Laughter – Not always the best medicine!

I often hear laughter coming from individuals while they are mentioning traumatic past experiences. Whether they are talking about how they were abused as a child or how they used to shoot up drugs into inconspicuous places. A short giggle here, or a wry laugh that ends their sentence. A sentence that is not at all funny or laughable and often times my experience of the conversation is a visceral response that is raw and painful.

I do understand the laughter and where it comes from. I used to do it as well. I now believe that laughing at traumatic things in our past is harmful to us and it is also a dishonest response. I should clarify one point before going on. I am not against humor or comedic responses to life. I am actually quite the joker when it comes to laughing about life’s many situations.

There is the saying by Carol Burnett about “Comedy is tragedy plus time.” I agree with this to a degree but there is a fundamental piece missing from this particular meme. If the tragedy has not been dealt with- through self-knowledge, therapy or other means of self work, the tragedy is comedic only because the issue is still raw and too painful to deal with. Because the individual has not worked through the trauma of the past, they must giggle or laugh as a defense mechanism to cover over the true emotion under the laughter.

The laughter is also an invitation to the listener to join along in the conversation as a tale of laughable past times. Of course if the listener joins in with returning laughter, the trauma will continue to destroy and manipulate the host. I didn’t realize how selfish it is to laugh about my own unprocessed trauma. Telling others about your past traumas with laughter causes the listener to feel the emotions for you. The feelings you are covering over are being felt by the person you are talking to. If they are not feeling your hidden emotions, they are non-empathetic and you are wasting time talking to that person anyway. Maybe that is what you want. If you just want someone to join along with your misplaced laughter, that’s fine too but I can not join along with that kind of empty relationship blather.

I’m not saying that laughing at your own trauma is contemptible or horrible or anything like that. Like I mentioned above, I understand it and I used to do it myself. All I am saying is I think it is a very important topic that we should evaluate honestly and objectively. Nothing in recovery is more important than being honest with yourself. If you notice someone giggle or laugh at something traumatic or horrific, pay attention to how you both deal with that situation. Challenge yourself to talk about the laughter in the discussion and you may be amazed at how advantageous and open your conversations can become.

Laughter is not always the best medicine.

Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts on this topic. 🙂

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Road Trip to the West Coast

DISNEYLAND

DISNEYLAND

To receive my wife’s passport, we have to drive to the Finnish Embassy in Los Angeles next month. We have decided that since we have to make the trip to the west coast, we will turn it into a fun and exciting vacation. I plan to do a blog post on our trip when we return home. It will include pictures and maybe one or two short video clips. If any of my readers who have never (or have) been to Vegas or California would like a picture or short video of anything specific, let me know and I will see if I can make it happen. Also, if you know of any awesome or amazing places that are a “must see”, I am open to suggestions! Please give your feedback and comments!

Here is our current route for our trip.

We will drive to Las Vegas from our home in Utah. Spending the first evening absorbing the views and dining under the lights of The Vegas Strip. We will be staying our first night at Caesars Palace (No, the REAL Caesar never lived there). see clip—-> http://youtu.be/526QUiYPgt0

"Is this the REAL Caesar's Palace?"

“Is this the REAL Caesar’s Palace?”

The next day we plan to continue on through the Nevada desert into Southern California. We are staying 5 nights in Anaheim. We had a difficult time choosing our hotel because there are about 300,000 hotels surrounding the fence line of Disneyland. But at the same time, we don’t want to drive more than we have to. I will let you know how the hotel is when we get back. I think it will work out well.

We are going to do both amusement parks that Disneyland has. Disneyland Park and Adventureland. Because the resort is so large, we are going to do Disneyland Park one day and Adventureland the next day. My wife, being from Finland, has never been to Disneyland and she has always wanted to go. She is an avid collector of Disney movies. I am anticipating an overflowing waterfall of joy and happiness pouring from my wife’s entire body upon arriving to the park. I must admit, I am feeling a bit whimsical myself. We both deserve a carefree week of fun and enjoyment and I am looking forward to our trip.

The 3rd day we are going to Universal Studios to test out their “front of the line” passes. Nothing better than a passive-aggressive “haha! sucker!” to all the sun-baked people who have been patiently waiting in line for 2 1/2 hours. As long as we avoid any smirking or eye contact everything should be okay.

What is your favorite thing to do and see here?

What is your favorite thing to do and see here?

The 4th day will be mostly open for sight-seeing, great food and exploring. Walk of Fame, Museum of Death, sandy beaches, city roaming, things like that.

