On and On

Time sure slips away at times.  I think daily about the need to set down a post – my need – not “the need” to blog effectively.  If I simply followed “my need” there would probably be daily posts!

Part of it is probably that I seem to have so many boxes I’m attending to at the moment, both personally and professionally.  Maybe if I do a bit of a recap I can get all this out of my head and continue forward.

SON –

Son is still homeless, though on a medicated assisted treatment (MAT) for his substance abuse program – methadone makes him ill, so his outpatient program has him on Suboxone.  He has already been on the waitlist for a 90-day inpatient program for three months – and there is yet no end in site.  There are only three men’s facilities in our county – each with a small number of beds.  We are hopeful.  I am hopeful he will stay clean and make it to the inpatient program.

He wants badly to work – but is in the catch 22 of being homeless, looking for work and then how do you work and be homeless?  I suggest to him he could find a place to stay easier if he had an income.  He sadly reminds me his every day effort is finding a safe place to sleep (or hide at night) where he won’t get mugged or have his belongings stolen. I’m subsidizing him with food every month to supplement the $88 he gets in EBT funds. I bought him a simple, cheap one-burner camp stove and mess kit so he can prepare meals from non-perishable foods.  When we are going to medical appointments, I buy him a meal.  I pay for a cheap fitness club membership ($15 a month) so he as access to showers.

One of my great heart sadnesses is that I can no longer support him – he cannot stay with me.  But I know I must at this point take care of myself, dig myself out of the debt I’ve incurred taking care of him, and move on with my life as best I can.

MY LIFE –

So I am now “renting” a room from my ex.  Oddly many say – we are best friends – each other’s emotional support. I help him with his business and that up to a certain amount converts into paying rent – and I happily attend to most of the household activities.  For the time anyway, we are both comfortable with the arrangement – separate bedrooms and all.

My small pension and social security retirement keep me going every month – barely right now as I am focusing on bringing down credit card balances.  I contribute to food and my half of utilities. There is also my MediCare and supplemental insurance, car insurance, etc.  It’s amazing how quickly it gets eaten up.

SIDE HACKS IN RETIREMENT –

I am working on supplementing my income over the next month or so by interviewing for a “task forcing” position at a hotel in San Jose.  That means “sitting in” as a sales manager while the hotel takes time to do a search for their ideal permanent candidate.  I get a daily fee, accommodations/meals and mileage.

I would never go back to work full time at this point, but two or three opportunities like this would be a nice addition.

THE FUN STUFF –

I help the Ex with his business – we do lead paint inspections on HUD subsidized apartment complexes.  We’ve spent a fair amount of time in San Diego and LA – in the San Francisco East Bay Area and now – excitingly – have been hired to do a building in Honolulu (I lived in Hawaii for 15 years, it is my heart)!  The second week of September we will be there – 2 travel days, 3-4 work days and a day or two of play.  (and my airfare and hotel are covered in the contract)

October 19th my grandson is getting married – I get to officiate their vows! and then October 21 we leave for Kauai for 16 days for a real vacation!  Ex’s sister/brother in law are joining us for a week, and friends are joining us the rest of the time.  A lovely three-bedroom condo at Plantations in Princeville!   Again it’s the generosity of Ex – I paid for my air fare – hopefully the task force side hack will come through so I can chip in more.

hanalei-1.jpg
Hanalei Bay at Sunset – 10 minutes from Princeville – my photo from last October

So what’s going on in your life?  The good, the challenging, the despair, the joy? It seems to always be a combination of all – right?

 

 

Some Hope

It’s been another six weeks since my son reached out for help with his addiction.  Through the Sacramento County Department of Health Services he signed up for assistance with substance abuse.   In six weeks this is what has been accomplished:

  • He went to an intake appointment and was qualified for a 90-day inpatient program.
  • He did orientation for that program that puts you on a waitlist for a bed. And we learned it could be MONTHS for a bed in one of three facilities for men.  Months in like – if you don’t get a bed within 90 days you have to basically re-apply.  It’s more of an update than re-application.   He has to check in once a week by phone to indicate he is still interested.   The waitlist works like this – when a bed becomes available, the intake person starts at the top of the list.  He calls the first name – if they take the bed, it’s done.  If they don’t answer, he leaves a message and goes on to the second name.  If the second name answers and takes the bed, it’s done.  If not, he leaves a message …. and so on.  If the bed is not taken on a phone call, the first person to respond to a message and take the bed gets it.  There is no way to know if there are 10, 50 or 100 people on the waitlist.
  • He entered a suboxone program.  It is used to treat adults who are dependent on (addicted to) opioids (either prescription or illegal). SUBOXONE Film (a sublingual dose) is indicated for treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.  Unfortunately there is no counseling and psychosocial support until he is inpatient.
  • He has had a TB test and a physical.
  • He is awaiting an appointment for a psych exam for monitoring his bi-polar meds.

No call from the waitlist yet.

