Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

With a different perspective can you figure a way out?

Sunday Inspiration for Parents of Addicts and Alcoholics

Can you incorporate the ten to zen for the new year?

How “Shatterproof” is ending addiction, one hotel room at a time

iStock_000003937940XSmallShatterproof.org  is a national organization committed to protecting our children from addiction to alcohol or other drugs and ending the stigma and suffering of those affected by this disease.  And Shatterproof’s taking their show on the road, working with hotels nationwide who have come together to join Shatterproof’s breakthrough Hotel Guest Program  to show commitment as a corporate citizen in their community and to help protect the environment.

This simple program produces cost savings turned into donations to support Shatterproof in its efforts to end alcohol and drug addiction and benefit the environment …at no cost to its hotel guests.

The way the program works is based on these simple principles:

  • Each hotel guest is offered the opportunity to “decline” housekeeping services during their stay-over nights (additional days stayed between day of arrival and day of departure).
  • The time and associated costs (supplies, energy, etc.) required to clean a typical guest room during stay-over, is saved by the participating hotel.
  • This savings is donated in cash to Shatterproof.

This guest gesture of deferring service supports Shatterproof’s mission and saves the environment, , all without any out-of-pocket costs to the guest, or hotel. For those who choose to participate, it is a win/win for all involved.

“This program not only saves save water, electricity and usage of chemicals, a plus for the environment, but also is supporting Shatterproof and its unprecedented effort to tackle the disease of addiction, and bridge the enormous gap in addiction resources.   Shatterproof is a national organization committed to systematically ending this disease, and I am proud to be one of its earliest supporters.”
Mark O’Neill, Area Managing Director at the Equinox, Luxury Collection Hotel in Manchester, Vermont

Find and patronize the hotels that offer this program.  And while you’re at it, consider adding yourself to Shatterproof’s mailing list to stay in the loop about advocacy, resources and opportunities to protect our children and our communities from addiction.

 

What Hope-Springs-Eternal Means to My Serenity

water flowingThere was a time I’d spend my waking moments hoping for a positive change in my sons. I would hope that the rehab people would do the trick and in 30 days. I’d hope that magic bullet would find the target and I’d hope that my sons would beat all odds to a full recovery and cure. Once I discovered the hope heard in the rooms of AA, I then changed my tactics. My focus was still on my sons, but this time I had answers! I wanted to make sure they were appropriately informed about AA, were going to AA meetings, essentially, were as excited and interested as I was about AA! I would cleverly leave pamphlets out or suggest a tape I had heard… I’d hope someday they would embrace the gift of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and become a spokesperson, speaker, and well respected sponsor. I just knew they’d get their life back on track with employment, relationships and financial stability, if only.

I constantly had these hopeful dreams for them. Without hope, how could I have gone on? I don’t know why I continued to move towards a spiritual journey of recovery in Al-Anon for myself, but I did know what, when and where to get it. Perhaps it was because nothing I seemed to be doing was helping them.  My focus was misdirected but I did not know that at the time. If nothing changes, nothing changes! I slowly realized if I keep the focus on me, my desire to achieve serenity is more likely to be obtained. I kept coming back hoping to hear more stories of hope!  And it was not the stories of how their kids were doing well, though helpful and encouraging, it was how well THEY WERE DOING!  Serenity was alluring and I was told, “obtainable.” For some reason, I believed them.

Learning to trust a loved one in recovery from addiction

It can be difficult to change behaviors that sometimes become a natural reaction. When my daughter was struggling with addiction I became very wary of anything she said or did. As things began to change with time and my daughter began to heal in her recovery, I often had to catch myself and how I was. In the past when certain situations would arise I would have to be very suspect of motives and underlying truths. But as my daughter was coming out of the fog of addiction, she was changing and growing. I would find myself second guessing or projecting past experiences on the current experiences unfairly.

Sometimes it would start with a feeling of discomfort and I would realize that I was not being fair. At times I would even express this to my daughter and apologize for not trusting her when she gave me no reason at the time to distrust. I always found it heartwarming that she would understand and say things like, ‘I know Mom, it is going to take time for me to prove myself to you and the rest of the family.’ The fact is, this is true, but I can also be open and willing as time moves forward to not have the same reaction as in the past. I realize that changes come with time and I will continue to do my part in moving forward.

