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Grieving Someone Alive

It’s a daily roller coaster of emotions, wondering if today is the day; intertwined with wisps of hope for recovery of the person you once knew so well. My upcoming book is mostly about this very subject, but I came across this article that explains it so well.

From the American Academy of Bereavement: “Unconventional “Grief:”

Grieving someone alive is not a conventional form of grief that is often talked about, but is a real issue that is faced by the living. Death is often viewed as the base requirement for grief but mourning the deceased is only one facet of death. If you have never experienced this, you likely do not understand what we’re talking about. How can you grieve for someone that you haven’t lost? If you have experience this sort of grief, you probably are cheering inside your head that someone has finally put to words what you’re feeling.

Grieving for someone alive, is not the same as anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is the type of grief that comes about when you know that you will soon be experiencing a loss, such as when a loved one is dying or in the hospital. If you are experiencing anticipatory grief or looking for resources on it, please visit the following link: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/anticipatory-grief/.

WHY UNCONVENTIONAL GRIEF HAPPENS

If you’re not familiar with this form of grief, you may be unsure how this is possible or what often triggers this form of grief in people. Often, this form of grief is caused by a loved one becoming someone that you no longer know or recognize.

COMMON CAUSES OF UNCONVENTIONAL GRIEF

• Mental Illness
• Drug or Substance Addiction
• Dementia or Alzheimer’s
• Brain Injury
• Family Trauma

 
The unfortunate truth of grieving someone alive is that they are still there as the person you once knew but psychologically are a different person than they were before. Also, many of these factors are outside of the control of the person experiencing them or the person who is watching their loved one suffer. It can be hard for either party to recognize because the person does not always look like they are sick.

 
Don’t look at these causes and think that they mean that you love this person any less though. This form of grief, just like grieving someone who is deceased, does not change the level of attachment to the person. Simply, this person is no longer acting how they were before and have had a dramatic shift in personality. If your brother is suffering from a drug addiction, his behavior may become erratic and he might start stealing from yourself or other family members. Some will grieve the life that he is not living as he focuses living for his addiction. If someone is dealing with a mental illness, they may now be dealing with depression so badly that they are unable to go on living their life or they may be experiencing delusions or hallucinations.

 
A person will experience many emotions while grieving someone alive. These emotions may be more powerful and more confusing than the grieving process for someone who has recently passed. Anger is a prominent emotion that shows up. The grieving individual could feel anger towards their loved one for the issues they are dealing with and have a hard time understanding that they may not be able to change, such as in the case of mental illness. While experiencing anger, you may feel guilty as well that you are experiencing anger or guilty that you cannot control or change the situation.

 
Unlike when someone dies, you are unlikely to experience positive emotions while grieving someone alive. When someone passes, you are surrounded by the comfort of their loved ones and are often able to look at the joy of their life. This rarely happens with unconventional or ambiguous grief. Just like when someone dies, you are likely to be overcome with sadness. However, the reminder of your sadness is constant every time you think of this person or hear about them.

How to Grieve Someone Alive

• Let yourself grieve. Don’t attempt to hide or suppress your grief for this situation just because society or your loved ones don’t understand or acknowledge what you’re going through. Be open to sharing how your feeling to close family and friends and don’t push yourself to be someone you’re not at this time.
• Find other people in the same situation. Connecting with other people who are experiencing the same kind of personal loss as you is an invaluable resource. This can come in the form of a support group or finding an individual to speak with. Having someone understand what it is like to be grieving someone  alive will help to put your situation in perspective and help you to gain insight on the validity of your feelings.
• Don’t forget your memories or the past. When you are experiencing ambiguous or unconventional grief, it is easy to forget why and how you previously loved someone in the midst of their hurtful behavior. Remind yourself of the good times that you had and why you originally loved them. It is okay to cherish old moments and mourn that they are gone. Remember that that person is still here though, just not at the moment.
• Open yourself up to change. One of the hardest parts of grieving someone alive is that you are forced to accept a changed relationship that you do not want. It may be difficult for you to look on a loved one in a different life, but you may be able to experience a rewarding relationship with them in new ways than before. Focusing on finding joy in your new relationship will help keep your mental state positive rather than gloomy.
• Always remember that the illness is not the person. For many people, this is the hardest mental hurdle to overcome while grieving someone alive. Stop yourself from thinking of your loved one as the disease they’re dealing with, whether it be addiction, Alzheimer’s, or depression. You will still likely feel angry towards the person but understanding what they’re actually dealing with can help you process some of those feeling.

I miss my son, who he was. But I’ll bet he misses himself too. I’m sure he misses being the family hero, the boss that everyone went to, the funny guy, the guy who had everything. How humiliating and degrading to know you sold- not only all your worldly possessions but your family- to this evilness. I believe that’s why my son stays hidden, behind this vale of numbness & pain. People can call him a coward, a criminal, a druggie, or as even family like to say, ‘a junkie; but I know that he is mentally unwell. So unwell that he doesn’t know how unwell. Like an Alzheimers patient- they have a heart of Gold but they just can’t see how they are hurting their family with worry and despair.

With their aghast, innocent demeanor they may say:

“Whats all the fuss about? I have it under control”.

This, while their life is spinning continuously into a black hole of chaos, turmoil and more pain.

This nonchalant attitude gives the impression that addiction is someone’s choice, but to me it’s further proof of how very ill they are.

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The Merry-Go-Round of Conversing With an Addicted Loved One

Connection. You KNOW it’s important. From toddlers to teens, we’re told to try to truly connect with our children.

So we do. We try constantly to let them know we are here, and we care. As adults, the dynamic changes into trying to not being so motherly and being just friends, in a way. We thrive in being connected to our adult children. It gives us a feeling of all those little ducklings in a row, not necessarily behind us crossing the street, but out in the world, doing their thing.