As long as he is true to the suboxone program (weekly clinic appointments to monitor his compliance) I have purchased a $15 a month gym membership (Planet Fitness) so he has access to a shower.  I take him to a laundromat once a week to do laundry.  I still will not give him cash.  He is still homeless.

I also moved over the last month – from the 2-bedroom townhouse we shared to renting a room from my ex.  Being on social security and a very small pension and not having the shared rent support from my son as it was suppose to be left me with no choice but to further minimize my living expenses.  It also made my son realize that he truly does not have the option to “move back in with mom”.

As I am looking back over the last three months or so, from when I finally made the decision to stop enabling my son, I think on the range of emotions I have gone through:

  • Despair – the acceptance that he was not going to change as long as I made life so easy
  • Anger – at myself for letting him take advantage of me for so many years and, yes at him despite knowing he suffers the disease of addiction, for his anger at me for turning him out
  • Fear – at not knowing where he was, if he was safe, if he was eating, or lying dead in a park somewhere
  • Hopefulness – that he reached out for help and (unless I’m really missing something) appears to be earnest and following the plan
  • Acceptance – that the ultimate outcome is out of my hands
  • Reclaiming – reclaiming my life that I gave up five and a half years ago to take care of him, which I came to realize was the big mistake here.

It’s a process – a time of personal growth even in my late 60’s.

There is some hope.

 

Time Flies –

Gosh I didn’t realize it’s been over a month since I last posted. It’s been busy of course – working (my retirement side hacks), preparing to move into a more affordable situation, and worrying about my son.

Helping my ex/dear friend with his business has been a blessing. In emotionally trying times it’s essential to keep our minds busy. He is also providing me with a more affordable living situation – since I have accepted that my son contributing to our joint living expenses is not going to happen any time soon, I am moving into the ex/dear friend’s spare bedroom.

It seems odd I know – but we do still care very deeply about each other, just realized with my son’s mental health problems that we had some intrinsically different approaches to helping adult children. It’s ok – I understand we were raised in two totally opposite environments – he with no nurturing and me in a very nurturing environment. And yet with that being said, he is one of the most caring people I have ever met.

My son is still homeless after six weeks. It’s been six weeks of mostly sleepless, worrisome nights for me. He is I believe finally realizing he cannot fight his disease of addiction on his own and has started reaching out for help. I have in the past offered him links to resources for addiction help – which he did nothing with. I keep reminding him that when he is ready to get help I will do anything I am capable of to GET him to help … drive him to a rehab facility – drive him to meetings every day if necessary – anything it takes.

Then yesterday I received the following text from his ex-wife – I am starting to wonder (albeit tenuously for I have hoped beyond hope before) if there is some hope!

“I hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend. I am reaching out because I heard from (son) last night. He texted me and I learned that he is homeless. I believe he’s in trouble and I know he is scared so I called the National Drug Abuse Hotline and they gave me referrals to treatment centers who offer transportation services (meaning they will pick up people and bring them to the center). I sent the info to (son) and he agreed to go to this one: Napa Center Point   2100 Napa Vallejo Highway Building 253M1-M2, Napa, CA 94558 Type: Substance Abuse Tel: 707-225-8001 Website: http://www.cpinc.org This information was provided by SAMHSA’s National Helpline (800-662-4357) They have a men’s rehabilitation program in Martinez so I emailed the center and left a message. I assume that the center is closed over the holiday weekend but I will follow up on Tuesday. I just wanted to share the information. I know this is very difficult and painful so please know that you and (son) have my support. like you, I want (son) to be healthy, clean, and safe. Much love, (ex wife)”

So my words to you out there struggling with a family member who suffers the disease of addiction, do not entirely give up hope. I know it’s hard to not give up at times. And it’s hard to keep holding on to hope through all of the empty promises and lies. But don’t give up.

And if you are suffering this horrendous unforgiving disease of addiction, do not give up hope of escaping it. There are people out there who truly love you and want to help when you are ready. Those who truly love you, not love you for what you can do for them, will help you when you are ready. Reach out – there ARE resources.

The Hardest Thing …

It’s been a week since the locks were changed on my doors. It’s been six days since I saw him or talked to him. Him – my lost son. My one-time golden child now lost in a world of Bi-Polar Disorder and drug addiction. The 43-year old who six years ago was employed in the New York financial world as a hedge fund accounting manager at $100K a year after having put himself through college for an accounting degree – is now homeless, destitute, and selling drugs to support his habit.

How could a mother turn out her child I ask myself – how could I do that? I am not sleeping. I cry every time I think for more than 10 minutes. I wonder if he is okay (except I heard he was staying with a friend at a motel downtown). Is he eating? Is he safe?

It took me five and a half years to get to this point. Five and a half years of providing him with a safe place (my home) to get clean, to recover, to move on with his life once again after a divorce and losing everything because of his drug use. Five and a half years, two minimum wage jobs he lost because he couldn’t show up on time. Five and a half years of never knowing what I was coming home to after work or what time he would wander in or out – of finding drug paraphernalia in his room. Five and a half years … and too many empty threats of “throwing him out” if he didn’t clean up his act to be taken seriously.

