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Dear Friends, 

Seriously, it’s May already! I am not sure if the pandemic or something has caused my mind to lose track of time, but I saw a friend a couple of days ago that I had not seen in over a year. I used to see him regularly but since the pandemic I had lost track of how long it had been.  I realized that the same was true for many family members and friends and I am sure it true for many of you as well. This being isolated sort of became normal and even though we went to the store and did other typical things we avoided groups of people. I continue to pray that we can get back to gathering regularly. I miss people, and since we started our PAL meeting back up in person, I realize how important it is to see and be around others.

Some of us have become used to this way of meeting and find it convenient, and for some that cannot get out of the house it was normal.  Virtual meetings of all kinds are likely to be a part of our lives from now on, but there is no substitute for meeting in person.  It is difficult to hide when you are in the room with others. When my wife and I first went to PAL that was one of our problems, we wanted to isolate, we wanted to hide in shame and guilt and to not expose our lives to others.  The effort it took to go to the meeting to sit with others and share our experiences made all the difference. It was a commitment – we knew what we were doing on Thursday nights back then and we looked forward to it.

The friend I mentioned that I had not seen in a year needed to borrow something, and that was why he stopped by.  When he got here, we talked in the driveway for about 20 minutes before he headed home. It’s not like I had not communicated with him in the past year, but this was different. He was in my driveway and we could “see” each other.  About an hour after he left, I got a text, and I assumed he was just saying thanks for what he borrowed. The text read, “Thanks for a great conversation.” 

People need people. We need one another to come alongside (literally) - not just figuratively - and help one another on this journey.

My prayer is that we can get more and more meetings back up and running. For those that cannot go to a physical meeting that is completely understandable.  PAL is needed.  We received nearly 100 inquiries about starting new meetings in just the first three months of this year.  Thanks for your support of PAL’s mission and as always, I hope this newsletter brings you hope and maybe some good ideas to consider along your journey. 

Let’s travel together,

Kim Humphrey
ED / CEO
Progress
Not
Perfection
Parents come to PAL or other support groups usually after suffering a tremendous amount of stress, fear and struggle. Once they reach this point of defeat, they seek support, what they usually find is that their awareness grows quickly and immensely. Many feel “I can’t believe I didn’t find this earlier“ or “why doesn’t everybody know about this?” Through attending the meetings, they learn about addiction and how the family is affected, they quickly begin to see that many of their responses to the addict are not helping the addict or themselves. Sometimes even becoming aware that they are perpetuating dysfunction.
 
Simultaneously, they are gaining hope and learning practical solutions, potential for change becomes a reality. Parents gain hope for themselves and for their child when they are able to identify with other parents who were once in their shoes, struggling, but are now happy and thriving whether the addict is sober or not. They find mentors who inspire them to grow and make changes and give hope that they can be free of the effect of an addiction in their lives.

Early in the process when parents first reach out for help and start attending a support group, they often desire a huge leap, a breakthrough change that comes all at once, although this does happen occasionally it is not the norm. A more typical journey may be that the awareness shift within is quick, but the outer response when presented with a stressful situation with the addict takes more time to change.
 
Many changes will come quickly, but on occasion it is common for a parent to slip back into old behaviors or patterns. This can be terribly frustrating for the parent because they may think to themselves, “I know better!,” but that is not all there is to it. We know better when it comes to many things. Everybody has had a bad or a good habit that is hard to break, or something they know that they should or ought to do but then when it comes into reality it doesn’t go like we planned. Conditioned responses to stressful situations with loved ones can be particularly difficult to change. For many parents, the responses to the addict took a long time to develop and are really ingrained. Asking a parent to immediately stop enabling an addict who has been doing it for 20 years, is akin to asking them to slam dunk a basketball, it is unlikely.
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10 minutes of your time = Money for PAL!
Customer rewards programs are great examples how you can make money for PAL without spending an extra cent! Many local stores allow you to choose a nonprofit to receive a small percentage of your purchases, but the catch is they need someone with a local address to register that nonprofit.

In the Phoenix area where PAL’s head office is, we’re registered with the local Fry’s grocery store, and we have received over $5,000 in rewards from just this one program and we have less than 200 people signed up so far! Imagine if we had several thousand people participating!  You, your friends your family, anyone you share this with that shops at that store can help PAL.

