New changes abound!

June 7, 2010

Well, so much has happened since my previous post; I accepted a job as a drug counselor for the CADA, quit my job at the paper, and now am in a position that allows me to plant seeds and help change the  lives of so many people who are destined for dead ends and prison terms. 

For me, leaving the newspaper was cathartic;  I spent the entire day cleaning my area, tying up loose ends with my clients, and making things easier for my replacement drone.  I say this with tongue-in-cheek, but it’s absolutely the epitome of corporate brainwashing at best.  I started working at the Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse immediately, and realized very quickly that I was stepping into a hornet’s nest with my new  group members, as they had already been through three different counselors in three months.  This time would be different, I told myself.

The very first day with my new group turned out to be hectic and full of angst; I saw how the lone female in the bunch had complete control over the overall  group attitude  and she was on a  full rampage that day.  Great timing, I thought.  I would find a way to form a bond with her, and that week I decided to complete my Psychosocial Case History for school  on her during our first Individual Session together.  It was  a great plan—worked out  beautifully.  She just needed a little one-on-one time to feel “special”;  ever since then, she’s been a great asset to our group  dynamics!

I make it a point to see all of my clients individually once per week to go over Treatment Plans.  It really gives me a chance to get to know them personally, create a Genogram of their family relationships, and find out where they are lacking in Life Skills.  It’s amazing how many of my clients blossom with just a little extra attention.  My job calls for three 90-minute groups  per week, then we meet in the Courthouse for their Status Hearing with the Drug Court judge.  My Individual sessions usually last no more than an hour, and are usually very productive.

This is where things get a little sticky; while I have my Master’s in Counseling and love Rogerian techniques, I am forced to become a hard-core  Behaviorist with flavors of Probation Officer and Nazi war criminal flowing in between.   I went to school to help people, not force them to conform to rather ridiculous forms of behavior control.  Sanctions, rules, punishments, jail terms, community service, MORE sanctions for the undesirable behavior.  The program has a lot of structure, and I believe I am teaching coping skills and relapse prevention tools to the best of my ability, but I find it difficult to straddle the fine line between Rogerian counseling “unconditional positive regard” and Behavior Modification “You must urinate a FULL 2 OUNCES into this cup, or spend a WEEK in jail with rapists and murderers.”   Wow, just a little bit overboard, right?

 The great thing about this job is our new Program Coordinator; she and I have similar mindsets, and I believe she can allow some flexiblity beyond what the rules and regs call for.  The other  two women who have worked there for two years came up with these rules and their sanctions, so I am of the thought that we can revamp what is glaringly obvious as necessary. While I believe in Behavior Modification using positive and negative reinforcers, I would rather “catch them doing something right” than constantly knocking them over for not doing something perfectly the first time.  Giving someone a week in jail as a sanction for the inability to urinate a full 2 ounces on demand STILL makes me shudder, and yet this is what is expected of me to do to my group members, one of which may  have a co-occuring mental and nervous disorder that may interfere with the ability to urinate with people standing around him, observing.

However, I am thrilled that I have this job;  it’s great to go to work every day, knowing I am making a difference in a  positive way. I have told my group members repeatedly that these rules and sanctions are in place to help them, that THEY have the choice to make, knowing the consequences of their actions.  I am more concerned with my clients learning about cause and effect when it comes to a life away from drugs than exactly how much urine they produce on demand.  So my new job is wonderful; I only have those sticky parts to contend with.   I am thrilled to get a chance to give my full attention to my clients and together formulate a plan over the next 18 months in which to obtain their GED, get a job, or get some sort of employable skills training while staying clean with weekly drug screens.

Enough for tonight….tomorrow is another week of Rogerian therapy mixed in with Behavioral modification!

Well, I believe what is happening to me at this point has been written in the stars, so to speak.  I have to make a decision to leave the newspaper, where I’ve been for four years, with all of its idiocyncracies and HEALTH insurance..God forbid…and either take on a non-paying internship at CORE Recovery, or perhaps get lucky and receive a call from the Rutherford House.  At this moment I still have reservations about leaving; as much as I would LOVE to simply give my two-weeks notice and skate, I still have a husband who doesn’t believe in the whole “STEP OUT IN FAITH” concept. 

