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Letter from the Executive Director - Kim Humphrey

Dear Friends, 

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself…”  Those famous lines were spoken at the first inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States on Saturday, March 4, 1933. The inauguration marked the commencement of his first term and was highly anticipated by our nation which was in the height of the Great Depression.  In light of what has been happening around our country and the world with the pandemic, those words seem to take on a different meaning to me today.

From PAL, I learned that fear is always based in the future, in other words it is something you think might happen based on your present circumstances.  At one point I was “certain” my sons would be sentenced to prison for the rest of their lives and or they would “certainly die” of an overdose.  I feared the worst and it led to me falling into depression. True depression, the kind that is debilitating with a feeling of hopelessness. 

We have heard from many that PAL parents are being hit even harder during this time as they have fears of their own situations added onto the fears for their loved ones.  Particularly loved ones that are engaging in high-risk behaviors and/or are homeless amidst this health crisis. Many addicted loved ones have underlying health and mental health conditions and our worries and fears can easily escalate to an almost panic mode.  Now more than ever, parents need PAL meetings … only to find most of them are cancelled due to the church or locations closing or limited by the requirement to have nine or less people gathering during this health crisis. 

We at PAL have been scrambling to find ways to keep bringing the message of hope. We are so thankful to our facilitators, some of them who have gone above and beyond to bring their meetings to people virtually. We also have added two more online meetings which started the week of March 23rd, so we now have options for online meetings Monday through Thursday nights.

We, like all of you, are praying for this crisis to abate and for some sense of normalcy to return.  However, it is in times like this that we take stock of what really matters, and we do our best to be grateful for what we do have. We at PAL are praying for the safety of all our PAL loved ones, our facilitators and others who volunteer to bring hope through PAL to suffering families. I hope you find some solace in the articles this month, including notes from a live video I did with our blogger / counselor, Ron Paterik on how to handle the monumental stress placed on us during times like this. We also share a link to the video and encourage you to watch this and then use the notes as a guide. I want to thank one of our facilitators, Jill, who took these notes and made them available for us to share.  Also I am confident that our other stories will bring you some peace and understanding and as always we are truly grateful to all of you for your support of PAL. 

God Bless,

Kim Humphrey
PAL Executive Director

MIDWEST CELEBRATION OF HOPE CONFERENCE & BANQUET

Plans for the 2nd Annual Midwest Celebration of Hope were originally scheduled for April 18, unfortunately the event is one of thousands across the country that needed to be postponed due to COVID-19.

The new scheduled date is May 30, 2020.  As much as we want to host this event and are making every effort to do so, we also recognize these are uncertain times and we all may need to be flexible and creative.
 
We will keep you updated with our plans soon!

PAL has given us peace...
Something we didn't have for so long

My husband and I met almost 24 years ago and had much in common.  We were at the same life-stage, both going through a divorce and taking care of our children. He had one, I had two from our first marriage.  After we married, we found ourselves pregnant right away and our blended family began.  Hannah, the baby of the family, is our addicted loved one.

Hannah was brought up with the same moral and spiritual guidelines as our other children and was loved and cherished.  She is funny, outgoing and very personable.  She was our princess – literally!  She played dress-up with pink plastic high heels for years.  School came easily for Hannah and she enjoyed it.

She began smoking marijuana around age 14 and it got progressively worse.  She was sneaking out of the house, lying to us constantly and mouthing off.  Soon, she no longer concealed it from us.  By the time she was a freshman in high school, she was drinking and cutting.  The cutting scared us a lot.  We had no idea until her cheerleading coach called us.  She had been hiding her arms.  The pain of seeing that still brings back tears.  Not long afterward, she quit cheerleading and sank deeper into despair. She attempted suicide.  My job performance suffered. I would constantly get phone calls and had to leave work to “help” her.

And we did try to help her.  We saw several counselors.  Hannah resisted.  Her senior year was pivotal for her. She just didn’t seem to care – about school, family – or herself. Her grades suffered, and right before graduation, she attempted suicide again.  This time she had to be admitted into a mental health facility. She graduated, but only because this worked in her favor, and I pleaded with the principal.  We were beside ourselves, not knowing how to help her.  The weekend after graduating, she crashed her car.  She was arrested for possession and DUI.  We called a lawyer.  We paid for the lawyer – out of my husband’s retirement account.

Then she discovered opioids.  From the way she tells it, the first time she tried Fentanyl she was hooked.  She wanted to feel this way all the time.  This led to more trouble with the law. Underage drinking, stealing, etc.  She went to jail once – and bragged about it to a friend after I picked her up at 3 a.m.  I bailed her out another time – but only after making her wait until I was good and ready to pick her up.  One day, she stole all our jewelry.  I blamed myself a bit because I hadn’t locked it all away.  We did not turn her in.  Things were spiraling out of control. We forced her into rehab. She hated it and got kicked out or just would leave. 

She would go in and out of rehab six more times.  Once I took out the trash and found her passed out in the dirt near the front door.  I picked her up and she came to – sort of.  I asked her what she had taken. She lied. She began living with boyfriends.  She has been homeless on more than a few occasions.  She OD’d once while living in a boyfriend’s car.  We never knew until months later.

While she was in rehab number four or five we discovered PAL – somehow I found the website.  We’ve been attending regularly for about a year now.  It has made a huge impact in our lives.  It has just given us peace that we had not had for so long. It has also allowed my husband and me to get on the same page – albeit in our own time.  One of the most valuable lessons I learned from PAL is learning to treat Hannah as an adult. This is giving her the respect she deserves and the self-confidence to grow and mature as an adult. We also learned that we can’t fix her.  She must do the work. This sounds so simple but putting it into practice is much harder.