When those children become dependant on a substance it twists their brain into believing anything the drug tells them to.

As with everything addiction spreads it’s volcanic ash onto; this dynamic quickly evolves back into nagging mother- disobedient child.

My mom used to always say:

“Never argue with a drunk”

It was all funny until now. 30 some years later, trying to convince my 34-year-old son -35 in 4 days- that his thinking is thwarted. As a nurse, I should know better. Alzheimer’s patients can’t be told they are unsafe to be alone- they think YOU’RE the crazy one. I swear that’s how my son acts. Of course, that is a form of gaslighting in addiction.

Banyan Treatment Center ( I have no affiliation or recommendation) Describes it this way:

"While gaslighting can occur in relationships involving addicts, it does not mean the individual is evil or doesn’t care about others. Addiction has the potential to completely twist a person’s mind until it’s only focused on getting high. This disease is characterized by an inability to control one's use of drugs or alcohol and the uncontrollable desire for these substances. A person who’s suffering from this disease may have trouble with various things in addition to gaslighting. Most people with substance use disorders will go to great lengths to sustain their habits."

That’s all. Once you understand that the hijacked brain will do ANYTHING to get what it needs, you can begin to not take it personally and see the person as extremely ill. Of course, you can’t throw that at them either or it will start a new defense mode/crazy-making conversation.

Good advice from a mom in CA:

  1. Do not try to rationalize with a drug brain, you will never win. You would make more progress by beating your head against the wall.
  2. Do not state the obvious, you need a job, you will never amount to anything, you are throwing your life away, etc. remember job equals money equals drugs. Get them clean first then the job will come.
  3. When the addict tries to pick a fight and tell you every wrong thing you ever did, do not respond and most importantly DO NOT BELIEVE IT. It is what I call the drug game, pick a fight, say bad things, you respond, it escalates, they get angry and leave, they use more drugs. I used to sing songs in my head or just stare at her blankly like she was speaking a foreign language, or say I know what you are trying to do and you can’t hurt me or suck me in, they stop real fast when you do not play. If I thought I was going to be provoked, I would wipe my hand across my mouth and that motion kept me quiet.
  4. If they use the child as manipulation, take the power back by calling CPS or serve them with guardian papers. It stops them cold in their tracks.
  5. If they yell at you on the phone, tell them you love them and when they can stop yelling call back, then hang up.
  6. Do not be guilted into giving them money for food. The hard, cold truth is addicts rarely need food. Just tell yourself if they can get money for drugs, they can get money for food.
  7. Addicts smell fear or weakness and take advantage of it. look them straight in the eye, never look away, never show fear. They know your biggest fear is that you think you are a bad Mom. Tell them when you knew better you did better and now you know better.
  8. Do not make threats you do not intend to keep. Do not say I am going to kick you out if you do not mean it.
  9. Really listen to them. Let them talk without judgement. Tell them they can tell you anything and you will still love them no matter how horrible it is. Let them know you no longer intend to fight. You plan to change the paradigm because what you were doing didn’t work.
  10. End every conversation with, I love you no matter what. You never know when it will be your last conversation.

A common theme among moms here GUILT — that we’ve somehow contributed to this horrible situation. While responses like “didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it” are true, a deeper understanding of “false guilt” was helpful to me. Our enemy uses false guilt so effectively on us!


From Focus on the Family:

False guilt has nothing to do with what’s true and accurate, nor is it related to true repentance. Rather, it is usually the fear of disapproval in disguise, and this problem especially hounds people who have a hyperactive or malfunctioning conscience. This problem can be especially hard to decipher among Christians, who take matters of conscience seriously and who might be prone to find reasons to feel guilt where there are none.

This tricky emotion puts us on the hamster wheel of life, a never-ending treadmill of uncertainty. There is no pleasing this task master because there is always another chore to fulfill, another person to try very hard to please—even when pleasing her is sinful. People driven by false guilt often feel that they have to go through life perfectly so that they can avoid criticism and disappointing others. A quick look at the life of Christ proves otherwise: He was perfect and yet Jew and Gentle alike still plotted His murder.

False Evidence Appearing Real
If false guilt were a chariot, then fear of disapproval from others is the whip upon the back of the horses pulling it. A very helpful acronym for this kind of fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Fear often has us imagining the worst possible outcome to a problem when in reality the outcome is rarely as bad as fear tells us it’s going to be. Fear is often a liar.

False guilt consumes our thinking while awake and asleep, and creates in our lives both spiritual and psychological cataracts, stopping us from seeing our relationships with God, others and ourselves clearly. Through false guilt, we lie to and bare false witness against ourselves. It’s still a sin. We judge ourselves inaccurately and always too harshly. We become like the Pharisees whom Jesus chastised and corrected with the strongest language throughout his ministry (Matt. 23). Like the Pharisees, who represented false and abusive religion, false guilt is also abusive. It puts heavy burdens upon our backs, burdens we were never intended to shoulder. False guilt is self-abuse.People who suffer from false guilt nearly always have difficulty being truthful with how they think, feel and act. They have great difficulty giving others Vitamin N–telling people “no.” Charles Spurgeon, British Reformed Baptist preacher and author, recognized how important this fact is in a person’s spiritual growth when he told his students, “Learn how to say ‘no.’ It will do you more good than learning Latin.”

Tragic Optimisim
Compare the misery from false guilt to the beneficial nature of healthy guilt, or what Christian counselors sometimes call godly sorrow. Victor Frankl, founder of Logotherapy, one of the most muscular and real-world attempts to make sense of life’s suffering (Frankl was a Holocaust survivor), praised guilt as one of three components that make the case for what he called “Tragic Optimism.” He said that the tragic triad of life are pain, guilt and death. Yet if handled properly, they can spur a person toward abiding meaning and purpose in life. Through guilt, he wrote, people have the potential to change for the better. Healthy guilt is a gatekeeper and boundary-maker. It helps us discover where we shouldn’t go in life, what we shouldn’t do. And it helps us make amends when we do cause others pain and related hardships. Guilt helps us find our way back toward what’s right and repair the torn portions of our lives.