We’d like to encourage YOU to see if there’s a store in your area where you can register PAL – imagine if we had 100 stores across the country donating hundreds of dollars each, how many families we could benefit!

We can even help with the paperwork – just let us know if there’s a store in YOUR area!

For more details, just click here: https://bit.ly/2QI6IP4

Learning to accept my kids’ resistance to change

My husband and a share a blended family of nine children and 11 grandchildren. My oldest three each struggle with addiction and its impact.
 
My oldest son is a sweetheart and always puts others before himself. In one moment, however, he made a very bad choice that changed our lives forever, and he is currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. The one positive side of that is he has been sober since he began his incarceration in 2016.
 
My second son has a big heart for others, but he was the first one to become addicted. He started with marijuana as a teenager, moved on to meth and has been struggling with addiction for more than 10 years. He was also in prison and relapsed since his release six months ago. Yes, two of my sons were in prison at the same time.
 
My oldest daughter is strong and bold with a beautiful voice, but she has been homeless and addicted for the last 3 1/2 years. Two years ago, she gave birth to a 33-week-old stillborn baby girl, and last year she suffered a nearly fatal overdose – both times she went right back to the streets.
 
As I struggled to deal with these three children I loved so much, I tried basically everything PAL teaches us not to do! I rushed in to rescue them, I enabled them, I looked for them when I hadn’t seen or heard from them for a few days, never allowing them to go through the consequences of their choices. I continued to do things for them they could have done for themselves, and even downplayed what was really going on to my other children.

My husband and I found PAL through some friends who have a marriage ministry in their church. It was five years ago when my oldest son got arrested. We knew the whole situation could easily destroy our marriage and our family, so we sought counsel from friends outside of our church.  They told us about PAL, and we’ve been faithfully attending ever since. 
 
Once we started attending PAL, I learned how misguided my actions had been. I have gained invaluable knowledge about addiction which helps me immensely when dealing with my children. I’ve learned the valuable lesson of having boundaries and not allowing others to cross them for any reason. I’ve also learned how to make decisions based on facts and not my emotions which has been a huge game changer.
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"Four Seasons" now available on the PAL Website

A simple, small act of kindness

Mired in the disease of addiction, my life felt meaningless. It felt hollow, without purpose or direction. At my lowest moments, with my scarred face, dirty clothes, and overall negative demeanor and energy, it didn’t surprise me when people looked the other way as we passed each other on the street. It was a lonely existence indeed.

I remember vividly though, the effect and impact other people had in my life in those dire times. One day, toward the end of my active struggle with heroin and methamphetamine, I found myself wandering around 16th Street and Glendale in Central Phoenix. After being asked to leave the sober living house I was staying in prior, I had spent the last of what little money I had to get high to alleviate the suffering I felt in my miserable existence. It didn’t work (it never does) and I decided to post up and sit in front of a subway to bide my time, as I had nothing left. Nothing to do – Nowhere to be. The sadness of my situation crept upon me and I soon found myself with my head in my hands, staring at the bland concrete below me – considering the circumstances of where I’d found myself yet again: broken and alone. People passed by. They didn’t say anything. Most of the time they didn’t even look. And in the moment, I didn’t blame them: in fact, a small part of me even understood why they didn’t. Here was the bleakness, the low points of humanity, realized in human form, sitting before them. I felt like a piece of the patio furniture at one point: simply there, and nothing else.
            
I was startled when I felt a hand upon my shoulder. I looked up and a young man and his wife stood before me. “Are you ok?” the man asked. I nodded my head that I was fine, but the current look on my face certainly betrayed my gesture. “Do you need anything, is there anything we can do for you?” Again, I shook my head no in silence. He didn’t appear frustrated or discouraged by my lack of response in the least. Finally, he said: “If it’s alright with you, we’d like to buy you something to eat at this Subway, can you come inside with us to order something?” And with that, surprised at the sudden kindness of these strangers, I stood up and conceded. I walked with them into the restaurant like a regular person and ordered a sandwich. After the man had bought my food, we walked outside, and before leaving, he looked me in the eye, shook my hand firmly, and said “take care of yourself man.” And that was it. No deep conversation, no in-depth dissection of my perceived issues, no judgement, nothing. A simple, small kindness, an interaction that lasted less than four minutes.
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New PAL Meetings
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