Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sunday Inspiration

Spiritual Practice Aids Recovery“The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.”

Andre Maurois

Detach with Love – Knowing when to answer the call and when not to.

Spiritual Practice Aids RecoveryMy sponsor reminded me that if I’m doing too much, spread too thin, or overextending myself, then maybe I should not be taking that call from someone who is looking for support. This is also true for my family members, including my very own dear qualifiers.   Clues for me (that I somehow override) are when I start to get annoyed. I know I have wrote about this before but it must be a part of the co-dependent relapse.

All of a sudden I hear the “HIS disease” and I’m losing patience, tolerance and understanding. The “HIS” disease sounds like this: “he’s going to meetings, he’s on step one; he had an appointment with X on X but he was late again; he’s not going to meetings but he says he has a sponsor; he doesn’t sound like he’s in recovery; he doesn’t have a sponsor and he’s not looking for work; he’s just a got a job, but he had this situation happen and then he said… it was so sad, but I did this and then he did that and he hasn’t called.” The agony of their involvement is starting to get agonizing for me to listen.  What’s wrong with me? I use to be that way too! And where has my compassion gone?

My disease is to over extend myself, be there when I can’t, help when I shouldn’t. My disease is such that all people are qualified to be my qualifiers if I’m not centered well, not paying attention and edging my Higher Power out of the equation. My problem continues to be that I don’t realize I’m not in a good position to interact until after the fact!

I don’t have answers here but I know this: By reasoning things out with my sponsor, I was able to see where I could have done better with boundaries that are mutually beneficial!  I was reminded my job is to listen and not solve. And If I can’t detach with love, I should enforce my boundary that prevents me from the interaction, quite simply: don’t take the call.

Having a united front when your child is an addict or alcoholic

My 3 SunzThis is an “encore” post from My3Sunz

I doubt my husband and I carried a united front when problems started escalating in our family unit as a result of the drug use, abuse and addiction.    I can relate to stories of families that split apart due to strong opposing opinions, broken dreams, anger and frustration in the relationships.   Blame starts to take on a life of its own.

It seemed in my home, I was at times hesitant to bring attention, make a scene or confront the problem head on.  Then again, I was the one who was in the home, seeing the problems, finding the paraphernalia, answering the calls from teachers, neighbors or other parents.   It was if I was either in denial or tackling the issues head on.   But I don’t recall a shared vision of the seriousness of the problems in the beginning.  My husband would discipline if necessary (wait till your father gets home syndrome), go pick up the pieces of a totaled car, post bail or “man-handle” the recalcitrant teenager.  But he was also sensitive to my reactions and had growing concerns about his family.  At other times he would begin to lecture me on my parenting skills (in round about ways) and I would begin to resent his absence in the daily trauma-drama.  Those were the most difficult times in our relationship and it was a miracle we made it through.   But we did.  And it wasn’t because we are so clever or lucky.  We sought counseling and committed ourselves to get the help we needed and learn how to support our children whether in recovery or not.

Today we are united in what we will and will not allow (boundaries) when it comes to our own serenity and livelihood as a husband and wife, parents and as individuals.  We can discuss our feelings and concerns with issues that continue to challenge us and we are able to find a mutual ground before making a decision.  We have respect and accept each other’s opinions, even though we may not agree.   In a sense, we are now acting in a loving and kind way and we no longer have to lecture blame or scold. We have been through some troubling times like all the parents whose children fall prey to addiction.  We have also had amazing joy and happiness.  Not knowing what the future will bring, we can appreciate our life today and find solace that we may not have been united: we did the best we could with what we knew at the time.

Living in the Moment – Finding serenity in the quiet moments

meditationI’ve had a long time quest to truly live in the moment. As a society it seems we are always rushing from this to that, anxious that we’ll be late or thinking about the next task at hand. We think about what we should have done or could have done differently or we fret about how we are going to get something done that is due out in the future. I ran across a saying twice in one day some years ago. It was simply this, ‘Yesterday is History, Tomorrow is a Mystery, Today is a Gift, that’s why they call it the Present’. I first saw it posted on a wall in an office. I was so intrigued that I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote it down. Then later that night I was reading before I went to bed and the second page into my book had this very same saying. Now this was cause for pause.  I stared at this and realized that this was not a coincidence; I truly needed to embrace this message.
I began seriously contemplating what it meant to be present in the moment. It seemed I was always living for the next moment, but not the present moment. What consequence did this bring to bear? It was as if I wasn’t living in any moment. I began searching for how one quiets their life enough to enjoy the moment. I worked at this and at first the moments were not very long but eventually I managed to tie together enough moments that I was able to enjoy more and more experiences because I was truly there in the moment and not thinking of something in the future. This is not easy to do with our busy lives. I realized when I began dealing with life with a child struggling with substance abuse that this was a lifesaving technique. While I was worrying about my daughter I rarely enjoyed anything I was doing, I was just going through the motions. But when I stopped and tried to live in the present moment, all the worry melted away – even if only for brief periods of time. The good news is that I’m very aware of when I am in the moment and when I am fretting unnecessarily. I can bring myself back to the present when I am focused and committed to staying in the moment where I can have peace and serenity.

