|Maria Vallego Nagera|
On April 12, 2013, Alberta Sequeira, a four-time award winning author and Awareness Coach, of Rochester, Massachusetts, went to the event “A Night With Our Lady of Medjugorje and Ivan Dragicevic” at the St. Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church on Spring Street in North Dighton, Massachusetts.
Ms. Sequeira had been a former North Dighton resident for over thirty years, living on School Street as a teenager, and got married to Richard Lopes, and they lived on Old Somerset Avenue with their daughters, Debbie and Lori.
Alberta presented Ivan and his interpreter, Ann, an autographed book of her memoir A Spiritual Renewal: A Journey to Medjugorje. In 1998, she had received a calling from Our Lady to travel on a ten day pilgrimage to Medjugorje, a tiny, remote village in Bosnia. She met four visionaries and witnessed two out of the six having their daily apparitions with Our Lady, and Ivan was one of them who she had followed during the week.
“I would never have thought that I’d come home from my trip, write about my experiences with miracles that took me to those holy grounds, and my spiritual changes that brought me back to my faith and the Church. My greatest and unexpected blessing will forever be fifteen years later, handing Ivan my life story of Medjugorje from the eyes of a lost soul coming home.”
Ms. Sequeira has gone to three events to see Ivan in Fall River, New Bedford and Medway, Massachusetts to see him during his apparitions. No matter where Ivan is in the world, at exactly 6:40 p.m., Our Lady appears to him. The Blessed Mother has been appearing to the six visionaries since 1981, and She has one more secret out of ten to give to two visionaries, before they will be revealed to the world.
It was the first event that Alberta had seen where Ivan stayed and greeted every person until the last one left church. He and Ann were very personable. Ivan stayed and talked about how Our Lady moves and looks during his apparitions. After Our Lady appeared to him, he stated that there are many times that it takes him a few hours to adjust coming back to Earth.
Alberta feels that her greatest gift being in the presence of Ivan with his apparitions is absorbing the mystical act that Our Lady is actually coming down from Heaven and being in the same location She is occupying. Mary blesses each one who goes to the events with Ivan.
On April 10, Alberta went to the St. Nicholas of Myra Church hall to see the introduction of a video on Medjugoje that Father Paul Fedak ran for the public. Ms. Sequeira did a talk on her trip to Medjugorje and book signed.
Alberta is available to do a talk and book sign at your church or any event. Her topics can range from her trip to Medjugorje, A Spiritual Change Within or The Effect of Alcoholism on the Whole Family after she lost her husband, Richard, and daughter, Lori, to alcohol addiction.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol can rob you of who you actually are. The addicted forget the once happy, loving person that they once were, or the silly family moments that they cherished. Everyone is still there waiting for you to return to the fold, you just lost your way. Addicted demons are alert to all the weak who are going down his path. He has no soul, so pity, or no heart. He robs you of hope, strength, and the reason to live.
You lose your way because of who you hang around with, because they will never support you to give your addiction up. In fact, they make you believe that you will never get sober. You fall victim to others trying to drag you down with them. Yes, misery loves company.
Opportunities that come your way with counselors, doctors, rehabilitation, detox locations, are pushed out of your world. You lost your belief in yourself. Fear over-rides your hope. Think about what keeps you stuck. You can change. How? By taking the first step; tiny ones, at least you are moving toward your goal.
The person you are now, is not the person inside. You are buried with a disease. Instead, you think it's you who is bad. You believe others are above you, when they're not. You turn friends and family members away, when they are the ones who love and want to help you.
Stop destroying yourself. Only you can fight this battle. Believe me, if parents could get inside their loved ones body to save them, they would. We love by enabling and only bring you deeper into your addiction. Don't throw away your opportunities that are waiting for you. Push fear aside and walk through that door.
What a substance abuser needs to do is slow down, take time to be alone, and do an honest study on their daily lives.
First: look at your behavior. Be aware of your actions everyday when you wake up, during the day and your nighttime amusement. What do you do that you consider to be fun? Who do you hang around with for this “so called” entertainment? Do you miss your old friends who you laughed and had good times with without the use of alcohol or drugs?
