EP94 Regret Free Interactions and The Art of Connection

Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
EP94 Regret Free Interactions and The Art of Connection
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Do you want regret free interactions and a stronger connection with your child? The art of authentic communication takes you from resentment to connection. You can find out how to achieve this result while taking care of yourself.

This podcast episode takes an emotional turn, as the host shares her journey of self-awareness and vulnerability. The episode doesn’t just offer valuable advice for parents; it’s a deeply personal exploration of the nuance of connection.

In this episode, you will:

  • Learn how nurturing personal needs cultivates
    self-awareness and helps us deal with discomfort without reacting negatively.
  • Uncover the key to building meaningful connections with
    your child.
  • Understand your child’s unique definition of connection
    and how it can strengthen your bond.
  • Learn how to communicate your feelings respectfully and
    responsibly.

Resources From Heather Ross Coaching

GROUP COACHING PROGRAM – Join the waitlist – New Group Starting soon! Be the first to get details. https://heatherrosscoaching.com/peace-of-mind-community/

Get answers and support to help you and your child Sign up for a 45-minute $17 Road to Recovery call with me using the link below

https://heatherrosscoachingcalendar.as.me/RoadtoRecovery⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Invitation to Change Learning/Support Group Use the link below to find out about the group Heather is hosting.

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Learn More & Sign Up For The ITC Group⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Guide about enabling – If you’ve ever worried about enabling, this guide is for you! https://heatherrosscoaching.com/perspective-about-enabling/

Timestamped summary of this episode:
00:00:00 – The Power of Connection
Heather discusses the importance of connection in relationships, especially when dealing with a loved one struggling with addiction. She emphasizes the art of connection and its influence.

00:02:25 – Updates to the Peace of Mind Program
Heather shares updates to her group coaching program, making it more accessible and accommodating for members in different time zones. She also highlights the added benefits for members, including recorded calls and a free boundary master
class.

00:06:14 – Redefining Connection
Heather explores a mother’s guilt about not connecting with her son and shares
her own experience with her daughter, Helena. She emphasizes the importance of
taking time for oneself and sharing feelings from a clean space to foster a
healthy connection.

00:08:24 – The Power of Vulnerability
Heather shares a personal story about expressing her disappointment and worry
to Helanna in a calm and loving manner, which led to a deeper connection and
open communication. She contrasts this with unhealthy ways of expressing
emotions, highlighting the power of vulnerability in building connections.

00:19:24 – The Impact of Words on Connection
Heather reflects on how her past words and actions affected her daughter, Helanna, and acknowledges her responsibility in managing her emotions for a deeper connection.

00:22:07 – Definition of Connection
Heather shares her definition of connection, emphasizing trust, respect, and self-awareness in maintaining a meaningful bond with a child struggling with substance use.

00:23:32 – Importance of Self-Care in Connection
Heather highlights the importance of self-care and authentic communication in maintaining a strong connection with a child, even in challenging circumstances, and understanding their perspective on connection.

00:26:35 – Acceptance and Support
Heather discusses the importance of accepting a child’s behavior and providing unwavering support, even during times of substance abuse, to establish a connection based on love and understanding.

00:27:46 – Compassion and Awareness
Heather encourages self-compassion and self-awareness, urging parents to acknowledge their areas of improvement in connection with their child and to show compassion for themselves in this difficult situation.

Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/heather-ross9/message

Transcript

This transcript has not been formatted or edited.

00:01
I’m Heather. After many wasted years trying outdated approaches to my daughter’s addiction that felt wrong to me, harmed our relationship, and didn’t help my daughter, I finally found an effective evidence-based approach that repaired my relationship with her, helped me create my own peace of mind, and made me an ally in my daughter’s recovery. I teach you a loving and compassionate approach.

00:28
to help you encourage change and create connection. Addiction impacts the entire family system. Family recovery is the answer.

00:40
The second episode I ever made for this podcast is called, How to Connect with Your Child Who is Struggling with Addiction. That episode has moved up to my top five recently, and that makes me so happy because with all close to 100 episodes I have to choose from, listeners are choosing one that is about connection, and I love that.

