Sorry, it's been so long since I've blogged. As some of you local to New Hope know, I now am working locally... It's great, busy and I'll write about that next time...
Matthew has been on my mind a TON lately. I was just telling his friend Thomas Mancini this, yesterday. I mean, I think of Matthew daily, but the last couple of weeks it's been heavy. Not sure why, maybe because his birthday is the next up in our family and it emphasizes the time that has past and the void that is ever-present.
SUD is not confined to those who are struggling with their substance of choice. It also impacts the surrounding lives. It is a journey the disease takes us on, like the "Pied Piper" we all must follow, and determine a set of skills enabling our strength and resolve so we can be effective personally and to those who need our help and support.
My real journey with SUD began decades ago... I was then a mom to be and totally unprepared how to deal with what was an onslaught of negative, invasive and irrational behaviors from those who I was supposed to be able to rely upon and trust... not a good place. And, true to this disease, today many from that situation remain the same, still using, still enabling and still covering for one another. It's sad, but most important is that my remaining son is now healed enough in his grief to be strong and smart enough to realize for himself and avoid it.
I can clearly see in hindsight the path of destruction this disease cut through the family of that generation, the one preceding and now to this generation. The loss of Matthew underscores the SUD disease and how it works across generations of families.
My learnings are as follows:
1) Remember when anyone is using their substance of choice that you are talking to them, but on the "other side" of the substance. They hear you, but they are unable to make coherent, rational decisions.
2) You must have the strength and support network to remain capable of normalcy. If you don't have that, then you must create it. No one can tackle SUD on their own, whether the afflicted or one of the people closest to them.
3) You can, and should, separate yourself from any/every person who cannot or will not support a healthy, sober objective. So many with SUD use the excuse, in example, "well Coke is my drug of choice so it's ok to _______..." Fill in the blank, "drink", "smoke pot", whatever. It's BS. Ok, yes, we may know isolated people who quit one substance and use another "successfully". So, what does "successfully" mean? That whatever they're using won't kill them? Guess what, everything in excess can and will kill you... directly or indirectly. So, get a grip. That philosophy is flawed.
4) Start realizing that your body and mind are a physical vessel, your "being" is separate, but supported by it. If you put crap in the physical vessel, you pollute your body and mind.
To this end, start treating yourself right. Get to a doctor AND a therapist - whether you are a user or in their support group. If you have no one objective and trained to help gauge reality and a strong foundation, you will be forever dealing with instability. Plant your feet, create your priorities, get focused and STAY focused.
5) Find your "God", your spiritual self. Self awareness, well being is so important. Not necessarily religious, but could be, key to your ongoing strength is faith, love, hope, willingness to change, willingness to COPE, and capacity to say NO when NO is critically important to your next step.
6) Put LOVE first before everything. Love for YOURSELF comes FIRST and foremost above ALL. You must be ok to help others in your life. Make whatever moves necessary to get in a stable, good, healthy environment. "Environment" can be a room in a home where all occupants are driven to healthy lifestyle.
7) Speaking of LOVE, LOVE your job or whatever it is you do to work or occupy your time. Money will come. The mission is to make your life long and fulfilling to create the time, space and circumstances so that can happen. Live below your means so you can have savings - even a tiny bit. Don't compare yourself to wealthy... many times "wealthy" simply allows better camouflage for some really nasty underlying, dysfunctional @hit. Focus on yourself, health and self enrichment. I guarantee if you go to self enrichment classes, courses, groups, therapy - whatever, that you will create a group of like minded people and find strength.
ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER, ONE STEP AT A TIME. My grandmother lived to 106 on this basic philosophy. You are capable, you are strong, you can be healthy and live a long fulfilling life and fulfill lives of others. Just take those first damn steps.
Merrilee Scott, Founder and Board Treasurer of the FriendsMATTer organization lost her son, Matthew (the MATT in FriendsMATTer) on August 8th, 2016 to SUD. A marketing executive, Merrilee is using her skills to help others challenged with the SUD disease to strengthen their recovery process and avoid relapse.