Day 5  we wanted to drive to the Sequoia National Forest and get up close to those monstrous sequoia trees. I am a little concerned that too much of the forest will still be closed from winter snowfall. If that is the case, we will have some more free time to roam around Southern California.

Later that evening we will drive back into Las Vegas and spend the night at Treasure Island.

The next morning we will drive back to Utah. A part of my back story while using heroin and other drugs took place in Las Vegas. Being homeless and walking the streets of Vegas is a much different place than it is when you are sober and have purpose. Another distant reminder of what my life was, to what it is today. Making fresh, bright and sober memories from a past that is all but forgotten. I am truly grateful for the chance to rebuild my life from the solid ground up.

!!! Please comment if you have any requests for specific pics or footage; or if you have any suggestions on specific sites, places, rides, diner’s or areas that are in proximity to our destinations !!!

Your Children and Addiction (Part 2)

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Continued from http://ajourneyofpureblack.blogspot.com/2014/05/your-children-and-addiction-part-1.html

If you have not read the first part of this post, it may not make as much sense. Please click the link above to read Part 1.

A word from Kris John (my mother)
This is the first in a series of attachments from a parent, to Dustin’s blog to help parents, grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, whoever wants to know and see what might be going on in their child’s life. This is one smart guy we have raised. I don’t know where he has learned all of these devious tricks to get himself heroin every day.

SIGNS TO LOOK FOR
It makes sense to use your senses! (use your best judgment)

A word from my mother: “I don’t know why we didn’t see the sign’s? I don’t know if we were just too busy with life to notice that our youngest son was swirling down into a hurricane that was sucking the life breath from him. He was losing weight, he was gone away from home a lot, he says he is with his friends…but we were very busy with our own lives, just trying to survive…to pay our bills, to keep a roof over our heads, to keep food on the table. Why didn’t we see the signs before it were almost too late?”

Smell-
The closer your relationship is with your child, the better. If you aren’t giving your children hugs and kisses; embracing them often, how do you know if they smell of alcohol or marijuana? Hug them often. Pay attention to their smell. Smell their clothing and their bedrooms for strange odors. I’m not recommending you run around the house like a hound dog trying to find a strange scent. Well, I guess you can if no one is home but you don’t need to walk on all fours. If you do want to be on all fours, maybe have your children read this post instead.

mC07g0qMy father was always awkward with hugging me and my siblings. I wish he would have hugged me more. He passed away before I asked him why it was so weird for him to hug his children. I know without a doubt he loved each one of us, but something deep down bothered my father when embracing others. Hugs were rare and quickly given when done. My last opportunity I had to embrace my father was last October. As my father laid on his death-bed, the evening before he passed away, I still felt the awkward vibe between us when I leaned over the bed to embrace him.

Listen-
If you are paying close enough attention, you will pick up different vibes from your children. Listen for any changes in their long-term happiness or over-all mood. You know your kid better than anyone so you know when you hear something that doesn’t sound right. Only you will know if your child is just having a bad day or if something more sinister is going on. Staying involved and listening closely to what they talk about is very important. If you are hearing them talk about a different set friends that are unfamiliar to the family, be concerned. When I wanted to go do drugs with one of my addict friends, I would lie about who I was going with. If you catch your child lying about who they have been with, obviously be concerned. It doesn’t necessarily mean drugs, but they are lying for some reason. If your bond with your child/children is weak or disconnected, there is no way for you to know what is going on in your children’s life. Also, a disconnection or an unhealthy bond may be the cause of your child’s need for outside comfort and contentment.

Many times I would go into the bathroom (when I lived with my parents) and do drugs. I was in the bathroom way too often. My father noticed this and questioned me about it. I lied and said I wasn’t doing drugs. If they are using the bathroom or isolating in their bedroom more than usual, be concerned. Strange noises coming from their room Ex. lighter flicker, excessive sniffing, odd banging or tapping sounds; any noises that are out of the ordinary. If your gut tells you something is up, it probably is!

Touch-
It is difficult to draw the line between being a caring, loving, nosy parent and flat-out invading your child’s privacy. It is my belief that children should indeed have their own privacy. I also believe that line shouldn’t be crossed. A child’s personal diary or journal should not be carelessly flipped through but I do believe in carefully checking all 27 pockets of their pants before throwing them into the washer.

mq2BfeoMany times I would put drugs and drug paraphernalia in the pockets of my clothing; especially the tiny little 5th pocket sewn into the larger front pocket of my jeans. My parents found many left-over treasures in my dirty laundry. If you find something of this nature in your children’s clothing, hopefully it doesn’t mean they are farther along in their addiction. In the beginning stage of my addiction, I was accurate. I was precise. I was careful. I never left any evidence. As time wore on, my addiction began trumping my accuracy measures and I started becoming sloppy and careless. My order became disorder. That is when my parents started finding my misplaced trinkets.

