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Letter from the Executive Director - Kim Humphrey

Dear Friends, 

With Thanksgiving just behind us and Christmas coming, the holidays are in full swing. For many dealing with a loved one in addiction this can be an extraordinary time.

I was reminded that the first Thanksgiving was in 1621 with the Mayflower landing just one year prior.  Half of the people who made the trip did not survive this first year, the conditions were unbearable and heart breaking and yet they celebrated and gave thanks in the what were terrible circumstances.

I was told by a wise counselor that having gratitude is a way to combat the negative thoughts that creep into our minds and want to take over. Making a quick mental list of at least five things we are thankful for can pull our brain back into a place of reasoning and logic and out of the highly emotional anxious place it wants to go when we think things are not right with our families. 

As Christmas approaches, we feel even more nostalgia creep in and we long for the day that “all will be well,” and we want that perfect snapshot of the perfect Christmas with our loved ones.  I hope you can find a way to accept things just as they are this season. Practice things you undoubtedly will learn from one another in PAL and find ways to celebrate, to enjoy your life regardless of the choices of your loved one. I pray that you can hold strong to your personal boundaries and that as this year ends you can learn to create new traditions, and new memories that are just as special. 

We have included some tips for the holidays and we have a link to a video from our Facebook Live event “Navigating the Holidays.”   Our bloggers are back and there is much at PAL that we are thankful for as we continue to grow and provide support to hurting families. 
 
Giving Tuesday is a day that has become a global day of giving and remembering to help others at this time of year. We hope to move into the next year with a goal of having PAL meetings in all states and expanding into communities we are not in.  We have nearly 400 active volunteers now and the ability to support and help them as they faithfully bring hope to others is an ongoing need.  Thanks for all you do and God bless you during this coming month!

God Bless,

Kim Humphrey
PAL Executive Director

HAVING A HEALTHY HOLIDAY
PAL  Blogger: 
by Ron Paterik

Last week I had the unique experience of participating in a Facebook Live conversation with PAL parents from around the country.  The topic was (Navigating the Holidays) Coping with Holiday Stress.  The questions were excellent and while we did our best to answer them, there is never enough time to address everything related to the holidays and the pressure that comes to bear on a family.  So today I thought I would briefly mention a few follow-up thoughts on the topic.

 1. SET REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS:  
Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and plan accordingly.  Establish in your mind and actions that …

-“perfect” is not an option nor a necessity
-pleasing everyone is unworkable
-“I shoulds” and “I musts” are the enemy of contentment

2. ACCEPT SADNESS, BUT DON’T MAKE IT YOUR FOCUS:
-Grieving loss is inevitable so acknowledge your pain with another and then refocus on your gratitude.
-Shift focus to who is in your life this holiday season.  Invest your energy and love into them.
-Avoid awfulizing as in “this is terrible,” “this is the worst,” or “I will never make it through."  This extreme thinking is rarely true and compounds suffering.
-Avoid self-rating; the comparison game.  Comparing with past Christmases or other families is a guaranteed set up for unnecessary misery.

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Amazon-smile benefits PAL 
It's easy, it's free and it helps PAL! 

Simply click here or go to https://smile.amazon.com/

Next sign in using your normal Amazon username and password.  Amazon will prompt you to select an organization, type in: Parents of Addicted Loved Ones. Select PAL and after you complete the process, make sure at top left of page, you see orange letters "Supporting" and to the right of that it should say Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) in white.

That is it! You're now correctly signed up. Simply always go to https://smile.amazon.com/ to sign in and make your Amazon purchases and by doing so you are helping to support PAL.  There is no cost to you!
Navigating the Holidays Live Stream

From our experience, we realize that this time of year can be the toughest when it comes to being the parent, spouse, or family member of an addicted loved one. With loved ones potentially missing and crises seeming to arise at the worst possible time, the holidays are full of challenges.