Lights! Camera! Resentments! Keeping your expectations in check

1431793_97522247 resentmentResentments are the dark rooms where negatives are developed.  Resentments are expectations in waiting…for sure, it has negative connotations.  Wikipedia defines resentment as an emotional feeling resulting from fear or imagined wrong done.  They reference a professor of continental philosophy at the University of Texas, Robert C. Solomon.  He categorizes resentment into one of 3 emotional continuums.  The first is contempt: directed towards lower-status individuals, 2) anger: directed towards equal status individuals and 3) resentment: directed towards higher-status individuals.

Well, that’s interesting to me as I work through the resentments I have harvested with regards to the family disease.  My obsession, which was consuming me, was with the addicts in my life.  This was the driving force behind my resultant resentments. Since my perspective was disproportionately misdirected, it was as if THEY were held in higher standards than where I held myself.  It’s been said the amount of time you spend thinking about something should be in this proportion: God first, me second, them third.!   My understanding of resentments has come full circle and though I do not find myself having these emotional feelings as much as before, they are not far from surfacing when life happens to throw a curve ball.  The difference today is I have a better support system to help me accept what is going on.  More than anything, I have a Power, greater than myself, that can restore me to sanity.  I do not have to be afraid or isolated in the dark room where negatives are developed!

Ask the Expert: How do I deal with my parent’s guilt trips about our son’s addiction?

Difficulty saying yes or noQUESTION: How do I handle the stresses of my own parents continually quizzing me about how my 18-year old son is doing in treatment?  They have pushed the blame onto my husband and me for allowing him many opportunities in life that neither of our parents could afford. Basically, they feel we raised a “spoiled brat.” I am finding it difficult to help them understand that his addiction is a disease and often find ways to avoid their phone calls so I don’t have to deal with these relentless comments.

Photo of Christy CrandellEXPERT CHRISTY CRANDELL:  I believe if you include your parents in any family education sessions that your son’s treatment program provides this will help educate them on the disease of addiction. If this is not possible, perhaps go on to the internet and print out some articles for them about this topic.  Al-Anon meetings would be beneficial as well.  Christy Crandell, Administrative Director and Founder of Full Circle Treatment Center.

Photo of Ricki Townsend EXPERT RICKI TOWNSEND:  We call this a family disease. This means it affects every one of the family members – including grandparents. In my profession, I often hear this complaint from parents of addicts or alcoholics. Usually it is because the grandparents don’t have much education around this disease. Sometimes, there is so much fear of losing the grandchild they must throw out blame. What other reason could there be? This is a typical blame strategy to justify the unthinkable.

Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Invite an interventionist, drug and alcohol counselor, or someone experienced about addiction into your home for “informal education.” I often do this myself in my line of work. I will come over for coffee, sit around the table to discuss educational material about the disease, and answer questions. We talk about boundaries, and what can be done, moving forward. The grandparents can express what they are feeling and I can answer questions. Parents can also express what they are feeling and questions get answered. I then offer my availability for them to mediate situations that might come up.

2. You and your husband might have a family meeting with your parents where you express your feelings in a calm way. Let the parents know how you understand how hard this is on them. Invite them to go with you to a parents meeting such as Al-Anon or Nar-Anon. Support groups like these will connect you with likeminded families where everyone can learn that you didn’t cause this, and you cannot control or cure this disease.

I hope this helps in some way. Please contact me for any further questions or support. Perhaps I can refer you to someone in your area. - Ricki, Board Certified Interventionist, Drug/Alcohol Counselor, NCAC1, CAS, RAS, Bri-1

Can a Rope be Pushed? Learning to let go

I’m reminded lately of that old saying when something is hard, ‘it’s like pushing a rope.’  Which we all know goes nowhere in particular and is frustrating.  When I want my kids to do something (addict or not) and it’s not particularly a priority to them I find myself trying all different techniques to get them to cooperate.  When I want my son to clean his room and do his laundry, something he is really not interested in doing, I’ll try gentle suggestions, ‘you must be running out of clothes, how about getting some laundry going?’  Or sometimes I’ll resort to criticism, ‘how can you stand the smell in your room with all that dirty laundry?’  And then there is always the cold shoulder and passive aggressive approach which is the co-dependents signature move only to be upstaged by the extreme co-dependent recourse which is to jump in and do the laundry!  This would have been standard behavior for me 5 years ago, but I have worked hard to ‘step away from the laundry’ with all my willpower and not take the final steps and satisfy my need to have the laundry done!


