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What happens when a parent feels their child has fallen far enough? What happens when they think their child must have found their bottom? What if there is no such thing as a bottom? What happens when we rescue them because we have experienced enough?

All these questions considered and more as we explore, in depth, this week’s blog “The Myth of the Bottom.”

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100 Pedals by Dave Cooke - 5d ago

“I didn’t decide to go to recovery when I lost my job, lost my home, lost my kids, or went to jail and lost my freedom. I made a decision to go to recovery when I was sitting on a hill and realized I needed to do this for me.”

The “bottom” so often referenced in parent conversations is more legend and myth than anything. For many, the “bottom” is some event which occurs in a person’s life, causing them to finally decide or realize they need to change their life. Operating with this loose, buzzword definition, parents continually analyze each monumental event in their child’s addiction filled life as potentially being the one which becomes their child’s “bottom.” Overdose, severe illness, jail, prison, loss of children, homelessness, rape, a severe beating all are likely “bottoms” for a reasonable person. Except we need to remember that “reasonable” or “normal” would be likely be the last words one would use to describe the behaviors or the mindset of a person in active substance abuse.

As parents, we experience wide ranging and bizarre behaviors or outcomes with our addicted children. We watch for this monumental moment, disastrous event which enables us to swoop in to convince our child they can’t get any lower, encouraging them to declare it their bottom, and push for recovery. This may have appeared to work for some, though this is rarely and really not how it usually works.

If it was only this simple and this obvious. No one can predict or anticipate what event or situation becomes their call to action, their impetus for change and their commitment to recovery. Every story is unique, and every motivational event is personal.

There is a common thread to most of these incredible recovery stories…

“I knew I needed to do something.”

I share this to remind parents about the entire recovery process — it is not your journey, your wishes, your decision, your timing, or your program. Quit hovering, admonishing, challenging, telling, pushing, or engaging in your child’s recovery.  Choosing to detox and go to rehab is also part of the process; It is not your job to define their “bottom” or rescue them from it.

“I knew I needed to do this for me.”

We assign far too much responsibility for directing them into a recovery program, take way too much credit, and pin too much of our hopes on their outcomes when they finally decide to go. When it fails, as it sadly and often does, we are devastated because we had convinced ourselves they were ready. I know you were ready; but, how well did you really know if they were ready? Had they really experienced enough life in complete brokenness to follow through on their willingness to commit to embracing a new and different path?  Or, did you show up and rescue them from the streets and their chaos in such a timely manner they were willing to give it a try?

Commitment is a powerful word. Simply going to treatment because it sounded like a good idea, because I think I am ready, demonstrates about as much commitment as someone tackling a New Year’s Resolution. I will give it a go as long as it isn’t too hard, I can go where I want, and participate the way I want.

Commitment to recovery is a very personal and pivotal decision. It is not made by committee or popular vote. It is least successful when done to please or satisfy someone else’s desires or pleadings. It works when the person who walks into that treatment facility declares, “I am not living like this anymore” and doesn’t negotiate about how or when or where.  Their recovery begins “now” because they decided it had to.

If you are a parent or a loved one who is struggling to get someone to go to recovery, stop!  Instead,

  • Remind them how much you love them and trust your in your words as enough;
  • Make a commitment to them, when they are ready to embrace a different path for their life, you will be there to support them (not help them) and walk with them (not for them) on this new path;
  • Share all you know to be true about them, everything which make them a special gift to this world and you;
  • Avoid sharing your ideas, answers and solutions to their “problems” and love them from a place of complete and perfect love (without fear, judgement, criticism, or condemnation)
  • Listen to them, let them speak to you honestly and authentically about their journey and take the time to understand where they are, who they are and accept it as valid without attempting to change or redefine it for them.

At some point, they will examine the contrast in the life they love, the life they have lost and the life they are living. When they decide, if they decide, the life they are living is unacceptable to them, they will make the move toward recovery because it is what they want and are committed to.

****

Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.)

You can also subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

Last week’s Inside the Blog podcast episode: http://theaddictionconversation.libsyn.com/when-everything-is-not-okay

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.

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100 Pedals by Dave Cooke - 1w ago

When everything is not okay, many people hide their struggle from others fearing judgement, or feeling shame or guilt. Today’s “inside the 100Pedals Blog” podcast explores the normalcy of things not being okay and the opportunities which come with them. 

Blog reference: http://www.100pedals.com/it-is-okay-to-not-be-okay/

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100 Pedals by Dave Cooke - 1w ago

I participated in an incredibly educational, enlightening, and energizing seminar on Friday.  The event was “Responding to Trauma, Addiction, and Mental Illness.” Considering where I am on my learning journey, this event couldn’t have come at a better time.

