King Baby Syndrome

“King Baby Syndrome”

If we are around recovery and in “The Rooms” for a while, we learn some interesting new terms and concepts.
Recently I was introduced to the concept “King Baby Syndrome” relating to someone in active addiction, or sober but not working on recovery.
This is also referred to as “Dry Drunk Syndrome,” which indicates selfish, miserable thinking and behavior due to lack of an introspective, healing process.
In a nutshell—not mentally or emotionally sober.
Dry Drunk Syndrome implies that a person is (emotionally) drunk without ingesting alcohol.
Addiction is never simply about the substance, it is an illness and a disorder resulting in a set of symptoms and behaviors that the substance medicates.
Note: Just because someone comes off substances, doesn’t mean they are recovering or becoming healthy.  Doing the inner work on oneself to analyze and heal what led to dysfunctional issues is profoundly important.
* * * 

King (or Queen) Baby Syndrome was written about by Tom Cunningham at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota.

Cunningham wrote a pamphlet for recovering addicts and alcoholics to explore the dry drunk syndrome in greater depth.

The reference of “His Majesty, the Baby,” originated from Freud’s paper “On Narcissism” (1914), the concept describes an inborn attitude.  Freud uses the tale of Narcissus as a synonym for egomania, or fixation with oneself, to illustrate King Baby Syndrome.

(Narcissus is a young man who upon seeing his own reflection in a pool of water, falls in love with himself, unable to tear himself away from staring at himself he finally dies of self-obsession.  His name is derived from the Greek word “Narke” meaning sleep or numbness.) I find that interesting!
Here’s some truth, we are born narcissists in order to survive.  Self-absorbed, only aware of our own needs and wants.
Now imagine returning to this condition; where we feel warmth, security, and comfort.  All our primary needs are taken care of and tended to by others.
We demand food, attention, and care and can expect to get it…as well as to feel taken care of, secure and satisfied.
We are the center of the universe, off the hook for all responsibility.
Through the natural maturing processes of childhood and adulthood, most of our King or Queen Baby Syndrome mentality gets discarded naturally and is replaced by more appropriate life skills.
However…some of us advance through the stages of physical growth without shedding the “King Baby” attitude.
While some got stuck in this way of thinking (or returned it), as a result of substance abuse and chemical dependency.
We stopped developing.
* * * 
The narcissistic dynamics of being at the center of everyone’s universe can be suffocating and overwhelming for those who care about this person.
And we do tend to pair up nicely:  King or Queen Baby with care-takers, rescuers, and fixers.
A huge fact is that those of us who are codependent to the narcissistic behavior are needing to take the time to do our own healing work.
Toxic patterns repeat when self-improvement work is neglected.
The more we work to heal ourselves and become wiser and stronger, the healthier our responses to King/Queen Baby Behavior will become.
* * *
Speaking of being adjacent to a King or Queen Baby, how does this show up in my own behavior, you ask?
Allow me to lay it on the table.
As a “recovering doormat, codependent family member” with relentless tendencies to fix, help, nurture, rescue and care for; I can find myself quickly caught up in misery.
Recognizing my own patterns dysfunction, I am well aware that I tend to become unhealthy when around my son or others who are dear to me for very long; if I’m not healthy and mindful.
For example, when it comes to my adult son (who is very capable of handling and managing his own life), when we’re around one another for long I inevitably begin to focus on things like…
How is he feeling?
Is he eating healthy?
Is he driving safely?  How safe is the vehicle he’s using?
Has he had time with specific friends or family members?
Is everyone comfortable and getting along?
Is he ready, prepared and on time for what he needs to do today?
Is everything he might need while he’s here taken care of?
Is he taking care of himself?
I will even start checking that he is able to have a shower by a certain time!
If we’re around each other for too long my mind is off to the races.
That doesn’t come close to the obsession I take on if I think he’s exposed to alcohol or other mind altering chemicals, and substances.
Wine at a wedding…meeting friends who drink, even too many energy drinks or health supplements can launch my mind into madness.
Eventually…while he’s with us, he becomes all I’m thinking about.
I forget to think about myself.
I forget that these are things he needs to think about.
And I forget that whether or not he does a good, timely job of managing the day is none of my business.
The truth is, he is a grown man.
The days of tending to what he needs, wears, and does are over.  That ship has sailed.
As parents we can have standards for our home, we can set schedules and make plans…but constant overseeing, governing and checking—does not a healthy atmosphere make.
It sometimes takes an explosion for me to wake up to the need to return to thoughts of my own life and health.
I have to return to the bottom-line fact that his problems are not mine to solve.  His needs are not mine to meet.
But in the midst of having him home—I can easily forget all that.
Maybe it’s a Mom thing.
Maybe it’s a Mom thing for a Mother who has watched her son struggle through grief and heartache, dependency and despair.
I became much more fearful after that.
Whatever the case may be, the answer is that we’re all responsible for our own lives and well-being.
Control is an illusion anyway.
Life can change in a moment, we can no more predict or control how someone else’s life goes, than we can what happens within our own.

It’s not healthy, strong, or what is best for them anyway.

Many times, we are just making them more helpless and dependent upon us.
When we give others the dignity to manage themselves, and the freedom and space to deal with whatever accomplishment, outcome or consequence may come…they have a better chance to get the victory.
They have more room to learn, grow, heal and make progress.
And less ability to rule over us as pawns in their Kingdom.
If you’re struggling —find some support and begin the inner dive to do healing work on your life.  It’ll benefit everyone.
Seek peace for yourself and trust the process.
For more information about the above mentioned behavior, check out this article:  King Baby Syndrome
Still learning,
Annie