Second: Mean what you say you want. Do your actions follow your desire to get sober? Are you willing to struggle to get a clean life without using? Start a journal and see what your pattern is with drinking. There is no question about getting sober; you need to break away from the people who are using with you. Stop meeting the suppliers.
Third: Start to notice what you feel you need to survive, and get to the reality of what you actual need. Hold onto the AA and Narcotic meetings, get a sponsor, hang out with the addicts who truly want help; not the ones going to meetings to find out where to get the drinks or drugs, or the ones who go to keep people off their backs.
Fourth: Do you have any standards left in your life; by this, I mean morals. Are you stealing from your family or friends? Are you constantly lying to people? Are you not putting you heart and soul into school studies to have a future, or doing your responsibilities at work to keep your job, or are you throwing your life away?
Fifth: Look back to your dreams of a future when you were growing up. Did you want a good paying job, respect, a home, a decent car, a family? Are you on that path or is it something that you accepted that is completely out of your reach? Are you leading the same life your addicted parents did; the one you swore not to repeat in your life?
Sixth: Face your fears head-on. It takes more of a person to say you need help, than to keep going down a dead end path to keep up with friends, or staying stuck with fear that you can’t pull yourself out of the suffering you are going through? The way fear gets less is to start the process of change. It’s the “thinking” about a giving up a lifestyle that keeps us frozen to do anything. Think of doing something as being better than doing nothing.
Seventh: Bring back your positive roots with your character. Remember back to the happy person you once were, the giving and support you offered to others; the true, solid friendships, and the family unity. The good side of you is still there. You need to believe in yourself again. Don’t let your drinking friends pull you down and lose your confidence that you won’t stick to getting clean.
Eighth: Make a list and number them on what pulls you in the direction of using. Is it something from the past with someone who drank in your family? Did a stranger abuse you? Are you being bullied in school? Where you always knocked down verbally or physically? Whatever, the reason, face the problem and get help. Are you going to let these people who hurt you steal your life from you?
If you can, lean on your family for help. I realize some addicts don’t have support at home. Don’t use that as an excuse. Get the help outside the family. If you are underage, look to school counseling. If you are eighteen or over, sign in to dry yourself out in detox and continue the help as an out or in-house patient. If you have no health coverage, ask doctors or the professional counselors how you can get financial aid. Don’t depend on the usual ten day programs in a substance abuse rehabilitation. This is your battle for your life. This disease will kill.
Ninth: Family has to talk about the past. Too many addicts die because they can’t open up. Don’t let this demon make you another number. Get a positive attitude and desire. Do it for you! It won’t work if you do it for someone else.
I'm not an alcoholic, but losing my husband and daughter from their addiction made me realize what a hard road the substance abusers have to face. That’s why I lost my family members. They let the demons from the past keep them from recovering. They both refused to talk about the past or let family members into their counseling. You have to talk about your pain and fears, or you will die like all the other alcoholics and drug addicts who lived in denial.
Guest Post by Carly Fierro, who is a young freelance writer whose life has been touched by substance abuse. She is extremely interested in health and self-growth and writes about these issues whenever she can.
During my undergraduate years, my roommate became addicted to cocaine. I’d never dealt with addiction before and had no idea what the signs were. However, knowing when someone has an addiction problem is actually a pretty innate instinct. If you suspect someone close to you may be an addict, you’re probably right.
The warning signs are usually the same for drug addicts. They get lazy and leave their paraphernalia around, such as straight razors and flat surfaces like mirrors or cooking spoons. They sleep all day and their personality shifts drastically, sometimes seemingly overnight. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you think someone may be an addict.
<strong>You Can’t Force Help on Them</strong>
If someone is an adult, you can’t force them into rehab. They’ll need to want help on their own, and it’s true that most people need to hit rock bottom before they even think of getting help. It’s scary and intimidating to broach the subject with someone you love about their addiction. Expect denial, not a breakthrough, and understand that you’re simply opening the door for a discussion.