Sight-
They say seeing is believing. In the case where my parents found my paraphernalia, my first response was “oh that isn’t mine. I was holding for a friend so he wouldn’t get into trouble.” Give me a break right? Regardless if they say it is not theirs, they are in possession of a huge problem; it is now in your home so you are now an accomplice to this problem. No good will come of this if you brush it under the rug. You now know that your child is having issues as well as direct contact with drugs. If this is the case, it can’t be blown off as a “don’t let it happen again.” At this point, it would probably be best to consult a local counselor or a similar professional. Hopefully you haven’t found any paraphernalia yet. If this is the case, keep your eyes open to the possibility.  

A word from my mother: “Little pieces of burnt tin foil all over the place, a whole roll of aluminum foil in his car, boxes of baking soda in his room? Now why did he have baking soda in his room? Probably brushing his teeth with it, yes that’s what it was. But, aluminum foil, what was the purpose?

Like I said previously, if you don’t think your child is at risk of addiction, you are being quite irresponsible and ignorant as a parent. Being open to any possibility can only enhance a more positive outcome as well as prepare you for any problems your children may have. The statement “hope for the best, expect the worst” is the best guideline you can follow where addiction is so ubiquitous.

Watch your children’s eating habits. Watch for drastic sudden changes in what they eat, how much or how less they eat or if they often skip entire meals. All drugs effect normal eating habits but each drug may have a different affect. In general, coke, meth, speed (uppers) will suppress appetite. Opiate based drugs and alcohol can raise or lower food intake and marijuana will usually raise food intake. Everyone is different and depending how long they have used a certain drug will change any of these amounts. Again, this is a very broad and general description. Changes in eating habits do not always mean drugs. It could be depression, eating disorders etc. This is why being aware of your children’s normal eating habits is so important.

Intuition (6th sense)-
mgDxSo8You can’t use your sense of taste very effectively unless you find a baggie of white powder and your kid says it is only baking soda. What you can use is your 6th sense! It is a real thing. It isn’t some magical ability only given to a young boy who can see dead people. We all have it. Your 6th sense is your ability to know when something is not as it seems. The feeling you have when 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal to 4. It’s that deep pit in your stomach that pulls you when you feel your being misguided. It’s the intuition of your soul. That hunch you have about something not being quite right. Someone tells you a lie and you feel it. That is your natural ability to be guided in a helpful and loving direction. Me personally, I think that is a little bit of real magic. My father got so good using his that eventually; all he had to do was take a quick glance at me and BOOM! I was busted. He knew I was high again and had relapsed. And I knew right away when he knew. He didn’t even have to say it out loud. I could see the pain and disappointment on his face. You have intuition so use it!

If you fail to catch your child’s drug problem in the early stages, you may find yourself asking much more difficult questions. Because I was able to convince, manipulate and connive my way around the truth; mixed with my parent’s belief that their son would never do something so terrible, my addiction wasn’t really dealt with in the early stages. My mom had this to say:

He is not paying his bills, and he is getting payday loans and they are calling the house looking for him. He has opened several checking accounts, and writing lots of checks, with no money in the accounts…the banks are calling our house looking for him, but he is never home. The mailbox is full of bills for him, but he does not respond to them. He has lost another job, because he has failed to go in again, called in sick, again.”

If your son or daughter begins a career as a heavy drug user/drinker, realize that they will steal from you. Here is what my mother said at one point during my addiction:

Am I going crazy? Things are missing…where is my X-Box? Looking for the Camcorder, I must have misplaced it. Several DVD’s are missing. Maybe I put them someplace else too.”

As you can imagine, she (my mother) desperately wanted to believe it wasn’t me who stole their belongings. That somehow she had just misplaced the items. I wish I could say it wasn’t me. I didn’t just do it once either. I continually stole their belongings so I could supply my ever-growing heroin addiction. As soon as my parent’s got their things out of the pawn shop, I would steal them again.

We should have jumped on the signs, but we didn’t know they were the first signs of a full-blown Heroin addiction.” A statement from my mother.

As you can see, there are many things that you can do to help your children before it becomes too late. As I have been writing this blog, I have noticed that this topic could probably continue forever. I think it is important to at least cover all of the major points. Because it is so long of a post and it contains so much information, I will do a part 3 in the coming weeks. I hope this has been helpful so far. 🙂