I was thrilled when CORE called me to accept my internship; they are under the umbrella of a well-respected Addictions Council in the area, and I would be “groomed” to handle all aspects of the business from the ground up.  But could I really do my internship and work for the newspaper/cannibalistic corporate machine at the same time? During the same general work hours? Pulling my hair out, not able to give either my all?  No…I will have to quit my job.  My career in Counseling Therapy is much too important to let health insurance stand in my way.  Didn’t my Dad just sign me up for some “mailbox money” from his little gas royalty checks? Isn’t THIS what it means to allow God, the Creator of the Universe, to handle my affairs? Ok, so bring on the gas checks, ok God? Just asking….Now, if the Rutherford House decides that I am fit to be their Program Director, my life will once again change in a very big way.  Handling 12 badass boys in a group home can be quite a handful, but it’s nothing I haven’t done before, in Kansas City, no doubt.  Maybe I’m supposed to implement a drug program into their system, since there currently is none.  My purpose is about to start unfolding,  just as it should.  

I will have some mighty decisions to make inthe next two weeks, and I am writhing with anticipation.

a little apprehension, please

February 22, 2010

I am officially on my furlough this morning from working at the newspaper; instead of vegging on the couch, relaxing and puttering around the house doing my chores, I have chosen to work full time at a drug treatment program in a last-ditch effort to accumulate internship hours for my degree.

Last week I met with our supervisor and he seemed more than excited to exploit my willingness to work there, so I am quite sure he will be asking me to lecture “on the fly”, facilitate recovery groups alone, and observe my style of working one-on-one with a client.    I can easily talk about my past to this clientele; I have been where they are now.   What is “normal” to them was my normal as well, and looking back, I shudder at all of the Most Definitely NOT Normal things I did back then.  It turns into a lifestyle thing….you surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are all doing the same basic “normal” stuff and it becomes very common to stay up for three weeks at a time, peeking out the back window looking for non-existent (or perhaps very real) “bushnarcs” and “headrest cops”.  I can remember many times going “dumpster diving” around 3 am behind Walmart, just for the sake of boredom.  We had a full 24 hours in a day to do whatever we wanted, and so much energy to do it in.

I stand amazed that I lived this lifestyle for 23 years and survived.  I will admit, it had its moments, or I wouldn’t have stayed in it for so long.  There was an element of excitement, control, and daring that was as powerful as the drug itself.    Then there was the money.  I saw myself running a “home-base business” and doing very well for myself with no real reason to quit, the reinforcers were very strong.  It didn’t matter that at times I had to sit in a cell for a while, or a treatment center, play along with the program until I could get back out again.  I wasn’t going to quit until I had had enough.  But when I did have enough….I was done forever.

I believe that intrinically we KNOW what to do.  We are the only ones that can stop us; no amount of begging, cajoling, threatening, crying or jail time  will force us to stop any sooner than we do.  God gave us Free Will, and until we decide for ourselves that we are done….we’re not done.   I was fortunate enough to still have my kids, my family, my mind.  I stand amazed that I was able to finish my Master’s Degree in Counseling and go on to work towards my Licensure in Addictions Counseling as well.  I believe this proves that God has Something for me to do.  He delivered me from the entrapment of meth’s grip, and I am forever grateful.

        I had told my supervisor at work that I would be off this morning, due to Paul’s early morning surgery on his carpal tunnel.   What I didn’t know was that my early morning hours would be spent waking to the unmistakable sound of Paul violently vomiting;  actually spewing out of both ends simultaneously! So as I dutifully dabbed at his shaking brow, I could hear our 14 y/old Golden Retriever Maggie in the livingroom, puking all over my new carpet.  By the way, THIS is the dog that made a miraculous recovery from being put down after Paul rolled over her in the driveway with the truck.  THIS is the dog that stood up and WALKED, halleluja, after we had made the heart-wrenching decision to dig a hole and let her go, that her pain level was just too intense, that we were being selfish to keep her alive for our sake.  THIS is Maggie, who refuses to die, but has no problem crapping and puking all over my carpet.  Gotta love her.  Ahhh..but I digress…

       Needless to say, Paul will not be going under the knife, but it does give me a couple of free hours to ponder my next move….working for a cannibalistic corporation that makes it a daily practice of eating their own is starting to have adverse effects on my sense of well-being.   I made the mistake of calling my supervisor out on her micro-management tactics, and today she was to hold a very special conference with all of us concerning her “new standards of practice”….boy oh BOY I am so sorry to miss that!   I told them to secretly videotape  it for me, we may be putting her rants on You-Tube soon.  I’ll keep ya posted!  She is truly a sight to behold; she lives up to her nickname, “Red Devil”, or RD, among mixed company.

