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CHANGE

I used to believe firmly in the old saying that it was human nature to resist change.  However, one day I met someone that seemed to always be willing to try something new, someone you could count on to say "yes" when others were too afraid to do something that was out of their comfort zone. I then realized that although rare, some people do not resist change therefore it can’t be human nature to resist change.

Although I don’t believe that it’s human nature to resist change, I do believe that people resist being changed. When it’s not their idea, they will fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are.  Of course, I witnessed this with my sons’ unwillingness for many years to make changes in their lives but instead for many long years they remained in their addiction. I also can now say the same for me as a parent, I didn’t change when others wanted me to – I did it when I wanted to. I mentioned to my PAL group the other night that as much as I wished they would not go down the road I did and that they would bypass some of the many dead ends I went down, unfortunately some will just have to experience it for themselves. They will need to fail at trying to change another person before learning to accept them for who they are and start working on changing the one person they can – themselves.

 As PAL gets going in this new year, I am so pleased to tell you we are seeing more and more inquires about meetings as well as people wanting to get new meetings started. We are seeing the potential light at the end of this tunnel of COVID. People now more than ever are in need of meetings and help with their extraordinary circumstances of dealing with a loved one who is still fighting the urge to change. As we know, until the pain of not changing exceeds the perceived pain of change, our loved ones’ suffering with addiction are not likely to change.  I hope however, that you can make the changes you know deep down will help you personally, the changes to take care of yourself, the changes to surround yourself with people who care and understand what you are going through and maybe even changing the way you look at professional counseling and getting the help you know you really need. 

I want to thank all of you who responded last month to my request for volunteers. We had many people respond, but we can still use more to help us get the word out through mailings, people to start new meetings and others to help with many more exciting projects coming in 2021.  Please reply to this email if you want to help and hopefully we can get you connected and engaged.   

I also want to thank all of our contributors to this newsletter.

Lastly, we have not surveyed the folks who attend our meetings in over two years, so if you have ever attended a PAL meeting please take 5-10 minutes and complete our survey – you’ll find the link below, and information has also been emailed to our distribution list.  We want to hear from you to help us improve what we do and hopefully to affirm the great work our volunteers do.

I know that for me, I did not want to go through the door called change until it was my last option. I wanted another door – any door – but eventually I did make the decision to choose change. Now I know that change is not only possible, but that it is good and I believe it was a necessary part of the solution that led to recovery for both of my sons.

God Bless,

Kim Humphrey
ED / CEO
God writes straight with crooked lines

"An expression in recovery that means we often end up where we really wanted and needed to go...closer to God."
Dealing with addiction is scary, painful, and taxing on any family. Addiction is almost never expected, so most families don’t spend any time preparing for it. It’s as if you are moving through life normally and all of a sudden you find yourself in the middle of a whirlwind of insanity where the normal rules of life do not seem to apply, and often actually don’t.
 
Many addicts when questioned during some of the worst times in their addiction about how they arrived where they are, are baffled. They might basically know it was their decision to use drugs and alcohol along with other poor decisions that led them to the spot they are in; however, the truth is they often do not truly understand why or how they ended up there. Many times, they say things such as: “I never intended to let things get to this point” or “I’ve tried to stop myself, but I haven’t been able to.”  Parents echo these sentiments saying to themselves and others “How did this happen?” “Why did this happen to us?” “Did we do something wrong?” Or “Is there something wrong with our family or with our kid?” It is easy to ask these things and fall into negative reflection of the past. Parents and addicts alike can find themselves lamenting over unfulfilled plans and dreams and wishing things were different. Sometimes this can even spiral into severe self-pity or depression. Many are hoping they will wake up to find that it is all just a bad dream.
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How PAL has impacted our lives

We are parents of a 28-year-old son who struggles with alcohol abuse and mental illness that he was diagnosed with at a young age.  Over the years we have participated in various support groups, attended numerous educational programs, had family, individual and marriage counseling, all to help us deal more effectively with our son.   