Trauma, What’s Behind a lot of Bad Behavior Choices

Trauma

It’s all about pain really.
“Trauma” means:  injury; often mental or emotional injury.
It’s amazing how far behind we are about trauma when it comes to understanding behavior.
The simple concept that people usually act out based on trauma has been veiled from the eyes of many, even skilled therapists, psychiatrists and physicians.
ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) scores contributing to behavior and choices are just now becoming a known thing.
How does that even make sense?
When I was growing up, not many seem to pay attention to the fact that kids were probably acting out in school because they had miserable home lives.
Many were living with dysfunction, instability, toxic stress, chronic chaos and even PTSD.
I’ve seen it firsthand.  I’m an example of one.
A deeper look into what students were facing at home was more often than not missed and untreated.  Leading many young students to grow up and go on into dysfunctional and sometimes even criminal lives.
Or at the very least, this lack of attention and resolution caused many to not succeed in school to the fullest of their ability, let alone life and relationships.
For many years I lived this out.
Trauma; not excusing behavior because of it, but understanding that it’s at work behind the scenes of our thinking and behavior opens the door to amend it.
Here’s the thing, people don’t typically just go plunging into chaos and live in dysfunctional patterns because there’s pleasure and benefit to it.
Similar to learning to walk with a broken ankle that’s never been corrected, it’s a result of what’s been learned, or…not taught and tended to.
It’s unbelievable that we are just now as a society waking up to the simple truth that injured people misbehave.
For some reason it’s been denied, neglected, unnoticed and ignored for generations.
Yet, we are surrounded by results of not ministering to it, with one epidemic of despair after another exploding in our culture.
This I know is true—once you know someone’s story, you won’t judge their behavior the same.
Exchanging the thought: “What’s wrong with you,” to “What happened to you?” Begins a process of unraveling.
It is the strangest missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to understanding one another, why do we not take into account what’s been injured and never healed.
Consequences still matter, it’s for their own good as much as anyone else.  But with understanding in place, it’s a healthier approach for all sides.

Who Else Has Been a Mess?

For the sake of being real, I will admit the past six months have been some of the hardest of my life.

We’ve really been going through it.  So many things hit one after another, it was hard to focus on any one thing.

To name a few…

  • In the beginning of this past November, my sons Dad, my ex-husband died suddenly of a heart attack.

It was a shock that rocked our world and changed everything about our family.

  • Exactly two weeks later, my beautiful 29-year-old niece died of a fentanyl overdose.

Another shock.

The news came like a sledgehammer to the heart.

She was doing well. She was loved. She mattered.

I don’t have adequate language for the thundering ripples of pain these losses have caused.

Death is baffling.

  • Still reeling from those losses, I was in a car accident a month later.  Hit on a dark freeway by a young woman traveling over 70 mph, while texting on her phone.

My car was launched up a 30-foot embankment, through a chain-link fence, landing on a bed of thorns. We had to be cut out of the debris.

As a result, I have an injured knee that has affected my physical activities, namely running.  Running, which has been a therapy and a joy in my life, is now a painful labor.

I can also no longer stand driving on highways.

Although my son’s dog and I survived it without catastrophic injuries, it was horrifying and left us all feeling shaken.

  • Nine days after the accident, my son still hemorrhaging with the death of his Father, got sick, and had a health crisis that led to two seizures, almost costing him his life.

It was beginning to feel like all hell was breaking loose on our lives.

  • Add to all that…we were then globally launched into a time of COVID19 virus, and quarantine.

Which in some ways, paled in comparison to what we were already trying to process.

Can anyone relate to one tornado after another crashing into your life?

And does anyone have a lifetime supply of Calgon I can bury myself in?! (Yes, that is an old reference.)

* * *

In the weeks that followed, I began to feel my mind sinking.

Typically the type to intentionally apply concepts of optimism, faith, recovery, therapy and stoicism to difficult times, after all that…most days I’ve instead found myself face down grieving.

Sometimes on the couch, sometimes on the bathroom floor.

It hasn’t been a pretty time.

I won’t lie, at times it‘s been a daily fight through sorrow, despair and hopelessness to function and get things done.

(Some things don’t get done.)

Both of us feeling lost and bewildered, my son and I called one another often to compare feelings, memories, struggles.  And we discussed how to navigate this new normal.

* * *

“I believe depression in legitimate.  But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.”  ~Jim Carrey

Grief, anxiety, fear, worry, PTSD, depression…

No matter what it might be identified as, we were going through it, swimming in it and desperately grasping for stability.

I too felt the way through was to face it, do self-care, practice principles of faith and therapy, rely on my support system…and go easy on ourselves.

* * *

In a recent podcast conversation with my beautiful friend Cara, Creator of My Girlfriend Voice, she spoke of a formula she learned from a class on depression for working through times of depression and despair in her own life.

I quickly adopted her method…creating an acronym:

M.E.S.S.

What to do when I’m a mess…

MOVE

“Move a muscle, change a thought.”

Movement helps!

Exercise—get your heart rate up, your blood moving and endorphins flowing.  Be sure exercise is part of your routine if possible.

Go for a walk, change rooms, scenery, etc.

EXPRESS

Feelings need oxygen to dissipate.

In some way emote. Get your thoughts and feelings OUT.

Whether you shout it out in the car, write it in a journal, call a friend or counselor, or sing it in the shower.

That’s how the healing happens.

SERVE SOMEONE else.

Do something for someone else (be sure it’s a realistic goal and done with sincerity).

Volunteer, serve, or give a sincere compliment to a family member, friend, or stranger.

Lend a hand, send a handwritten letter or card, shoot an email, text or a call to say:

“I’m thinking of you.”

“You matter to me.”

“I wanted to tell you how much I love ________ about you.”

“Do you need anything?”

“You’ve got a friend in me.”

* * *

I applied these concepts in some way, to whatever degree I felt capable…every day.

It wasn’t overnight, but gradually the darkness and clouds of despair began to break, and I felt a shift in energy.

 

* * *

It’s now been a few weeks.  On this side, with some footing regained, I’m finding more strength and optimism.

The reality is, my heart still drops into my stomach when I think of my ex-husband and niece, who were taken so suddenly.

I’m still nervous to get on the highway.

I check in with my son more than usual.

Tears still sting my eyes at some point everyday.

Those things didn’t go away.

But, I’m finding peace again.

Facing life day by day with a grateful, open heart as I work my way onward.

And I have hope.

It’s been a hard season, that’s for sure.  But seasons change and our hearts often grow stronger within the difficult ones.

Good things start to happen again.

Loss remains painful, but becomes less overwhelming.

Hope returns.

No matter what you might facing, things will change.

Until that happens, take care of yourself.

Do the next right thing over and over again.

Remember, it’s okay to be a mess sometimes.  Life is a strange journey.

Keep going, you’ll get stronger.

