Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I'm kind of reeling. We learned on Sunday night that a member of our extended family to whom we are very close is currently in jail, having had his third DUI arrest on St. Patrick's Day. I'm not mentioning a name to protect the privacy of his close family members, but it is someone I care a lot about and know well. I know that he is an alcoholic and I know that the addiction has him totally consumed. This development isn't surprising at all -- so, I keep asking myself, why do I feel like my heart is breaking?

As I understand Ohio law, this is almost certain to result in an extended stay in jail. A full year seems likely. And in many ways, I can see that this is a good thing. Certainly he isn't out there putting himself and the innocent driving public at risk for that time. Moreover, I would think that he will have no choice but to get sober and stay that way for the duration of his term. If so, I know that will be his longest period of sobriety in many years. And since his alcoholism has made it hard for him to work steadily, ruined his credit and generally made him poor, a year in jail means a year of a guaranteed roof over his head and three square meals a day. I can see that these are all positive things.

But I am full of fear for him. I am fearful that he will attempt suicide as he sobers up and realizes the enormity of his situation. (He has never tried it before, but there have been times when the family has feared he would -- he showed signs.) And I am fearful about how vulnerable he will be in jail. I think that for him, getting sober is going to leave his psyche and self-esteem really, really fragile. I am tremendously worried about him just holding it together. And assuming that he does pull himself together and gets through his incarceration, I am very frightened about how it will be when he gets out. He has always felt unworthy -- it seems to be at the root of his addiction -- and I could see him turning away from his loving family because he couldn't accept how much we love him and want the best for him, couldn't believe that we welcome him back with open arms.

I just can't get him out of my mind. I keep imagining the agony of detox that he must be going through right now, and trying to imagine what it feels like to be locked in a cell and to know that this is no joke, this isn't temporary, but that this is your new reality. I want to send him some kind of a care package, but don't yet know what he is allowed to receive. So all I can do, so far, is to pray. No small thing, I agree, but right now it feels pretty impotent. I know in my heart, though, that prayer is NOT impotent -- in fact, I know that it is powerful. I just have to believe that.

If you are reading this, and you are a person who prays, I ask you to add this loved one to your prayers, too. He is a family member who has messed up big time. He doesn't especially deserve a break -- in fact, he has brought on most of his own problems. But I believe that there but for the grace of God go all of us. Maybe if we all lift him up to God, somehow God will be able to channel our good wishes to him and provide him some kind of comfort. Not the comfort he has earned, but the comfort he deserves as a child of God. Maybe he will be able to feel the love so much that when he finally comes out, he will have the strength to follow a new path.

Hopeless optimism? Most likely. But that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

I have opted not to do a Lenten blog this year. Somehow, it felt like it had become self-serving and thus not an appropriate Lenten discipline. So I have opted for a more private discipline, and it is proving challenging. It is surprising how motivational I found it to know that there might be readers out there noticing whether I posted daily or not. I ask myself, "What, it isn't as important if only God knows when you failed?"

Today my husband is at the Catholic Men's Conference at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. This is his second year of attendance and by all accounts, it is a moving, highly inspirational event. There was a women's conference last week that I did not attend. What I am about to say feels unfair, but it is how I feel. (And the title of the blog IS Candidly Susan, after all.) To me, the descriptions of what's going to happen at the men's conference always sound inspiring and uplifting and like I'd come away feeling renewed and stronger. The descriptions of the speakers and topics at the women's conference always leave me feeling like I'd come away drained and saddened or guilt-induced. Maybe next year I will force myself to go to the women's conference and experience it for myself, to at least give it a fair chance.

I should probably acknowledge that it has been a long time since I posted. I'm simply going to claim seasonal affective disorder and leave it at that. I found the month of February extremely trying and I'm glad it is over!

I continue to be woefully underemployed and seeking more fulfilling and rewarding work. I have actually thought recently that I ought to start playing the lottery again -- financially a stupid plan, I know, but as my oldest brother once said, that dollar buys you the privilege of a dream. My dream recently has been that if money didn't matter, if we didn't need my income, I could be happy being a full-time volunteer for organizations I care about. I actually know that I have a lot of skills and abilities that could benefit my church and scouts and the food bank and other organizations. If I applied the same level of professional focus to projects for them that I am used to applying to an employer, I could do some awesome things. But I am currently afraid to bite off anything very big because we so need for me to improve my income, and I need to use my time pursuing that.

I also continue to escape from my worries in reading, and I appreciate the suggestions I received in response to my posting about new authors. I just completed Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear and it was as good as promised! The next one in the series is currently on reserve for me, waiting to be picked up at the library. I also just finished a novel by an author I had never read before, Jane Stanton Hitchcock. The title was Mortal Friends and one of the things I most enjoyed about it was that it seemed like a cross between a murder mystery and a traditional novel -- the mystery initially hooked me, but the character development carried the plot way beyond just "who done it" to the point that near the end, I was completely captivated by the characters and what whas going to happen in their lives. I am eager to read another of hers to see if all her books are as strong.

Keep those book recommendations coming -- my reading really is a lifeline through this difficult time!