Whutz Up in Paradise Cove A monthly newsletter written for parents of kids in Samoa. Paradise Cove is a residential treatment facility for troubled adolescent boys.
Volume 1, Issue 4 April 1997
IN THIS ISSUE.... SECOND CHANCES THANK YOU, SON BARELY TIME TO BE BORN! ONE-LINERS A NEW PERSPECTIVE THE PLACE I CALL HOME THE VOTE IS IN! JUST A REMINDER! PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS PARENT SUPPORT GROUP LISTINGS UPDATED PARENT MANUAL BE THANKFUL! PARENT COORDINATOR'S CORNER SECOND CHANCES by Ben Kessler, home April 1997 I just completed my program on the 12th of April. This is my second time leaving the program. My first time I left on Level 2, not even close to being ready to come home. This time I was recommended home on Level 6. I want to share with you what I went through from then to now. Before I knew about Samoa I was involved heavily in gangs, drugs, selling drugs, guns, theft, fighting and everything else I could get my hands on to avoid the pain I was running from. I knew that I would most likely be dead before my next birthday, whether it was from overdosing on drugs or being shot. I hated myself. My mom saw what I was doing to myself and found the Paradise Cove program. I was sent away unwilling and angry. I felt betrayed. After being in Samoa for a month I wrote home and told my parents how ready I was and how much I had changed. I knew that I wasn't even close to being ready, but I missed my drugs and 'friends'. I wrote home telling my parents about all the 'progress' I was making, constantly manipulating my mom through letters and my progress reports. It worked, and suddenly I was back home. Seeing my family was great, of course, but it lasted only a short time because it was based on dishonesty. I was still holding onto all of my crap. I just got better at hiding it. Shortly after I was home, I manipulated my mom into letting me smoke. From there I knew I had her wrapped around my finger. I was back to drinking about two months later. My mom knew that I had been drinking a little, butnot even near the amount it really was. Then it was a short step to marijuana, and from there I was back into cocaine and speed. The entire time I was lying about all of it and pulling the wool over my mom's eyes. She didn't have a clue to what I was involved in. I was lonely and hurting a lot worse than I had ever been. After nearly 6 months of being home, I was at a 'friends' house getting high on cocaine. I came home that night and broke down. For the first time in a long time I did not want to die. The next day I went to see my counselor and told her what I had been doing and that I wanted to go back to Paradise Cove. Then I phoned my parents and asked them to come to her office so I could speak to them. Telling them that I had gotten back into the drugs and that I wanted to go back to Samoa was one of the hardest things I have ever done. About one week later I was on a plane back to Samoa. When I arrived I was committed to working on myself. I achieved Level 4 in four months, but then got too 'comfortable' and 'hung out' on the upper levels for the next 7 months. I had huge struggles while I was on Levels 4 and 5. My parents came to visit me right after I achieved Level 4, which was a HUGE distraction to my progress. My downfall was right after they left. I knew I was going home before Christmas, so I just got VERY comfortable with not progressing. I was put on a two week probation. During that time I found out from my mom that I would not be coming home for Christmas after all. Finding that out seriously woke me up. I tried every type of manipulation I could think of to change her mind, but she put her foot down and stood up for what her heart told her. I realized, later on, that if my mom would have given into my manipulation, and pulled me out when I was 'almost recommended' I would have fallen hard! I was still holding onto a lot of my past stuff which stopped me from living in the now. I realized that the only way I would ever succeed would be to live in thenow and to be honest with myself, which I had not been doing. Ever since I 'woke up' I have been supporting my greatness by making choices that work for me. If it had not been for my mom waking up and getting a clue, I would be far from where I am today. Two months later I was recommended to Transition. I participated in Parent/Child I seminar with my mom and stepdad, which was extremely powerful and an awakening for us. We were all able to get very clear and honest with each other. It helped our communication greatly. I then went on to Transition at Spring Creek Lodge. My leadership skills grew a lot as I worked with the lower level boys there. The home visits during that time were very productive for us. My