Lesson 2-Loyalty

 Somewhere along the line a ‘little’ thing called loyalty became very important to me.  Because of my hypersensitivity to it, I’ve realized that our society honoring this idea less and less.  Some of the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis are lacking this character trait altogether. It has become so easy to just send a text or ignore a call to get out of our commitments, and sometimes I even catch myself wanting to follow suit.  People hastily dismiss the feelings of the person on the other side of that commitment or simply justify their disloyal actions and move on with life.

This observation has caused me to really consider how it became such a defining attribute to my character,  and I feel like it is related to the struggles  I experienced with my father’s addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.

How does one show loyalty when dealing with an addict? A girl looks to her dad as her hero, at least I did.  There was (is) always a place in a my heart for my dad even when he was at his ugliest.  And generally speaking, I think this is true for daughter’s everywhere.  I realized that my conflict with this started when I was torn with staying loyal to my dad, my hero, even when he turned into the villain. Once doctors realized my dad had a problem, they were done. Business was closed, and they shut the door on my dad and the downfall of his existence.  No loyalty, no love lost.

If I could just give you a glimpse into how I knew my dad, you would understand the devastation that our family went through as we watched him kill himself, his family, and his dreams.  

 I learned that addicts are only loyal to their addiction, and they will do whatever it takes to stay faithful to their drug use. This means breaking commitments to people, even the ones who are loved the most. It starts with the small lies or excuses, but before I knew it my dad was calling me every name in the book if I couldn’t commit to helping him continue his high. No matter how much his words hurt, I knew that deep down my dad was still lost somewhere inside of this nightmare, so I stayed loyal.

I listened to him when he talked about the screwed up medical system. I stayed by his side in the ER, even if I knew it was just for the pain pills, I had heated discussions with doctors on his behalf, I gave him money, shelter, and transportation because that is what people do for the ones that they love. I know that meant something to him, and  I believe that I had a positive impact on his life. Some might say what I did was enabling him, but anyone who has ever dealt with an addict understands the mind-fuck the entire family goes through. I was not supportive of his addiction, but I wasn’t supportive of leaving him on the streets to die either. I wanted to save his life.

Whether it is being loyal about the seemingly little things, such as, a lunch date with a friend or telling your children that you will be there to support them at the soccer game, or the big commitments, such as, weddings and funerals, it is imperative to healthy relationships to keep commitments.  This is how the people build trust, and grow in a relationship. 

Memoir Project…Just a Glimpse

A skeleton with skin draped over his bones stands before me almost unrecognizable, except for his kind, blue eyes begging for someone to show him mercy. The tattered flannel shirt swallows his once muscular body. He has created his own personal Hell and his demons have forced almost everyone away. He has damaged too much, but how do I say that to my father?

‘Please Let Me Survive This’: Sub Pens Hilarious Account Of A Bad Day At School — Scary Mommy

This sub’s detailed description of kids’ bad behavior is going viral Parenting is hard work, but we sometimes forget the people at school put up with just as much bullshit as we do. That’s why this hilarious note from a substitute teacher about students’ behavior on a typical school day is going viral. The note was intended to give the kids’ usual…

via ‘Please Let Me Survive This’: Sub Pens Hilarious Account Of A Bad Day At School — Scary Mommy

Pinterest Success?

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I had a plan when I set out to Hobby Lobby. I was feeling creative and had a vision for the blank wall space in my kitchen. I just needed to get a few materials to start being an amazing DIY woman. I had pinned all of my favorite “Command Center” boards on Pinterest and knew exactly what I wanted! I threw my toddler in the car and headed to the store with ideas swirling in my head about how great this new ‘piece’ would look in my kitchen.

After about five seconds in the store, my toddler decided that this trip was not part of her plan. There was no way in Hell that she was going to sit in the cart, hold my hand, or act like an even remotely civilized human, but I was determined to start my project, so I headed to the chalkboards to get my supplies. I got to scan the boards for about 10 seconds before realizing that my daughter was pulling things off of the shelves. This back and forth went on for about 2 more minutes before I said screw it, grabbed the first board that seemed like it would work and checked out. My motivated mood turned sour fast, so I headed home, but I wasn’t completely disappointed. I had the board.