I don’t know specifically where you are on your journey. If you are like most people reading these blogs, you’re probably living in some state of brokenness or chaos. You may be feeling beaten, lost, or confused, struggling to navigate a substance abuse issue in your life. I know I have had some incredible, confounding lows on my addiction journey and on my own personal journey relative to my personal goals and aspirations.

The reality is, life presents us with our beaten and broken moments. Though difficult and challenging, it is normal.  Everyone experiences it and everyone struggles through it.  How we respond to it and grow from it really defines the balance of our lives and our influence in the lives of those we love.

Pastor Dan Steffen opened the conference with three perspective regarding our struggles:

  • It’s okay not to be okay
  • It’s not okay to pretend it’s okay
  • It’s not okay to stay that way

(The following thoughts are not a summary of Pastor Dan’s comments; rather, they are a compilation of my own reflections over my life and from subsequent information shared at this conference.)

It’s okay not to be okay. You may be hurting or broken right now; or, you may be struggling with something in your life which you just cannot seem to get ahead of. You are not alone. You are not the only one. Most important, your pain and your struggle are not the result of something wrong with you. What you are experiencing may be unique to you; but, everyone is experiencing something in their life which is, for them, a very similar, real struggle. Let go of the shame and guilt you are experiencing for you are not alone.  And, do what you can to begin to embrace the confidence it will pass.

It’s not okay to pretend it’s okay. Everyone has been, or is in a struggle. To pretend you are not, to bravely wear a mask and act as though everything is okay, is not healthy or authentic. There is no healing in wearing the mask. While we may fear the responses of others to the truths in our struggle, hiding from it is not the answer. I have personally experienced greater healing, freedom, love and hope in the authenticity of my struggles than any other mask bearing behavior. When others experience your willingness to be authentic and vulnerable, it gives them permission to go there, as well.  It also frees them to love, encourage, and support you where you are and with what you are struggling with. Surround yourself with people who will love you where you are and in the space of what you need from them.  If they cannot give this to you, find a new community, these are not your peeps.

It’s not okay to stay that way. Once the mask comes off and you realize you are not alone, you become empowered to move forward and grow from the struggle. The most important activity you can engage in is work on healing what is hurting in you. I know many of you have become fixated on healing the brokenness in someone else’s life. Unfortunately, we cannot be the healer in another person’s life until we first heal ourselves. “Be the change we want to see in others” is a powerful call to action along these lines. You cannot show the way through another person’s pain, if you don’t know the way through yours. Your healing journey facilitates the potential for others to begin theirs.  However, you cannot be a healer until you heal yourself, first.

These three perspectives on life’s difficult times are incredibly powerful. They free us to be authentic in our struggle and to release this need to protect ourselves from criticism, judgement and shame.  I will share more on these ideas later this week on the “Inside the Blog” podcast.  In the meantime, please share with me where you are and what you are going through. I am here to help your find your way through the chaos and the confusion. I can be reached at dave@100Pedals.com.

****

Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.)

You can also subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

Last week’s Inside the Blog podcast episode: http://theaddictionconversation.libsyn.com/bringing-an-end-to-the-confrontations

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.

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Today’s “Inside the 100Pedals Blog” podcast focuses on a different approach for parents in response to a child’s disconcerting behaviors, and encourages as shift from confrontational activities to one of love and understanding.

Blog reference: http://www.100pedals.com/trusting-your-love-is-enough/

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100 Pedals by Dave Cooke - 2w ago

I was asked the question the other day about my hands-off, love and acceptance approach for engaging my son as he walks his life path. The focus of the conversation was whether my behaviors projected approval or was enabling (I dislike this word). Finally, the question was asked, “when can I confront [interesting word choice] them with their drug use?” The need to do something, even though we know we have no control, drives us crazy. Our mindset says, we cannot stand by and allow their behaviors to continue. There must be something we can do. When is the right time to intervene and tell them what they need to do about their substance abuse?

There isn’t an appropriate time to tell them what you want them to do, unless it is solicited. It is not your problem, it is their journey, their life. Unless you have made it your problem and you are living an obsessed out of balance life, this is their journey and your quest to make them navigate a different path really isn’t going to change anything.

Do you really believe they don’t know their life is out of control?

Do you really think they don’t know what they need to do to change it?

Do you honestly think that your harping on them is going to suddenly open their eyes and make them change their behaviors?

You are reminding them of your frustrations with their choices, their substance abuse, and their addiction. This serves one purpose and one purpose only – it makes you feel like you did something, because you can’t stand the thought of not being able to do anything.

I feel you. I couldn’t stand the path my son was on. The more he was on it, the greater my frustration and the more obsessed I became about doing something about it. It was only until I realized how toxic this was for me, my son, and our relationship did I stop doing it.

Imagine, for a moment, your child’s feelings during your verbal assault about what they need to do to fix their broken life. What do they hear? What do they feel? What does it do to how they feel about themselves?