Then last week I discovered (confirmed?) that he is selling and that was my end. Within forty eight hours he was out with a back pack and his bicycle and the locks were changed. I am not mad or angry with him – I ache for him and his disease he cannot seem to recover from. But I cannot enable him any longer, I cannot let his disease put my life in jeopardy any longer. I have never done this before and it terrifies me.

It’s been a huge emotional battle between wanting to know he has a safe place, and realizing on the other hand that I have simply been enabling him. I know the decision to stop rests on his “hitting bottom”, “being sick and tired of being sick and tired” – and I know he is not taking his Bi-Polar meds regularly, if at all. I know the pull of the cocaine and opioids are controlling his thought processes. Telling him lies – but the lies are winning.

And I know I can’t control or change it.

And my biggest nightmare is getting that phone call or knock telling me that my son is one of the 150 people a day who die from overdoses. A mere statistic.

And I search my mind wondering – no, knowing – how we got here – a father who had Bi-Polar Disorder when it was simply called manic depression and not really treated. Growing up in a home where rages from dad appeared as instantaneously as they disappeared. Both my adult children have BPD and PTSD as a result. And I own that I wasn’t strong enough to walk them away from it.

My daughter dealt with it openly and directly with mental health assistance and “the rooms” from the time she was nineteen. My son buried his feelings and never dealt with them until about six years ago. He never grieved his father’s death in 1992.

And the stark reality is that because he is on MediCal (California medicaid), while he has access to his meds, he has no access to mental health care – the intensive therapy or inpatient rehab he needs. He can’t afford it and neither can I. And so I watch to see that he is active on Facebook (he isn’t communicating with me) so that I know he is still alive. I cringe at every siren that goes by. I lie awake a night waiting for that phone call from hell.

Are you a parent who has gone or is going through this? How do you cope with it?

Yes, I am In Search of an Ordinary Day!

Oh Joy …When It Rains, It Pours

rain cloud

It’s just a little black rain cloud …  you know the one – my car is due for an oil change (synthetic, of course, and so costs about $75.00 rather than the $29.95 specials), the suspension has started squeaking when I go over speed bumps, AND my dryer stopped drying (timer – and labor $350).

Tut tut, it looks like rain!

Oh yeah, and the lift gate on my VW Bug leaks (either a clogged tube OR faulty seal from when I had repairs done after being rear-ended in June) and of course our rain this year is exceptional.

And, oh yes, car registration is due in a month!

Oh the Joy!  Of living on a fixed income where, as I’m sure many of you know, gets you just by from social security check to social security check with not a lot left over for emergencies.

And yet, there is still joy – these things always have a way of working themselves out.  In spite of these “all at one time” challenges, I am fully grateful for all of the positive, loving things in my life and for all of the wonderful, loving friends I have.

And in the midst of these little challenges, I think of two friends today – one is grieving the passing of her younger sister two days ago; and I just learned this morning that another friend is celebrating the completion of chemo (as I just told her how the hell did I miss that?).  I had no idea she was undergoing chemo. I guess it’s been too many months since we visited … and she (a very private person) didn’t mention that she was going through this type of crisis.

I will take the little black rain clouds along with the sunshine – grieve with my friends their losses, celebrate with my friends their successes – and remember that life isn’t so bad – and even these challenging ones are ordinary days.

 

Is There A Calling For Me?

afraid to live it

 

I am a year out from retiring last February already – and what I’m realizing is that I was really ready to retire after working for 50 years.  I am also realizing that all my energy to build a business is really not there.

That’s not to say I am still not absolutely looking for opportunities to supplement my income doing things I enjoy.  The issue for me is figuring out what I enjoy.

I know I enjoy very much participating with dear friends and my work related friends in helping to maintain and drive forward the local chapter of our national association; and volunteering to help with other events as I am available and they arise. I enjoy the opportunity to fill in temporary staffing needs for my hospitality friends.

My question to myself is – are any of these fulfilling a passion? A heart’s desire?

Since I was a teenager I have enjoyed writing.  Then it was short stories.  Then marriage, kids and life got in the way.   The messys got in the way.  Years flew by where I seemed to always be “redirecting” what I thought were my hopes dreams and passions as circumstances changed.  And maybe that is what happens when we expect that others will be a part of those hopes dreams and passions and then they are not?

I still believe that I can somehow put this passion to a good use – find that calling that will give ME joy … a purpose … a sense of content – a way of self expression.

And that leads me to wonder – are you retired? Are you living your dream? Your passion? Did you know what it was all along?  Did you have to take time to figure it out when you retired?  Is it working for you? Are you STILL trying to figure it out?  Are others in your life a part of your hopes dreams and passions?

And bringing that back to my search for ordinary days, ordinary are days filled with a sense of fulfillment, a sense of peace and contentment – a sense of purpose.

And so it goes – in my search for ordinary days.