be anxious for...

I still worry far too much. I worry about everything. I do use the prayer prescription, but somehow just can't get the "be anxious for nothing" part. I guess it has to do with trusting God to hold up His end of the bargain when I do pray. I expect disaster at every turn. I want to believe people want to help me, believe the best of me, are there to be called on, but I can't get past this stubborn and almost pathological self-reliance that makes my life miserable on the one hand, and seems to define me on the other. "Oh, you're so reliable-I know I can trust you to...."-fill in the blank with anything, and I can do it!! I am determined not to trust anyone but myself, and that makes for a very small support system, believe me. I'm up at four in the morning because my "to do" list is so huge I can never get it done in a day, and I beat myself up because I can't instead of looking at what I did do. I almost cried when someone offered to help me do something that would have cost huge time and money to myself, but not much effort to him. I was loathe to even ask, as though I failed by doing so. I felt the same when an inmate friend tried calling, not once, but twice, determined to find me home. I thought "he doesn't want to call". Two people called the night before meetings to be sure I was ok and ask if I'd be present.

What is wrong with me? Why do I have such a low opinion of myself? This is so ridiculous I can't believe I live this way, but I do, day after day after day after day...I feel like I need to be superwoman before anyone will even bother with me. I don't know what would happen if suddenly I could not perform. I think I'd be so depressed life would be unbearable, I'm so dependent on what I do for people to define who I am and that I have self-worth. I think about my son, about other inmates who really cannot do much and are almost totally defined by their jumpsuits, no matter who they were before they were incarcerated. Suddenly they are just a prisoner, subject to every prejudicial belief that imposes upon their lives. I have learned to see them as so precious. Can't I give myself that same understanding?

where the apples fall...

It's the start of a new week, just coming off of a week of working extremely hard to get my younger daughter's room in shape for the coming school year, and then visiting the older one to encourage her and simply be there for her. I'm so proud of both of them. My son called as well this weekend before we left, so I suppose as the week progressed and the weekend went on I was trying to capture moments in my mind of children. I guess when I don't know what my life is about or things get confused and I'm way overly worried about things that don't matter, I bring it back to family and remember that the love I have for them and the purpose they in turn give my life makes it clear.

My younger daughter is eligible for dual enrollment her senior year in high school, which means her grades were good enough to allow her to take college classes along with finishing her high school schedule. Her senior project is an art show, so I knew the best way to help her was to provide her with a clean work environment. We went from this intense red called Crushed Strawberries on her walls plus magic marker graffiti, photos glued on, lip gloss smeared on (?) to electric lime. It looks great (after days of sanding, scraping, chipping and a double coat of high hiding primer plus the color coat!). I want her to do well. I pray this makes it easier.

My older daughter is trying to figure out what comes next after months of intense laboring over college projects in her fashion design major. She was finally able to clean off the layers of fabric, patterns and junk that had collected on her workspace so we had room to safely lay down an air mattress. I find myself unable to give her any real advice except to follow her star. It's up to her now, though we want to be supportive and do the practical stuff without keeping her from living up to her decisions and responsibilities. The best word about her came from her roommate, which was, she's the perfect person to live with because she takes care of herself. It makes me feel that as a parent I've done my job.

As for my son, I'm not sure what to say except within any family, each member has free choice, and it is a delicate, and sometimes not so delicate, matter of allowing rope and pulling that rope in. It is hopefully in love we yield and in love we hold. I've been told to neither take too much credit nor too much blame in the case of childrearing, and I suppose that is good advice.

Now I think it's time for mom.