My husband hung it on the wall to see if it would fit, and it was perfect. It has stayed there exactly like that since the day of the purchase over a year ago. It has turned into an open forum for everyone who walks in the house. The latest purpose is a menu that my 10 year old son thinks we should have each night of the week. We have yet to have the right meal on the right day, but it is a wonderful conversation piece.

 

 

 

 

Lesson 1…Truth is Subjective

 

It is impossible to tell the truth from a lie when dealing with an addict. I don’t even know when the addiction really even started. As early as I can remember, my dad always had a beer in his hand, but that was just normal to me. Everyone drinks beer, right? A thirty pack a day was the standard in our house. No big deal. Long car ride equals pack the cooler for Dad. This is all I knew, and I was a happy child living a good life. I had two married parents who loved each other, they had jobs, paid their bills, and everything made sense from my perspective. Then, when I was around ten my dad had to get his first major back surgery, again, no big deal. Then another back surgery, which made sense, since he was a concrete finisher.

As I got into middle school, I realized that everyone else’s parents weren’t bringing beer to the football games. I didn’t realize until much later that my dad could or would never pick me up from school functions because he didn’t want to drink and drive. I respected him for this instead of being upset about it. So, I was already at phase one of dealing with an addict, making excuses. I just didn’t know it. I also didn’t know if he was already addicted to the prescription pills that he received from his back surgery. It wasn’t even on my radar. Fast forward four years, and another surgery. This time it is more serious. It is an eight hour whipple to reroute my dad’s stomach. Pancreatitis, which everyone thought was because of the drinking, but no medical professional ever confirmed this.  I’ll never know the truth.

The surgery turned out fine, and Dad was in recovery. Everything was going routine, but he had a stint put in, which caused blockage. This just led to more procedures, a longer stay in the hospital, and more prescription drugs. It started with a morphine pump and ended with refills upon refills of Oxycontin. I was only around 18 or 19, and I always asked myself, “Why would you give an alcoholic addicting drugs?” So that’s how it all started in my eyes, but I don’t know if that’s the truth. It is just my truth. The truth is subjective.

Everything got sketchy after that surgery. My dad would have “extra painful” days and double his pain medicine, so when he ran out of his first bottle early, it was a simple phone call to the doctor to get the prescription filled a day or two early. No big deal. I ask myself again, “Is this where the addiction started?” Not really a red flag when I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with narcotics or addicts. Although, I must have known in high school that things weren’t quite right considering I wrote an English essay about alcoholics.

Anyway, my dad kept milking the pain (or was the pain real?) and refilling the prescriptions needing them a little earlier each time. I always felt sorry for him because he was in so much pain, but then again he wasn’t in enough to give up the beer. He had to go in to talk to the doctors about responsible pain management, and he already knew how to play the game. He knew he needed to say the right things to get the drugs. Doctors were willing to keep writing the scripts, so he obviously needed the pain meds, right? This went on for what seemed like a long time, but I really don’t know the exact timeline. Everything kind of turns into a haze after awhile.

My dad was one of the most honest people I ever met before he became addicted to prescription drugs, but drug addicts become expert liars. My dad convinced our whole family that everyone in the entire medical field was crazy. Although, it wasn’t hard to agree with him because there were so many unfavorable interactions with the medical staff at various facilities that helped support his stories. And again, it did seem like the doctors had no problem refilling the scripts. The people that I dealt with in the medical field NEVER treated my family like we were people who mattered. It just seemed like we were a number or a business transaction.  Once the addiction became a problem, the doctors just wrote my dad off. It wasn’t their problem anymore, and he couldn’t force them to write scripts, so onto Plan B.

Go to different doctors in different towns complaining of pain and give a top notch acting performance (Or was it acting?) I’m not saying that my dad didn’t have pain; I do think he had physical pain, but there were layers of mental and emotional issues that he didn’t seek help for (or did he reach out?). There was always a doctor willing to give him one more refill. Trips to the ER became normal. One of the most shocking moments in my experiences with my dad’s addiction was when the ER doctor put the decision to write the script on me. I think that I was about twenty-two years old. That is another story for another time.  My experience with my dad’s addiction taught me not to trust medical professionals and to ALWAYS get a second or even a third opinion. The doctors don’t even tell the truth.

