Episode 1 Introduction to Living With a Child’s Addiction

Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Episode 1 Introduction to Living With a Child's Addiction

In this introduction episode I talk about my journey from feeling totally powerless and thinking nothing would ever help with my daughter’s addiction, to being willing to try anything.  When I decided to break the mold of doing things the way I always did, I became confident in my ability to support my daughter, created a better relationship with her, and learned a process that gives me clarity and discernment in every situation.

Resources From Heather Ross Coaching

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This transcript has not been formatted or edited.

I’m Heather and this is the Living With Addiction podcast where I show you how you have more power than you realize when it comes to helping yourself and your child that’s struggling with addiction.

with Addiction podcast. Today…

started making changes in my life that actually helped me. So when my daughter’s addiction first started or when I really started to realize that there was a problem I was just doing everything I could think of. I was handling it in the way that I normally approached everything in my life.

And that was the belief that I could fix it. And that if I worked hard enough, I would figure it out and I would find the answer. Like I had not come up against anything in my life yet that I couldn’t outwork, that I couldn’t out analyze or figure out some way around it. Like where there’s a will, there’s a way. That was just like my motto for my life.

And so that was how I approached my daughter’s addiction, which led to several very painful, exhausting, overwhelming years, because that approach just doesn’t work with addiction. And I had to come to the realization that I needed a totally new approach. I spent so much time

researching online because of course I couldn’t sleep so I would just lay in bed at night and I’d be scrolling the internet looking for help and I would get so frustrated because all of the help that I was finding was really only things that would work if the person wanted to get sober if the person was ready for change.

And I can still remember finding, you know, a contract and trying to institute that contract with my daughter. And what that contract did was it hurt my relationship with my daughter. And it also made me believe that I should be able to control her addiction.

that I should be able to control her behavior. That, you know, it just pushed me even farther down that road of solely focusing on her and putting all of my energy into her to make things better. When really what I would find out later.

what I needed to do was to focus on myself. But that contract, it just made me feel like even more of a failure because it was just another thing that didn’t work. But it was just the wrong approach because everything that I was finding on the internet, like I said, was focused on somebody who wanted to change. And my daughter was not ready to change. She had…

a path that she was going down and there was no way I was going to get her on a different path at that time. And that’s the case I think for most families who are dealing with addiction. Most of the help that you find out there just really doesn’t apply to dealing with a child that isn’t ready to change yet. And so I reached this point

I just felt like nothing would work. I was exhausted and run down and completely overwhelmed. My health was just, I was getting sick all of the time. I had gained a lot of weight because I wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t eating right. I, you know, my body physically hurt because I had just gone so numb and I wasn’t processing my feelings anymore. And I wasn’t

moving or anything, you know, so I wasn’t exercising or just doing anything to make myself feel good anymore. You know, at my worst point, I was feeling pretty depressed and I was isolated because I didn’t want anybody to know what was going on in my life. I felt like a total failure as a mother and I just couldn’t understand.

why I couldn’t figure this out, why I couldn’t fix it. I mean, there’s just nothing else in my life that I had come up against before this that I couldn’t fix. And, you know, my relationship with my daughter was getting worse. The more I tried to control her, the more I tried to apply the same principles that I’d applied to everything else in my life, the more I pushed her away.

I was just desperately clinging to the way things were and trying to get back to our normal that honestly didn’t work before, but I just didn’t have the foresight to see that at that point that if our normal worked, we wouldn’t be in the situation of dealing with addiction.

you know, it was a really actually a good place for me to be at that point when I decided that nothing would work. Because at that point, I was really overworking to escape on one side and on the other side just because I felt successful at work. So that was one place that I could feel.

really good about myself and not have to face the, you know, how I felt like a failure as a mom. But I was spending all of these hours at work, which was not helping my health at all. And it wasn’t helping my relationship with my daughter because I wasn’t as available. I was running away from my problems. And I, you know, on the other hand,

When I was around her, all I was doing was trying to control her. And I was taking her to all of these different doctors. We were probably going to at least three different doctor appointments of some sort every week. And it was a lot of driving on top of all of the work. And I was always super uptight because I felt like I should be at work.