Still learning,

Annie

Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

(If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please reach out.  No one should go through it alone)

* * *

For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support

 

Staying Strong versus Going Stir Crazy; Managing Through a Strange and Stressful Time

Staying strong and ahem…sane. 
I’ll be honest.
Who among us hasn’t felt the urge to snap in times of intense stress?  For those of us have been sideline to addiction, alcoholism, dysfunction, trauma or abuse, we know firsthand what it’s like to navigate extreme stress, toxic situations and unimaginable difficulties.
However, with the turn of events surrounding the Corona virus, these past few weeks everything has shifted into high gear when it comes to all that is strange and stressful.
Most of us are participating in social distancing, which has included altering our professional lives to remain home around the clock;  only venturing outdoors for isolated activities and run necessary errands.
We have witnessed (but hopefully not been guilty of) the surges of panic buying and hoarding of essential items such as toilet paper and bottled water from the grocery stores.
It’s been weird.
I decided to make a list of the key elements that have been personally keeping me structured and somewhat sane.
You are welcome to my strategies, as much as I invite you to create your own.

Self-care

More than ever taking care of me is showing up in moments of stress.  I have learned taking the time to take care of myself creates an inner wellness that kicks in when confronted with stress.
This ranges from from a regular morning routine of prayer, breathing and meditation, along with a morning run and yoga in the evening—when I can get it all in.
If I can’t get to it, I’m okay with that.  Self-care should never feel like a burden.
Self-care also includes the the books I read, what I write or blog about, and podcasts I fill up on.
As well as the shower and skincare products I love.
It all factors in to how I’m feeling.

Physical movement

Running every morning has kept me present, disciplined and grounded.  As much as it’s helped me physically, it impacts me mentally and emotionally.
But it doesn’t have to be running.
Taking a walk, doing 50 jumping jacks, yoga, workout videos, etc., doing something to break a sweat and get the body moving daily does a world of good for us.
Especially when things are as intense as they are right now.

Routine

Structure is stability.
For me, sticking to a routine feels safe and sane. When it feels like the whole world is on fire, focusing on what time I start work, load the laundry, go for a walk and so on, are incredibly comforting outlets.

Connect with others

I’m an introvert by nature. I can go hours, even days or more without talking to anyone. Connecting is something I have to do on purpose.
That said, long spans of isolation is not good for anyone. It’s important to stay connected.
I believe in the concept of Unbuntu that Nelson Mandela spoke of (I wrote about this in my 2nd book, Unbroken, regarding my family’s strategy for being “Divorced, but not Divided”).
The concept implies that we are all bound together in ways invisible to the eye. There is a oneness to humanity, we need one another.
We achieve by sharing ourselves with others, and taking care of one another.
When this concept is healthy and in place (such as in support groups, among other conscious relationships), there is no limit to how our lives improve.
During this time of separation, online recovery meetings and apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, House Party or Skype are good options for eye to eye contact with others.
And they’re kind of fun!
Now is also a good time to reach out in some “old school” ways, such as writing a letter and sending it by mail.
Random calling, emailing, or sending cards to friends and family more often (and taking more time to do it), can fortify our social life.
These are beautiful gestures, and sometimes things we don’t do as much in this day and age. What a joy to be on the receiving end!

Where’s my focus?

Bad news travels fast and is not always accurate.
I’ll be honest, I keep catching myself getting sucked in to negativity. I try to be aware of what I’m feeling and why, I then can reroute my mind to what is real, accurate, and healthy.
Constant news watching and/or having conversations with alarmists and people who are prone to worst case scenario perceptions might not be best through an intense time.
For me, when things seem dreary and distressing, it feels healthy to limit contact with those who create upset, as well as to turn off the news and social media.
It’s okay to socially distance ourselves from that. We are not called to live in fear, terror or torment.

Spiritual life

Having faith, for me, is an absolute lifeline.  I can’t get through a day without turning to it, much less a time of pandemic and quarantine.
I try to remain in constant connection with faith and my processes of healing and wise decision making.
My system isn’t perfect, but it’s working.
Peace is my GPS.  The more peace and strength I have, the more I know I am on the right track.

Grounding moments

Taking breaks to do things like breathing exercises, stepping outside to walk in the grass and so on…long enough to pause and think about what is actually happening in this moment, are great ways to separate from chaos, worry and drama.
Think for a moment.
Right now, in this moment…nothing new is happening.
We are okay.
All is well.

Pets

Not everyone is an animal lover, but for those of us who are—they are great emotional support.
Our two cats make us laugh throughout the day with their unique personalities, and give a sense of warmth and coziness at night when they lounge alongside us.
And recently, we got a new puppy!  Winston has added so much happiness and love to our home. He has been a perfect addition to our lives, and at a perfect time.
Pets pull us into the now.
Animals help to put our minds on something else that needs taken care of, instead of focusing on ourselves.
They also give us unconditional love and loyalty.
In my opinion, pets are right up there with great therapy or a trip to the spa.

Projects and goals

Working on myself, my health and fitness, my character defects, and things I want to improve is a great place to focus pent up energy.
Setting a goal or starting a project like increased running distance, new articles and podcasts, a household improvement project, etc. through this time assures that we come out of it better than we went into it.
* * *

Fear not.

It’s important to be mindful and aware. But not respond to whatever is going on as if our hair is on fire.
Let’s not get on board with fear, terror or panic.  That’s torment. Panic leads to selfish, wild decisions.
Slow it down.
Pause and think.

Above all, let’s take life a day at a time—with moments to breathe, work on productive and uplifting things, assess ourselves and consider our reality—while maintaining a kindhearted attitude toward others.

 

It’s possible, especially when it’s intentional.

 

This is how I’m choosing to manage this WEIRD, strange and stressful time.

* * *
I do believe this, once it’s over we’ll be stronger for it.
We’ll be grateful for the return of conveniences we’ve missed, and all of the excesses we normally have access to.
Looking back over this chapter of life, I believe we can be proud of how we handled it.
And more than anything…when this is all over—the most important thing will be how we treated one another.
I wish you well,
Annie

False Narrative

“You cannot control how people view you or what they think about you.  You can only control what YOU think and how you respond.” ~Dr. Caroline Leaf

18 tips and words of comfort, hope and encouragement for anyone who has been falsely accused, scapegoated, or turned on.

 

If you’ve ever the misfortune of having a false narrative created about you; whether from an ex-spouse or partner, your ex’s new spouse or partner, someone else’s ex, a turncoat friend, family member, coworker, or church-folk…etc., there are steps you can take to safeguard your sanity and protect your heart.

Below are tips for navigating those circumstances, particularly a situation that you have to endure for a length of time. These concepts were compiled from advice from counselors and experts, as well as my own experiences and personal lessons learned.

* * * 

1. Know that: You’re not alone.  You’re not crazy. You’ll be okay.  This experience has happened to many others. It’s painfully frustrating, but not uncommon. History is full of people who have been turned on and spewed about; often by those they trusted and were good to.