If you’re enabling the person, the hardest thing for you to do is stop. Many people fall into the trap of giving an addict a (free) place to stay, and of course a means to continue their destructive path. They think it’s better than putting them on the street where they might start using dirty needles and resort to dangerous activities, like prostitution, to get their fix money. Realize that if you enable them, you’re both hurting them and putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
<strong>What You Can Do</strong>
Tough love is the key to keeping yourself safe, which means stepping back and letting them hit rock bottom. This isn’t easy. It’s not like when you buy ecigs online, and the process is straightforward and simple. They are an adult, even if they are an addict, and you can’t control their behavior.
If possible, keep in contact with them and let them know you love them and are there to help them no matter what. Of course, this doesn’t include giving them money or a place to stay. Let them know you worry, and remind them of how their choices are impacting the people they love. There’s not much you can do beyond that.
<strong>When it’s Time for Rehab </strong>
If they’re ready to get help, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the options for rehab. Not all facilities are created equal, and the right one has an ongoing support network. Ask for the credentials of the director and the staff. Understand exactly how long the program is and what safety nets are in place for slips.
Tour the facility before committing to anything. Know when visiting hours are, the success rate of the facility and what type of counseling is offered. You might want to rush into the first opening you find, but that might be a mistake. Do your research, talk to the staff in person, and make sure it’s the right fit.
How many of us fear making changes? Quite a few. Imagine what an alcoholic or addict goes through? I'm not one, but I remember my poor daughter, Lori, with her shakes, weight loss from being bulemic, no appetite and all the suffering one goes through with this horrible disease. Try to make changes for the better when you are shaking in your skin!
Fear can overwhelm us, until we do absolutely nothing. I knew Lori wanted to be sober and it was so sad when we all saw that she couldn't on her own, and at the same time, she wouldn't let us help her. Our hands were tied. If I could have jumped into her body to do the work for her, I would have done it in a minute.
I hate it when people say she chose to die. No she didn't, and neither do others. They get beyond being in a healthy physical and mental stage to make decisions or many think their habit won't kill them.
You have to decide if you plan to stay stuck or reach out for help. If not, you will die like Lori and her father and every addict who lives in denial. Don't allow that demon to hold its grip on you.
By taking action, you head toward your dreams. Break your pattern with your actions and break away from your substance abuse friends. This is your battle to live. They are not going to help you. In fact, they help dig your grave.
Your dreams, with your effort, can become your reality.
My husband, Al Sequeira and I who live in Rochester, Massachusetts and tried to survive the Nemo Blizzard that arrived, Friday, February 8, 2013. We were determined to wait for the power to come back on when it went off at 11pm. With high winds of hurricane force that was not to be.
Saturday morning, the freezing air hit me full force when I pulled the covers off to get out of bed. It was only 34 degrees in the house. I couldn't bring myself to take off my warm pajamas so I kept them on layered with a pair of winter fleece slacks. My housecoat was not going to leave my body for any reason so I kept it over the clothes. An added cardigan sweater and sweatshirt made it bearable to get out of bed, but not until I overlapped them with my hospital socks I wore to bed with another cold pair of socks. You can’t be a candidate for Miss USA during storms of this sort.
Twenty minutes after Al and I weren't downstairs in the kitchen, our fingers felt numb so we put our winter gloves on feeling sort of silly. Our daily morning hot cup of coffee was not going to happen so we took a cold drink and some muffins from the counter. Our bodies craved something hot.
Within a half hour, our heads were so cold that Al pulled his Patriot's hat out and I found a white winter hat that I pulled down below my ears. Our goal was to get warm so I tore out the winter blankets and Al sat in his recliner while I cuddled on the couch. All our thickness of clothes and blankets didn't help our nose from being painful in the freezing temperature.
My next move was to take off our hats and I dug for two ski masks to keep our nose warm to prevent frostbite. At the time looking hilarious, we took pictures of ourselves. The moment seemed comical on how we were dressed being in our house. Within two hours, nothing was funny. By late afternoon, I felt I'd go out of my mind if our heat didn't come back on to thaw my body.
