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.

Ditch the Super Mom cape and let your kids become responsible adults

super mom capeThere are times when I have to use all of my restraint to avoid jumping in and ‘making it all better’ for my daughter.  It’s easy as a Mom to want to rescue your child, even when they’ve grown up into adulthood.  Yet I know that letting them have their feelings and working through a difficult situation is what they need to grow into healthy, responsible adults.   It seems I need to keep learning this lesson and while I’ve gotten better at it, I still have this desire to ‘fix, solve, make better’ and spare my kids from suffering.  And it is even more difficult when there are good intentions or just bad luck that led them to the dilemma of the day.

Earlier when my daughter was active in addiction, it was much clearer as to what not to do, although still hard at times.  It was obvious then not to give her money that would be used for unhealthy choices.  Now it’s challenging because so many good things are happening.  Yet I know that I need to stay the course of being there to support but not enable.  I need to realize my role and not infringe on hers.  I need to see the progress but not begin to creep back in with old habits that could bring about a change in the wrong direction.  Having this awareness is what keeps me focused and mindful. My natural tendencies when not ‘thinking’ things through is to jump in with my ‘supermom cape’ and save the day, no matter how big or how small.  I will continue to be focused on healthy habits that lead to healthy relationships with my loved ones.

A Child’s Addiction: Boundaries versus Ultimatums

 

young woman contemplatingHealthy boundaries serve two purposes:  they protect us from our children’s transgressions, and they inspire our children to take command of their lives. But the guilt and self-hatred often felt in early recovery lay a perfect foundation for misinterpretation, and what I express as a boundary may instead be perceived as an ultimatum by my child. How to avoid this potentially combustible situation?

Using “I “messages can help avoid creating a sense of blame.  For example, “I need to have a drug and alcohol-free home” sounds much less confrontational than “You cannot do drugs in my home.  “I love you too much to participate in your suicide” is more loving and kind than “You are drinking yourself to death.”  Practice saying sentences like these with love and respect until they become second nature for you, and they will be much easier to conjure up under pressure.

At the end of the day, the language we choose needs to constructively express what we need, which is what our recovery is all about, anyway.  It’s not about the addict/alcoholic; it’s about us and how we are changing the rules of the game in favor of our health. (For help setting healthy boundaries, check out our Boundaries “Meeting in a Box.”)

We can’t pin our happiness on having a sober child, although that may be our most fervent wish.  When we learn to create and convey healthy boundaries, chances are good that the addict/alcoholic will be more open to changing for the better.

Learning gratitude – Life Lessons from a difficult journey

A friend once asked me, ‘What has changed with you since going through this experience with a loved ones 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 things that I may 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.
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.