Signs of Hope is Rolling Again!!

We have had a disaster here at Signs of Hope. We had a crash that is not fully explained as of yet, but the bottom line is that we have lost ALL of our subscribers. We had 108,000 or more and they are gone. We are starting with zero again today. We have finally placed a subscription program on the site. Please help us start going again by subscribing.

We will continue to share hope, and reaching out to you that are battling Anxiety, fear, failure, depression, and the many other usual suspects. Don’t give up. We will be strong again!!

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I have been down in the muck and mire for several months, after losing all of my 108,000 followers.

I was ready to hang up my blog and head into the sunset.

Losing all of those followers caused time to do the ole WHY ME, pity party. It took a solid month to even go to my blog again. I was frustrated, and depressed.

Then I started think… You are writing a blog that reaches out to people and shows them signs of hope. 

That was a severe slap to the face.

So this morning I got hyped up and hit the blog hard to get it back to a decent blog that people would enjoy. I called Godaddy and got some plugins added that would allow you to subscribe. I had lost everything.

Why did it take me so long? Why was I procrastinating?

It was the fear of another failure. I forgot who is in charge of this site. God prompted me to get off my rear end and get back at it.

So starting on Wednesday, I will be doing at least three posts a week filled with signs of hope. I will reach out to you who are battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejection, lost loved ones, and the many other usual suspects.

Never feel you are down and out like I just did. Never think all is lost like I did. Never accept you pain. Seeks help, and I hope it is here you come for help. After all there aren’t too many individual blogs that can claim they had 108,000 followers.

People were signing up every day. The average was 50+. I want that to happen again. To make me seem powerful or famous? Not a chance. If I get up to 108,000 people again it will mean that 108,000 people are getting help. That is my reward.

Remember:

You are  never alone.

You are never forsaken. 

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

I’ve Been Tossed in the Muck!

We have had a disaster here at Signs of Hope. We had a crash that is not fully explained as of yet, but the bottom line is that we have lost ALL of our subscribers. We had 108,000 or more and they are gone. We are starting with zero again tonight. We don’t have this new site up and running the way we want it yet. You can’t even subscribe.

We will continue to share hope, and reaching out to you that are battling Anxiety, fear, failure, depression, and the many other usual suspects. Don’t give up. We will be strong again!!

Please come back and subscribe once we have that subscription feature again. We may have it in the next couple of days. 

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Talk about hitting rock bottom. I lost my first blog with 108,000 followers, and now I found I was hacked again and had some shmoo on my site that wasn’t allowed. I am changing my username and password and hope that will keep them away for a while.

Meanwhile, I have my third attempt at getting my www.dailysignsofhope.com site going. I will not give up. That is what I have been teaching you for the last eight years since I started my first site.

There will be lots of changing on the site until I get it the way I want it again. I first want to get the subscription program loaded in so you can subscribe, and get this post delivered to you in-box.

I had some very down times the last month. I had to be told I had lost everything. I then tried to get a second site going and it was hacked within a week. I am back again facing the storm head on and will not stop until we are really doing well here again.

Have you had times like that? Have you been hit by adversary that you once thought you may not make it through? I feel your pain.

We are a team, you and I. We will face our adversaries together. If you are battling something that is attacking you. Keep coming back here and we will work it out together.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never ever, give up!

 

 

 

Taking a Gamble at Thanksgiving

 

Gambling on Hope

By Linda S. Clare

Thanksgiving had just finished pounding my emotions into a paste not unlike my mashed potatoes. I’d spent the morning tending to two of my small grandchildren while my only daughter packed up her things for a trial separation from her husband. One of the kids was running a fever. I took the poor sick boy back home with me, careful not to let on how deep the pit in my stomach had become.  He watched a cartoon while I dove in to prepare the Titanic turkey meal of the year, all while trying hard not to break down and cry.

Somehow, I was driven to fix all the usual stuff: sweet potatoes topped with mini-marshmallows, the dressing, gravy and cranberry sauce. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, dinner rolls and of course those mashies—although I decided at the last minute to skip the cream cheese and sour cream that my nieces and nephews call Magic Potatoes.  The cousins weren’t coming, so why bother?

Unlike last year, I didn’t forget to buy black olives. What’s Thanksgiving without kids sticking them on their fingers? But I didn’t even use cloth napkins or a tablecloth. It was all I could do to clear off the Black Friday ads and set out the gravy boat. Go ahead and judge—I bought pies.

Instead of a feast for fourteen, I was cooking for four and a half. One son texted (texted!) to say he, his live-in girlfriend and my other grandson weren’t going to make it. Another son didn’t check in at all. My sister and all those cousins were traveling to other dinners in other towns. And my mom, who’d planned to be with us from Arizona this year, had broken her hip the week before and was in a rehab. All of us felt as if we’d hit a giant iceberg.

 

Like the Titanic, our family had crashed and sank, swallowing up any hopes I had for a happy Thanksgiving. I stirred the gravy with a forced smile and halved the brussels sprouts before tumbling them into a pan with melted butter. Moms of addicts know how to keep going even when we’re going down for the last time.  Part of me was tempted, like those hurled overboard by the Titanic, to let go and sink to the depths. But I’d already messed up the sweet potato casserole, so I hung in there.