 

2. Self-care and support will be crucial.  Take care of yourself and stay connected to people who care about you.  While you don’t want to tell everything to everyone, it helps to have a few solid people in your corner to carry a running conversation with.

It’s wise to have someone trustworthy to assess the situation clearly with, as well as to help you keep a kind, optimistic awareness of your worth and value in mind.

These situations tend to cause us to doubt ourselves and wonder if we’re in the wrong, crazy, and maybe even a bad person.

You need people who know you, who see and speak the truth, and will encourage you when you’re feeling down, confused, and overwhelmed.

 

3. Keep proof if possible (and necessary), but don’t go mad trying to build a case.

In a few situations, I came to the awareness that I’d been turned on by someone in order to preserve a relationship they had with someone else.

In anticipation of being confronted for things I had neither said nor done, and if the validity of our contact was questioned, I kept text conversations and an email thread that clearly showed the truth about me, and proved dishonesty within the accusations.

To be very honest…I still have them because the hurt and character assassination ran that deep (and lasted that long).

My motivation was the truth.  Not winning, not exposing or hurting anyone in retaliation, just the truth.

 

4. Don’t wear yourself out trying to defend yourself.  For some reason, in these situations when you try to defend yourself, set the record straight, clear the air, or prove what’s actually true—it only seems to make it worse!

Take a break from any related conversations and let things settle for a time.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to: J.A.D.E. (Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain) yourself to anyone.

 

5. Work on you in the midst of it. Become introspective, increase activities like exercise, reading, journaling, therapy, supportive groups, and so on.

Dig deep into a hobby or passion. It’ll be a great distraction with ending results you’ll be thankful for.

 

6. Take lots of quiet time for yourself. Separate from the situation when it causes surges of adrenaline and stress.

Instead, take a walk, power nap, meditate and pray, watch a short video, etc.

 

7. Read or listen to podcasts about smear campaigns and people who have dealt with false accusation (We discussed the topic in The Unhooked Podcast featuring Lisa Romano…as well there are many other resources available on the subject).

 

8. Intentionally decide to navigate the situation with integrity, courage and grit, and in ways that your future self will be proud of.

Eventually you’ll tell the story as a memory, give yourself some highlight moments to be proud of.

If there is any validity to the accusations, work on those things, make amends if possible…forgive yourself and proceed to do the next right things.

Walk in integrity and continue to do good things.

You’ll be proud of yourself for it.

 

9. Understand that healthy people communicate fairly. If you were dealing with a safe, stable person—they would allow you to discuss whatever issues there were, and to make amends, had you truly done something evil and offensive.

They also wouldn’t have to gather allies and unite others to believe a “villain” narrative about you.

Spreading conflict and pulling others into it is proof positive that this is an emotionally toxic, unstable person.

It’s an unfair, unhealthy way to handle hard feelings.

(And…it’s called trouble-making.)

Anyone who has to scheme, lie about you, and/or turn people against you is not healthy, happy, or confident.

And for whatever reason—they’re threatened by you. Why else do they need people to think you’re the Boogie Man?

People who incite conflict aren’t strong people.  They’re not powerful or confidant. And neither are their allies.

Those who unite with others to turn on someone have a collapsible bond.

They also have a way of turning on each other once you put a wall of peace up and they can no longer get to you.

 

10. Remember – it’s not all or nothing. Don’t get into a battle of trying to make yourself look like the angel, and the other person like the devil, or vice versa (even though that’s exactly what they are doing).

It’s not about that. It’s about the truth.

 

11. Speak the truth as needed, if needed, if the situation comes up with others and you feel safe to share with them, do so with simple facts versus feelings…facts versus insults.

Tell the truth and trust it to defend itself.

It eventually becomes clear to wise people that anyone eager to spew poisonous details about someone probably shouldn’t be trusted.

A person needing an army to join them against someone else is not normally a strong, safe person.

Even though it seems to take forever, trust the process of truth.

The truth is a powerful ally.

 

12. Don’t make yourself small. Try not to isolate, allow it to negatively change you, or cause you to shrink.

But, if you need time away from others, take it.

Personally, I had been so impacted by a scenario of this at one time that I began avoiding situations where there could even be a possibility of the risk of an ambush of drama.

There were times I just couldn’t handle it.

I steered clear of anyone I felt might be connected to the spreading of a “villain” narrative, or might be prone to drama.  Anyone who might be quick to believe the worst about me, and intentionally treat me with rudeness as a result—got no access to me.

I had to allow my mental/emotional health, and my confidence to recover in order to feel strong and safe again.  Otherwise I wasn’t able (or willing) to subject myself to potentially negative, unfair treatment.

And that was okay.  That was what I needed to do to be healthy.

 

13. Be aware of those on the sidelines who have been eager to turn on you, quickly siding with the one spreading the drama.

Those people more than likely had toxic feelings about you all along.

Or they just love drama.

A targeted person often creates a feeding frenzy for those who enjoy a spectacle.

Either way…going forward and in order to guard your heart—it’s wise to remember who was easily persuaded to think the worst of you and pile on.

What they’re bonding over is a toxic, counterfeit connection. Don’t envy (or pursue) them.

14. Turn it over to your faith. Every day, all day as much as you need to!  If you are a person of faith, this is hugely helpful.

When I felt the most triggered, threatened, burdened or attacked; I would take it to my faith over and over again until I felt a release of stress and pressure.

Peace would always eventually come.

Trust and believe that God will vindicate you and will do a much better job of it than you ever could for yourself.

God is your Defender and Rescuer.  Rest in that as often as possible.

 

15. MY FAVORITE RESPONSE!  

Do something awesome for yourself!  Set a goal, or give yourself a gift (or both!).

Goal: Run a 5k, set a date to lose the 10-20 pounds you’ve been planning to shed, save and go on a dream vacation, take a class, go for a degree, try for a promotion, write a manuscript or article and try to get it published, etc.

Gift: Do something kind and positive for yourself such as buying some new jewelry, lotions or other products that you love.  Treat yourself to some new clothes, get tickets to a concert or play, go on a weekend retreat, and so on.

I’ve done it! And I loved it.  When facing a few toxic situations, I responded by saving extra money and going on a trip with my son to see the ocean for the first time.  Another time I trained for and ran a marathon.  On another occasion, I studied and obtained a license in order to go for a higher position at work.  

I turned my energy and focus about the person and the problem in those directions instead. Handling things that way actually turned some pretty miserable and toxic situations into beautiful memories! 