I have to look at these situations and understand how it is affecting me versus my need to have things done my way.  Sometimes it is a house rule that is not being respected and therefore I openly discuss this with the offender and share my expectations.  Other times I realize that there are things that I want done a certain way because it is how I think they should be done.  While I can find all the rationale behind my way of executing a certain task, I have come to realize that there are many ways things can get done or not done in some cases.  I have learned to distance myself from these expectations whenever possible.  In the case of the laundry eventually there will be no clean clothes to wear and then the desire to get the laundry going will be expedited.    Meanwhile, I can close the door and go about my day without wasting my energy pushing the rope.  When I take this route, I am relaxed and peaceful.  I will keep working on positive behaviors and avoiding the ‘rope’!

Sunday Inspiration

Pathway to Serenity“People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what’s bitter and move on.”

Bill Cosby

Anger management -What can I control to keep my anger at bay?

1179314_28920035 angry boyI have learned that anger is an emotion I do get, but it is manageable.  It shows up for me with the alcohol/addiction behaviors.   I’m sure it’s disguised as FEAR in many cases.   It’s when I allow it to consume or take over how I behave that concerns me.  Then anger becomes scary and uncontrollable.  It becomes the Driver of a vehicle I have no name for and don’t like the ride very much.  Like the scary roller coaster!  You see it coming, you FEEL IT, and slowly, creaky, machinery, pulleys, cranks, mountains, lost horizon, GRAVITY, FORCE, SPEED – AHHHHHHH!

I notice that many times I get angry over people.  People who do things that…people who tell me what I …people who make me feel …. People who embarrass me…people whothere it is!  People, who I can’t control.  But, as in everything, once I start to study myself, there are things I do have a part in or “control of.”

This requires me to do something.  State the facts, face the fear, or be inconvenienced!  This is uncomfortable for me to do.  Being able to say:  “That won’t work for me” or “I’m not OK with this going on, can we discuss it?” Setting a boundary so that I’m not putting myself in a position to feel anger or fear also works.   Such are the examples of taking action and managing my anger.

I don’t have to pay for pain at the Amusement Park for rides I don’t enjoy.  But if I do, thinking it would be fun at the time, not realizing the intensity or fear factor later on, I get through it, right?  I’m OK because my Higher Power is there and it too shall pass.

Changing how you view the choices of your addicted/alcoholic child

mom daughter arguing trust distrust angerI was a parent who turned away from Tough Love, as some call it, and looked away from the substance abuse in my own home.  I didn’t see myself as “the kind of parent who would kick out their child.”  Who would do that??  Certainly not me, the enabler whose unconditional love made life easy for my child.  Why should he change when clean sheets and healthy food in the fridge was right at hand, with no restrictions or expectations?

Today, I’ve changed my perspective and my vocabulary.  I’ve stopped thinking that parents kick out  kids because they are addicts.  I’ve started thinking that chemically dependent children get themselves evicted because they choose to continue abusing drugs or alcohol.

As ParentPathway Expert Ricki Townsend has said, “When I talk to you about your children, please bear in mind I am not talking about your sweet loving children. I am talking about the addict, the addiction, the disease. The disease will manipulate, lie and steal to get what it wants. The most loving thing you can do is respectfully state your truth to them, such as, ‘y home is a peaceful loving place for me to come home to, a home that is free of drugs and alcohol. You have the choice to live here in this way, clean and sober –and I will drug test you, to be sure; or move out and live your life the way you want to. But you are not welcome to stay here if you choose addiction over health.’”

“But where will I sleep?” you will be asked.  The answer:  “You can sleep here if you are clean and sober and if you start holding down the responsibilities of a mature adult.

“But how will I eat?” you will be asked.  The answer:  “You can eat here if you are clean and sober and if you hold down the responsibilities of a mature adult.”

And then, the knife in every parent’s heart:  “You don’t love me, or you would let me live here.” The answer: “I do love you, so I will not permit you to commit suicide in my home by using drugs or alcohol.”

Tina Fey said, “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution.” Delivering your truth and your bottom line to your beloved addict can make all the difference in your world – and theirs.