entire stay at Spring Creek was extremely beneficial to my family and me. At the conclusion of Transition, I went through Parent/Child II seminar with my mom and sisters. The things that we accomplished were incredible. My relationship with my whole family grew very open and honest. In the beginning of all of this, I would have never thought in a million years we would ever be where we are now in our relationships with each other. There are not enough words in the dictionary to describe what this program has done for my life. I am forever thankful to Paradise Cove. I now have serious goals for my future and what I want from life. I am going to get my masters in psychology and business. I want to change lives and make a difference in the world, because that's what is important to me. I am a FREE, POWERFUL, LOVING, COURAGEOUS DETERMINED YOUNG MAN! THANK YOU, SON by Debbie Halpern, son in Samoa 2 months Parent CoordinatorÕs Note: Oft times, it is my privilege to hear from parents after they complete their Discovery and/or Focus trainings. This is a joy to me. Recently , one such parent was Debbie Halpern. After our conversation she forwarded to me a letter she wrote her son following her experience at Discovery, and allowed me to share it with you. What struck me was her appreciation to her son for his part in directing the family towards true family healing. A sentiment commonly shared by many families. One that opens the door to family unity. Dear Son, I have just completed an incredible Discovery weekend. I wanted to write to you while the experience is still so fresh and real. Both Dad and I realize we're changed and deeply appreciative for this experience. I feel that what you have facilitated for the family is a tremendous gift and I'm deeply appreciative. We all have been going along in our 'comfort zone' for too, too long. We haven't been very inspired, thrilled, challenged, growthful or even happy. Thank you for creating an opening for the whole family that is showing a better way for us all. I know the route has been incredibly painful and difficult, especially for you. But what lies ahead, which is so much richer, real and even FUN, never would have happened if you hadn't forced it on us. Even if it wasn't conscious on your part, what you did was say, "No! I cannot continue to pretend the status quo, the comfort zone for my family, our town or our culture works for me." And you know what . . . neither can I! I thank you for helping all of us to see that and giving us a new and different choice in our lives. I feel so loved, after this Discovery experience . . . most of all in being able to love myself. In loving myself I can then truly love others. I always knew that in my head, but after Discovery I finally feel connected with that in my heart. So I want to thank you again for leading us to this experience in ourlives. I promise you, that as a family, we are committed to the program and process on our end. You are not in this alone, and I hope your never feel isolated and separate from your family again. I Love You, Mom BARELY TIME TO BE BORN! by Angie Viafanua Enid, who works in the office, gave birth to a baby girl, Mina, on March 14th. Enid went to Pago Pago to deliver. As fate would have it, there was a new student arriving that day, so her husband Peter got 'volunteered' to pick him up and keep him with them till the student got on his flight in the morning. Of course, while Peter was at the airport, her water broke. As Peter returned there was a relative taking Enid to the hospital. The new student stayed with the relative, while Enid told Peter to "drive fast!" When they arrived, Peter went to the wrong Emergency room, so he dropped Enid off first and went to park, nearly missing the birth of baby Mina. Mina arrived shortly, weighing in at 8 lbs. 15 oz - smallest baby yet! She's baby sister to two other girls. By morning, Mom and Mina were out of the hospital by the time Peter had the student on his flight to Apia. The student had a great time being involved in this big event. Congrats to All! "If it had not been for my mom waking up and getting a clue, I would be far from where I am today." -Ben Kessler ONE-LINERS by Glenda Cook, Parent Coordinator, son, Randy, home September 1996 One of the toughest situations parents face while their child is in treatment, is dealing with manipulation. Now, manipulation is something all parents have experienced prior to treatment. And the kids have received the message from us that it has been very effective. While in the program, manipulation comes in many different forms. Main purpose, of course, is to 'come home', but it is also is used as an excuse for lack of accountability on their part. Whether it be about their lack of