Posted in alanon, codependency, generational patterns, NAMI, Recovery Talk Live, Uncategorized

Victim or Volunteer?

Often as the loved ones of those struggling with addiction and/or mental illness, you find yourself in the position of feeling victimized by the brain disorder, the person you love and to their thoughts, feelings, actions, reactions, and lack of actions; that are not congruent with what you want or choose for them.

As a loved one, I spent countless years at various points throughout my life, longing for my various affected loved ones to care about  me enough to take their medication, get sober, and turn the corner in their illness, so I could be peaceful and whole.

I know the flaws in that thinking pattern, however, those thoughts were very real to me for most of my life. So real in fact, I often volunteered my own happiness, peace and serenity as an offering to coerce other people to be okay, seek treatment or whatever else I believe they needed.  As a result, I would often slip into a depression due to my perceived victimization by others. When in fact, I often volunteered for the position.

We often believe if we just do or say something one more time, after thousands of attempts and pleas for our loved one to be okay they will miraculously look us in the face, surrender their will and say,”Thank you for repeating that for the 523rd time because I just didn’t hear it the first 522 times and today is different,” then miraculously turn their life around due to our undying love, efforts, and pleas.

It is just not going to happen. We cannot love someone enough, manage them enough, babysit them enough, or anything else to make them okay!

The truth is, if we had the power to make our loved one okay, it would have happened already. Not only do we not have that power, our attempts will leave us exhausted, depressed, angry, confused and hopeless, with a non stop ticket on the Crazy Town Express to Crazy Town, USA., wallowing in victimized thinking.

We get on that train voluntarily.

You will take back your power and resign your volunteer position by realizing your loved one is making their own choices and living their own life.  It may not be the healthy thriving life you choose for them, but trying to control it makes your life a wreck too and you end up with two unwell people instead one.brain-disorder-verse

So take back your power by:

  • Removing yourself from harmful situations
  • Stop begging your loved one to change
  • Stop preventing another’s natural consequence for behaviors
  • Stop devaluing yourself by letting others plow through your boundaries (assuming you have set some)
  • Stop trying to control outcomes
  • Stop doing for others what they can do for themselves
  • Practice loving detachment by knowing where you stop and someone else begins

This can be particularly difficult for Christians who often fall into martyrdom believing they are called to “unconditional love and sacrifice”.

God clearly explains that every man has free will and choice. God did not ask us to sacrifice our well being trying to make someone else we cannot fix okay, that behavior is about us, and the responsibility is God’s not ours. Even the compromised brain is covered by God’s undying love for the individual and our power is not greater than His. Remember God loves your person even more than you do, and their wellness is covered under His grace.

Today’s Recovery Tip:

I will not give away my power by making my happiness contingent on my loved one’s wellness. I am victim to no one and the CEO of me.






Posted in generational patterns

Pianos & Epiphanies

In speaking to women (and men) on the topic of my passion, breaking those negative family patterns that serve as bondages in our lives, I fail to mention not ALL patterns are negative.

Family dinners, movie nights and random acts of kindness do not elude dysfunctional families. However, when there have been severe cases of abuse, addiction, adultery etc…(name your “A” word) the pain is often so enormous for so many years it becomes impossible to recognize any positive attributes of a family dynamic. 

(This doesn not mean living a life of denial, pretending to have had a perfect life as a way to avoid addressing the issues that affect one’s current negative or destructive behaviors is healthy, recommended or okay.)

On the contrary, for those of us who have ever lived in the victim mentality, laden with shame, grief, depression and confusion it was simply impossible to see.  

However, this week I received a blessing, a break-through if you will.  It was my son’s 8th grade graduation and due to the kindness of one of my family members he was given a piano to play when he was five years old.  Year after year, no matter what the financial struggle, downsizing, budgeting, I chose to keep him in music lessons, sometimes the teachers volunteering to teach him for free.  And for the past nine years he has played privately at home.

Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly wasn’t raising a “closet musician.”  He is just very shy about his musical abilities, being an athlete at heart.  I begged him for years to play the piano at school during a chapel, music class or any public place I could view him.  He declined every year but promised me he would play at school before he graduated.

True to his word he played the piano this week at his graduation ceremony (granted it was literally the last millisecond to keep the promise) yet he did it!!  As he walked onto the stage in his new suit (another miracle, he wore a suit) in a shere “mom” moment I began to cry. 

I knew he was pushing himself waaaayyyyy out of his comfort zone. 

Yet pushing ourselves outside of what is familiar has it’s rewards, not only did he bless me with his performance, (and realize the piano thing serves as a real chic-magnet) he has decided he liked it so much he entering high school sans sports and focussing on music, by his choice. 

Today when I walked by our 100-year-old upright grand piano I realized it was the generosity of one special family member in purchasing him that piano that paid forward the gift of music, which is a very positive family pattern to repeat.

I’m thankful to that individual. 

For those of you who are still unpacking your old painful baggage in order to heal the negative emotions and behaviors that entangle your lives, keep moving forward.  In the healing, God will give you a clear perspective on the positive behaviors you have to offer to the next generation.

Today’s Reality:  Once your baggage has been unpacked, look for the blessings.

Posted in generational patterns

Parks to Proms


      After a whirlwind of activity and a brief emotional melt down on my part as I watched my daughter prepare for her first date (although they just went as friends)  her first prom is over.  Exhausted from the experience I can’t imagine what must go into planning your child’s wedding, fortunately I have time to figure that one out.

     Personally, I had never gone to the prom (no dramatic sob story here).  Instead I attended a party in a park that night where my friends and I dressed in denim not diamonds and partook of activities I definitely would have severely “consequenced” my own child for partaking in.

     As opposed to repeating my old pattern, my daughter formed a new one.  She was  formally asked on a date.  My husband and I helped arrange their limo transportation (btw…where I grew up we only saw a limo if a rich person died )  and  we met the other parents  (as opposed to me disappearing on prom night.)    My daughter reveled in the joy of the dress, shoes, hair,  make-up and nails.  No notorious activity was being planned on the side and she didn’t attend a party in a cold  park where the “cool kids”  aka “the kids without dates”  hung out. 

     She returned home sober, happy, clean and well-groomed (need I elaborate?)    I have always thought of the absence of the dreaded “A”  words (abuse, adulty, addiction, anger etc…)  and until recently haven’t focussed enough on the generational blessings.  The beautiful things God would fill- in the spaces of what was broken.

     So,  today I sit  with a few hundred dollars less in my pocket,   but with a ring of happiness at seeing God’s “replacement activities” and the riches He provides when we remove the traps our kids can fall in by setting a better example and changing our behaviors.  Moving forward I will be looking more for the blessings on the small things taking place.  They really are enjoyable!

Today’s Reality:  For every positive action I take, God places a positive reaction.