Someone who was once very close to me was also a sociopath, one of those rare souls who are incapable of feeling guilt and remorse. What was astounding about this woman was her inability to express empathy toward others—especially those who she abused. Today she is miserable, alone and sometimes homeless. By looking at guilt’s opposite, we see how valuable healthy guilt is to maintaining the virtue of empathy and common decency. Without guilt, we would be counted among the most despised and wretched people. Thankfully, we feel guilt toward others because we understand that our actions somehow depleted another’s God-given value and dignity. We should treat each other well, and guilt reminds us when we don’t, helping us to avoid sin, the result of which is death in various forms.

For relief and healing, we need to put our guilty feelings under the microscope of our sober minds and see if they are real or counterfeit. One of the best ways to do this is to quiet our minds, close our eyes, breathe deeply, then ask ourselves, “Am I really guilty of what I’m telling myself, or is this another case of false evidence appearing real?” As one who has been hindered by false guilt, this exercise has been invaluable to me…….”- Paul Coughlin

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Casting Judgement

Life lessons from the pool

Yesterday, my pool was cloudy and murky.

Since I relish in my singular alone time at the pool, I got in anyway & I did my laps. After all:

  • I Needed Relief.
  • I Needed my daily exercise.
  • I needed relief from the 95-degree heat beating down on me.
  • I needed to try to forget the drama of the morning.
  • I needed to soothe my back.
  • & Relax

Suddenly my murky solo time was broken.

2 girls came in and upon seeing the pool said :

Eww gross! I’m not putting my head in, I don’t want to get sick!

I then realized how foolish I had been.

I got out & almost immediately felt a sore throat.
Yesterday & today I’m paying. Fever, earache, cold symptoms.

I get it.

~ It was my choice~.

But that doesn’t make the sickness less painful..
It doesn’t devalue my worth & ability to heal…
Today I am unable to do much of what I need to or think clearly.

It actually hurts to talk so I choose not to.

Relationships/ jobs might be lacking in communication for a minute. And honestly, I’m too exhausted to explain.

That gap of realizing how foolish we were, may span longer than a few minutes, the illness might be worse for some, the conditions different.

That gap might last years. As if we are in some kind of evil spell. Others might think we’re crazy. But we are just doing our thing.. Trying to get through the day.

As a nurse, I was taught to soothe, heal & provide comfort.

Regardless of the source of the injury or pain…

In fact, as nurses, it’s not our place to diagnose… It’s actually out of our scope of practice to diagnose.

But we can treat the symptoms, calm a crying child, ease a feverish pale forehead of an elderly lady.
Decrease the vomiting,

We don’t question them..
Why did you get sick? Why are you wasting my time & money? Why don’t you make better choices?

We just sooth & heal & try to NOT inflict more pain. We give comfort to help them get back to the quality of life they had before.

We can recommend someone with heart failure to avoid bacon. We can tell them all the negative effects like swelling, obesity etc. But if they choose to eat a pound of bacon then have those consequences, we don’t say “If you ever eat bacon again and need treatment for this we are going to turn you away” or post memes about:

Why is Lasix given to heart patients over & over again when Narcan has to be bought? 

Or other ridiculous illness shaming memes.

(Which by the way- narcan isn't free in most places)

No, we give them lasix over and over and over, or send them to the hospital for treatment….as many times as they need it.

And we certainly don’t look them up and tell them to “get over it”. I realize bacon isn’t illegal, but neither is addiction.

I know when a child or someone we love is hurting, we frantically search for a solution and someone or something to blame. It is a self preservation moment. By trying to make sense of something, we attempt to deflect the pain and misery of it. The unfairness of it all, is somehow self- soothing in the moment. But it ends up leaving us more miserable & powerless, unless we are actually promoting change without blaming other hurt people.

My son is in very murky waters. So murky that I can’t even fathom the results. It literally takes my breathe away. I just watched a five hour video on worshipping false Gods. Is MY false God FEAR? We know where that comes from. What can smother fear? LOVE.

I have to keep loving, no matter what. I have to stop blaming & shaming him.

The actions of an addict, if left untreated, will result in illegal and possibly immoral behavior. Even then, we could do society a favor by judging less and brainstorming or helping more. We could also leave the “diagnosing & labeling” to the higher ups. 🌼like God.

Let him who is without sin cast the first stone

Only those who are faultless have the right to pass judgment upon others (implying that no one is faultless and that, therefore, no one has such a right to pass judgment).
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Walking on the Wild Side of Parenting

From Faith Gateway.com

Gary L. Thomas

Gary L. ThomasJanuary 20, 2021

Parenting

In our enthusiasm to celebrate children (a good thing), we are sometimes tempted to overlook the key Christian doctrine of original sin. A child can be raised by godly parents, yet still choose to live an ungodly life:

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.  —Proverbs 13:1

Some sons can bring great honor to their home and their parents; others choose to bring shame:

He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.  —Proverbs 10:5

Some children will bring anguish rather than joy:

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish man despises his mother.  —Proverbs 15:20

At times children can even steal from their parents (Proverbs 28:24) or drive their mother from her own house (Proverbs 19:26). In this regard, the Bible is more honest than many contemporary Christians. In the Old Testament, God gives us accounts of children who do all sorts of heinous acts.

