Throwing gasoline on the fire of a child’s addiction

Entering the firestorm of a child’s substance use and abuse can create unimaginable chaos and stress.  Looking back on my experience, I realize that I added to  my stress by going down the road of FEAR. Some say that FEAR is an acronym for “False Expectations Appearing Real.”  This definition rings true for me, and I hope that this post helps others understand how we, at times, are our own worst enemy.

The squirrel in my brain can be prodded into action by many triggers:  an unreturned phone call from my son, a mammogram that calls for additional imaging, even a sideways glance from my husband.  What’s happening?   How bad is it?  What do I need to do to make it better? What do we do if this happens, or if that happens…or…or….or.  The squirrel in my brain races on.

But now, thanks to the guerrilla training I got in the war zone of addiction, I’m learning to redirect myself when my mind spirals into unnecessary worry.  In The Power of Now*, Eckhart Tolle explains how we can choose to create our own pain, or conversely, can manifest our ability to live pain-free by living fully in the present.

When I find myself worrying, I am learning to take note of what  I know to be true at that exact moment. For example, I know that I am a concerned mom, but I do not know for a fact that my son is in trouble.  The mere speculation that he might be in trouble creates the pain that I feel.  And at the end of the day, that speculation is purposeless.  My incessant fretting about my son had no impact whatsoever on his behavior and choices—good or bad.  Maybe he is in trouble, maybe not—but I guarantee that the sleep I lost did not impact the outcome in any way.

I’ve cloistered myself away in a dark place so many times while my son was frolicking with sober friends, playing disc golf in the sunshine.  Yes, there were times when my worst fears came true, but they would have come true whether I anguished over them or not.

So here is the gift I got from addiction:  I understand that worry is a choice.  When I permit the marauder squirrel to tear through my brain, I blind myself to the joy and beauty around me at this moment.  I miss out on the laughter, the friendship, and the little joys in life.  Understanding that I don’t call the shots and relinquishing my fictitious grasp on outcomes saves me from the bottomless pit of fear and rumination.

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

What is your perception of courage?

Meditate for Your Recovery from Addiction

Guest Blogger Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict who has been in recovery for over 6 years. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at cathytaughinbaugh.com.  

You will notice that the inner space is clear, quiet and undisturbed. It is peace itself. ~ Gail Brenner

Have you tried meditation?

Meditation is an amazing tool for anyone to connect with their inner selves and a way to find some quiet moments each day to renew and allow their mind to rest. In my post on How Running Promotes Long Term Recovery, William Glasser talks about three powerful ways to help you obtain long term recovery.

Running, as we all know is physical, although it is helpful for our minds, it works our body and helps to keep us fit. Meditation is for the mind. According to Glasser, running is the easiest way to physically find a positive addiction, meditation is the most popular way.

Do you remember the Transcendental Meditation or TM movement from the 60’s? Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started the movement and brought it to the masses. Jump start to 2011, and meditation is more mainstream, a respected practice and accessible to everyone.

In his book, Positive Addiction, Glasser interviews and shares how people feel after they meditate, and how it has changed their life. They begin to see things more clearly, their connections with others became easier and they developed closer relationships. Their confidence in themselves begins to grow.

With meditation, we have a regular time each day to notice our breath as we accept what goes on in our head in a non-critical way. Many people meditate in the morning right after they get up. Some prefer to meditate after a physical activity, or later in the day.

The meditator gains more access to his brain, which is not usually achieved if you are not a meditator, and don’t take the time to be non self-critical.

Physical relaxation occurs, because as Glasser points out any mental strength we have is reflected in physical relaxation. One person describes her meditation practice as a “typical relaxed, non-self-critical flow of ideas which come and go effortlessly…”

Other descriptions of meditation are that it is a tremendously unique and very personal experience. It’s almost sacred, but not religious at all. More energy, more determination, and enjoyment of every moment are other words to describe the experience.

Large and clear thinking was mentioned. The experience felt large. The meditator felt he was without his body, knowing that he was inside it, but just not feeling it. It was a glimpse of total limitlessness.

Others mentioned that they get the same relaxed feeling as when they are in a beautiful natural setting, which Glass calls the pleasant, relaxing, non-self-critical pre-PA state.

When the meditators missed their practice, they felt a mild discomfort, a feeling of missing something valuable, a little tension or guilt. Sometimes it’s the same sort of feeling as not brushing your teeth, or bathing, a habit that you are used to.

Some of the meditators that Glasser questioned were heavy to moderate drug users. They explained that the drug experience wears off, the more they used, they less effect the drug had. The difference with meditation is that the experiences were cumulative and carried over into their daily life, even after they had forgotten about their practice.

The group, in general reported that they had a greatly diminished use of alcohol; many have stopped drinking, smoking and using drugs of any kind.

Meditation helps you to gain strength, and has health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and pulse rate, strengthening the immune system, as well as lifting your mood.

I’m fairly new to meditation, having started praticing after taking yoga for several years. What I love about meditation is the calm, relaxed feeling I have. Letting everything just be for a period of time, and as Glasser points out enjoying some non-self-critical moments.

The idea is to let your thoughts just float by and not attach yourself to any of them. There is no judgement, about anything, just sit and notice your breath. Of course, on occasion, I get antsy. I think everyone does from time to time.

The key is to keep at it and persist. You will then develop your practice and it will become part of your life. I believe meditation is helpful to all of us. It allows us to access those inner thoughts that we may not give ourselves time to get to during a busy day.

Here are some quotes sharing the benefit of meditation.

When you learn to immerse yourself in the present moment – whatever it is like – you will experience a deep joy and peacefulness.” ~ Mary Jaksch

The practice comes with a myriad of well-publicized health benefits including increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of happiness. ~ Todd Goldfarb

Meditation is a simple but life-transforming skill that can help you to relax, enhance understanding about yourself and develop your inherent potential. ~ The Conscious Life

One of the coolest things about meditation is you learn so much about yourself, and start experiencing yourself and the world in such a different way. ~ Kathryn Goetze

When we discover that this haven of calm is always available within us, we realize that a moment of stopping and dropping in brings sanity and perspective.” ~ Gail Brenner

Try meditation. You may find that the strength you feel will bring you the peace and serenity you are seeking.

Be Well,

Cathy

Cathy Taughinbaugh is the mother of a former crystal meth addict who has been in recovery for over 6 years. She writes on addiction, recovery and treatment at cathytaughinbaugh.com.

Don’t Worry, Be

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me. Speaking words of wisdom; let it be. – John Lennon

An alcoholic in recovery talked about worry. All his problems for today will go away unless HE WORRIES them to STAY. Worry fuels problems! And implicit is his ability to control it.  I could not agree more!

Certain slogans come to mind that help me put into action; “Live and let live” or “Let Go and let God” put simply, “let it be.” In so doing, the current worrisome condition dissipates from my life shortly thereafter. It is my experience that to do this requires spiritual practice and trusting in something bigger than me to restore me to sanity – Step 2.

We all know what happens when we keep worrying. The worrisome attitude prevails and the problems take center stage. But if we turn it over, let it go, and edge it out, our thoughts soon fill with acceptance within the realm of where we are here and now. We open up and embrace the day – worry free.

…and when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me. Shine on until tomorrow, let it be. - JL