In this blog you'll find mostly my thoughts and experiences as well as poems in regards to my Al-anon 12-step recovery.
I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to leave me comments.


If someone's drinking, drugging or sobriety is bothering you or if you grew up with drinking or drugs in your home, please find an Al-anon meeting.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Past Weekend

This past weekend I attended a retreat for teens in a mountain camp just outside of Prescott, Arizona. Although it was 12 step recovery based, it wasn’t like any of the other retreats I’ve been to over the last seven years of my recovery. It was more. It was just... better.

My son had attended this retreat four years in a row and, because he needed to have his space from me and be free to have his own experience without me hovering, I had never attended. That was okay, as I am not the kind of mom that needs to be into every single thing he does. He no longer attends, so now it was my turn.

I drove up the hill into the mountains with seventeen teenagers in tow. Five of them were in my truck and my partner in crime and best friend, drove a van filled with the other twelve, plus one more adult. After an enormous amount of finagling to pack the vehicles, which included thirty cases of water, we finally got on the road. Jammed in like sardines.

I’ve been involved with supporting the teens for a number of years now, and it’s had its fair share of ups and downs, for sure. I was a bit reluctant and really didn’t know what this weekend had in store for me.

What I want to tell you about is the amazing blessings I received this weekend. These kids have all been affected by the family disease of alcoholism. Many of them are still living in active alcoholism or drug addiction and some of them have had the blessing of recovery enter their homes. A few have been removed from their homes and no longer live with their parents. And, some have even lost their parents to the bowels of this disease: Overdose, resulting in death. I’ve not lost a parent to this disease, but I have lost two close family members, as well as friends, and I know what this kind of pain feels like.

I listened to them share in the workshops that were held. I listened to them talk of the blessings in their life and how this very retreat keeps them going, on a daily basis, throughout the year. They live for it. For some, it’s the only brightness in their life and the only place they feel they receive unconditional love and acceptance.

I watched them laugh with each other, listened to them curse like sailors, and I also watched them care for each other with such a remarkable amount of unconditional love that I was moved to tears.

Many of these children, and yes, I’ll call them children, lost their innocence long ago. They’ve been witness to things no child (or adult) should ever have to see, and they have survived it. Some of them still struggle, which is to be expected, but they are fighters. Growing up as they do, as I did, hardens you. It leaves scars that take years to heal. They want to grow and overcome the things that they’ve had to experience and they want to learn how to give love and accept love…unconditionally.

These retreats offer them a safe place, where they can be themselves. Where they can cry or laugh or be silent and maybe feel some peace. Miracles happened this past weekend. I watched them, I felt them. Some of these kids experienced some healing and I watched some of them, that haven’t healed yet, wrap themselves up inside our warm circle of love, comfort, and friendship.

In total, there were forty two teens in attendance, ranging from ages twelve to nineteen. There were also a handful of adults that attend every year. Some of those adults came to this retreat when they were teens themselves. They come back now because of the gifts that they were given as kids, they come to offer that gift to the newest generation.

Many of the kids and the adults I saw on this retreat know my son. They told me how wonderful he is. How they miss him. I think, next year, I’ll be dragging him up the hill with me. At twenty, he’ll be one of the adults that attended this retreat as a kid, and he’ll be able to give back, too.

I met some young ladies that I had the honor of bonding with. I got to sit and laugh with them and talk about our similarities and differences and maybe, just maybe, I was able to be an example for them. It was an opportunity for me to stand in the gap for some of them, be a friend or a mother figure that loves them unconditionally. Accepts them as they are.

Among the many tears and emotions, there was also a ton of laughter. My best friend and I got to be a part of that too. We didn’t have to, we got to. We got to forget, for just a couple of days, about the serious lives we lead; the jobs and bills, all those things that accompany being an adult. We got to joke around and act like kids ourselves. I needed that.

Although I didn’t get to know all of the kids, the ones I did get to know have left their mark on my heart.
My best friend and I even found a couple of teen girls who seemed as if they were clones of the two of us. We had an absolute blast goofing off with them.

During the long drive up the hill, I sat next to a young lady who is a dancer, a singer and a writer. Wow! We sang together, we talked about dance, and then we talked about writing. What a gift I received. God put that girl next to me in my truck. I could never have planned that.

I cannot express how absolutely profound this weekend was for me. I cannot begin to even explain the amount of gratitude I felt as I drove those same five kids down the hill back to town.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these kids. Without a doubt I will be back next year. I can’t wait to see them all again and see how they’ve changed.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

I offer a big Thank You, to each and every teen that I met this weekend. You are a bright light for me. Equal thanks goes to all the adults, who give of themselves so freely every year, for making sure this retreat continues to happen for these kids. You are an example of recovery and unconditional love. There are simply not enough of you.

I’m blessed and my cup runneth over.