Abimelech, the son of Gideon, provides one such example. We don’t know a lot about Gideon and his parenting style, but we do know that God’s hand was with Gideon as He used him to free Israel from the control of the Midianites. After Gideon’s great exploits, the people tried to make Gideon king:

Rule over us — you, your son and your grandson – because you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.  —Judges 8:22

Gideon refused, demonstrating a noble and humble character:

I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The LORD will rule over you.  — Judges 8:23

Gideon lived a post-military life of blessing and had many children. After Gideon’s death, one of his sons, Abimelech, burned with ambition to rule the nation. Desperate to establish himself as ruler and remove all pretenders, Abimelech murdered all his brothers, except for one. By the providential judgment of God, Abimelech died when a woman dropped a millstone on his head. The Bible tells us that God lay behind this attack:

Thus God repaid the wickedness that Abimelech had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.  —Judges 9:56

God apparently didn’t have a problem considering this child a curse. In His providential plan, He sought the death of this wickedly ambitious son.

Sometimes a wayward son or daughter results from a poor upbringing; the parents may indeed have to assume some of the blame (Proverbs 29:15). But a child can receive many spiritual advantages and still choose, with the freedom God gives him, to become a wayward son. Jesus loved Judas as a son, yet the betrayer still opted to turn against Him. Adam and Eve had a godly son (Abel) and a murderous son (Cain). Was their parenting the only factor leading Abel to offer worthy sacrifices and Cain to turn into a selfish, jealous, and bloodthirsty sibling?

President John Adams had one son  —John Quincy — who followed him into the presidency and enjoyed a prosperous career. Two other sons had shameful lifestyles. Charles Adams became an alcoholic – his mother described him as a “poor, unhappy, wretched man.” One relative described Thomas Adams as “one of the most unpleasant characters in this world… a brute in manners and a bully to his family.” John and Abigail raised one remarkable son and two disgraceful ones. Was their parenting the only factor that determined each boy’s character?

I suspect I’ve probably raised more than a few eyebrows by now. I can even imagine some condemnations: “How dare you suggest children aren’t a blessing? I bet you also favor abortion, don’t you?”

No, I definitely do not. I am ardently, passionately, and unequivocally pro-life. But I’ve also had enough life experience to know that parenting – even sacred parenting – comes with no guarantees, and I grieve for the good, decent, and godly parents who get treated like pariahs because a kid of theirs goes bad. They weren’t “perfect” parents, of course, and in that sense they may share some of the blame. But tell me – just who is a perfect parent?

Show me one father or one mother who didn’t, at times, spoil their child, just a little. Who didn’t, out of fear or weariness or ignorance or overcommitment, fail to confront something that needed to be faced, at least one time? I’ll let that parent cast the first stone.

Some of us got away with it; some of us didn’t. In my travels I’ve met far too many godly parents who live with a gaping wound. Not only do they face the pain of watching their deeply loved child self- destruct, but they also live with a judgment that the child’s abhorrent way of life stems from their failure as parents.

Godly children are a tremendous blessing; this is a precious biblical truth. But Scripture is honest, and we should be as well. Wayward children can, at the very least, feel like a fierce curse.

How sobering to face the vulnerability that someone could make our lives absolutely miserable – and yet we would lay down our lives on his or her behalf without thinking about it. Just such an amazing spiritual transformation takes place in the journey of parenting. Once again, Paul models our call to this ministry when he writes,

Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?  —2 Corinthians 11:29

For many of us, however, the difficulty of parenting comes not in facing betrayal but in enduring a very tiring occupation. Today’s Christian usually prays for relief, for comfort, and for healing – but that’s not always what Scripture teaches us to do.

For example, the apostle Paul prayed that the Colossians would be…

…strengthened with all power according to [God’s] glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.  —Colossians 1:11

Instead of immediately asking for their deliverance, Paul prayed that the believers in Colosse would grow in maturity. If you think about it, how do we grow in endurance and patience? Only one path exists, which we’ve already mentioned: to have both our endurance and patience sorely tried, even past the breaking point, until we learn to rest in God’s “glorious might.” You’ll never develop your biceps if you lift just one-pound weights; you have to stress the muscle beyond its normal routine. The same principle holds true spiritually. If God gives us situations we already have the strength to handle, we won’t have to grow in order to deal with them.

The crux of the issue is this: Our first and natural inclination in any trial is to pray for God to remove the difficulty. But God’s first priority is often to strengthen us in the midst of the difficulty rather than to take us out of the difficulty. That’s because He can see the treasure that lies at the end of the trail.

Consider how many times you have broken your promises once offered fervently and earnestly to God. Consider on how many occasions you have said or thought or even done vile things in full sight of a holy and perfect God. Consider God’s eagerness to forgive you, the persistence of His grace, the limitless supply of His understanding and patience and mercy  —all offered without condition on your behalf.

Without difficult children, we might take this patience and mercy and forgiveness for granted. That’s where difficult children become a rare gift – they show us a side of God we might otherwise miss.

Parenting may not be an easy journey, but in this it is truly a sacred one.

Please go to original post and read the comments. Very helpful.

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Let go of the Past

Addicted 2 Success

Letting Go of the Past is the Key to a Breakthrough in Life

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Published 8 months ago

on Nov 14, 2020

ByJustin Aldridge

Image Credit: Unsplash

Let me ask you a question: How successful do you think you would be at driving forward while looking in the rearview mirror? If you’re being honest, your answer is most likely, not at all. No one would be.

That’s what trying to build the future you desire while dwelling in and on the past is like. You’re trying to complete an almost impossible feat. Marianne Williamson famously said, “we do not heal the past by dwelling there. We heal the past by living fully in the present.” 

Wrapped up in those powerful words are the great truth that we cannot change the past. No matter how much we scratch, claw, or complain, there’s no changing it. All we can do is focus on the present and building for the future.

Well, you can’t start building the future you desire if your hands are full of the baggage from your past. You have to let go of the past to free yourself up to construct your future. And in particular, there are three things from the past that weigh people down the most. To learn the three things you need to let go of from your past so you can break through, keep reading.