accomplishment in their schoolwork, or forward movements in their levels. But two things are to be acknowledged about their manipulative efforts . . . . they are very creative, and they know us better then we give them credit for. Plus, be very clear on one point . . . MANIPULATION IS A TWO PARTY GAME! It is not effective unless the manipulator and the manipulatee jointly participate. Here are some of the noted best "One-Liners", as they have been dubbed, as shared by a number of the parents whose son's are in Paradise Cove. Included, are some of the replies from their parents. Student: "I have to wear a dress!" Mom: "I offered to send him a matching handbag and shoes." Student: "I'm at one of the prison camps Hitler left behind." Student: "I already hate it over here, even though I came with a positive attitude." Student: "Get me out of this hell hole--the program does not work. (this after being there two days) Same Student after making L2: "I'm sitting on a rock, in the shade, with a cool breeze blowing on me as I look out at the ocean. Yes, I am finally on Level 2 - life is sweet." Student: "You may think it is funny to send me to the bug capital of the world, but I can't sleep because I am so afraid of the bugs." Student: "I miss you so much I would swim all 22,000 miles just to tell you I love you and to see your face." Student: "I'm much better now, but I was sooooo sick. I was unable to eat for 4 or 5 days in a row, and I was dying. I think they had a little case of the Plague going around." Student: "I get it now. Bring me home so we can work this out together. I won't ever runaway, do drugs or get in trouble again. But if I'm not home in 30 days, this offer isn't good." My favorite parent's response was: "I'm really sorry that this is happening to you so far from home, so WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?" She said, "Put the problem back on them and let them deal with it." Buying into manipulation will slow their progress . . . and will rob you of serenity. Hold them accountable. Encourage them to use their resources to solve their problems, which includes their attitudes and commitment. When they start believing in themselves, then the magic begins and the healing starts. A NEW PERSPECTIVE by Maxine Dow, son in Samoa 4 months I have played it 'safe' sitting on the sidelines of life till now. At Discovery, I gained a new awareness of myself. I learned how I used this 'side-liner' perspective to keep a safe distance from being transparent and vulnerable to others, not letting others close where it might be painful or uncomfortable. I've nursed my hurts (being an RN, I'm a pro at this) about my son being at Paradise Cove, in my own little private and piddly ways. Yuk! Recently, my husband and I found ourselves assisting a new family whose son had just left for Paradise Cove. We knew how horrid they felt, yet knew we could not let up. It was like looking in a mirror at ourselves, having had the same discussions with another family as they assisted us in the beginning. Then as I experienced all the support shown from other families, as they shared their own stories, my tears were streaming and my heart stretching as my perspective began to change off of me and mine and into the larger picture before us; this unbelievable journey we've all committed ourselves to. And we're in it for the long haul . . . not just until we're recommended done. It seems to be about life itself. I noticed, upon completing Discovery. my perception of relationships changed. The way I talked with people, the way I talk to other teens, the way I look at the little scenarios of life. Suddenly, the little things that would nag for my focus are no longer granted the privilege. I work in a hospital where backbiting is the name of the game. How sad, how petty. I also see kids without purpose, alone. There is a lot of hurt and disappointment in the world. We are not promised a cruise. But we are offered the opportunity to make choices, to affect changes in the lives of ourselves and others for good. What a privilege, what an honor, this thing called life. THE PLACE I CALL HOME by Michael L., in Samoa 2 months The richness of the land, And the green within the trees, The softness of the sand, The roaring, crashing sea. All these nature's pleasures Shown the place where I reside; So many days before me, Show the place where I may lie. But now, at last, I feel at home, Though, my love, I left behind. And now, no more, I feel alone, Myself, it's time to find. Author's note: The first two paragraphs describe my beautiful and inspiring surroundings. Finally, I describe that I now feel at home. I don't feel alone any longer. It is time to change. It is time to find out who I really am. THE VOTE IS IN! The