     In my desperation to find another job before I walked away from this career move, I put my resume in at several different Social Service-type agencies yesterday, since my Masters Degree IS in that field of study, and NOT in “advertising sales/screwthemomnpopsbusinessesoutofeverydime” business I am currently hating.  I qualify as a Program Director for a boy’s group home, so yes, I DID submit my resume for that position.  Since I qualify as a Methadone Clinic Counselor, yes, I certainly WOULD take them up on it.  At this point, I may even take on a waitressing job; at least I would feel good about what I was doing for people.

     Maybe the fact that I am cramping and bleeding heavily has something to do with my current bitchiness toward my supervisor and my job in general…do you think she may accept that as a qualifying reason to NOT fire me today?  Surely she has felt this way before….only my belief is that she is bitchy THREE weeks out of the month, and oddly pleasant for one.  I could loan her my “happy pills”, the Prozac has saved my marriage more than once! I have been at this same job for four years…four years I will never get back.   I loved it at first; I had complete control over the LA Parenting Magazine and took it to the peak of its young life.  Now I’m slogging through my territory selling ads into the newspaper, and hating every minute of it.  They can’t afford to advertise, and I can’t afford to quit.  So along we go, playing the game of sales.  The business has downsized tremendously, so we are left to increase our productivity 100-fold  with a mere fraction of the staff that we previously relied on for mandatory services.  When our advertisers cancel their ads for lack of customer service, it’s because we are only able to function as mere humans on salaries that keep us well past our shifts.  It’s just not possible  for one person to do everything that 10 people once did full time, and still make big money for the company.

Well…off I go. I’d better get dressed and face whatever wrath she bestowed upon my podmates at work while I was gone.  Perhaps by that time she’ll have released all that pent-up energy and I’ll get the residual withered version of her rants.   Not sure if that would be any easier than cleaning up after sick dogs and husbands, but I am strong; I can handle anything at this point.

Rachel brought both grandbabies over last night so that she and her husband Lester could take the entire weekend to enjoy their One-Year Anniversary; just happened to be Valentine’s Day as well…I think she didn’t want him to forget the date, so they picked the one day out of the year that you can NOT get reservations ANYwhere to do much of anyTHING.  But off they went, to paint and glaze ceramics at Arts On Fire in Shreveport for each other. (How sweeeet!)

So last night was pretty rough on ol’ Papaw; we took turns with baby Skyler, who is just two months old, and Paul took the late shift. I woke up at 4 am and took over from there.   Apparently lil’ Skyler has Paul pretty much wrapped; if he’s not laying on Papaw’s chest, he’s just not a happy camper.   Skyler’s big sister Alexis is almost 18 months old and has both of us completely wrapped around her pinky.  To my grandbabies, my name is “Omi”, which is a cuter version of OMA, the German name for grandmother.  So when the babies come over to “Omi and Papaw’s house”, my priorities are completely in tune with whatever those two little darlin’s could ever need or want.

Today was great; Alexis and I both ran around all day in our footed jammies together.  She helped stir the scrambled eggs and for lunch we had peanut butter and Banana Sandwiches…”a hubba hubba (lip curling)…Priscilla, darlin’ make me wonnadem peanutbutter’n’banana sammiches, thankya, thankya very much.”      Paul limped around the house and kept the kids entertained; his knee is killing him from tiling our bathroom floor~yay, it looks great.  Off to bed, I’m going to sleep before Skyler wakes us up again!

They Call Me…..OMI.

February 12, 2010

Ok, so today is my first day of writing again, at long last. What a great day to start; I took a half   day off from work, it is FRIDAY, it’s completely covered in snow outside, and directly outside my window I have birds all scrambling for food from my bird feeders…cat in my lap…life is good.    Paul isn’t up yet, so I truly have the house to myself. 