01:11
That is what made me want to do a 2.0 version of this episode about connection, because connection equals influence in any relationship. And there is an art to connection. It takes a lot of practice. It took me forever, it felt like, to connect with Helena when

01:41
Every time I tried to connect with her, I would just end up pushing her away even more. And it was, it was devastating. So I want to share more about connection with you today. I originally had something completely different planned for this episode, but in the group coaching program, the peace of mind program, something happened that changed my plans.

02:10
Before I get into all of that though, I want to share that my Peace of Mind group coaching program for mothers is opening for enrollment on February 22nd. So that’s 2-22. This is the first time it’s been open for enrollment since I think October. Now that I have completed two 12-week

02:41
I decided to make some changes based on what I felt like would be best for the members of the group. Number one, it used to cost $347 for 12 weeks, and you could continue in the group after those 12 weeks and pay monthly. But I felt like that was a bit of a barrier for some people.

03:09
So the 12-week part is going away. Now it’s an ongoing membership, kind of like a gym membership, except there’s no contract. You can join the group for only $97 per month. You get to cancel at any time, just cancel before the next payment. Number two, calls.

03:35
used to only be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then they were at the same time every week. Now there’s still going to be two calls each week, which is a huge value. But they will be at different times on different days. So you get a calendar for the whole month where you can see the call days and times. And that way, we can accommodate people in more time zones. It’s pretty exciting to me that people

04:04
all over the world are interested in the group. And I want it to be available to as many time zones as possible. And with the old schedule, it just wasn’t. So there will be a schedule provided each month, and that will be on the website soon. And number three, if you can’t make a call, you’ll be able to watch it because the calls will be recorded now and shared with people

04:34
only people in the group coaching program. Because people have been asking me for that. So I’m adding that as an additional benefit as well. Make sure you join the waiting list. I am giving away a free month to three people and I am going to be doing a free.

05:00
Boundary Masterclass this month too. And it goes well beyond what I talk about on the podcast that I’ve made the episodes that I’ve made about boundaries. So make sure that you’re on the waiting list so you get notified to sign up for the workshop and to sign up for the group coaching program. You can go to Heat and click on the group.

05:29
coaching link at the top left of the page, and that’ll take you to where you sign up. Or you can find the link in the episode show notes. There’s always links in the episode show notes to whatever I have to offer. If you’re someone who prefers one-on-one coaching that includes support between your weekly calls, that’s still available too. You can sign up.

05:57
for a $45 minutes, $17 Road to Recovery call. To learn more about that, go to Heat and click on the work with me link at the top right of the page. Or again, you can find the Road to Recovery call link in the show notes. Okay, that’s all I have about that. We’re going back to the episode now.

06:22
The purpose of this episode was originally to share more about how to connect. But now it’s also going to include my definition of connection. The other night in the Peace of Mind coaching group, a mom spoke up and said that she felt guilty because she wasn’t connecting with her son lately. And my program is all about connection.

06:52
I was actually surprised to hear her say this because I think this mom has a beautiful connection with her son. She does such a great job of taking care of her needs and meeting her son where he is, meeting him where he is, even in the hardest of times. It made me curious when she said that. So I asked her what connection meant to her.

07:19
or what she thinks I mean when I talk about connection. My summary of her response is that connection meant constant communication to her. And because for the last few days, she was taking a little break from that, she wasn’t talking to him much because for quite a while, he needed a lot of help and support and they were in constant communication.

07:44
It’s not like she cut him off or blocked him. She just wasn’t reaching out as much because she knew he was doing okay and she needed a little break. Taking time for herself to engage less right now is such an important part of a strong, healthy connection. If we don’t take the time that we need to rest and replenish and prioritize our needs, then resentment start to build and that…

08:12
gets in the way of connection. We can’t connect when we’re full of resentment. But when you’re authentic and you share your feelings from a clean space, you’re creating more space for connection in your relationship. When I say sharing your feelings from a clean space, I mean with intention. After you have processed them, not in the heat of the moment.

08:41
I’m going to share a story with you to illustrate sharing your feelings from a clean space and the importance of it. The skills of self-awareness and willingness to sit with uncomfortable emotions are foundational to building connections. And if you’ve ever gone through one of my ITC groups, you know that those are two parts of the invitation to change wheel.