Al casually mentioned that he should have thought to bring our Colman propane stove in last night. My eyes widen with hope of survival, "We have a propane stove!" Instantly, my thought went to hot tea, soup, grilled cheese…anything HOT.
Al had completed two months of back to back surgery so he couldn’t shovel through almost two feet of snow to get to the stove in the barn out back. Our son, John, arrived a half hour later and saved our insanity by getting the stove. At 5pm, I had my first hot anything! I don’t know which was better; the hot tea going into my cold body or just holding the cup in my hands. We followed with a hot cup of soup. I thought I died and went to Heaven.
Our yard had been plowed out during the early morning hours Saturday morning and we were waiting for a second swing to clear the remaining heavy snow that drifted back onto the driveway. We were blocked in with snow and getting outside was impossible.
The Rochester Counseling on Aging Senior Center offered a shelter for people with no power and we were both getting ready to prepare for the move once we could get out. Our garage doors were electric so we thoughts of calling the Rochester Police once we could walk to the street to get picked up. Our driveway didn’t get plowed until the next morning.
By 7pm, we just wanted to be warm and thought cuddling in bed would be the next sensible move. We honestly thought we could suffer one night and survive and the power would return by morning.
Nothing in the world was going to make me peel off my four-layered clothing to get into bed. I ran my hand over the cold mattress and stared at it for a good ten minutes trying to mentally prepare myself to jump into something so bone-chilling. Was this going to be worse?
I added two comforters on the bedcover and got depressed seeing the switch to our electric blanket. How spoiled we become and take a push of a button for granted. Al took off his winter snow pants thinking he’d be too hot during the night. Too hot! I advised him not to remove anything warm but he was sure he’s sweat. Sweat comes from too much heat and we had none! Within ten minutes, he pulled his snow pants back on that became numbing from being off his body.
We looked at each other seeing strangers in bed with ski masks, gloves, our winter four-layered clothes and thought we were out-of-our-minds fighting this disaster that could kill us staying in temperatures in the thirties. He was congested from a cold and we were both heart patients with my added problems with diabetes. I wanted to cry from the mental frustration but the tears would have turned to ice going down my face.
By morning my prayers weren’t answered. Everyone we knew in Rochester had no power. Within two hours, our friends, Bob and Rachel Constant from New Bedford, had regained their power and invited us to stay with them. Our daughter, Debbie Dutra from Berkley opened their doors to us, but we wanted to be close to home with so many doctors’ appointments facing us that week in Dartmouth. We had to make a trip home to get food out of our freezer and into the Constant’s to save it.
Our dreams of just a few days with no power turned from Friday night the 8th to Wednesday morning on the 13th. We are so thankful for not having our pipes freeze on us. I thank God we had loving friends to take us in for a longer period than any of us expected. We discovered our friendship was strong and enjoyed the time together.
I will never forget this nightmare experience and will forever feel for every person suffering from any catastrophes from storms. I can’t imagine the pain and heartbreak with people who lose their homes. We never know until we walk in someone else’s shoes.
By Alberta Sequeira
(Excerpt taken from What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words, due to be published by Ms. Sequeira in the late spring or early summer of 2013. This Narrative Non-Fiction is written by thirty-four alcoholics and drug addicts from all walks of life).
You hear and read that alcohol abuse is a Family Disease and yet it’s not treated that way. We have AA, Al-Anon and Alateen meetings daily, with the family members going to their separate meetings behind closed doors; the alcoholic to the AA meeting, the parents and siblings to the Al-Anon meeting, and the teens to the Alateen meeting.
They group together and keep everything that was discussed to themselves; they don’t share what they’ve learned with each other, or discuss their feelings about what they’ve heard, or especially what each person needs to help them understand how they enable the abuser, and what to do to show the addict that he/she is loved and has the support of the family. Some professionals only work with the alcoholic abuser, cutting out the family entirely, leaving the addicted to fight their own battle, even when they’re not in enough of a healthy emotional state to make a good choice with their lives.
What is a family member taught behind these so-called closed door meetings? “The alcoholic has to do it on their own. They have to reach rock bottom. Don’t worry about them, take care of yourself. Go on with your life as normally as you can. Separate yourself.” This is actually teaching every family member not to communicate and work together with their loved one who is on a death path.