This response has been a great design for managing adversarial situations throughout my adult life, there is no response I would recommend more!

Doing something to benefit yourself in direct response to the troubling behavior of others repeatedly re-routes your mind from the mess and pain of the situation, toward something healing and healthy.

And will give you something positive out of it!  Secretly you’ll even have something to thank them for. That takes a lot of the sting and poison out of it.

 

16. Work on your perception of yourself. You are valuable!  You MATTER. Work on what YOU believe—despite what anyone else does.

Your value, good character, good heart, good intentions and your well-being do not come from or depend upon a person slinging mud (or the bystanders joining in).

Even if they were at one time close to you and privy to personal things.  Doesn’t matter.  They’re not your source of peace, power or worth.

You must regroup and regain footing apart from the situation.

Once you do—you’ll feel bullet-proof.

 

17. Remember – what goes around, truly does come around. People always reap what they sow, that is a guarantee.

What’s happening is poison—if you will remove yourself as much as possible, eventually that poison will run its course and return to them.

Hopefully their journey leads them to an awakening.

Wish them well; wish them and those around them awareness, and keep going.

 

18. Keep in mind that this too shall pass. 

One day, someone else going through this same experience will cross your path, and from personal knowledge you will be able to give them insight, hope and encouragement.

You will be able to give the comforting reminder that…this too shall pass!

 

I wish you well—keep going,

Annie

 

Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

* * *

For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support

What Are You Hoping For?

In years past…when someone I loved was struggling, I used to pretty well harness my heart to their situation.

It’s been a long, messy process of learning to take a broader perspective in order to get free of the madness my dysfunction, codependency and obsessive behavior created in my life.

In the midst of some of my family’s darkest times, I met a friend who was a family dysfunction counselor and quite naturally began lean on her during intense times of struggle.

She was very healthy in her responses to me, but being in over my head and not yet educated in behavioral dynamics relating to family dysfunction, addiction, codependency etc. (including my own), she often spoke in terms that would confuse and even sometimes infuriate me.

Until I was able to accept the truth of them.

Don’t we desperately not want the truth to be true sometimes?

When I would call upset or ranting about whatever crisis was happening within my family, listing all the ways I felt pinned to the wall and desperate for a breakthrough, she would often remind me that there was “so much hope” for me…

“But,” she would add, “that hope is not in that person, situation, or to be placed at the mercy of anyone else’s decisions, behavior or struggles.”

“Your hope,” she would tell me, “needed to be in a Greater Source; a Higher Power, who has all final say and has a good plan through all of it.”

It sounded good.

Still I would burn for a moment, and try to breathe it in.

I’d think, “What is she talking about?”

Of course my hope is in this person!  My whole life depends upon them changing, becoming healthy, and getting their act together.

They’re the problem!  I’m hoping the situation I’m drowning in (which was pretty major, and very scary) has a breakthrough and this person turns it around…or I’ll die in the midst of it.

How could I not put my hope there? I had my entire heart invested.

With my heart pounding and adrenaline surging, I would try to agree with her and gain strength from her words, but internally I really didn’t get it.

* * * 

What I needed to come to an understanding of  was yes, behavior changing and circumstances turning around were exactly what I was hoping FOR. But my hope wasn’t IN that happening, or even in this person I loved so much (who was in a life and death struggle).

My hope needed to be propped up on something that transcended all of us.

My hope had to go beyond and above it all.

My hope needed to be placed on a Living Force, a Higher Power Source, in order to get me outside of my head, and untangled from the chaos.

I needed to anchor my hope to a Source with solutions superseding my limitations knowledge, and abilities.

A power Source with knowledge, ability and authority beyond the realms of anyone and anything else.

(I’d like to add that Who and What is to be our Source upon which to anchor hope and turn to for help is something we all have to flesh out for ourselves. I know who mine is, I have no intention of telling you what to do about yours.  But I do wish the peace and strength I’ve experienced as a result of my personal faith in abundance for you.)

This revelation of a Greater Authority began to develop a trusting relationship for me that continues to this day.

I learned to allow space with people, to put separation on situations. To lift situations up, off of me and hand them over to my Source.

This also freed me to not allow anyone to have too much power over me.

I am now on the other side of those desperate years; years when a life that was anything other than depressing, chaotic and crazy didn’t seem possible.

When troubles arise on this side of those years, and triggers or old pains present, instead of reacting immediately, or collapsing into a puddle, I respond by taking a moment to submit myself and all things concerning me to my Source.

* * * 

My hope today remains firmly harnessed to the One who engineers all things to work out in my favor, no matter how bitter they may appear when I’m in the struggle.

Hope placed solely in people and circumstances isn’t stable or healthy (not for me anyway). Hope placed in something bigger, something above and beyond, greater than myself or anyone else…gives me a way out of the madness of worry, obsession, and urges to control and interfere.

I remind myself often that no person, resource, process or method can take complete care of me beyond what my Source is able to.

Thank you, recovery!

Because that area of my life was a complete mess.

* * * 

Whether a heavy, scary thing occurs in my life, or a door I have much hope for slams shut in my face – it helps tremendously to come back to the reminder that; “No matter what I’m hoping for, my hope is not in this person, place or thing.

There’s a grander Source at work.

Once you begin to find that Source for yourself and turn things over to it, hope will begin to transcend your situations.

Hope will anchor you to your Source, and that offers more strength and relief than I can describe.

It gives peace like a river.

Strength in daily supply.

Grace, grit and bold determination to persevere.

And the promise that there is a grand design setting things in motion to work together for a purpose.

While I absolutely continue to visualize and have specific ideas for situations (and people) to go this way or that…and always will, my hope is always foundationally IN and connected to a power far greater than any of us.

I believe no one has more authority or ability than my Higher Power, the Force who has the final say over every area my life, my son’s life, my family, our circumstances, and even all things adversarial (including enemies and malicious, harmful people).

I turn all of that over, and my Source works it all together for my good. That’s my first line of defense.

In coming to an understanding of that, I finally found peace.

Wishing you faith, hope, love, and a keen awareness of your Source.

Love and light,

Annie

Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

* * *

For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support

5 Natural Ways to Improve your Mind (Guest Blog by Erika Long)

5 Natural Ways to Improve your Mind

The brain is the most complicated and important organ of the body, regulating almost all cognitive and bodily functions.

Ensuring that your brain is functioning properly is vital not only to support your intelligence and mental health, but for your overall well-being. There are numerous factors that affect brain function, but focusing on several key lifestyle changes can fine-tune and improve the mind. Here are five of the most important tips to follow to ensure cognitive health and enhanced brain power.