As a child he was fun, funny, loved the outdoors – especially fishing – and animals of all kinds.  At the age of ten things changed as his mental illness issues started to surface.  He had a math disability and Attention Deficit Disorder in addition to other more serious issues.  As he grew we noticed that he became more and more unhappy and sometime in his late teens he turned to drugs. We are not certain how long this lasted but eventually his drug of choice became alcohol. He expressed that he uses it to numb his pain which is emotional pain. He doesn’t work and has very unstable relationships. He did move out about ten years ago and continues to live on his own. 

A friend of mine from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) had talked to me several times about how helpful PAL had been for her.  We just felt it was never the right time, we just wanted him to get better and kept looking at the mental illness aspect of it and didn’t really know what to do.  Finally, in depths of despair and stress, we found ourselves sitting in a PAL meeting - it was the right time!! 

From the first meeting, we knew we were where we needed to be.  We began learning more about addiction in general and suggestions were offered of alternatives to address our immediate issues.  When we asked, “what do we say when he says…"  it turns out others had heard that before and had some great answers. One new word that we learned was “bummer” – not in a mean way – just truly stating that’s unfortunate but then not jumping in and taking it on as our problem!  We learned not to ask for details or information unless we were going to do something with the information.  We started using our new words right away rather than going directly into “fix-it” mode like parents often do. 
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New PAL Meetings
New Staff Member

Meet Lauri Wingenroth
PAL's First Operations Director 
When Lauri Wingenroth walked through the doors of the PAL office, it was a little like coming home. She is a PAL mom and has volunteered as a PAL substitute facilitator for nearly a year, so she knows the organization – and knows how it changes people’s lives.

Before joining the PAL team, however, she worked more than 35 years in local government, primarily managing the citywide budget process for both Phoenix and Goodyear, two neighbors in “The Valley of the Sun.” 

“My favorite job was in the Phoenix Transit Department where I was the Chief Financial Officer,” she says.  “It was a fulfilling position, not because of my daily duties at Transit, but rather from the opportunity to closely serve people needing services. 

“I have been looking for an opportunity to again find a more direct, meaningful way to serve people and found it with PAL.”

When she’s not helping PAL prepare for the future, she enjoys quilting and has just started a small raised-bed garden.

Lauri will help take PAL to the next level as an organization, not just in terms of managing finances, but in taking advantage of her years as a senior-level executive for the nation’s fifth largest city. As PAL continues to grow, she’ll make sure we’re prepared to handle the new challenges.

Welcome, Lauri!

Help PAL get
even better!

 
Six minutes to make a difference

In just 5-6 minutes you can help PAL become better as an organization AND let our volunteers know how they are doing!

The last time we reached out to PAL members was two years ago. Your input plays a critical role in planning the organization’s next steps.

Please click here to take the survey now.

Thanks so much for your help!

Recovery is a journey

For years I saddled myself with unrealistic expectations. Newly in recovery, I expected everything in my life to dramatically change the minute I was able to remain free from substances for more than five minutes. But as anyone who has struggled through the disease of addiction and subsequently found recovery can tell you - this simply isn't the case. Recovery is a journey. It can be challenging. There are going to be times when we fall flat on our faces, where our worst tendencies as people will shine through. But what I've learned over the years, is that that's completely, wholly, and totally acceptable. Recovery is more like small steps in the right direction on a daily basis, little victories over our former thinking patterns that we truly need to recognize and celebrate. Over time, albeit slowly, through the implementation of solid work in practical methods of spiritual healing, we can, and will, recover - and our relationships will too.

Several times in early recovery, my expectations were that my relationships would be fully restored with minimal effort on my part. I had the idea that simply not using drugs, physical sobriety, would be enough for my family and friends to forget my past transgressions and embrace my new life with open arms. And while of course they were overjoyed that I had begun my journey in abstinence and healing; that alone didn't miraculously restore everything in my life in the way in which I'd imagined it would. It might seem silly looking back; but in my current state - in that moment - that's what I believed. Never mind the fact that I had spent the past 12 years of my life lying, cheating, stealing, and generally wreaking havoc wherever I was at any given moment - under the direct influence of my addiction. While completely consumed by my disease - I acted out in a miserable way. I let people down consistently. I hurt the people that loved me the most; even if it was inadvertently, the pain was still there. It was unrealistic of me to think that everything would change overnight; that the instant gratification I had become so accustomed to in my addict life would somehow transpose over into my new reality.
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