PAL recently published a video titled, Navigating the Holidays which was based off of our most recent Facebook Live Stream. We highly encourage everyone to watch this video as it is full of practical information and suggestions for how to get through the holiday season as the parent, spouse, or family member of an addicted loved one.
Facilitators: Please check the facilitator portal for a downloadable version of this video that can be shown in your PAL meeting. Reach out to jeremy@palgroup.org if you have any trouble doing this.

If you are interested in this content and want to see more like it, please subscribe to PAL’s YouTube channel to be notified whenever we release a new video!

Parent Testimonial: 
I was embarrassed… guilty… but I was not alone

Michael’s dad, my husband of more than 14 years, died on the eve of my son’s 13th birthday.

The cancer diagnosis ten months earlier changed our lives. Until that day, we were a happy family of three, going on camping trips together and celebrating holidays with family. Michael attended a private Christian school; he got all As and Bs and was in the Honors Orchestra. He was a member of Boy Scouts.

As his dad got sicker, Michael didn’t know how to respond. The holidays of 2001 were sad and frustrating, with his dad barely able to open gifts. Two weeks later, peacefully at home, he went to be with the Lord. The next day, my son became a teenager. He tells me now that he started using alcohol and marijuana shortly thereafter.

The teenage years brought some horrible times. Michael became rebellious and challenged authority, especially mine. He would stay out all night; I would be worried sick and then angry when he finally did show up. After several times, I started calling the police. When he asked to transfer to an online charter school, I agreed to it, thinking anything would be an improvement. Amazingly, it was. He graduated with honors a year early.

The week after his 21st birthday, he moved out of my house and into his own apartment. He decided to get his Associates Degree and left his job. He applied on his own for loans and grants to finance it. He had almost finished his degree … when he reconnected with one of his high school friends who reintroduced him to meth and heroin. He had two car accidents in my van a week apart, the latter one totaling it. Fortunately, nobody was badly hurt, but he was DUI and caught with “dangerous drugs” and paraphernalia. Due to a myriad of court extensions, he was still free in August, and I was still paying his rent to keep him off the streets.

Three months later, as he was looking through a dumpster for junk to sell, he was picked up for “failure to appear”—and yes, he was in possession of heroin at the time--and was sent to jail. I was relieved. At least I knew where he was, and he had a place to sleep and food to eat. And hopefully, no heroin. He spent his 30th birthday in jail.

In February, I attended the Opioid Town Hall in Tempe, to learn more about this demon that had my son in its grasp. PAL had a table in the display area. I spoke with Richard and Sally at some length and attended my first group the next weekend.

I walked into that meeting feeling a lot of emotions: a little embarrassed that everyone there would know I had a kid with a drug problem, a little guilty because it might be due to something I’d done or not done in his life, wondering how this happened in our family, and disheartened that I needed help. I soon learned I was not alone. Everyone in there had felt this way!

I read The Four Seasons of Recovery over the following week, and learned that my “helping” him had been misplaced; I was keeping him from feeling the pain of his consequences, and he needed to come to the realization himself that he’d fallen down the rabbit hole.

He did. In jail he worked hard and followed the rules, earning early release. Within a month of his release, he had a job and an apartment. On Nov. 6, he celebrated one year clean and sober.

I don’t know if we will be spending this Thanksgiving, Christmas, and his birthday together for the first time in three years. I have hope that he will continue to dig himself out of the hole and I pray he can figure out how to face his problems without drugs or alcohol.

And if he doesn’t, PAL has helped me understand that it’s not my responsibility to fix him. It’s his.

Pal Parent

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!
Help PAL from the comfort of your own living room!
The primary job of the PAL staff is to support our facilitators around the country, but they need help with tasks that can be done remotely.  See if you would be interested in serving in one of the volunteer positions below – we can use two to three people in each post.
 
Outreach coordinator
When new groups start up, we like to send out letters to local officials, treatment centers, hospitals, counselors and the like to let them know that PAL is available for hurting parents in their town. This volunteer position entails.
  • Online research to build a list of contacts with their mailing addresses in the new markets for PAL.
  • Prepare and mail letters with brochures to those businesses/organizations.
PAL will provide all postage, send you brochures and reimburse you for any expenses.
 