 

  1. Better sleep

Sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of your daily routine. It’s a key process that helps regulate a wide variety of functions in the body. Sleeping is not simply resting, as the body is actually working fervently during sleep. When you sleep, the brain is consolidating daily information intake and repairing the natural damage caused by ageing to ensure that cognitive power doesn’t degenerate.

 

Recent studies that have confirmed the correlation between healthy sleep (both in terms of quality and duration) and brain power. Sleep affects memory function and psychological mood. Even one extra hour of sleep and a short daytime nap can effectively enhance your brain power and learning capacity. At the same time, it’s worth noting that other results indicate that too much sleep can be equally detrimental as lack of sleep, so you should follow the guideline of 7-9 hours a night.

 

  1. Exercise and fitness

“Mens sana in corpore sano” is a famous Latin phrase that translates, “healthy mind in a healthy body.” This advice makes sense as exercise is a key for the proper function of our minds. Studies have linked aerobic exercise like running, jogging, or swimming to enhanced cognitive prowess.

 

A routine of just 10 minutes of daily exercise can drastically boost performance, and when duration is increased there are increased benefits to both your body and brain. During exercise, the development of new cells is stimulated and more connections are created between them, resulting in an overall boost in mind performance.

 

Finally, exercise is a key factor in overall health, playing an important role in blood pressure, circulation, and regulating blood sugar, and to name a few. A mind attached to an unhealthy body is almost guaranteed to underperform and age faster.

 

  1. Omega-3 Fats

The brain is about 60% fat, and requires a stable, healthy supply of good fats in order to maintain a healthy structure and continue functioning well. Omega-3 fats play an extremely important role as research indicates that these fats essentially safeguard the health of your brain and ensures its longevity.

 

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids includes frequent consumption of oily fish (like salmon and mackerel), nuts and seeds. These essential fatty acids allow your brain to self-repair more efficiently and sustain higher performance throughout your lifespan. Additionally, a correlation exists between omega-3 consumption and the prevention of brain degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

 

  1. Flavonoids

Flavonoids are potent anti-oxidants that are crucial to the proper function and health of the brain, ensuring high levels of cognitive power. These antioxidants protect the neurons of the brain from damage that can be caused by the accumulated concentration of toxins in the body. At the same time, they stimulate brain cell production and growth. This powerful combination of functions ensures that the brain continually rejuvenates itself so it can be as sharp as possible, despite the effects of ageing.

 

These important compounds can be found primarily in nuts, spices, berries, and citrus fruit. Most of these foods are readily available all around the world, making it is easy to implement them into your diet and reap all the benefits they offer.

 

  1. Vitamins B and D

Vitamin-rich diets are generally considered important in safeguarding from disease. Vitamins that belong to the B complex are vital for the function of the brain, as they stimulate energy production, neuro-chemical synthesis, and cellular construction or repair. Studies have indicated that a higher level of B vitamins is linked with better performance in cognitive and memory tests.

 

Similarly, vitamin D has been found to support the structure of neurons which has led to elevated performance on mental aptitude tests. The dietary sources of vitamin B and D are similar. Again, oily fish are rich in these nutrients as are leafy greens, and eggs.

 

Additionally, UV radiation stimulates the creation of vitamin D internally thus it’s important to get some time in the sun daily as internally-produced vitamin D is even more potent and long-lasting than vitamin D from food or supplements.

 

 

When we embrace a healthy lifestyle focused on quality sleep, good nutrition and sufficient movement, we ensure our cognitive function will last throughout our years. Besides incorporating these foods and habits into our daily routine, we can also take natural supplements that support brain health. These practices are easy but do require conscious effort and consistency to reap all the benefits a healthy brain has to offer.

Guest Blogger Erika Long loves corgis, curry and comedy. Always searching for the next great snuggle, flavor or laugh, she inspires people to live their best life now. When not writing, Erika can be found at her local brewery dominating Harry Potter trivia night.

Effects of Emotionally Unavailable Parents.

Recently the question, “What were the effects on your life from having an emotionally unavailable parent?”

Whether due to a medical condition, a drug or alcohol problem, or an emotionally immature parent.

My experience is one that due to dire circumstances, resulted in the emotional absence of both my parents.

I was the youngest of my parents six kids. They had a very unhappy marriage. It was riddled with violence through the first four kids. They tried to pull it together just before their fifth and sixth were born; the violence stopped and we became an alcohol free household.

My parents tried to get their footing through various extreme church/religious practices and self-help trends but never really recovered from their own childhood traumas, which resulted in years of poverty, dysfunction and conflict. They lived from crisis to crisis. In fact, their home burned down when my mother was eight months pregnant with me and they moved in with her parents.

They had a lot of drama! I was brought home to loud, chaotic misery.

By the time I came along my dad was older with a few health issues, his routine was to leave for work every morning at before 6:00AM (just as most of us were waking up); he came home and went to bed by 6:00PM (just as most were coming home). He often seemed like a shadowy figure to me, one that everyone seemed to be afraid of.

My dad and I had as much interaction as possible in the hours he was present. He gave me a lot of good advice and skills as far as ways to look at life…but he just wasn’t consistently available.

As for my mother, she had spiraled into mental illness before I was born, struggled with severe codependency, fears, delusions, and prescription pill abuse.  She was a steadfast manipulator, as she was pretty well known as “THE Church Lady.” She doesn’t drink, cuss, etc., but she is addicted and unwell.

Opiates became her main addiction by the time I was 12 years-old after she was in a car accident.  Abusing narcotic pain medication and Ambien is her routine to this day. Prescriptions, weekly doctor visits, buying extra pills from relatives and friends after she runs out, along with frequent pain clinics are now her way of life (all while condemning others with the Bible).

Not shaming her, these are just the facts.  It’s been frustrating and painful.

That was life in our loud, rowdy household in a nutshell.  The theme of the home was urgency, crisis, religious outrage and misery.  There was not a lot of emotional support, or guidance regarding how to live. I certainly did not feel a presence of love.

Due to lack of healthy conversation, love, guidance or care-taking…many things about me were feral as a child.

I was sent to school with very little awareness as to why I was there.  Often dirty, not prepared, without lunch money, etc.  That didn’t make me feel sorry for myself and to this day I do not, but it certainly made me feel lost.

When you are a welfare kid, or a child who is uncared for you develop a sense of shame so deep within that it can take decades to unravel it, if you even become aware that it’s your issue.