09:11
self-awareness and willingness to sit with uncomfortable emotions. The story that I’m gonna share with you happened with my daughter, Helena. She had been in recovery, living in a sober living home in South Florida, and we flew to Oklahoma together to take care of some of her legal issues. The day before this incident happened, we had flown.

09:40
to Oklahoma together. That trip started out… It’s a wonderful memory. It was absolutely amazing. She flew here from Fort Lauderdale. She met me in Tampa. And from there, we flew to Oklahoma City together. We just had so much fun that day. She was so sweet and funny. We talked and laughed. And when we were sitting on the plane, she even sat in the middle seat.

10:08
and she put her head on my shoulder while she slept. My heart was so full of joy, I thought it was gonna burst. And it’s funny that she sat in the middle seat because she would never, neither of us would be willing to do that before. And I think at that point, both of us were willing to do it. But before we used to sit, one of us in the aisle and the other one by the window, and some poor person would always get stuck between us.

10:35
But because things were going so well with us at that point, she sat in that middle seat next to me. And I will just never forget how wonderful it felt to have her sleeping with her head on my shoulder that day. The first night that we were in town, she stayed with a friend she knew from high school who was also in recovery. I was concerned about it, but she’s 21, was 21 years old.

11:05
and needed to make her own decisions. I did express how I felt about it, but she assured me that everything would be okay. The next morning we had to go to court. That was the whole reason we went there and she wasn’t answering her phone. I knew something was wrong immediately because she had become a morning person in recovery and she was…

11:31
always up early and ready to go for things and on time. I just started getting that, oh, that all over numb feeling, the knots in my stomach. And when I picked her up at her friend’s house, she wasn’t, I don’t think she was even awake when I got there. And I could tell when she came outside after I waited a while that she was impaired.

11:56
So two minutes into the drive from her friend’s house to the courthouse, she passed out. So here we are back in Oklahoma, where I had lived in this hell for so many years, and it was happening again. Fighter flights just kicked in, and I was praying that we made it through the meeting with the lawyer and judge.

12:24
and everything wasn’t just blown out of the water because she had obviously used heroin. I was just praying that somehow they couldn’t tell. It took all of my energy to make myself super calm so that I didn’t do or say anything reactive. Somehow we made it through court. Everything got taken care of. And after court, I had to go to the bank.

12:53
And this bank was in this town called Moore, Oklahoma. And it’s where Helena had been living. And my bank was really close to the house she used to live in. I could see the street to turn down to go to that house. And she had lived in this garage. And it was just horrible. It’s a horrible memory of her living there in that time of our lives.

13:22
We just went through so much. So here I am going into the bank in this area of town where things have been so bad and she’s passed out in the car. My anxiety is increasing. All these horrible memories are flooding back, things that I really hadn’t thought about in a long time. Being in that area just sparked it all.

13:48
It starts getting harder and harder for me not to let these emotions just burst right out of me somehow. I was feeling just so much disappointment on the heels of this incredible day before. And Helena’s unavailable for the time that I expected to have with her as I drove her to her brother’s house.

14:14
We were going from court to her brother’s house, which was three hours from where we were. And she was going to go there for a few days. She hadn’t seen, and her dad lived in the same town as her brother, and she hadn’t seen either of them in three or four years. So it was really wonderful that she got to go there and spend that time with them because she passed away exactly five weeks after that trip.

14:42
But I had been really looking forward to that three hour drive together, just imagining that it would be fun like the day before on the plane. But I knew that I owed it to both of us in our relationship to be honest with her about how I felt. As we neared the end of the drive and we got closer to her brother’s house,

15:10
Alana started waking up, she was becoming more alert. And I had used the time that she had been asleep to talk myself through these big emotions that I was experiencing, rather than ruminating in a way that would get me more fired up and more anxious and reactive, which would have led to actions that I regretted and had to live with.

15:41
So when she starts getting more alert, I said to her something along the lines of, I’m feeling disappointed that you weren’t available for connection today. You slept most of the three hour drive to your brother’s and I had really been looking to spending forward to spending some quality time with you. And I shared that I was worried about what happened that I didn’t want.