Much love,

P.S. If you know me personally, and wish to comment, please refrain from using my name. I prefer to keep my blogs anonymous.
Thanks. *hugs*


  1. Barbi Says…
    I must admit the attitude I left town with was much like that of a rebellious teen – *rolls eyes* “Do I HAVE to…” Two hours schlepping a van full of 11 teenagers into the mountains?! But those who know me will confirm - I STILL have the mentality of a teenage boy. So my attitude started to turn around with the giant meat stick incident at the gas station off Highway 69. (No explanation necessary).

    I work with these kids regularly and already loved them dearly. But this place was special… this experience, different. There is a feeling up on that mountain – a feeling of “other worldliness”. I can attempt to explain it, but words will never convey how special it is – it just IS.

    An escape from the heaviness in our hearts, from the pain of the past and the fear of the future; where age, color, & economic status didn’t matter because we share one common problem – the family disease of alcoholism. The details of our stories may be different, but the truth in our hearts remains - the same hurt, loneliness, anger, sadness, and fear. We came together to share that understanding – and in helping one another heal we got to experience a new freedom – the joy, the peace, and the gift, of recovery.

    Some of us arrived with our armor, carrying all that we’ve locked away under our thick shells built by years of self-preservation. But there on that mountaintop we were safe to let the cracks show through. Shed the blanket of burden, let go of the guilt and shame. And those still too fragile were wrapped up and carried by the love and support of the others. These kids are wise beyond their years, born into a world they never asked for, impacted by the consequences of someone else’s choices. Hearing their stories ripped the scabs off my own scars I thought had healed over long ago.

    The beauty that shines through these kids is incredible! They will never know how much they fill my heart when they let me “stand in the middle” and bridge the gap - Allowing me the blessing of being the friend, the mom, or the sister, that they need in that moment. The bonds developed over 48 hours were astonishing.

    Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all heavy, deep, Kumbaya crap. There was mostly laughter - uncontrollable, stomach-aching, tear-producing, Subway-sandwich-choking, Denny’s-snorting, port-a-potty spying, killer-in-the-woods, “Hey is that a rattlesnake?!” and “I think I just peed a little” - hilarity. There was plenty of innocent ridiculousness that ensued all weekend, largely instigated by myself. (Who knew SO many girls were afraid of spiders?!) Fortunately, the wise adults knew that although I can safely drive a giant van of screaming kids up and down mountains – including U-turns! - I still require an adult chaperone of my own. (She didn’t just “need a ride”…).

    Although I can’t take each and every one of my little ducklings home with me, I can show them there is hope, a light at the end of the tunnel. They have a head start because they already know the secret; they have a solution - the gift of recovery.

  2. Sometimes,
    When everything seems to be crumbling,
    When it's you against the world,
    When nothing works the way it should,
    When you simply need to weep,
    When you ask, "Why me?",
    When you haven't truly spoken for weeks,
    When it's not fair,
    When no one seems to get it,
    All you need are those who understand.
    Those who will listen but not criticize.
    Those who have been where you are wedged.


    These three days among those who understand was truly a weekend that could be described as "life changing" - as hackneyed as that is. This recovery program has forever changed my life. Dealing with my father's alcoholism has not been an easy trip by any means. Does the recovery program fix my problems? Hell no. In fact, I've gotten more problems than I ever expected to have since I entered the program. But it gives me the tools I need to handle my issues and problems.

    This retreat, every year, is never the same. It was only my second year going and I can definitely say it was different than last year. Not better, just different. A refreshing experience with those who I knew loved me was more than I could ask for at this period in my life. The retreat was positioned as a resting place in the middle of a hellish wasteland. When I came out of this resting place, I felt refreshed, both emotionally and spiritually, and prepared to take on whatever the world had to throw at me.

    I had the great pleasure of meeting Wookiesgirl and B. this weekend.<3 I absolutely love both of them. Wookiesgirl, someone I could now easily consider my second mother, was not what I expected to experience as your typical irritated "driver who has to drive how many freakin teens up the mountain, insert grumble here". Instead, crammed into the middle front seat of a truck for several hours, I had one of the best road trips ever. I met someone who had the same interests in nearly everything - music, dance, writing - and someone that I immediately knew I could trust. Momma, I feel that meeting you this weekend wasn't just a coincidence.<3

    Thank you, 2011 Retreat. This was exactly what I needed to face what was thrown at me.

  3. Finally, I was able to read this. What a blessing... the camp, the kids and all of you that went to support them in recovery.

  4. I had a the blessing of speaking at this retreat last year, these kids who have been through so much. They took me in, 'the alcoholic' with out a second thought. It was such a blessing hearing them share their stories, their strength, and their hope. Truly a blessing to be apart of the retreat and to be able to sit back and watch the blessings unfold on these kids and the blessings they gave freely to so many. Those kids, they gave me a huge blessing and I will never forget them! So glad you got to participate in such an amazing weekend!