1. Let go of wrongdoings

If you’ve been around long enough, chances are you’ve been screwed over or wronged in some way. Sadly, it tends to just be part of life. And when someone wrongs us in some way, it becomes very easy to hold on to grudges. 

The problem with holding grudges is that they are some of the heaviest baggage you can possibly carry around. Grudges stay at the forefront of your mind and heart. They break you down mentally and emotionally, which eventually takes a physical toll. 

Grudges keep you stuck in the past and in a vicious cycle of reliving the wrong that was done to you. You’re essentially chained there. In order to move forward, you have to release and let go of those wrongdoings from the past. When you do, you set yourself free.

I love how Lewis Smedes described it when he said, “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” You deserve the ability to create the life that you want. So go ahead and unchain yourself from your past by letting go of any wrongdoings that happened to you.

“You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever “the old” means for you.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

2. Let go of your limiting stories

I come from nothing, so I’m meant to be nothing. My parent’s relationship fell apart, so finding true love must be really hard. Only lucky people get rich. 

What do all of those statements have in common? If you guessed that they are all crippling limiting beliefs that people struggle with every single day, you’d be right. One of the biggest reasons people struggle to break through and create the life they want is that they’re being held back by limiting beliefs from their past.

The saddest part about it is that the vast majority of those beliefs were given to them without any say on their part. They were like terrible gifts that couldn’t be given back. 

What I mean by that, is that most of the stories we grow up believing about ourselves and life in general are ingrained into us prior to the age of seven, which is about the time that our conscious mind comes online. Prior to that, we are like a sponge, soaking up any and everything we experience in our world.

Our perception of what reality is gets created with little to no choice on our part. So if you grew up in a poor family, where money was talked about as something that’s extremely hard to make or something that corrupts people, then you likely grew up with many of those same beliefs. Same thing if you grew up with parents who had a dysfunctional marriage, you likely grew up with a certain set of beliefs about how hard having a happy, healthy relationship is.

That’s the unfortunate part of life, is that so many children are being handicapped with life altering limiting beliefs without even having a choice of whether or not they want them. They’re like the elephant who grew up attached to the rope. 

At first, the elephant fought to break the rope and run free, but wasn’t strong enough to do so. But after failing long enough, the elephant eventually gave up trying to break it. That’s how you end up with a full grown elephant attached by a measly to a tiny stake in the ground, not even trying to break free. The limiting stories of that elephant’s adolescent experiences forever shaped and limited the possibilities for it’s life. 

The good news is though, as adults with the conscious ability to choose what we hold on to, we get to decide whether we want to hold on to those beliefs any longer. If you truly want to break through and create a great life for yourself, you’ve got to be willing to snap the rope tying you to those limiting beliefs.

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” – Oprah Winfrey

3. Let go of your victim mindset

The last thing you must let go of from your past in order to create an abundant future is your victim mindset. Piggybacking off of the last point about limiting beliefs, so many people have been conditioned to believe that they are a victim in life. That life is happening to them, and that they just can’t catch a break.

The problem is, if someone has a victim mindset, they are giving away their power to create the life they want. They are saying that they are not strong enough to actually achieve their goals or desired outcomes in life. If you didn’t have any say in this terrible life being created for you, why would you have any say in changing it and making it any better?

No one who has ever created anything great in their life did so with a victim mindset. Victims throw their hands up and give in when things get tough. That’s if they even get started in the first place. Those who win, on the other hand, take one hundred percent responsibility for their lives, and believe that they have the power to create anything they want.

Just like your limiting beliefs, your victim mindset was most likely given to you. You learned it from those closest to you at a young age. But, just like a bad gift, you can choose to throw it away anytime you want. And you’re going to have to if you want to break through in your life.

Like Steve Maraboli said, “Stop validating your victim mentality. Shake off your self-defeating drama and embrace your innate ability to recover and achieve.” If you can do that, you’ll be able to create the life you want.

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Justin Aldridge

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Thank you to those who follow and read my blog. 💯☘💯

I started it last September as an outlet for my struggle with my son’s addiction. I thought it would take me away from the need to “fix” him. The “experts” said to learn all about addiction and how it works on the brain. So I did. I still thought I could pass that knowledge on to others and especially to my family members to encourage more compassion and ideas on how to help.

Sometimes I feel like I’m doing it wrong, or I’m too early in the process OR I’ve just come to realize that this disease is the absolute most cunning, insidious, unforgiving, unmanageable thing of all time. ☢

I have received a lot of support. I appreciate so many new friends. Despite not feeling like I quite fit in to each group, we all have something in common: Pain…..& The daily journey to move past it. Some do it with hobbies and careers, others are hard core activists and some have committed to a deeply devoted spiritual practice to lean on.🛐

I still struggle with finding my peace. Despite meetings, counseling, and so many books read- I still feel lost & heart broken as he continues to make poor choices & spiral further into the correctional system.

Despite what pain I’m still experiencing, there is someone else who is hurting worse. It’s my little granddaughter. I don’t get to see her because the gate keeper doesn’t approve of me; so I am working on a children’s book for kids of addicts. I’ve written the story as if im talking to her and it’s being illustrated in her image. I hope it’s the right thing to do considering all the ripples that addiction has destroyed.

If you would like a copy let me know. Of course all proceeds of it will go to her to help make up for not having her Dad in her life. He loved her so very much, & talks about her often; it just seems impossible to him to comply with all the requirements due to his hijacked brain being a slave to it’s master.