Family shame can stunt your life.  

The effects were that I had zero self-worth. Zero.  I hated myself more than anyone else could ever possibly hate me.  I absorbed blame and shame like a sponge. I took on every problem, or difficult personality as my fault. If someone was an angry or mean person, I thought I caused it.  All roads led back to how “bad” I was, in my broken perception.

This thinking set me up for many years of chaotic, codependent, blame-shifting, advantage-taking relationships, and friendships.

However, hating the dysfunction and misery, along with despising myself and my life drove me to spend a lot of my young adult years going to the library, and seeking out classes, counselors and teachers out of desperation to figure life OUT.

Or better said, I was desperate to figure a way out of my life.

The issues and my response to them, over time, had a profound effect that gradually overlapped the damaging effects…my history made me a seeker, and it saved me.

I became a seeker of truth, recovery, information, confidence, therapy, health, wellness, logic, sanity, healing, forgiveness, PEACE, and improvement anywhere it might be found.  I looked for it all.  I wanted ALL of it!

Years later, when my son became addicted to prescribed opiates after a football injury, I went right into seeker mode again to find out the best possible responses.  He’s now six years out of that and living a great life.

As a result of my upbringing and what it led me to do to survive it, my life is healthy, and full of joy.  I have worked hard to have safe, kind, healthy connections with the people close to me.  The difference of who and what I allow into my personal life is now based on health, self-compassion, wisdom and trusting my inner guides of intuition and peace.

Life is actually pretty great on this side of the early madness. Which is why I openly and as real and raw as possible write, talk, tell, podcast, and speak about all of the above.

The passion of my life is to tell anyone who needs to hear it –  No matter how dark, no matter how low and disadvantaged you started out, no matter who dropped the ball on you… you can have an AMAZING life as an adult.

You can recover from anything!  If you do the work to heal, all can be made well.

I wish you well,

Annie

 

Divorced, not Divided; A House Divided Stands No Chance

 

Divorce, Division and the Disease of Addiction

I think any respectful, right-minded person would agree that it’s important within a group or family setting to be on the same page when making decisions and navigating circumstances. This is especially true as it relates to managing crisis.

While we all may agree that unity is critical, this ideal is useless if our actions don’t corroborate our claims. We can all find ourselves locking horns with those we’re called to unite with for a common cause.

When the goal is centered around a loved one who struggles with substances, united not divided is of utmost importance.

If division is occurring within the home (or homes), it’s crucial to resolve differences in a fair and honest manner in order to obtain peaceful solutions.

Concerning alcoholism, addiction, and SUD, most people have stories of division. Some occur within a marriage where everyone in the household is pulled in different directions. There can be a good cop/bad cop situation in play, siblings played against one another, and so on.

Coming to terms with the huge importance of having a united front is crucial.

In families where there has been a divorce, it would seem division may be already in place, but from my own experience I know that unity is possible.

Division may come from well-intended family members or friends. Division can come from people pulled in or perhaps outsiders taking it upon themselves to become involved. Division can be motivated by fear, guilt, or more sinister motives such as selfishness or a hidden agenda. Whatever the case may be, division is an area of weakness that allows the disease of addiction and the manipulation it needs to survive, to wreak absolute havoc within a family.

Cracks of division, similar to cracks in a foundation, will bring a house down. Wherever those cracks appear, deception and manipulation can get in, which will deter truth and peace and can postpone the path to recovery.

My personal experience

I don’t write as an expert; I write from experience. The following is my experience with solutions in place for division:

– Divorced not Divided

My ex-husband and I kept a pretty good truce going for the decade we shared the responsibility of raising our son after our divorce. Of course it was awkward and even hostile in the initial phases of separating. In the early days we were prone to heated conversations and blame (never in the presence of our son) and it made for discomfort when our paths crossed.

Two years after the divorce, we met in person to have a conversation that cleared the air. We put our issues to rest moving forward from them with a commitment to positively parent our child. We set clear guidelines to prevent our exchanges from becoming cluttered with issues.

This allowed for strong unity when SUD and crisis came roaring through our lives later.

The following are a few ways we avoided division going forward:

Decide on goals and ground rules

Goals:

Having common goals: peace, health, happiness, and well-being for every child you share is of the highest priority. Never forget, it’s about them.

Giving our shared child a fighting chance at the life of stability we felt we didn’t get growing up was important. Giving our son a strong sense of family despite having divorced parents was crucial. These goals were important as a lifestyle for the years prior to crisis, and they became priority during.

Ground Rules:

Anything you do or say (within reason) wont be held against you. We can choose to not have paper thin skin in dealing with one another. Cooler heads must prevail. If you make a mistake you are still respected as an important part of the family. It’s not going to get rubbed in your face. Moving on is constant.

Lets not demonize one another. It is never healthy to say negative or destructive things about someone your child half-identifies with. If a child is not under threat of serious harm, truths will come out if they need to. Attacking one another and shoving poison in the ear of your shared child(ren) causes confusion, negativity, and will pave the way for unneeded struggles for them down the road.

Lets not rush to react, pounce on, or punish each other. Not everything is an ordeal to freak out about. Making a mistake does not classify you as the villain of our equation.

I prioritized this, having come from a condemning, shaming, punishing background. Which is a very difficult culture to be a part of—it makes it impossible to relax enough to just be. If one lays in wait for another to mess up in order to pounce, there can never truly be peace.

No petty, spiteful moves. That would only be wounds from the past manipulating current behavior. That includes not passive-aggressively planting negative seeds about one another in the mind of a child. No competitive parenting, such as good guy versus bad guy mentalities. If one needs to lose for the other to win, not only does no one really win, but the shared child, group, and goals are the real losers.

Incidentally, its good to remember that the behavior we engage in may turn up later in our sons and daughters. If I am engaging in (or accommodating) spiteful, manipulative, game-playing, or unfair tactics, chances are my son will grow up to date, marry, or become someone like that. By virtue of this behavior being woven as if normal into the fabric of his being, he may come to believe its acceptable and okay. Its not acceptable or okay.

Those things will always come back to bite.

Agree to approach things humbly and bypass childishness. Our sons and daughters are way too important for us to engage in arrogant, right-fighting immaturity. It really helps to be a proud “I dont know-it-all.” It’s not about just one of us, our history, our unresolved feelings, or who is the better parent. Its about the goal: the well-being of our kid(s). We must compromise, come to agreement as much as possible, and unite for what is right, fair, and true. This is about what is best for the greater good.