At my house, I’m the one who cheers everybody on when things are rough.  Most days, I hand out hope with a cheerful smile and one of my mother’s clichés—It’s always darkest before the dawn. Yet this Thanksgiving, instead of strewing thankfulness and hope all over my home, the Chief Hope Dispenser now needed some hope herself. And it occurred to me that living with addiction and keeping hope alive is a lot like gambling.

I’ve never understood gambling. To acknowledge that you’ll probably lose your hard-earned cash and then still cast your lot has always felt like a bad bargain to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dollar scratch-off or a millionaire’s wager at a Vegas blackjack table. Somehow, I don’t get the thrill of anticipation. I’m oblivious to the poker player’s rush, the heady what if of lotteries, the anxious wait at the slots as the fruit spins furiously. All I hear is the house always wins.

And yet like all of us, I gamble every day.

Not at the video poker lounge or casino, but in my life, every day, every minute, I’m gambling. Playing the odds is really an institutional form of hope.

Up to the moment I receive an editor’s rejection notice, there’s still hope for that acceptance. Before I step on the scale, I’m still hopeful that I’ve reached my ideal weight. At the store, I choose apples with the hope that they won’t be wormy or overripe. Then I gamble on a check-out lane and hope it’s the fastest choice—which hardly ever pays out. Most of the time, the house really does win.

And at this holiday time of year, we who love addicts run a gamut that pits terrible odds against a sliver of hope. It’s gambling in its rawest, most awful form, and yes, those hopes are up against crushing odds. Will my recovering adult addict make it through all the holiday drinking and merrymaking? How do you hope for a merry or even so-so holiday if you know your loved one will also be tempted to celebrate, triggering a binge or relapse? During those idealized and cruel ads and movies depicting happy families, will you take a chance and hope for a drama-less season with the addicts in your life? Are you feeling lucky? Or better yet, are you feeling hopeful?

But don’t place all your hopes in a leaky lifeboat. The Titanic’s designers were blind to the suffering of steerage passengers, and in their ignorance, didn’t provide life boats for all aboard. Those in charge held out promises that we now know were exaggerated, even manipulated—all to tout the mistaken belief that the ship was unsinkable. Many who gambled (hoped) based on those promises paid a terrible price in the icy waters of the Atlantic.

My three sons are all active in their addictions. In their own unique ways, they try to convince me to place in them all my hopes for a serene and thanks-filled holiday. They assure me they’ll show up sober to the Thanksgiving table. They promise there will be no drama, no shouting, stealing or sneaking. I want to believe. I’m hungry for hope.

But if you’ve lived with addiction, you know these promises often evaporate like mist on the water. The addicts you love force you to choose between hoping once again and cynically viewing the excuses and reversals this disease breeds.

Some parents of addicts conclude their adult kids are simply manipulating them, telling lies to get what they really want: another high. Parents like these can’t bear the moment when hope slams into that unseen berg. Again. So they take steps to protect themselves. I can’t judge those who detach, especially in cases where violence, abuse or mental illness is just too great a foe. Do what you must.

I look at my sons’ promises and see addicts who’d love to make them come true. Every moment of every day they are fighting to be rid of the scourge. Again and again I grab onto the hope that this time he’ll make it. This time my wager with hope will pay off.

For me, hope is the “evidence of things not seen” that comes from a force much larger than I am. God throws down with me in my hopes and prayers for my sons’ recoveries—and a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner. With addiction in your life, it’s not always easy to see God’s hand on hope and be thankful.

It’s hard to give thanks when your house has just burned down or your living room sofa sits in three inches of putrid floodwater. Some days, it’s so impossible to give God another chance, to gamble away your sanity in exchange for a vague hope and no earthly guarantee. Yet my God can make a damaged ship float, even if He has to carry it across the seas.

And gambling and hope are relative. Is the woman, treading water as the lifeboat comes by, losing her transatlantic cruise or is she lucky because there’s one spot left in the row boat? In the same way, I probably won’t ever buy a lottery ticket, but I’ll hold onto the hope of a meaningful Thanksgiving Day with my family. They may disappoint me, but my hopes will not reside in broken promises, but in who they are struggling to be. I make lousy potatoes, but as long as I’m tethered to that Master Shipbuilder, it’s a good bet that I can gamble on hope and win.

When my daughter finally arrived with the baby, we sat down to a little turkey breast, still-tough but buttery brussels sprouts and the library paste potatoes. Empty places at that table reminded me of what might have been.  I wished I could rewind history and that this time addiction stayed away.  For a long moment, only the sounds of forks clinking and chewing invaded the silence.

But then, my grandson waggled the olives on his fingers. His Papa stuck olives on his fingers too. Baby sister shoved a fistful of cranberry sauce into her mouth, and as if we’d spotted the rescue ship on the horizon, everyone laughed.

And I was truly thankful.