Go with your gut instincts no matter what, even when talking to someone you love or an expert in his/her field. The only person you can really trust is yourself. I am a better person, teacher, and parent because I learned that I cannot be passive in life. I have to have a voice and if something doesn’t seem right, I need to listen to myself and seek truth.

My Dad’s Addiction Made Me a Better Person

imageI should have written this a long time ago when the feelings were raw, but I didn’t, so here I am trying to bring back the painful memories of loving a drug addict. My hero, my rock, my safe place turned into my fears, my anxiety, my Hell. My dad.

My dad was the hardest working, honest, and loyal person I have ever met, and as I write these words I realize that those are the gifts that he gave me. I live my life with integrity and passion because of him, which is why a part of me died with him. My story, along with many others doesn’t have a happy ending. There are pieces to the story that I will never know. Most of the time life with an addict doesn’t make sense. I was constantly trying to put the pieces of our family back together, but I was delusional in thinking that I could fix my dad. There will be a series of writing devoted to my experience with drug addiction including the following topics.

  1. Truth is Subjective
  2. Loyalty
  3. Unconditional Love
  4. Compassion
  5. Commitment
  6. Grieving
  7. Forgiveness
  8. Persistence

Teacher Appreciation Day, Who Knew?

 

Awesome…19 days left until summer break, we just finished our state standardized tests last week, and I got to start this ‘highly regarded holiday’ day with my sixth extended, formal observation of the year. Did I mention that I’m an 11th year teacher rocking a Master’s in Secondary Education? How many more formal observations can I get before I qualify as an effective teacher?

This special day of recognition is meaningless to me. It is actually kind of a joke. I have been teaching in a secondary setting for over a decade. I don’t think that I have ever had a student recognize this “holiday”. Is it actually considered a holiday? Most teachers in this setting of teen spirit and hormonal catastrophe are unappreciated.  We work our butts off for kids who are at the age where no one (including their parents) wants to deal with their teenage angst, attitude and absurdity. Yet, I hear every detail of their lives for a year, then they disappear. I’ll never know if what I do matters because they never come back. There is no fanfare, no rewards, no ‘because of you, I accomplished X, Y, or Z’.

I suppose I should recognize the leftover cookies in the break room from the parent meeting last night as a fringe benefit… Or the free coffee and donuts four times a year?  Oh! Almost forgot, I get to wear jeans twice a month?  What am I complaining about?  The fact that I actually think that wearing jeans every other Friday is awesome, just proves how effective administrators have become to taking no real responsibility for creating a stimulating and fulfilling working and teaching environment.  Did you know that allowing teachers to wear jeans has become the single most used bargaining tool to convince teachers to take on more work and more responsibility?

I suppose I should be writing something meaningful or inspirational about this day. I should write teachers shouldn’t need external rewards and that mentoring children should be enough of a reward. But come one, most corporations offer incentives for seniority and a job well-done.

Instead of just posting a piece of writing with negativity that I’m spewing right now, sorry, but I’ve been beat down by the system. I did once love being a passionate teacher, and I’m finding creative ways to keep my passion alive, but education has changed drastically since I first started my career. I do know what teachers need, not want, and it’s not a hallmark holiday.

  1. Trust me. This goes to administration and parents. I know that is hard to do with all of the stories on the news today. There are teachers who break the trust, but for every one of those teachers, there are 1000 who are giving everything they have to help these children be successful.
  2. Support me. Teach children the importance of education. Kids need to be able to read, write, and problem solve. Don’t ever tell your kids that you hated reading or math doesn’t really matter. Don’t make excuses for your kids. School is their job!
  3. Respect me. Teach kids that the teacher should be respected at all times, and follow through with consequences at home if a teacher reports disrespect in the classroom. As a parent and a teacher, I know that most of the time the child/student doesn’t give the full story. Please don’t go above my head or be angry with me before having an honest conversation with me. Reach out as a parent or a professional if you have a concern. We will be more successful in helping your child/student if we are on the same team.

So if you want to recognize a teacher today parents or administrators, send a sincere e-mail asking, “How can I help?” Or even better, send a letter of sincere gratitude. It could start something like this, “because of you, I…”