Please join my book club to share resources with each other.

https://www.facebook.com/Care-N-Share-N-books-for-Families-of-Addicted-Loved-Ones-105597148344622/

If you are in another country, or even USA, please share your favorite addiction post of mine.. I would love other country’s perspectives and experiences. Thank you🇹🇼🇹🇿🇺🇦🇺🇬🇺🇲🇻🇨🇻🇦🇺🇿🇻🇪🇻🇬🇿🇦🇾🇹🇾🇪🇽🇰🇼🇸🇼🇫

Thank for listening and most of all sorry we’re in this together but there is strength in numbers 💪🔢👭

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6 Common Myths About Addiction

Nova Recovery Center Near Austin Texas
6 common myths infographics


The concept of addiction is clouded with many misconceptions and assumptions, making it difficult for friends and family members to truly understand what an addicted loved one is going through. There are countless myths floating around about drug abuse, addiction, and alcoholism, but here are just a few of the most common myths and misconceptions.

Addiction Myth #1: People who are addicted just lack willpower.

It’s a common notion to assume that addicted individuals just lack the willpower to overcome their drug or alcohol abuse. However, addiction actually changes the brain of the user, severely impairing willpower and hampering self-control. Additionally, most medical associations including the American Medical Association and the American Society of Addiction Medicine classify addiction as a chronic disease, meaning it is a long-lasting condition that can be controlled but not cured (similar to diabetes or cancer).1 Just as individuals cannot overcome cancer with sheer willpower, it’s highly unlikely that addicted individuals can either.

Addiction changes the way a person’s brain and body functions, inhibiting their ability to resist their substance of choice. When drugs are abused, pleasure chemicals are released in the brain, and over time, this release of chemicals modifies the parts of the brain that control pleasure, motivation, and memory. As a result, people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol with experience extreme cravings and frequently end up prioritizing their drug use over life-sustaining necessities like food, water, and shelter.

Addiction Myth #2: All addicts are the same.

The stereotype that addicted individuals are all low-income or unemployed, minorities, criminals, or of low socioeconomic status is simply not true. Recent reports published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clearly show that addiction can affect anyone.2

Many people are also high-functioning addicts. These individuals are often able to achieve professional success, maintain a social network, and continue to hold up appearances at home, all while hiding their addiction and substance abuse from family, friends, and coworkers. This can’t last forever, but in many cases, loved ones don’t find out about the problem until it has completely spiraled out of control. High-functioning addicts may be able to function for a while, but in the end, the truth always makes itself known.

Addiction Myth #3: Prescription drugs are safe as long as they are taken as prescribed.

Many people believe prescription drugs are safer than illicit drugs just because they are recommended by a doctor. But according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs can be just as dangerous and addictive as illicit drugs.3 Unfortunately, some drugs, such as prescription opioids like LorcetDolophine (methadose), and Duramorph/Roxanol (morphine)Percodan (oxycodone), and Tramadol can result in addiction even if a person takes them as prescribed by their doctor. In fact, prescription opioids are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. Cough and cold medicines, like Codeine, are the most frequently abused over-the-counter medications.Benzodiazepines like Valium (diazepam)Klonopin (clonazepam)Ativan (lorazepam), and Doral are also commonly abused in the U.S.although they are often overshadowed by opioids, are also commonly abused in the U.S.

Your doctor should always consider your health conditions, current, and past drug use, as well as alternative medications before prescribing a potentially addictive drug to treat your symptoms. If you feel uncomfortable taking a medication that your doctor prescribed, there is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking a second opinion or asking your doctor about alternative options.

Addiction Myth #4: Every person that uses drugs is an addict.

Although drug abuse can certainly lead to addiction (and in many cases it does), not every person that uses drugs or alcohol is addicted. In some cases, a person may be physically dependent on a substance, but not addicted. This is because certain parts of the brain are associated with addiction while others are associated with physical dependence.4

For example, a hospital patient may be dependent on morphine after receiving it regularly for pain relief. Once they are taken off of the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, but this situation does not involve any of the compulsive, uncontrollable use that is associated with addiction.

Unlike physical dependence, addiction is characterized by uncontrollable cravings, an inability to control usage and continued use despite doing harm to oneself and those around them.5 Drug detox is required to break a person’s physical dependence on a substance and alcohol and drug rehab is needed to modify the negative behavioral and thought patterns associated with addiction.

Addiction Myth #5: Addiction is a sign of moral failure.

The stigma surrounding addiction implies that addicted people lack morals, but this assumption is completely unfounded. While the initial choice to use a drug may not have been a wise decision, people don’t set out to become addicted to drugs and alcohol and they certainly do not choose the consequences that come with it.

No one knows what causes addiction, but there are several known risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood to become addicted to drugs and alcohol. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reports that genetics account for 50-75 percent of risk for addiction and there are also numerous other addiction risk factors to consider, such as:6

  • Exposure to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Exposure to trauma
  • Substance abuse in the family or within peer social groups
  • Drug use that begins at an early age
  • Mental illness
  • Certain personality traits and brain characteristics

Addiction Myth #6: Only one type of addiction treatment works.

Just as every individual is different, addiction treatment should vary as well. While an inpatient alcohol and drug rehab program may have been a fantastic choice for your mom, your coworker may benefit more from an outpatient drug rehab program. Much of it will depend on personal circumstances, the person’s current and past drug use, and any previous treatment they have received in the past.

Although the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that evidence-based long-term addiction treatment lasting at least 90 days is more likely to result in long-term sobriety, there are many aspects of treatment that should be adjusted to better fit the needs of each individual.7 For example, pet therapy may be extremely advantageous for one person, but it may not be as powerful for another individual.

A high-quality rehab center, such as Nova Recovery Center, should incorporate a variety of evidence-based treatments into individualized treatment plans that are designed based on the needs of the client. These alcohol and drug rehab programs should be fluid and constantly updated as the client progresses through the program. This process will look different for everyone, but that doesn’t mean that one process works better than another.

The most important thing is to find a drug and alcohol rehab program that works for you or your loved one. If you’re interested in learning more about our rehab center and the continuum of care we offer, please contact our admissions team today.

Disclaimer: I don’t know anything about this treatment center.