This belief, which we’ve been taught for years, that “they have to reach rock bottom” is so sad. Lori and Richie’s rock bottom were their deaths. There is no need to let a person get so deep into their addiction that they reach the stage of dying. They suffer emotional and mental pain, which can institutionalize them and lead to suicide, when a family can pull together as a unit to give the love and support from the very moment of the discovery that there is a problem. Alcohol and drugs become a problem when they cause serious disruptions in any form with their lives or others.
On April 11, 2011, my husband, Al, and I met with Steven Meunier, Policy Advisor to Senator John Kerry in Boston, Massachusetts, to modify a change in the Patient Privacy Act, to allow immediate family (parents, and/or siblings), access to medical information which can be used to help a substance abuse patient get the proper treatment, primarily when a physician determines that the patient may be in a life-threatening situation because of their addiction. We believe that the patient should have the “right to privacy,” but as the law stands now, it can actually be detrimental to their health and well-being. We believe it defeats the purpose. In my opinion, the Patient Privacy Act is as much an enabler as family.
Our legal four-page letter with the modification steps was sent to the Substance Abuse and Mental Administration in Maryland. The letter is now in Washington, D. C. waiting an appointment to be scheduled with the Senate and House of Representatives to hear our case. In October of 2012, we met with Maria Connor, the District Liaison for Massachusetts Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, to help us move our case sooner. This is still in progress.
I truly believe that if something is not working, a change has to come. This is an epidemic that has taken over the family unit around the world. Families need to get more involved with their loved one’s treatment, before they are at the final stage of killing themselves.
I think we are all running too fast without taking the time to think about what we are doing with our lives or where we are actualy going. A lot of us like to follow the crowd. No one wants to be left behind. In fact, we do it so often, we may have forgotten that we have a mind of our own.
Like college kids going to parties and drinking or taking drugs until they pass out. I guess that’s wild fun. How many sign up with the excitement of upcoming parties instead of studies? Is it something you figure can be done the last minute at night, rushing the homework or copying the answers from someone so you have time for the wipeout? I often wonder how many people in college actually take out a loan and pay for it on their own. What is the percentage of parents struggling to pay for the courses for four years? My reasoning is from thinking that maybe education isn’t taken seriously to get ahead in life when it’s paid for by someone else.
Why is an adult experience wasted because we don’t realize our mistakes until we are older. Our children don’t listen to our mistakes because they know it all. “We’re too old to understand them,” they say. There has to be a high percent of people who would give anything to go back and make that other decision that we thought was right when we were younger. Events we thought were fun, distroyed our lives, families and relationships.
Many counselors, doctors and motivational speakers are trying so often to reach the substance abusers that the addicted must block their eyes to our life-saving messages because our kids don’t know how to live without a drink or taking drugs. No one wants to solve a problem on their own, talk about their past, what is depressing them in life or feeling abandon. Too many pills are passed out from doctors and pharmacies to numb us so we don’t have to deal with our problems. Walk-in clinics or emergency rooms are loaded with people complaining of pain so they can walk out with the drugs, instead of pleading for help.
How do we stop all this? Too many families are losing loved ones from this disease, children left to face a world with a parent who died from this demon, which causes them to follow the same path. No one communicates anymore. We’re all too busy rushing to work, fighting silently with harrassment in classes, bullying, or living in confusion, fear and abuse in an alcoholic family. We become ashamed to talk about it, when actually, facing and sharing your pain and abusive family life, saves you and stops the merry-go-round. Someone has to speak up to stop it from continuing.
I think we need to start with grammar school kids with a class on this. Kids learning abuse when they shouldn’t have it in their world at this young age. Our world and families have taken God out of it, there is no interest in what each family member is up to, or whatever blind events coming our way. We need time to catch up.