16:09
her to get kicked out of her sober living house when she got back, because I knew she’d have to take a drug test as soon as she got back there. And I said it very calmly, with love, pretty sure I was even holding her hand when I said it. I had reached over and grabbed it. And because I was so calm and loving when I was

16:38
opened up to me more about her regrets about what had happened the night before. She offered information about what she had been thinking and feeling, like what had led up to her reoccurrence of use and going out that night. We talked about what she could learn from it and what she wanted to do the next time. So she was feeling all of her own big emotions.

17:06
but I still needed to share mine with her. Just keeping in mind though that she was not responsible for helping me with my emotions. That was my job and my job only. I was only telling her to be honest with her so that I didn’t build resentment in our relationship.

17:36
I owned responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, and actions. That created more connection between us. My vulnerability created space for her vulnerability. So after I dropped her off at her brother’s, she was staying in touch with me, sharing that she had worked things out with Sober Living.

18:03
And she also asked if she could stay with me her last night in town. She had planned to spend the night with her friend again. But she had decided that staying with me was safer and it was better for her recovery, and she was sad about not getting to go back to that friends, but she was choosing to put her recovery first.

18:30
of course, you know, so happy to have her spend that night with me. But if I had yelled at her, judged her, taking my feelings of disappointment out on her, she probably wouldn’t have felt safe asking to stay with me that night. I want to give you some examples of unhelpful and unhealthy ways I would have shared my feelings with Helena.

18:58
before I was self-aware and willing to sit with the discomfort of my emotions without reacting to them. I would have said things like, what’s wrong with you? I spent all this money to come here and you’re blowing it. You’re going to end up in jail with a record. You don’t respect me. You don’t even care about your future or your recovery.

19:28
You threw it all away in one night. I can’t believe you did this to me. You’re so selfish. You don’t care about spending time with me. You ruined our trip. You’re ruining my life. How can I ever be happy with you acting like this? I mean, I don’t even like just saying those to give ideas because it like hurts my heart to think of talking to her that way. But I also have to own that those are things that I have said to her in the past before.

19:57
I learned how to sit with those emotions and that they were my responsibility to manage. We don’t even have to say those words. We can send that same message of those words that I just spoke. We can send that loud and clear with our actions and the state that we’re living in can send the message of those words that I just said. But I would say those things to her.

20:26
because I thought it was necessary. I thought it was important. I thought I was doing the right thing, that I was teaching her, that she had to be shown what she was doing wrong. I had to tell her, I had to make sure that she could see what she was doing so that she could learn from it. I couldn’t miss any opportunities to point things out because that could be the thing that helped her get it. When she got it,

20:56
She would stop using drugs and this nightmare would be over. I mean, it is no wonder that she hated me back then with that belief system. Who wants to hear their mother say those things to them? Who wants to hear that from anyone? I don’t. I doubt you do. Helena was already disappointed in herself. If I had piled the shame of those words on her, it pains me to think I would have probably said them all. She would not have opened up to me.

21:26
And I would have pushed her away instead of connecting with her like I had so many times before. I spent so much time trying to connect with her. And I would have blown up and said those things that I just shared with you. And then I would have blamed her for it in my mind. It would have been her fault. She ruined the day, not me. But you can see clearly.

21:55
by the difference in my reactions that I had control over my experience of that day and how it affected both of us. And as I said, Helena had another reoccurrence of use and passed away exactly five weeks after that trip. I have the blessing of no regrets about my interaction on that trip. We flew home from there even closer.

22:24
than when the trip started. I want to share now, I’m going to change gears, and share my definition of connection, since I haven’t done that before. My definition of connection is about the deep and meaningful bond that you share with someone. It is the trust that they have for you.

22:52
You don’t necessarily have to trust them. You really just have to trust yourself. But you want to be trustworthy for them. Safe, predictable, reliable. The way you treat them with unconditional positive regard, meaning you’re respectful, even when it’s hard to be respectful. Connection means you don’t withdraw your love based on their actions.

23:21
Your love for them is constant even when you don’t love their behavior. Connection is accepting the other person for who they are right now and not trying to force them to change. Connection requires you to take time and space for your self-care when you need it. It requires you to put your own oxygen mask on first.