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Droughts & Doubts

I had just rested my head down on the soft freshly laundered pillowcases, after a long day of what seemed like a failure to accomplish anything. My dad, rest his soul, would have said:

Didn’t accomplish SQUAT.

Whatever that means….
I was feeling it.
The dejection.
Lack of progress.

The drought of summer.
Lack.
Thirsty for more.....
Where's the water? Where's the hope?

As I laid there in my own self-inflicted pity party-powerless mode; I kept hearing noises. Things clanging. A whoosh. Hurried Activity.
“This is strange”,  I thought.

Is it really comng from outside?

I couldn’t be sure.

The neighborhood was usually very quiet.
See, when you live in a heightened state of anxiety every day; wrought with dips of depression, and moments of sheer panic; your sympathetic nervous system is always heightened. So it gets confused as to what’s a real threat.

Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction..

Harvard health

Even though it usually takes more than this to get me to care about anything; I drug my exhausted mind with my body lagging behind, to the window. I see the trees violently waving their leaves in fury at an unknown enemy.
A Storm! Well that’s nice. We need it. We had been in a summer drought with 3 digit temperatures for weeks.

As I settled back into my comfy bed, my thoughts turned to my son who was stranded again, in Las Vegas. He doesn’t live in Vegas, or even in Nevada. Yet there he was; in full- on addiction like behavior- even though he insists he’s ‘not using’. This also happened back in February when he called me after 2 days of wandering through the casinos scrounging for food and water after his “friends” got arrested. He had no ID and one shoe, because they were in the truck that was impounded with the arrest.

You may ask:

“Arrested for what?”

Well I didn’t ask.

“Why not?”

Because, as a mom of an addicted loved one, we learn to not ask questions. Partly because we don’t want to know the answers and mostly because we won’t get a straight answer anyway.

How do I not grab the rope this time?
How do I put down the shovel? And any other catchphrases that admonish us to not get caught up in the chaos that addiction loves to hand out in droves.

This time I will lie my unbothered head down without a worry in the world and sleep like a baby.

This time will be different.
I won’t worry about him being stabbed or jumped in the night. I won’t worry about him dehydrating in the 110-degree heat. I won’t worry about him getting so desperate for money that he steals something.
Last time I bought him a hamburger and then breakfast after 8 hours of trying to get him someplace safe; along with 3 Uber rides and a bus ticket home.
This time I tried to order him food but after 45 minutes on hold and then a failed attempt online because he wasn’t sitting in the sportsman’s seats, he couldn’t pick it up. It was a $45 pizza anyway. So hopefully he found some food in the trash.

Oh, this life.

The Mom’s groups say: “Give it to God.”

Ughhh
I mean, yes, whatever’s gonna happen is going to happen, I get it. That doesn’t mean I can just turn my feelings off.

“Do something for yourself- live your life”.
You mean other than work 5-6 days a week, camping, rock collecting, travel, reading, cleaning, grandkids baseball games, swimming, gardening, writing a blog, and writing a book?”

Even while keeping busy and “living my life;” my sons’ problems are always on my mind. In drought or in storm, I feel the sting of his struggles and and the scope of damage his addiction is doing. I’m either thirsting for him to seek recovery, or wrought in gut- wrenching anxiety of him overdosing. (Or writing an article on his unsafe, ridiculous release from jail on a Saturday afternoon)

But this time will be different.

I won’t fall into the trap of enmeshment.

As I check my phone one more time to see if he’s online, I hear the storm start to pick up outside. It’s going to be a long night. Whether the storm is raging outside, or ravaging inside of me; I know tomorrow will be a new day, probably back to drought conditions. I will be calm again, I will be grateful again.

I guess the key is keeping my health at top priority, and keeping my nervous system regulated so as to not fall ill with stress and worry.

Knowing that my emotions will come and go, as the storms and droughts do. Being ok with whatever I’m feeling at the moment, and letting them pass through me without settling in. For I know if I let them stay rent free in my head, I am subject to a permanent storm of misery.

I drift off to sleep, imagining myself as one with the leaves and branches. Fighting the fury, yet remaining intact. Swaying with the wind yet not letting it damage me. It can’t hurt me anymore. Like a cactus standing strong in the heat of the desert, I can withstand the storms and droughts, as I make peace with my heart.

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Re- Adjustment

Years ago, there was a show on at night called America’s Funniest Home Videos. I was obsessed with winning the $10,000 prize. That seemed like a million dollars to me. I sent in real VHS videos of my cute little kids doing cute little things. We even decorated a Christmas tree once with spaghetti for some contest on there.

Yup, a spaghetti Christmas tree! I can hardly think of it now, without cringing.

They had a segment or an inside joke they called FOTTF.

Funny Only To The Family

I’m assuming all my videos went to that pile. It appears that my blog now, would fit in some sort of FOTTF category.

I started it as an online journal / exploration of my son’s addiction. It served that purpose to work through the intense emotions I was feeling & as an outlet for them.

My target audience could relate. But as a non- marketer, first time blogger, I didn’t know how to market it to my target audience. I just kept getting in trouble with the mom’s groups for posting self – promotion.

I had hoped to help more people understand the struggles of an addict and their families. That doesn’t seem to be working and it’s not even a case of funny only to the family.

My family isn’t interested in my writing. They’re not interested in family recovery. They’re not interested in my son in his current state. I’m sure they care about what happens to him and just don’t know what to do about it, but they’re not interested in figuring it out either.

He was the hero when he could provide something of value, but as a sick person of society, he is not worth anyone’s time or energy. If he’s not doing what is expected, he is cast out and essentially expected to use a very Ill brain to make rational and responsible decisions. He is being fined with more money than he can possibly begin to pay back by people who know that.

The system seeks to punish and shame him and push him further into a criminal mindset.

