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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
This is where the rubber starts to meet the road. For too long we have drawn lines in the sand. Lines become easily erased with the passing of time as we start to let things slide. If we are going to go through the effort of Setting Rules and Implementing Boundaries they must be something we can live with and stand firm in.
Allison Bottke states in her book...
Implementing rules and boundaries is a major part of acquiring the strength we’re going to need on the journey.
Some “musts” in defining those rules and boundaries.
· We must have a clearly defined action plan before confronting our adult children.
· We must establish consequences and stick with them.
· We must present a unified front if we are married.
· We must not get involved in debate, discussion, or trying to help our adult children figure things out
· We must encourage our adult children to figure things out for themselves
· We must be willing to ask ourselves, “Who am I outside of this issue/child?”
· We must be willing to shift the focus off our adult children and onto our own lives.
This process is not for the faint of heart. It will take thought, time and understanding of what we have let happen in the past. And we will need strength to stand firm in this; as I have stated before once you begin this process you will be met with chaos from your adult child. They will not understand nor like these new boundaries and will fight against them. They will pull out every weapon of manipulation they can find to use against you.
The word Boundary implies “you can go this far and no further” like a fence or a wall. It is put in place for the protection of those on each side of it, and to uphold something of importance. Helping our addicted loved ones requires these boundaries to be put in place and for them to stay in place. Their growth and our sanity will depend on it.
Doing this in our family has been absolutely paramount. Before this our lives were filled with the constant chaos and upheaval that addiction brings. The unwarranted guilt that I carried because my son had gotten caught up in addiction made me feel like I had to do it all; fix his problems, pay his bills, find his way for him… the truth is; by doing those things I was robbing him of the much needed work he needed to do to own his place in the addiction process and too find the reasons to fight his way out.
I will promise you this won’t be easy, but it will eventually bring peace to your home and potentially new life to our addict.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
N – Nip Excuses in the Bud
For a couple of days now I have been attempting to write on this topic, first formulating it in my mind before it ever hits the keyboard. And amusingly enough I do believe God had me wait to write because He had some fresh material from which He would inspire me. (Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor!)
Nipping excuses in the bud…
Meaning: Put a stop to something while it is still in its early development.
Origin: This phrase derives from the de-budding of plants
I believe we can get a pretty clear picture from these two statements just what is meant to take place when we Nip excuses. If we ‘nip’ off the buds of a plant, it does not flower, and if it doesn't flower, the seed inside the flower will not fall back to the ground and try to grow and bloom again. – A could be viscous cycle is stopped.
Allison Bottke states in her book on pg 117:
When we make the decision to resign from the role of enabler in our children’s dramas, the story line, as many of us know from experience can quickly turn to melodrama. Face it, many of our children have continued so long in their present situations because they’ve been good at manipulation. It’s difficult sometimes for us to accept this ugly fact. We want so much to believe them when they tell us what turns out to be a lie or a rather overdramatized truth. – Real healing begins when a parent stops believing the excuses and lies and insists on the truth.
Yesterday began as many days do, with a quick hi and how’s your day going from my son. By late in the day a second call came telling me he had just hung around all day, nothing major or earth shattering about his day. – It didn’t take long before the calls started coming in one right after another; insisting he needed me to do something for him immediately. His day’s story changed to suit his now impending emergency; in my spirit I knew this was going south fast and he would and could easily cycle out of control.
As he began his litany of excuses, I could feel myself getting sucked into the drama, the only way I could stop that was to hang up the phone. I know he wasn’t expecting that. But I believe it made a statement. I let some time pass before we spoke again, this time I had prepared myself, knew I had to stand firm and not except his excuses, half-truths and lies. I firmly believe this is an important step for us as the loved ones of an addict. Taking the time to STOP – collect our thoughts, our strength and if you believe in prayer, to pray; will be absolutely paramount to keeping ourselves on tract.
Later that evening when we spoke again, the conversation turned, he began to listen and the God given words that came from heart somehow stopped both of us. Atleast I know they stopped me. (I can only speak for myself and where I am at today) I have to be responsible for my excuses. I can easily slip right back to enabling him, and literally in the blink of an eye.
Keeping my Recovery right in front of me at all times is hard work. Remembering the SANITY principles, and listening to that still small voice in head when it says “Nip the excuses in the Bud” or Stop the enabling, or call someone you need support right now; is what helps me do that.
SANITY… its what we all need to get through this.
Friday, September 30, 2011
In order to do this we have to first get the words out of our mouth…
Help! I am the mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife of an addict. With that finally out in the open we can find the support, encouragement and even accountability we will need to walk the path of our Recovery.
Allison says it best in her Book when she says:
(pg 111) “As the first step of stopping our enabling behavior is being implemented, enjoying the support of others is crucial. Parents in pain need support; understanding, encouragement and accountability from others who have traveled this painful journey and come out on the other side – or those who are currently walking the journey with us… (pg 116) Many parents have grown accustomed to maintaining a kind of silent shame about the circumstances and issues surrounding their adult children. Assembling a support group is the last thing we want. Yet is one of the first things we must do to gain strength in a season of life that will most certainly require every ounce of fortitude we can muster”
I think this is one of my favorite components of the Sanity principals. If I had stayed alone in my pain over being the mother of an addict I don’t know where I’d be today. I am blessed to have an amazing support group, and I strongly believe that each of us needs this more than we are willing to admit.
Mine consists of:
My husband; a man who loves me with every fiber of his being and has unselfishly love my son (his step son) even though many times he was the target of the theft that occurred due to my son’s need for more drugs. My man has held we when I have cried, cheered me on as I got stronger and never once stopped me from seeking other support and help.