Think about what you are projecting to them as you remind them of their problems, their failures, and the things they need to do to fix their broken life. How would you feel if someone reminded you on a regular basis that you are:

  • looking fat and need to lose weight
  • your smoking or drinking is unhealthy, gross and problematic
  • your appearance, your look needs improvement
  • you have got to start exercising and taking care of yourself, maybe get to the gym.

Chances are some of these things you already say to yourself. We all are pretty good at beating ourselves up for the things we know we would love to improve or change.

What if you are already frustrated with how you look, how you feel, or a bad habit you just can’t break.

What if someone started picking on you about the same issues you already have with yourself?

Would it make you feel better or worse about the problem?

What it you really couldn’t find the path to break it?

Wouldn’t it make you feel worse and less confident, instead of motivated and inspired?

In this context, think about what you are trying to say to your child and how it is actually being received by them.

Love and acceptance are critically important behaviors. It allows you to love your child where they are, for who they are.  Regardless their journey, you can do one thing – love them and let them experience that love without criticism, judgement or condemnation.

Imagine the feeling which comes from being loved and accepted despite our flaws and failings, even to the point where someone looks completely beyond it as though they don’t exist.

Why did I stop getting involved in my son’s addiction/recovery journey?  He didn’t need me reminding me of all the things he needed to do to be a better, healthier, happier, more fulfilled person. He was already feeling that burden from within.  I was doing nothing to help him feel better; I was only helping him feel worse.

What he needed was someone who would allow him to experience the power of unconditional love, without shame or guilt.  My role as his father was less about what he needed to do for his life and more about showing him what love looked like in his life.  I chose to trust my love for him would have to be enough for the both of us.

****

Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.)

You can also subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

Last week’s blog podcast episode: http://theaddictionconversation.libsyn.com/parents-tend-to-your-own-recovery

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.

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Today’s “Inside the Blog” podcast focuses on how parental micro- monitoring adversely impacts a child’s recovery and the best steps for avoid this practice.

Blog reference: http://www.100pedals.com/getting-into-your-childs-business-only-creates-confusion/

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I had a great conversation with my son this past weekend. We talked a great deal about 100Pedals’ philosophy on parenting and addiction: meeting your child where they are, for who they are; and, being the parent they need you to be instead of the parent you think you need to be.

I always appreciate his insights. Because of the work each of us has done on our independent recovery activities, we have gotten much better at open, authentic dialogue around life’s issues. We are healing, slowly. I know he doesn’t trust me with everything, but I always appreciate it when he is comfortable sharing a reflective truth based on his past experiences.

Our conversation centered around how, in his phases between active addiction and recovery, we, his mom and dad, made life difficult for him as we obsessed over every behavioral shift as though it was an indication of some change, usually for the worst.  Using his words, “I couldn’t win, and it was very frustrating.”

When I was still trying to figure out how to be the Dad I thought I needed to be, I carefully monitored his every behavior or activity for a sign of relapse or recovery. Whether he slept in, got up early, worked out, or stopped working out, it triggered a response from me towards him about something changing.  I was always in his business in an attempt to be in the know about what was going on. Any change in behavior elicited some response from me.

As my son shared, “I know it came from fear, concern and experience; but, I couldn’t win. Everything I did caused a reaction, even when the change often didn’t mean anything.”

Today, I do not monitor or attend to every shift in his behavior as I used to. Even so, our conversation served as a great reminder about the importance of distancing myself from my son’s business. Everyone experiences mood swings or adjustments or changes in behaviors and activities. These changes don’t always indicate anything for the normal person other than an altering of a habit.  When a child dealing with a substance abuse related issue alters their behaviors, we are all over it trying to figure out what this means, what it indicates, or anticipate what’s next.

Why do we obsessively engage in monitoring our children’s behaviors like this? What do we hope to accomplish?  It is an unhealthy obsession.

I am certain there are a litany of reasons why we believe it is so important. It doesn’t matter why as we can justify any behavior if we want to. It does not mean it is healthy, because it isn’t.

I have discovered I have very little control on whether my son uses or not. I have very little influence or ability to interrupt his behaviors if he begins to relapse. I could freak out when he does, but that will change nothing.  I can race him to a detox facility when he does; except, unless he wants to be there, he will leave soon after I do. My obsessiveness sends a variety of unhealthy messages: I don’t trust him, I have no confidence in him, and I believe he cannot do this without my involvements. We are getting into areas which contribute very little to the recovery process and adversely impacts healing broken relationships (note, every relationship experiences breakage when substance abuse and addiction are involved.)

Get out of their way: You have no control over your child’s substance abuse activities or their recovery. You can monitor the crap out of it, you still have no control.