He is not allowed to see or talk to his kids. It makes it appear as him being the bad guy always, no matter what anyone else has ever done or said. He’s treated like a criminal, and in due process, as any human does, they become what we treat them…

My son is very ill.

He is in more pain than anyone knows. He feels deep shame and can hardly look at pictures of his kids knowing how pathetic of a dad he is. A healthy brain can see the solution- get clean, get a job, get a car, get a house, and fight for visitation and pay for them.

But as Brandon Novak explained:

To an addict, the sidewalk is a skyscraper.....

They don’t even remember coping skills that don’t require numbing, or distraction.

So they continue sinking…..

Drowning in more legal problems, more health problems, and more isolation from and conflict with family.

My son expresses no interest in fixing anything. It’s like a hugh block. Psychologists would say that their mental age is where their trauma began or when their addiction took over, my son should still be an adult in theory, but the loss of so many things- basically everything he worked for 60-80 hrs a week for 15 years- is gone. So I believe that is where he’s stuck at…. Not facing such devastation and knowing it was technically Him who sold his soul for it. In November of 2019, his friend told me that he saw the light go out of my son’s eyes when he realized he could not save his marriage, no matter what. He said the addiction was a symptom from that made 💯 times worse after that moment.

I have let my powerlessness get to me today. It’s going on 13 months since I saw my beautiful boy. He sent me a picture, 2 weeks ago, the day he got out of jail and I cried at the sadness and pain in his eyes. He’s a lost soul.

The people I have begged for help, won’t. People who have the resources could care less. Even local recovery people who talk the talk on social media are disinterested in private requests. I was told by a very prominent recovery person who pretends to help people that I can’t just go out and find my son a sponsor….which I had no intention of. I just was looking for help. Any help.

No. One. Cares. The ones who do respond, say he has to want it. I think that’s a cop-out. I think that’s societies way of absolving responsibility of having to care or do anything for the dejected and very vulnerable segment of our society. Everyone has their own things to do. They love to talk smack about how much someone has gone to the dogs, screwed them over & over again; without any compassion for the most sickest evilest epidemic I’ve ever seen in my life. I used to think Cancer was so debilitating and sad but at least cancer gets compassion, no judgment, and zero shaming for life’s choices. With addiction, the patient is blamed, shamed, and told that everything they are experiencing is their own doing. It doesn’t matter if they were predisposed, traumatized, or just couldn’t stop at one drink like other people, they are the scum of the earth.

If they lie, cheat or steal as a result of their brain-riddled addiction, they are locked up and told they better get better real fast, on their own, or they will just get more shame and punishment. Because more of something ALWAYS WORKS……..

Take care.

🌼💘🌼

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It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

I love listening to Brandon Novak’s story. Not because I even knew who he was as a skateboarder or ‘jack…..’; & even though he has seemed to become a certain treatment center pusher, his delivery is so raw & real. He’s perfected the “catchphrases” so well that I find myself quoting them.

He describes how anything that got between him and his ability to get high, had to go. He states that it wasn’t personal, it was just business. His self described:

"non-conformist, defiant by nature, hates authority, I will never conform unless it's my idea……. Because I possess this nature that I know everything…… And everyone else can f. o."

Sounds so very familiar.

When we were driving my son to his first (& only) rehab; the interventionist kept saying that he had to do this surrender thing. I kept thinking, “whatever this surrender thing means; my son will never comply. When he made his first phone call home, I listened with such gratefulness & hope because he was so excited and full of compliments for how wonderful everyone was and how he wanted to open a treatment center like that back home. I was beyond relieved. He had surrendered! I thought.

The rehab turned out to be a bit sketchy and overall he felt like it was a babysitting service with one “kindergarten rehab” class a day. He lasted 9 days after he got home. The worst part is that it seemed to ruin his willingness to go to any rehab even now a year and a half later.

But as I listen to Brandon, I see that willingness is an internal thing. There are other types of rehabs, which I’ve explained and offered to my son; yet the surrender and the willingness just aren’t there.

Am I to judge and shame him for that?

Yesterday I was downtown in my city where the homeless are abundant. I’ve become – in theory – an advocate of these people because of my son being unhoused for over a year now. (Basically since that first rehab). But as I watched them, my old feelings of judgment came crashing to the surface.

They’re dirty.

They’re scary.

They make me uncomfortable.

Why don’t they try harder?

I had to really pull back into what I have learned, mostly from Resurrektion of me and her service of the homeless:

She maintains that it is their right to be unhoused if they choose, and it shouldn’t be illegal to have that choice. I guess the question comes up- where is it legal to be unhoused? On public property is usually where they are at. This makes people so uncomfortable to see that they complain until the city bulldozes them out.

This article explains how:

Some are being forced into making decisions that no one should have to make to survive.
But, survival has to be the priority.
Survival is what gets them through each day.

This post isn’t about homelessness. It’s about giving people who are living differently than WE think they should be living;

The dignity & respect to make their own choices.

It kills me to say that about my son, because those choices obviously increase his chance of death. This fact tears my heart out. I can feel the anxiety welling up inside me even thinking of that possibility. But after 2+ years of intensely studying this phenomenon of addiction, begging, pleading, praying daily for change; plus writing 189 pages of my book; I am almost to the point of my own surrender.

Surrendering to the fate of my beautiful boy. To whatever will & agreement him and God come to, regardless of my desires. 

In other words, I would rather maintain a connection to my boy, than be right. I want him to be the driver of his recovery if he ever chooses that. I want to give him the power to be able to surrender, rather than someone forcing him to surrender. The prison system may just do that, but as we all know, even that is zero guarantees of recovery. People can spend 2 months, 6 months, 4 yrs, & I even heard 8 yrs- the other day, then they get out, use & overdose. This is disheartening and scary, but it is fact.

The power in the surrendering always lies with each person.