What worked yesterday may not work today

Pathway to SerenitySlogans are helpful tools to navigate myself in situations that may trigger old ways of reacting. That it is to say, when I am reacting to the environment, I experience some side effects that are no longer useful for me. These show up as frustration or resentments. For sure I’m tweaked. Easy Does It makes me ask the question, Am I trying to force a solution or do I need to step back and rethink this? With addiction, forcing solutions was a true reactionary method I always relied on to deal with tough issues. Now, issues don’t have to be tuff. And what worked yesterday, may not work today, so I have to recognize my behavior and how I’m feeling because for a while, I’m not even aware I’m doing “it”.
A simple example just the other day was when I was trying to print a document. Each time I hit PRINT I did not get the usual “wake up” sound from my printer. No print resulted…so I hit PRINT again with no desirable results. I then hit my PRINT COMMAND with attitude and that catch phrase for insane behavior popped into my head – “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I realized I actually was getting worked up by this!
Yesterday, when I hit my print command, a print job was initiated. What’s different? NO PRINT JOB. I was indeed trying to force a solution that worked yesterday (and many many days prior!) Easy Does It! I smiled to myself. Back away from the computer. Get a grip on yourself and come back to it at a different angle. Indeed, a break and new attitude was all that was missing and soon I was able to see that my wireless was not connected. These are basic objections in my life today that remind me there are many reasons things don’t go my way, some I have control over, some I don’t. But when I’m forcing a solution, I learn to catch myself before I’m all bent out of shape!

The Winds of Change – Life lessons from a difficult journey

I was once asked by a friend, ‘What has changed with you since going through this experience with your daughters struggle with addiction?’ It is an interesting question because I can reel off quite of few quick thoughts, but as I think deeper about the question – it quiets me to reflect on the monumental overhaul that has taken place with me, my daughter, my family and even acquaintances in some ways. I have been humbled by this journey. I have learned so much about judgment and how incredibly unfair it is. When I hear of a situation that I may have judged in the past, I think different thoughts…I think about what the person may be going through or how hard it is or how I wish I could help in some way. I have also learned about compassion in the face of hurt and betrayal.
A person struggling with addiction does not want to steal, cheat and hurt the very ones that love them so dearly. They have a disease that robs their brain of logical thinking while active in the addiction, with the only cure to abstain and let the brain heal – this takes time, but it is possible. I’ve learned so many things that have changed me. I am grateful for the little things that happen in my daily life. I’m grateful when the day ends and my family is safe and healthy, I don’t fret about insignificant occurrences that I might have in the past – they simply aren’t important. But of all the things I have learned, the ones I treasure the most are to love unconditionally – I may not like some things that happen, but I still love the people in my life regardless. And to be grateful for all things big or small that happen in my life – I know the darkness that can descend and I choose to be grateful now for each moment of light.

Denial is the antithesis of knowledge and acceptance

Mental Illness and AddictionSCENARIO: You have received bad news again, either from your son or daughter directly, their employer, landlord, friend, relative, fill-in-the-blanks. This time the emotional roller-coaster is curving through the anger turn. You think, “This is the 6th, 7th, 12th, 100th or another LAST time!” In yet another opportunity to drill into them the PROBLEMS they are creating for themselves, maybe this time you blast them with righteous indignation about the problems they are causing YOU.

ME: “I don’t understand why you do it!”                THEM: “I don’t know why I do it!”

Who’s right? Both! “I just don’t understand why” was often said from my mouth. Yet my actions for many years did not indicate any desire to try and learn about it. Moreover, I did not hear myself when I said the words: I don’t understand – I was preoccupied with WHY. Yet it armed me with ammunition: I don’t understand, therefore I will fight-fight-fight.