I followed the direction of our writing mentor, as well as a suggestion from a fellow WP writer about how to begin…so yes, in LONGHAND, I wrote whatever popped into my head.  But it’s sooo much easier to type it out!!

What I Have Learned…

In the past ten years,  I have learned to slow down; my weekends are for enjoying my home and family.  My job in advertising sales is not very satisfying, but it does fulfill a purpose while I aim my sights at fulfilling my True Purpose.    I have learned that when I show up late for any meeting, it shows a lack of respect for the person waiting.  Paul had heard this from his late father, and passed it on to me.  I was perpetually tardy for everything, always in a hurry, never using my time wisely.  I now realize that TIME is a precious commodity, and the very idea of me rushing around late for meetings is  something I abhor.

(boy, talk about a stream of consciousness!)  At this very moment I am watching a red-headed woodpecker cracking open a sunflower seed, fighting off the tiny wrens that are desperately hoping he’ll drop it.  I have seen this much snow on the ground in Louisiana only perhaps once or twice before, and many years ago.  I guess Hell has froze over; we won the Superbowl, and very soon pigs shall fly. 

I have learned a lot in the past ten years about working for a corporation that eats its own for lunch;  I put 110% into a magazine that reaped great rewards for me, both financially and emotionally, but then was ripped from my grasp and fed to the pigs.  I have learned that the human body can stand only so much abuse;  it is amazing how resilient we truly are…but we all have our physical limitations.  I stand amazed that I was able to survive 23 years of constant substance abuse, and live to tell the tale.  I can remember going for three solid weeks  without sleep, my mind was on Autopilot and I was still able to get my kids off to school, pay my bills, clean my house, run my business from home, and remember to meet all of my obligations, including the PTA meetings with the school’s snooty upperclass parents.  I am amazed I can still string three words together, finish my Master’s Degree in Counseling, and handle all of the stress that comes from working in such a stressful, fast-paced industry that eventually performs cannibalism on both the strong and the weak of it’s own kind.    This proves to me that God has something important for me to do; I know I didn’t survive that lifestyle for that long just to be stuck in a dead-end job selling ads to mom and pop businesses that can’t afford to advertise, but can’t afford NOT to advertise.    When I graduate with my Masters in August, I will finally begin what I believe is my Life’s Purpose; to be used as a tool in showing other addicts that they CAN discover a life away from drugs. That the entire lifestyle is a sham, and that they must seperate themselves from everything they have ever known in order to make a fresh start.

I have learned that I’m enjoying life so much more now; I had never seem a hummingbird up close, besides in pictures….now I have time to sit quietly and allow them to swarm around my porch every summer, fighting, swooping, chattering at each other, defending their property.  Yes, they do allow a little nectar-flavored urine to splash all around me, I was lucky enough that it  missed with my face, but it certainly  got close.  I have learned to appreciate the quiet.  Turn off the TV, radio, noise…..enjoy the peace….until my husband wakes up…THEN it’ll be non-stop chatter, TV blaring, NASCAR races, endless drivel…ooops did I say drivel? I meant long-winded one-sided conversations about absolutely nothing…ooops, there I go again… 

I AM learning to tolerate others in close proximity to myself; especially the man I married, promised to love, respect and cherish all the days of our lives till death do us part, etc etc.  Thank GOD for “happy pills”, my daily Fluoxetine that keeps me from wanting to perform accidental homicide.  Just kidding.

Together we have four acres, a pond, six laying hens, two house dogs, a cat, and three of the yappiest mutts outside that do NOT belong to me and I have permission to find homes for….the kids had all moved out and then boomeranged right back home, so we’re back to a houseful of 18-year olds who know EVERYTHING. yay.

I have had the distinct pleasure of meeting many of my old dear friends from high school via Facebook.  Because we all live in such a way that prevents us from really connecting otherwise, FB is a wonderful tool to allow vast distances to become very small.

Well….enough for one day.  Gotta go feed my chickens and see if my girls left me anything, warm eggs? Frozen eggs? The snow is starting to fall again…very softly.

Hello world!

February 12, 2010

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