How I made changes in my life when my daughter started abusing substances

What are you feeling right now?

When I ask that question clients usually tell me what is happening in their lives rather than giving me a one word feeling.

Creating awareness about what you are feeling is a good way to know where you stand now, so you can make changes in your life to create what you want to feel. 

It is how you go from being a thermometer to a thermostat when your child is abusing substances.

Here are the questions I asked myself to create awareness about my feelings. I’m including my answers for examples:

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE FEELINGS EACH DAY?

When I first realized what mine were it was a bit of a wakeup call.  They were fear, overwhelm, and numbness.

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE THESE FEELINGS ON A DAILY BASIS?

The fear was because I thought my daughter was starting either a lifelong battle with addiction or a battle that would take her life early. 

The overwhelm was created by me.  I was always distracted with thoughts about my fears and trying to figure out how I could ensure that my worst fears didn’t come true.

That made me inefficient at work. 

My demanding job was a contributor to my overwhelm too, but it also gave me a reason to work all the time so I didn’t have to face what was happening in my life.

The numbness was my coping mechanism.

I didn’t have the tools to process the feelings I had about my daughter’s substance abuse and what it was doing to her life. 

Numbness seemed easier at that point.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR TOP THREE FEELINGS TO BE?

I chose discomfort, faith, and acceptance. 

Today I would choose different feelings because I have gone through this process several times, but in the beginning, those were the feelings I wanted to create.

HOW WOULD YOUR LIFE CHANGED IF YOU CHANGED YOUR TOP FEELINGS?

Discomfort might sound like an odd choice, but I had a good reason. 

I had to learn to tolerate the discomfort of actively making changes in my life. 

I also had to get used to the discomfort of my daughter being mad at me when I set boundaries and followed through on them.

Discomfort was the currency to get from where I was to where I wanted to be.

I chose faith so I could believe that even though I didn’t know how to change myself or how to deal with substance abuse I could figure it out.

Faith made change possible.

I chose acceptance for the days I couldn’t tolerate the discomfort of making changes and didn’t have faith. 

All I could do was accept where I was because resisting it was a losing battle with reality.

Acceptance kept me out of the feeling of overwhelm where I started and gave me the space I needed to create new feelings in my life.

Going through these steps is a simple process to help you focus on what you want to change and where you want to start. 

You can’t figure out how to get where you want to go if you don’t even know where you are!

Try getting a pencil and paper and going through the questions on your own. If you get stuck trying to work through the questions send me a message and I will be happy to help.