I hope my new book What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict: In Their Own Words helps young people to see where they are heading when it’s published. Until then, read my two other alcoholic books; Someone Stop This Merry-Go-Round; An Alcoholic Family in Crisis and its sequel Please, God, Not Two; This Killer Called Alcoholism to learn the many lessons I’ve left in both books. Read all the mistakes I had to admit so I could try and help all of you; read my private talks to the addicted. These are not just memoirs; they are books you could title What Not to Do. You have a choice of paperback or Kindle on Amazon.
Make 2013 your year to get out of denial
How many of us are going to remember to add the year 2013 on our checks or any event planning? I swear the older I get, the faster the years fly by quietly.
Everyone is making their New Year’s resolutions. I guess the most popular one is our diet. We promise ourselves to get our bodies and our minds healthy and develop the energy from the good foods to help us get there. Even as little as ten pounds can put a tremendous amount of pressure on our organs. Our brains may not function as well when we are far off from what is considered to be our normal weight for our height and frame.
I wonder how many substance abusers consider changing their habit and actions to get into the same frame of mind to recover. Do you still omit that desire because it’s too much fun following the crowd? Are you too weak to do it alone but refuse to reach out to professionals to help you? In other words, living in denial is better than doing anything about the drinking or drug use. You say it’s too hard and you’ve tried many times to only fail at the struggle.
It all stems from looking honestly at where you are heading and getting out of that denial. This disease will kill. No one thinks death from their action can happen to them. Do not give in to hopelessness; instead you have to grab onto hope. If you have faith in yourself and the professional process, you will come to trust and believe strongly in recovery.
You have to focus on the end result in order to reach it. Do whatever it takes. What matters is that you develop the desire to return to a life without using. It’s a step that is done one moment at a time.
Doing something that is scary, or not believing you can achieve it, is the scary part. The solution is going forward with that fear because you will come to see that the first step lessens your fright. Having the want to get better and starting the process probably made you think doing so would kill you. Slowly, you are gaining wisdom. Once you realize that the walk toward recovery or not giving in to the temptation to drink or take that drug was not that hard, you can keep going down that path with being healthy. You worry about giving up what you think is your security or your need for that daily drink, drugs or prescription pills is actually the negative part that holds you back. It’s not going to be easy but the rewards outweigh the chances of dying.
Your minds are programmed to think that you can’t change so the negativity keeps you at the distance of accomplishing your recovery. You’re drinking friends may laugh at you for saying you are again going to quit drinking. Family members maybe tired of hearing you will stop but you have continued the same pattern with substance abuse. This is your battle. Family can support you but you have to take the action.
The negative thoughts show up when you want to stop; confrontations, the shakes, the aloneness, or other feelings from coming off your addiction. What happens from the fear is that you stay stuck.
Stop and study where you’re stuck; observe your behavior and thinking so you can change it. Recognizing where and what your fear is will change your reprograming level so that change will occur. Believe in the professionals who want to help you. A high percent are recovering alcoholics and drug users are counselors. They know all your fears and weaknesses.
Work with your family members who have suffered in their own ways. No one comes out a winner in an alcoholic family because it’s a family disease affecting every one of us. Talking about your problems and past is what heals you. Don’t be like my husband and daughter who refused to talk about their hurts and emotions and choose to die than face them.
I’ve completed a book titled What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict; In Their Own Words. I’m having it edited and hoping for an agent or publisher to believe in the book written by thirty-four addicts telling their stories on how they recovered. They are from all walks of life. It’s a research book not only to help other addicts, but family members wanting to know what your loved one needs from you to help them recover. It’s a book for doctors and counselors to study to see a different path to help the substance abuser.
I’ll end by posting what one woman wrote in What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict that had her take the first step to recover. I’m sure you will relate to her fears and emotions because my daughter, Lori, had the exact same physical symptoms.
I was tired of getting sick, my hands shaking, my vision deteriorating, my nose bleeding, my bowels moving sporadically, the violence and running from many situations being paranoid to the point of staying home all day (I had a job, a husband, family), not sleeping and not feeling safe. ~CW
Make 2013 your year to get out of denial. Watch for What is and isn’t Working for the Alcoholic and Addict coming soon. I will post the publication and the contributors are hoping to help me launch my book with telling “their” stories!
|Maria Vallego Nagera|