votes are in - as always, majority rules . . . the envelope please! Well, it appears that Whutz Up in Paradise Cove will remain the name of the Paradise Cove newsletter. Voter turnout, however, was a disappointing low. Leaves one to wonder . . . apathy or contentment? Our hearty thanks to the respondents. JUST A REMINDER! Fax all transcripts are to Browning Academy - attn: Barbara Hyne at 801-635-8337. Please note that typically, if there are outstanding school fines or books not returned etc., the school will delay sending the transcripts. The transcripts are needed to develop your son's educational plan. PARENT SUPPORT GROUPS No one understands what you are experiencing like someone that has walked in your shoes. What a relief not to feel like you have to 'explain' or 'defend' yourself or your family. What a support to have the encouragement and even guidance of fellow 'travelers along this journey. More and more groups are forming. And that is wonderful. Below are some tips that have been shared by others that have had successful experiences with their groups. Establish a group purpose and ground rules. This will keep the group focused and will establish boundaries that will keep you moving forward asindividuals, and as a group. Beware of War Stories. War stories, or the blame game (a.k.a.: the misery that earned your admittance to the group) can drain your group faster then anything. Cross check each other, and then get back on purpose. Neutral Territory: Most groups have found it valuable to meet on neutral grounds ie:library meeting room. Time limits: Meeting times as well as 'sharing' time. Focus on yourselves: There has been a tremendous amount of focus and energy on your son in the program. But it is time to get back to life in balance. Keep the focus on your accountability, interests, growth, friends and other family members. Don't have a group in your area ??. . . nothing to stop you from starting one. Keep in mind, all the groups listed below were started by someone just like you. One of the most active groups is in the Seattle area, and it was only started approximately 7 months ago. So go ahead . . . create some greatness in your life and the world around you! PARENT SUPPORT GROUP LISTINGS Salt Lake City Area: Denise & David Bern 801-266-4518 St. George area: Lori Tebbs 801-656-2612 Maryland/Virginia/D.C. area: Debbie Mould 410-721-9372 and Maria Gallagher 703-327-3364 Seattle area: John & Sue Morton 206-941-6828 Los Angeles area: Angela Caldera 310-697-1186 Miami area: Lynne Pretzfeld 305-595-7912 Atlanta area: Dina Dalton 770-971-3853 Chico, CA area: Pat & Shelly Tedford 916-893-2141 Dallas/Ft. Worth area: Charles Parks 817-795-3030 Bay Area: Tim and Sandy Flood 415-349-4358 Chuck and Sharon Brothers 415-948-6628 Fairbanks, AK area: Bill Lanning 907-457-7384 San Diego area: Dan & Ellen Koller 619-481-2077 If you want your new group in the newsletter, fax information to: Glenda Cook - 801-656-1899. UPDATED PARENT MANUAL Your updated parent manual is on it's way. Please take time to read it through. There are updates as well as new information. Please discard any other manuals upon receipt of the one dated April 1997, so that you may have the current information. BE THANKFUL! Over the years, life has taught that we are evaluated more by how we handle problems than by the successes achieved. Who is there among us who has not had some problems with self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy? Who has not had problems with friends and loved ones? Who has not suffered financial worries or setbacks? Who has not suffered heartbreak? Who has not suffered some challenge dealing with pain? Who has not made some terrible mistake? Who has not been judged falsely? Who has not thrown themselves into some worthy, passionate cause - only to be utterly and totally disappointed? As much as we attempt to avoid pain and problems, they show their heads at every turn. This being the case, embrace them and allow them to be our teachers. Without problems, we would not be the person we are. We would not have a knowledge and understanding of what our true character is about. For in the response to our problems and challenges, lies the answer to who we really are and what we're really about. PARENT COORDINATOR'S CORNER Glenda Cook The focus of my time is to orient the new parents. I appreciate having the opportunity to do this, as I, too, had a son in the Paradise Cove program. If you are a new parent, and we have not spoken yet, feel free to contact me. I will return your calls, in the order received. Please note that urgent calls do take priority. Please note my new phone numbers: Voice: 801-656-5823 FAX: 801-656-0632 Whutz Up in Paradise Cove P.O. Box 3109 St. George, UT 84771