In recovery I have learned that understanding is mental action of study which is sometimes measured through aptitude tests and scoring. Acceptance is a spiritual action of study with notable behavioral changes in attitude: serenity, kindness, gratitude and love. The further along I get in my own recovery, the less important “why” becomes. Knowledge has provided me with information – it was the resistance to this information that kept me in denial. Denial is the antithesis of knowledge and acceptance. And the battle of the non-Al-Anon vs. Alcoholic/Addict continues on or maybe, this time, something changes…

 

Doing or Not Doing – Detaching to move forward

detachment - moving forwardI’m  writing about detachment, my favorite topic.  In the family disease, I was completely sure the problem resided with THEM and did not realize how attached I was to THAT.   As we say, “turn the binoculars around!”  A simple concept does not come easy, it takes work.  DOING!   It begins with thinking about detachment in a new way.

The first relatable scenario for me was realizing how attached I became to inanimate objects.  Like the clothes in my closet for example.  I’m attached to them and can’t begin to let them go!  Never mind that they have not been worn or seen the light of day for years!  Never mind that they won’t fit well or even be in style.  Yet my closet is stuffed full, and there I stand with nothing to wear because I can’t see – too much clutter! There is a deep rooted fear (in my mind) that my “letting them go” will result in a definitive, almost instantaneous need for one of these articles I just gave away.  It’s a common misconception that removing something will leave a dark hole which translates to a negative emptiness.   I recall a time when I visualized an old article of clothing was just the right thing.  After digging deep into storage bins under the bed, I found, upon closer inspection; it was not at all appropriate or accurate to my memory of it!  Whatever the source or cause of my attachments, it tends to keep me NOT DOING, or holding on.  Sound familiar?  Doing or not doing.

And my attachment to dated clothing may trump the joy of new possibilities: NOT DOING has consequences!  Oddly, we feel safer there, because there will not be a hole.  Is the fear of missing something I bought years ago, worth holding onto?  If it were, I might be buried alive with STUFF.  So the seeds of  detachment can begin with simple measures of DOING something, maybe different, but nonetheless DOING.  There is a possibility the hole will be filled with light!

Being a Super Hero is exhausting–and dangerous–work if you are the parent of an addict or alcoholic

super woman capeOne of our readers commented on a previous blog post that, “Staying out of the way is a tough one.  Especially for someone like me.  I have spent my life rushing to be a hero.  Here I am to save the day.  Finally, someone reminded me that what I save, when rushing to clear the debris of a using addict, is one thing:  that they survive yet another day without responsibility; leaving them free to create more chaos.  If I do this long enough, they might actually die.”

Being a Super Hero is exhausting.  And saving someone who needs to save themselves is futile and even potentially deadly. How can we remove ourselves from the role of rescuer and enabler?  Here are some ideas:

  • Instead of jumping in to solve their problems, just say “Oh” or “Hmmmm” or “I’ll have to think about that” or “I know you can figure that out.”  If you are accustomed to having the answers for your child, this new approach may make you anxious.  How can they possibly figure it without SuperParent assistance? The truth is they will never figure it out if you always solve it for them. Handing them the power and responsibility of managing their own lives requires both parent and child to change. This is about you, Mom and Dad, as much as your child.
  • If you leap into action to stop a barrage of threats or accusations (for example, “It’s your fault if I can’t get to work!”) then pull out the S**T shield.  Imagine a magical force field that protects your from incoming threats, hatred and abuse.  And tell your child, “I will not tolerate that kind of language,” and let them know they have to leave if they continue to speak that way. (Reminder!  You have the right to a serene and calm home.)
  • Let your child know that the rules of engagement have changed.  When your child accuses you– “You USED to be nice and let me crash on the sofa”–  tell him or her, “I’ve changed.  That’s not OK with me anymore. If you are using drugs or alcohol, then you cannot sleep in my house.”
  • Finally, use difficult confrontations as reminders to take care of yourself. When your child presses you for money, go treat yourself to a coffee or flowers or new paperback. When yoru son complains that you don’t care if his back aches (which is often a result of opioid abuse), then go get yourself a massage.  When your daughter complains that she needs new clothes because left her old clothes at her last crash pad, go put on something warm and cozy.

Tough Love is tough—on them, and on us.  Seize your superpower to take care of yourself and give your child a reason to change.

 

To restore healthy boundaries, check out our “Boundaries Meeting in a Box.”