Media lists
One of the best ways to get the word out about PAL is through the local media. Typically, this means one or two major newspapers in the area; 2-3 television stations; 2-3 radio stations and online news outlets. We need help researching media outlets in local markets for new PAL groups. This volunteer position entails:
  • Researching the media outlets online using resources we provide.
  • Entering the information into a simple spreadsheet and sending it back to PAL.
PAL staff will take care of reaching out to the media.

Want to learn more? Call the PAL office at 602-512-1454 or email Rachel at admin@palgroup.org.
Giving Tuesday - Global Day of Giving
We are just days away from Giving Tuesday on December 3
 
This is an opportunity to remember others in the midst of the holiday hustle-bustle by making a donation to help provide HOPE to families with an addicted loved one during the holidays. Mark your calendar for December 3, 2019 and tell your friends and family - this Giving Tuesday, YOU can make a difference for a family searching for hope!
Donate Here
What does resentment accomplish? 
PAL Blogger:
By Sean, In Recovery

During the holidays, we may find ourselves in situations that spark resentment and fear. This is often due to the close proximity we find ourselves with family and friends, or nostalgic feelings of idealized closeness and comfort that are not always realistic. When those feelings or ideas of the perfect holiday are challenged by uncomfortable encounters with others, harsh reality can permeate the good vibes and ignite stress and exasperation. When a family member is struggling with addiction, mental health or emotional issues, these types of situations are commonplace. Maybe your son or daughter ruined Thanksgiving the year before by drinking heavily and making a scene, incensing relatives and filling you with shameful feelings. Maybe your spouse’s unexplained, silent absence broke hearts. Maybe somebody you love, regardless of the situation, hurt your feelings deeply. Maybe a person treated someone you love in a way you felt was unhealthy or hurtful. There are myriad scenarios that can alight the process of resentment like fuel to a flame. At some point, if we hope to grow, to truly hold ourselves and others in loving kindness, we have to ask ourselves what we are accomplishing by holding on to resentment and by extension, fear.     
           
I firmly believe the only person we are hurting when clinging to these emotions and feelings is ourselves. We are in dire need of a new direction, a process in which we might drop the load of suffering we carry in resentment. Being resentful, fanning those flames, is stressful work. Forgiveness is our key, our foundation to a new relationship. It will open the doors of freedom and allow the light and grace to flow freely through you and into others. But how do we forgive? How do we let go when we have been wronged, however unprovoked the attack may have been?

Read More
Nancy Godin shares how she got three interviews in two weeks to talk about PAL

Nancy Godin is a facilitator and the Southeast Regional Lead for PAL, based in Martinez, GA just outside of Augusta.
 
She has had a whirlwind fall season, scheduling not one, but two special seminars, the second of which featured recovery expert Tim Hilton and drew an audience of 150!
 
Our focus right now, though, was in her success in reaching out to the media – two radio interviews and one television for a total of 81 minutes in two weeks, talking about PAL to people in the Augusta area. We thought you might be interested in what she has to share about making it all happen.
 
How did you reach out to the media?
“With Cleve (from radio station WAFJ 88.3), I built a relationship by putting meeting announcements on their station, and recording a public service announcement with Cleve. It was easy then to talk to him about his ‘Difference Makers’ show.
 
“A mom in my PAL group reached out to Jennie Montgomery (The Jennie Show on WJBF-ABC), because she was so excited about getting the word out about PAL. And, Judge Watkins does drug court in this area, and I had him to speak at my meeting one time. He was really excited about the idea of doing a show on PAL.”
 
What was the hardest thing for you about being interviewed?
“It was so hard to feel prepared! I was nervous because I didn’t know what they were going to ask.”
 
What would your advice be for someone preparing for an interview?
“I would ask ahead of time if they could send me some of the questions they planned to ask. Even though they might still ask different ones, it gave me an idea of where the interview was going to go.”
 
What do you want to do next?
“My aspiration is to be on Family Life Radio, nationally!”
 
Samples of Nancy’s interviews:

 

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