White flags go up immediately. When it comes to our sons and daughters, cease-fire should be quick, regardless of how we may feel about one another. If we are at odds, a peace treaty can still happen by virtue of having a shared mission.

Many times in our situation we could be aggravated with one another or at odds, yet still always have the safety and ability to call and say “I have to tell you what just happened.”

Loyalty to the goal, to the truth and to what is fair and right. We don’t need to fight just to win. Logic overrules emotion.

These standards greatly mattered to us when our son was young.  They later became the strength from which we navigated him to a healthy place when our lives were in crisis.

* * *

What do the earlier years have to do with the disease of addiction? Plenty—addiction is a family disease. If the time ever comes when we might deal with issues of addiction within the family, we have a great running start against the behaviors fueled by SUD. With goals in place, we have strategies ready for managing crisis, manipulation, and division in the future.

And that can prove to be life (and sanity) saving.

Will we ever fail when it comes to abiding by the ground rules? Absolutely. Sometimes miserably! We don’t always get it right. But the foundation laid is always there to return to no matter who drops the ball. You live, you learn, you do the next right thing and keep going.

* * *

What if it’s not possible to agree and unite or if the efforts are one-sided?

Understandably, there are people we all have to deal with that refuse to play by the rules. Some operate with low-blow behavior, don’t care for the greater good, and can’t be trusted to be sincere. Other times, too much damage has been done to have safe, vulnerable communication. There are people not motivated by logic, fairness, or peace. Some folks prefer to keep the fires of conflict and discord burning.

In these situations, the reality is they are probably not going to change behaviors or become less difficult. However, we can set good boundaries and remain healthy enough within ourselves that our reactivity is not negative alongside them.

Personally, in those cases I believe it’s a thing of honor to choose to be the one who still does what is right, staying committed to integrity, boundaries, and decisions, holding hope for a peaceful outcome, despite anyone else’s decisions. Their journey is theirs to figure out—we are responsible for our own.

Show kindness, don’t ever interact with vitriol, respond with dignity, and keep moving forward.

* * *

Nelson Mandela lived by the “Ubuntu” principle. The concept is, “I need you in order to be me; and you need me in order to be you.”

We need each other. We need to be kind and respectful with one another because we need each other.

I am thankful my ex-husband and I were able to establish unity when there was so much opportunity for division. It’s possible if we all do our part.

Our mission is to give our sons and daughters a strong family which in turn will give them a fighting chance for a healthy adult life.

Our responsibility is to not further discord, conflict, or chaos.

Our outcome can be the creation of a unique family unit that will become a safe haven, which in turn makes it easier for our sons and daughters to choose a healthy adult life in which they can thrive. 

My story is not a beautifully packaged family tale. It is raw and real. But it is a true story of reality, recovery, hard work, and hope.

Peace is possible!

Still learning,

Annie

Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

* * *

For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support

Judge Not

In a recent meeting, a friend shared her wisdom about having been a judgmental person.  She said judgment isn’t only about judging people.  It’s also about judging situations. Something she felt she’d done a lot of.

Judging circumstances as “good or bad,” can sometimes create blind spots, because in the economy of growth, maturity, recovery and building strength—something “bad” can work for “good.”

I thought back to a time when I had to rethink a tough situation in terms of what’s good or bad.

When my son was early in recovery, he wanted to keep his job in California where his home and car were, but planned to spend a year in a different state doing therapeutic work.

He was offered a temporary role in the new location, that would preserve his regular position, but it came with some profound challenges.

Due to geography and his circumstances at the time, he would be required to get up every morning at 5:00 AM to ride the bus for close to an hour, then walk half a mile to the location in 100-degree Texas heat.

He’d have to clean up again when he got into work, work all day, and later catch the same bus route back to his residence.

More than a few of those conditions were new for him.

Many days he would call sounding exhausted, stressed and frustrated. Often describing how he had met someone on the bus ride who was homeless, in active addiction and sometimes in desperate condition.

A lot of days were upsetting.  But he was determined to keep his job, get through that time, do well, and continue onward.

As a Mom, that time was HARD.

I had to work through the desperate feelings the circumstances in his life ignited within me.

I still felt like I’d break having him so far from home. Loving my only child so much in relation to the things that occurred in his life could sometimes feel traumatic.

Daily I wrestled with overwhelming fear, nostalgia, and sadness.   As well, I was at a loss for how to ease his troubles.

Both of us had to accept that this was something he just had to face and get through.

I set my will to be a corner coach, and told myself that none of this was going to kill him.  In fact, it might make him stronger.

Instead of saying, “You poor thing.”  I cheered him on, often saying, “You’re doing incredible things!  You’ve got this, you’re doing it. This is creating amazing strength in you. You’re going to be able to handle anything after this!”

He called me often to hear those words. We both needed to believe them.

The months unfolded, things changed, and that season finally ended. But, even the ending of that time was dramatic. The day he was leaving that state to head back west, he was bit by a brown recluse spider and spent the evening in the emergency room.

Once we knew he was okay, we decided to view even that as part of the beautiful tapestry of life.  That too was part of the building experience, another scar he shows.  Proof of battle!

That season happened a few years ago.  I have to say it’s one experience my son is extremely proud of. He draws strength from the memory, which comes up often.  We both remember it with pride.

We don’t normally brag about the easy days! But we joyfully remember what mountains we climb.

That tough season developed grit, strength, and character in him. That span of time is one of the things I credit for making a strong man out of my son.

It also built resolve within me, and increased my faith that not only shall “This too pass,” but difficult things can work out even better than we expect.

It was a season. Seasons change.

We’re now both grateful for that experience.  We braved through it and ended up better for it.

How often do we want to jump in with a son, daughter, or other loved one and make difficult things easier for them?

Too many times we judge someone’s adversity or struggle as bad; when it might be the very thing to build an inner fire and the strength to handle just about anything! Which is what they’re going to need to get through life.

Don’t be judge the mountains someone you love is called to climb! Examine what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it.  And then get out of their way, tell them they can handle it, and let them climb.

Once they do, they’ll be able to face anything.

There’s victory and joy on the other side of conquering.

Strength and Peace,

Annie

Author of books: Unhooked, and Unbroken, Navigating the Madness of Family Dysfunction, Addiction, Alcoholism and Heartache

Host of:  The Unhooked Podcast

* * *

For information, comfort, encouragement and support:

Codependents Anonymous

Parent Support – TAPU

Family Recovery Support