Monday, May 14, 2012

This 'n' that

Yesterday was Mother's Day and it was kind of sad not having our son around to help us celebrate. Not that we did anything super exciting. My wife and I both view Mother's Day (along with Father's Day, Valentine's Day, etc.) as sort of a "Hallmark Holiday," so our "celebrations" are pretty low-key. But I did cook a nice meal, and our son was definitely missed at the dinner table. To his credit, though, he did call my wife to wish her a happy Mother's Day.

It's been 16 days since we started our "no contact with our son for six months" plan, and things seem to be going alright. I would, however, be lying to you if I said we haven't had any contact at all with him. There have been a couple of instances where we have seen him or talked to him very briefly. And by "very briefly," I mean for about two minutes (or less) on each occasion.

The first time was when our son stopped by our house to pick up a prescription refill that his psychiatrist called into the pharmacy and my wife picked up. Some people--including his sponsor--might say that this goes totally against the "no contact, let him figure it out" rule. But when it comes to our son's medication, we're not going to just let him run out and stop taking his anti-depressants because he doesn't have the money to pay for them. That's not safe. (We know this from past experience.)

The second time was when our son ripped his favorite sweatshirt and called my wife to ask her if she could sew it for him. My wife said she would, but that she didn't know when she could get to it. She told him to drop it off, and he did. (He came by the house and put it through the mail slot.)

I guess yesterday's "Happy Mother's Day" call counts as a third time. But, seriously... I'm not counting that as any kind of negative. There was no begging to come over for dinner on my son's part. It was just a polite, loving phone call, and my wife was very happy to get it.

So that's an update on my son. We haven't heard anything negative from his sponsor, or from the owner of the sober living house. So we're assuming things have improved. He hasn't been kicked out of the house and, to the best of our knowledge, he's still clean. (By my calculations, today would be 50 days.) My wife and I continue to pray that things continue to go well.

Now for an update on me.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was trying my best to "live in the moment." I'm happy to report that I seem to be getting better at that than I ever dreamed I could. The little things in life aren't getting me down as much as they used to. I don't feel the need to be in total control of everything like I used to. And I'm getting better at letting go. Both in my personal life and my work life, I notice a big difference. My wife notices it, too.

I think this is a major accomplishment on my part, and it makes me feel much better about myself. I used to be a full-blown Type A personality. Now? Maybe not so much. Hell, I'm even sleeping better than I have in years. Actually falling asleep easily and sleeping through the night.

It's taken me a long time to get to the place I'm in today. More than seven years. And I attribute the changes to a few different things:

  • I believe I've finally found the right dosage of the right anti-depressant. For the last few months, I just plain feel better. I've tried a bunch of different anti-depressants over the years, with limited success. But right now, things are good. I'm glad I didn't give up trying.
  • I think I've learned to let go of stuff simply because I was too exhausted from trying to hang onto it. For example: I used to come home from work worrying about the projects on my plate and obsessing over them, even while I was trying to get to sleep. I finally figured out that was no way to live. Surprisingly, my boss is largely responsible for me finally "getting" this. "The work will be there tomorrow," he always tells me. "You and your family should always come first." And you know what? He's right.
  • Anne Lamott. Anne Lamott is an amazing woman and an amazing author who writes books full of incredible honesty and self-deprecating humor. She writes about faith. And grace. And hope. And covers topics like alcoholism, sobriety, depression, Christianity, and parenthood. (Coincidentally, she has a 22-year-old son with the same name as our son who is also in recovery.) Anne Lamott was always one of my wife's favorite authors, and I started reading bits and pieces of her books. To my surprise, there are so many things she writes about that I can totally relate to. Reading her stuff makes me feel so comforted. Like I am not alone. She is such a wise woman. Sometimes I think of the old Joan Osborne song "One of Us" ("What if God was one of us?...) and think that Anne Lamott might just be that person. If you've never read anything by her, you need to. As soon as possible. My wife and I recently had the pleasure of attending a talk/Q&A session with Anne at a local church. I swear, it was like a religious experience for me. And it was such a pleasure to meet and talk to her afterwards.
  • My wife is also responsible for my living a better life of late. My wife is the most amazing woman I know, and her outlook on life is so positive. I'll be honest: my wife's positive outlook on life used to bother me. I was always feeling so down and negative, and she was always feeling upbeat and positive. It was, quite frankly, annoying. But over the last year or so, I've started to cross over to her side. Being negative and pessimistic takes a tremendous toll on a person. And I was that person. Living in the moment, appreciating what you have, taking negatives and re-framing them into positives, and not letting the little things in life get you down. My wife has taught me how to do that. I'm still learning, but I'm a much better student than I used to be. I honestly don't know where I'd be without my wife. She's the most important person in my life. Without her, I think the last seven-plus years might've killed me.
  • The last thing that has helped me change and get to the place I'm at today is this blog. When I started this blog back in December of 2008, I had no idea if I would keep it going or not. But I did. And I'm glad I did, because every post I make is therapy for me. It allows me to get my feelings "out there," and getting comments from people--many of them in the same situation as me--makes me feel like I'm not alone. So thanks to each and every one of you who reads my rambling posts. You're like my little army of therapists.
Wow. That's a long post. Thanks for sticking with it. And thanks for sticking with me.



  1. This is all such amazing news. I also have noticed a "lightness of being" in your postings, Dean. And this is so incredible. This is God at work!

    The control piece is so hard when you are a parent -- believe me, I get it. I have three of my own so I find myself having to apply the Al-Anon steps & traditions in my parenting. They have been a godsend to me.

    I have a God, you have a God, your son has a God. Sounds like your relationship to yours has strengthened, therefore, you are experiencing greater PEACE.

    I think your involvement in the prescription refill is totally OK. I'm calling that within "good boundaries." I'm so proud of you, am praying for you, and sending you tons of love on this journey!


  2. I loved reading this post. And I'm so happy for you that you are figuring out how to live a peace-filled life. I'm getting there too.

    Still praying for your son & everyone else's sons & daughters.

    For now (and the past 3 weeks) my boy is sober. Keep praying for mine please.


  3. It is wonderful to hear of your own success. Your efforts for yourself no doubt help your son as well and make it possible for him to make his own efforts. My own son encourged me to do a course in Vipassana meditiation to develop equanimity and I was astonished by the results. Vipassana is based on Buddhist teaching but is for people of any faith (or none). I sat the course feeling quite alienated, telling myself that I would do it for my son but not believing there would be any result. Once I got home I was astonished by the results. I was less intense, could relax better, took several steps back from work problems etc. etc. There are no doubt many roads to the same goal and this was the one I found.