23:50
So you have the capacity to remain in a relationship under really difficult circumstances. Your feelings matter, and it’s important to be authentic and share them responsibly and respectfully, like I used in my example, so that you don’t get resentful and have that come between you.

24:20
The critical part of connection is you working on your self-awareness again so that you can tolerate discomfort without being reactive. I think I’ve said that like four or five times now. Working on your self-awareness so you realize what’s happening inside of you and then you practice tolerating the discomfort of that without being reactive to it.

24:51
You own full responsibility for all of your emotions, even if it’s about something that your child did. Communication is part of connection, but it is the quality of your communication more than the quantity of it. It is the quality of your communication more than the quantity.

25:20
of your communication. Connection also involves awareness of your child’s definition of connection. Their idea of quality time and connection might be very different than yours. I made a conscious decision to connect with Helena on her terms.

25:49
following her lead a lot of the time, but owning that it was my choice to do that, so I wasn’t resentful about it. Connection for me meant accepting that when she was actively using substances, she wasn’t as available for connection as much as I wanted her to be. And reminding myself that it had nothing to do.

26:19
with how much she loved me. Sometimes she would be too impaired to even stay awake when I saw her. And of course I felt disappointed. But I showed up for her and I established that I was there for her and she wasn’t alone in the world. I’m sure there’s more, but I think that I gave you

26:47
a lot of examples to use so that you can clarify what connection with your child means to you. Ask yourself what areas of your connection are going well. Acknowledge that, honor that, celebrate those things that are going well, be proud of yourself for that. And then ask yourself what areas you would like to work on.

27:17
And have compassion for yourself as you think about those things. And if you have said any of the things that I shared that I used to say to my daughter, have compassion for yourself for that too because this is hard and we get scared. And we’re just doing the best we can in a really difficult situation. So we need…

27:46
a lot of compassion. I can’t emphasize that enough. If you listened to last week’s episode, you know how important that was. After that one mom bravely spoke up about her connection, concerns, I just can’t say some words tonight. Other moms started saying that they were feeling the same way and that they all felt relief and realized they…

28:15
actually were all connected with their kids. I am so grateful that this mom spoke up and shared how she felt. Because after that I realized, I talk about connection all the time, but I don’t explain it. And that is really important. It created this new awareness for me and gave me an opportunity to make this podcast episode that I know is going to provide a lot of listeners with relief when they either

28:45
realize that they have more connection than they thought they did, or they might be happy about having some ideas about how to connect more. So I’m done with connection. I want to end this episode with an interesting fact. The podcast ranked number 76 on the mental health charts in Malaysia recently.

29:11
When I started this podcast, I never expected it to reach places like Malaysia or Isle of Man. I had to research Isle of Man, by the way, when I saw it appear in my audience. It’s an island between Great Britain and Ireland with a population of less than 85,000. Even with this small population on an island, they have problems with substances.

29:38
They started a naloxone program, which you might know as Narcan. Last year, they started that. I never take it for granted that my podcast reaches people all over the world, especially in places that have even less resources than we do in the U.S. At my heart, I’m always just a mom trying to help other parents. I started Heather Ross coaching from my heart.

30:08
I was reminded of that recently when I found my mission statement that I wrote for myself before I ever had a single client. It actually inspired me to change the name of the podcast. The name change is coming right after I finish enrollment for the Peace of Mind group. I’m going to share more about this change soon, but I’m so excited about it. I had to share a little hint of it.

30:36
I’m asking you to help me get the word out there to even more people. Share the podcast with friends or in groups where people need it. All it took for me was for one person to share the book Beyond Addiction in a Facebook group. And fast forward six years, I went from being alienated to from my daughter, desperate, distraught.

31:06
to repairing my relationship with her and helping other parents. You never know what sharing a resource like this podcast can do for somebody.

31:21
Thank you for listening to this episode. If you want to learn more about my work, go to Heat If you want to help other parents who are struggling with a child’s addiction, you can do it two different ways. First, you can share the podcast with them directly or you can share it on your social media. Second, you can leave a review. Talk to you next week.