Learn to live in these truths:

  1. My child will always have to work hard for their recovery, they don’t need me to do the work or help lighten the load.
  2. I will always have to work hard for my recovery. If I haven’t been working on it, this is where my focus needs to be.
  3. Our two recovery programs are not related, connected, or interdependent.
  4. My recovery is dependent upon me learning:
    1. What addiction is
    2. How addiction and substance abuse affects and influences my child
    3. How to be the parent my child needs me to be wherever they are on their addiction journey.
  5. The better I get at facilitating a healthy distance from my child’s addiction and recovery, the more equipped and prepared I will be to love, support, encourage, and engage him on his journey regardless of where he is on it.

When my son reminded me of the confusion and frustration I caused when I injected myself into his recovery/addiction journey, it served to underscore the importance of me working on my recovery and staying on my trail. I can’t help, in fact I am hurting him, when I bring my junk – fear, guilt, shame – into his life’s struggles.

As I said last week, we expect our children to do the work on their recovery, but we are reluctant to do the work on our own recovery. Ironically, we love to get involved in theirs. This is toxic, unhealthy, and unproductive.  If you are looking for something to control, focus on controlling what you have some control over – you and your recovery. It will help a lot more than you believe.

****

Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.)

You can also subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

Last week’s blog podcast episode: http://theaddictionconversation.libsyn.com/focusing-on-your-trail

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are you confronting today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.

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100 Pedals by Dave Cooke - 1M ago

When it comes to a child’s addiction, a parent’s essential first-step embracing their personal recovery path. Committing to a path of personal development, education, and healthy support, is fundamentally the most important recovery related activity any parent can engage in.

Blog reference: http://www.100pedals.com/two-trails-one-path/

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100 Pedals by Dave Cooke - 1M ago

Early in my journey as a parent dealing with my child’s addiction, I believed there was only one path, recovery. Unfortunately, this was partially correct. There is one path, but there are two trails on that path. The first trail, is recovery and treatment for the loved one. The other trail on this path is recovery activities for the parents.

As parents, we become obsessively focused on getting our child struggling with substance abuse issues into treatment and sustained recovery. It becomes our mission, our objective, our passion. As it did with me, it became an unhealthy obsession to the point it was toxic to my son, my family, my relationships and me.

It becomes so toxic because our obsession loses all perspective to all other aspects of life and living. Addiction, treatment and recovery are all that matter. Only until this is accomplished can everything else begin to migrate toward a place of normalcy and healing.

This is approach is incredibly misaligned with reality. It took me a long time to learn the hard lesson, I cannot will my child into recovery. Unfortunately, this learning opportunity presented itself multiple times before I finally understood this. Until I did, addiction driven behaviors continued to run headlong into my recovery obsessed mindset. Feelings were hurt, trust abused, hopes dashed, emotions erupted in anger, and relationships damaged, if not nearly destroyed.

This occurs because there becomes two addictions in the family: the child’s substance abuse issue and the parents’ obsession with it. Neither party wants to acknowledge they have an problem and each is battling with the other for the right to their addiction.

If Parents were to get on their recovery journey early and learn to navigate the issue of addiction in their family, life would be incredibly different. It does not mean their child will suddenly embrace their own recovery journey, it simply means that at least one party will not be dealing with a toxic addiction and be in a healthier place to navigate the chaos of the other’s addiction.

Most parents only begin a personal recovery path when all attempts to get their child into a recovery fails. It usually happens once all other efforts to get the other person to change have proved fruitless. For patents, their recovery becomes a last-ditch effort. Frankly, this is way too late in the game.

The minute parents discover their child is struggling with an addiction, the moment they begin to explore treatment options for their child, is when they need to be exploring their own treatment and recovery options, as well.

Critical components of an effective parent  treatment program:

  • Education on the issue of addiction, including:
    • A course in addiction and links to childhood trauma
    • A course in effective communication and listening
  • Professional counseling or peer coaching services with someone well versed in addiction
  • Participation in parent support group

I am amazed at how much effort goes into repeatedly forcing a child into recovery, how much work parents expect of their children relating to their treatment and recovery, and the criticism heaped on them if they are not successful. When, at the same time, parents are unwilling or unable to engage in their own recovery activities to help their child, themselves, or the rest of the family navigate the problem.

Parents, if your child is struggling, please remember there are two trails to the same path. Whether your child embraces their trail or not, is not nearly as critical as you getting on yours. You will be much better equipped to navigate the path once you have walked yours and know what you’re dealing with.

Trust me, this comes from personal experience and a great deal of reflection and introspection. (I will share more on my journey around this subject in this week’s Inside the Blog Podcast on Thursday, January 25.)

****

Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.) Subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

Last week’s blog podcast episode: http://theaddictionconversation.libsyn.com/conversations-which-facilitate-healing

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know if you need more: dave@100Pedals.com.

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