Today, Hannah is sober, but still struggles.  But I also see in her a desire to live a normal sober life.  She is living in a sober home, has a job and pays her rent!  We are still learning to give her to God and leave the results to Him.

PAL parent
 

Special Response to PAL Parents During the COVID-19 Restrictions

The restrictions on meeting during the COVID-19 crisis have led facilitators and PAL at large to developing creative ways to continue supporting parents remotely. We will continue sharing videos and options to help support those efforts.

PAL recently broadcast a Facebook LIVE with Phoenix counselor Ron Paterik titled “It’s Just Too Much,” designed to help people process concerns about COVID-19 on top of worrying about their addicted loved ones and the future.

You can view the video on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/ZKwruP70z-c

Palm Springs, CA facilitator Jill Spike designed a notes page to help lead discussion after watching the video. We’ve included that below for your reference, either as a part of a group or on your own. Thank you, Jill, for always going above and beyond!

Notes For Video Click Here
A New Normal: Virtual Meetings

The PAL meeting at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas is a robust group. Led by facilitators Molly and Jack Eimer, they average between 20-30 people a week, most of them couples who are passionate about spreading the word about PAL to other hurting parents.
 
When Dallas became the first county to issue a shelter-in-place order in Texas on March 23, meetings at the church came to a crashing halt. Fortunately for the group, member Cynthia Smoot and her husband own a digital marketing firm (https://www.gangwayadvertising.com) and were ready to seamlessly move the meetings to a virtual platform on Zoom.
 
“We had to be proactive about what we could do,” says Cynthia. “Several of us who were familiar with video conferencing looked at the products out there, and decided Zoom was the one people were most familiar with. We did a rehearsal with four of us to see if it worked, then sent out an invitation.”
 
They had 14 people log on for the first virtual meeting, and she says it went really well. Jack led the meeting, as usual, and participants were introduced to ground rules like muting themselves unless they had something to say. Zoom gave participants an option to “raise their hand” if they wanted to talk.
 
“The meeting went so smoothly, everyone loved it,” says Cynthia. “It was better than an audio call, because you could see people’s reactions, see them nodding their head and giving support in a way that you wouldn’t have gotten on the phone. It was as close to a real meeting as we could get it.”

"It was a surprisingly easy transition," says Jack "and I'm not a techno at all. Cynthia led the effort, and she did a fantastic job. It's obvious that people are really enjoying this format, and not just putting up with it." 

Creative Measures to Help PAL Members' Needs

None of us could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic; none of could have predicted how it would impact our way of life as a country, as individuals and as an organization.
 
At PAL, our current focus is on finding new ways to help parents deal with increased stresses during this time, while also finding ways to continue serving them with restrictions on meeting together physically. Our volunteers and staff have stepped up to the challenge and continue to work to make sure no one feels isolated or alone.
 
Here are some of the ways we have adjusted to a “new normal” way of doing business:

  • Facilitators can update – weekly if necessary – their own meeting information on the website.
  • PAL has added two temporary phone-in meetings to pick up the slack, so parents now have a choice of attending meetings Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings.
  • Facilitators are encouraged to find what works best for their community and their meeting in terms of meeting:
    • We have dozens of meetings that are using teleconferencing to continue to hold virtual meetings. Zoom appears to be the most popular platform.
    • Some facilitators are reaching out by phone to keep in contact with their parents to ensure they have what they need.
  • Social media efforts have been stepped up at all levels to keep members informed, encouraged and educated.
  • PAL has been posting new videos online that can be used for meetings and for individuals to review.
  • Our regional leads have done a tremendous job stepping up to check in and help their local facilitators. Many, many thanks to Nancy Godin, Diane Buxton, Donna Whitaker and Sandee Brogan.                

 
We are overwhelmed by the dedication and time the PAL team has spent to continue serving our families despite the limitations of this challenging season.

It can be difficult to remain calm
PAL Blogger:
By Sean, In Recovery

Panic is infectious. When the energy surrounding you is charged with fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and agitation, it can be extremely difficult to retain a calm and collected demeanor. Even the most spiritually strong and resolved among us can find ourselves carried away in the waves of apprehension when pressed enough and our steadfast principles become that much easier to fall by the wayside. The global pandemic we have currently found ourselves in the middle of has proven this to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt – an unprecedented situation. It is scary. It can be paranoia and worry-inducing on an extreme level. It is easier than ever to get carried away in our relentless ruminations. While it’s important to recognize that it’s natural to feel uneasy (at the very least) in times like these, it is imperative that we maintain and stay the course.

I had a hard time this week. I don’t think I got a solid night’s rest once. My head would hit the pillow after relentlessly monitoring the news for hours and the inner machinations of my brain would start turning, exploring what if’s nonstop. I started overindulging in unhealthy food after having dialed in my nutrition for the past several months. I found myself spending more time with the news and my phone than with other people. I am by no means a perfect example of spiritual living but before this madness struck, I’d like to say I was working a decently solid program. Very simply, and swiftly, I let those things slide. I let myself get carried away. My firm diligence, my studious approach to healthy spiritual living was blotted out by the collective panic-infused atmosphere surrounding me.

Read More
Be a Part of Something Good!

You don't have to live in AZ to participate!
 
PAL is working hard to provide additional resources through virtual
meetings and engagement support for parents due to COVID-19.
Parents of addicted loved ones have an added burden
knowing their children are in a high-risk group for the virus,
due to health issues and often being homeless.

Please donate on April 7.
The first donations up to $5,000 will be matched!
www.AZGives.org/PALGroup

 
 Funds raised will be used to help PAL nationally!
Donate Here
Copyright © 2020 PAL - Parents of Addicted Loved Ones, All rights reserved.


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