A Mother’s Love

Linda Clare shares with us again the battles she faces in her family with addictions. 

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A Mother’s Love

By Linda S. Clare

He was her baby, after all. Coming off a binge, all he wanted was a dry spot to sleep and some Taco Bell. For three days, the mom fed and sheltered her addicted adult son. Then, he’d melted back onto the streets, and she settled into familiar guilt and worry. Her biggest fear? By providing food and shelter, she’d enabled him.

His addiction had crushed her countless times, but loving nurture still guided her. A fast-food meal or three. A couple of days sleeping in the guest room. The inevitable fresh heartbreak the moment he said goodbye. And sadly, the guilt of being branded: Enabler. Codependent. Tough Love failure.

For decades, Tough Love has been standard advice to families. In theory, you kick the addict out, he hits bottom and asks for help. In reality, Tough Love is not a one-size-fits-all answer.

I can’t judge others’ circumstances—especially when Tough Love is used to ensure safety or sanity. Some recovering addicts say they couldn’t see the light until their wife, sibling or parent turned them out into the cold.

But it’s hard not to feel as if we’re at war. One side believes Tough Love is the only way, even when evidence doesn’t back it up. The other side argues for Just Love—staying in relationship—even when loved ones are mistreated or manipulated. Neither side wins.

It’s time for a ceasefire.

Addiction is awful enough without judging those caught in its crossfire. We’d make more progress if we stopped blaming loved ones for what they do or don’t do in dealing with addicts. Kicking out your addict may be right for you. But not kicking out the addict isn’t always wrong.

We’re all doing the best we can.

I’ll never forget the day a treatment center director looked at me and said, “You’re as sick as your son is.” In her eyes I was a codependent enabler—helping, rescuing, tolerating my addicted son. I deserved blame, the theory goes, because enabling makes possible an addict’s continued use and prevents him from “hitting bottom.” As if enablers feed off addicts’ failures and help the poor addicts so they can be heroes. As if enabling causes addicts to stay addicted.

Carrie Wilkens, PhD, clinical director of the Center for Motivation and Change in New York City, specializes in evidence-based therapies and sees it quite differently. “There’s an implicit assumption that the codependent is getting something out of it,” she says. “Like the desire to be a hero or rescuer or benefactor. But that could not be farther from truth.”

I’ve thought long and hard about my role in my three adult sons’ addictions. I believe in Just Love, showing mercy and compassion. I want my boys to get better, so yes, I feed them. I hate seeing them suffer but I need to know they’re alive, so I shelter them. I love them so, yes, I keep loving them. Do I make mistakes? Of course. But I don’t believe I’m a hero—or that I’m responsible for their decisions.

Where does loving Parent end and destructive Enabler begin? If you’re a parent of an addict or alcoholic, you know how blurry the boundary can be. You’ve tenderly cared for your child since birth. Now, he’s grown, but it’s hard to stop nurturing—to stop momming or dadding. Especially if you feel wrong no matter what you do.

All the choices are terrible. Employ Tough Love—toss out an addicted adult son or daughter, and the pain of not knowing where they are can be too great. Some parents suffer for years, not knowing where or even if their son or daughter lives. Too often, our worst fears come to pass without even a chance to say, “I love you” one last time.

Yes, sometimes Tough Love is the only way. An adult addict who behaves in ways that make a mom or dad fear for their lives can’t be tolerated. No one should be subjected to continual abuse from an addict, or anyone for that matter. But not every family is the same.

Whether you favor Tough Love or Just Love, labeling addicts’ loved ones as enablers only sucks all the hope out of the room.

And hope is really what this fight is about. It’s about holding onto hope when no answers emerge, or when people treat your family as if it’s diseased. For instance, a few years ago, a Christian woman told me that because my sons deal with addiction, I must not have raised them right. I was speechless, picturing a giant toilet flushing us worthless Clare addicts right down where we belonged. What I heard was, not only are your kids hopeless, you are too.

Since then, I’ve set some rules: I try to limit my “help” to basic needs like food and shelter. I don’t hand out money. Addiction is still alive and well in my family, but I can sleep at night knowing I’ve acted in love.

I’m still searching for the perfect response to my sons, but I’m surer than ever that each addict’s family is as unique as the addict. There may be no “right” method to parent an addict, but I take a few cues from my faith.

If God ever kicked me out so I could hit bottom, I’d have no hope. If you’re an addict and even your mom gives up on you, how much more difficult will it be to keep hope alive?

That’s why I venture into my sons’ jungle of despair—to reassure them of my love and blow on any embers of hope they may have left. I offer my addicts the same compassion I’d show a stranger or an angel unaware.

We who care about addicts should be able to provide a hot meal, a place to sleep, a kind word without being blamed as enablers. To gently offer open hands instead of closed fists. To stop blaming and start listening.

“Faith, hope, Love, these three abide,” the scripture says. “But the greatest of these is Love.” The mom who nurtured her addicted son with cheap tacos and a place to rest showed her son that her faith in him is alive. She still hopes for him and in him. And she loves him as only a mother can.