I have some very dear girl friends that though they do not have an addict in the family, they have had my back. We would meet once a week for dinner and it was at one of these dinner times that one of them handed me Allison’s book. These women have directed me, encouraged me, asked some hard questions; like… “How long are going to keep doing that”. My dearest and best friend Gayle (read her blog here)has helped me dig deep inside of myself and often has encouraged me to place it all in the hands of God. The one who knows my son and loves him even more then I do.
And along the way I have met another parent of an addict, (read his blog here) who is a few years ahead of me on this journey. His wisdom and forthrightness has helped push me forward, and has helped me believe in myself. And has been a model of what this Journey can bring, with its twists, turns, valleys and joys.
I urge you, Assemble a group of people around you. You will need them on your Journey to Recovery, put aside your fears and shame. Stop worrying about what other people will think of you when you tell them…
“I need help, I’m the _________ of an addict.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Getting hit with the reality of being an enabler was a pretty hefty blow to this mother’s heart. Never would I have put myself willingly into that category. Being the mother of an addict is one of the most difficult things I have endeavored. Reading Allison’s book (and re-reading it) has literally brought me out the darkness of enabling.
I have met many parents and loved ones whose hearts have been ripped out by addiction, who also walk the path of enabling on the way to their own Recovery. Each of us believes with all our heart that we will be the one to save our addict, to save them from drugs, from themselves and from the shunning of the family and their peers. We believe what we are doing is keeping them safe, fed, a roof over their head. When in fact what it is doing is feeding the addiction. If we are truthful it’s feeding both ours (our addiction to our addict) and theirs
Leslie Vernick, author of "The Emotionally Destructive Relationship" says it best:
“Fear grabs us when we think that if we say no, our adult child will make a worse mess of his or her life, and we will have to live with the pain and/or shame of those consequences. Guilt motivates us because we often feel that somehow we failed our adult child because of something we did or didn’t do when they were younger.”
I had to admit that one of the reasons I enabled was because I was afraid of what others thought about me as a parent. I thought if I hid the fact that my son was an addict, if I helped him look like a regular adult child, I wouldn’t have to bare the shame. It became about hiding the truth. Somehow I believed that giving him money, a place to live, clothes etc. would help hide the fact that he was a heroin addict.
By enabling him, I was a dance partner in the mess and chaos of his addiction. Every time I gave him money, allowed him to live in my home while he was doing drugs, I was joining him on the dance floor. Both of us trying to lead the other in a different direction.
When we begin to recognize we are enabling and we find it in ourselves to STOP and start applying it to our addict’s life, know that it will get ugly for a while. They will rebel against it; there will be chaos that will ensue. They will find themselves alone on the dance floor and will do all they can to manipulate you back out onto the floor. But know this… our doing this, our stopping our enabling and our refusing to take part in the dance, it will force them to see they no longer have a dance partner; they will be in their addiction mess alone.
When we STOP enabling it begins to “raise the bottom”, no longer will we have to wait for them to “hit bottom”, we can become part of what helps them get there quicker. And that bottom will be where Recovery can begin.
Monday, September 19, 2011
As I have now walked this road of Recovery as a parent of an addict, I have held fast to the Sanity Principles in Allison Bottke’s Book; “Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children”.
Last winter I did a four part series on her book. (this linkwill bring you to them). And I thought it was time to go back and write about each of the Sanity Principles and what they have looked like in my life.
Over the next two weeks I will put out 6 blogs, I hope you will join me.
Monday, August 15, 2011
When my son was about 3 years old our family spent the weekend in the Poconos at a lovely resort. We were there for part business, part family fun. The condo we stayed in had a Jacuzzi Room. The kids couldn’t wait to try out that HUGE tub.
On our first night there I ran the water for them to take a “bath”. I added a bit of shampoo for bubbles and turned the jets on. My two daughters ran to change into swimsuits to bathe with their three year old brother, but my son climbed right in. Not much time had passed when I heard a small voice coming from the Jacuzzi room…
“Something’s happening to me… something’s happening to me”.
I walked into the room to find my three year old standing in the tub with bubbles up to about his ears. It was a preciously funny site. I have told and retold that story many times over the years. It always hit me what a profound statement that was for a child to utter regarding his surroundings.
Fast forward 21 years, my son, now nearly 24, and the profoundness of that statement hits me yet again as I watch him work toward his recovery. Not 70 days ago my son was actively using a mix of drugs that quite frankly should have killed him. Today, I see a young man changing before my eyes. Something is happening to him… never before in this winding, difficult journey of active addiction and clean days have I seen such a change. There is something drastically different.
This weekend we were at a family gathering, celebrating my sisters 50th birthday. She is much loved by all of my children. My son wanted to be there, I wanted him to be there. I knew there would be drinking and I warned my son of such.
He told me “mom I’m good don’t worry, I know I can’t go there”. In the past he would have laughed it off, insisted he could drink and for me to mind my own business.
This was so different… there was a steadiness about his response that I wasn’t expecting, but was thrilled with its existence.
As the party progressed, a few people there over indulged, people my son has looked up to over the years. I watched my son pull away from them and spend his time playing and swimming with the younger cousins, even starting a football game.
I took it all in, watching this man/child break away from his addictive habits of the past. In my mind’s eye I could hear again that little voice “something’s happening to me, something’s happening to me”. This time it’s not about being covered in bubbles, it’s about walking further down the road of his recovery, a few steps more than he’s ever been before.