when I was taking her to these doctor’s appointments. I wasn’t able to just be in the moment and be where I was at. I would be working while I was sitting at the doctor’s appointment. And I was just in this space where I couldn’t relax and I was just making everything an already tense situation. I was uptight, I was tense, I was just adding to it. I don’t blame her for not wanting to be around me at that time.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be around me either. But the process of doing all of that for so long, it was, you know, maybe two years of doing that. When I finally just decided like nothing is working. Everything that I’m doing is just making things worse. And I need a totally new approach.

And I didn’t know what that was going to be at the time. I just knew that what I was doing wasn’t working and I couldn’t keep doing it anymore because I was totally losing myself in the process. And so I just stopped. I stopped all of the doctor’s appointments. I stopped everything that wasn’t working. And it was very uncomfortable.

because, you know, on one hand, I felt like I was giving up on my daughter. But on the other hand, I knew that I needed a new approach and I needed to do something different. But I needed time and space to figure out what that was. And one of the things I ended up doing was leaving my job. And that was a huge decision.

and very hard for me to do. But at the same time, my job was so demanding and taking up so much of my time. And it was just so easy for me to get lost in it. And I didn’t have the skills at that time to really separate the two or have boundaries at work and not work so many hours. And so I decided to quit my job.

which gave me a lot of time and space to honestly, initially get more depressed, isolate more, and really flounder for a while. But I’m also really grateful for that because I got to this point of being willing to try anything. Going from nothing will work, I’m done, I don’t even know what else to do,

I will try anything. So I needed that time, that downtime of just resting and doing nothing to get the strength up to take a totally new approach to everything. And that’s what I ended up doing. I ended up really starting to work on myself in a way that I never had.

And it wasn’t intentional that I switched from solely focusing on my daughter to solely focusing on myself. It was just what I was guided to do. I had been going to counseling, but I wasn’t doing any work outside of my weekly counseling session. My counselor would recommend books, but I would never read them. You know, I was just expecting to get results.

for meeting with her that one time a week. And I would go to some Al-Anon meetings, but I just wasn’t finding what I was looking for there. So I started meditating. I read, I got this book by Joe Dispenza, “‘Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself’ and I was reading the book and doing the exercises and doing the meditation every day.

And that really started me on this path of self-awareness and how I was contributing to the problem. And I ended up joining this group coaching program, which had nothing to do with addiction, but I had just been listening to this podcast for a long time. And

I thought that it sounded really helpful, but I didn’t really understand how to implement what she was teaching in my life until I joined the program and started working with a coach one-on-one. And that’s when I really started seeing changes in my life and seeing changes with my daughter in our relationship.

I was approaching my daughter’s addiction really needed to change and that I needed to look at things totally differently because the whole time I had been looking at addiction as the problem instead of the addiction being a symptom of the problem. The addiction was just my daughter’s way of…

coping with whatever was bothering her and, you know, not knowing how to manage her feelings of anxiety and depression and everything else that she was going through. And for me, the addiction was really just this painful spotlight on all of the things that I needed to work on in my life.

that’s a huge part of the discomfort. Like in normal everyday life, we come up on challenging situations, but they usually let up eventually, and we get relief from that and we move on. But the thing with addiction is it doesn’t let up, and it just keeps putting pressure on all of those areas in your life.

where you need work and the relentlessness of it just makes you feel like you’re going to crack under the pressure. And there’s one of two ways that you can go and you can either find a new approach to life and start working on all of the things that addiction is pointing out to you or you can go down the road of.

really ending up being so wrapped up in your child’s addiction that there’s not a huge difference between your life and theirs, which I’ve gone down both roads. I went down the road where I was so wrapped up in my daughter’s addiction that even though I was and I’m air quoting sober, my behavior didn’t make a lot of sense. I was struggling with depression.

I was struggling to keep up with everyday life. Like my life didn’t look a whole lot different than hers, even though I wasn’t taking any drugs or using alcohol to make myself feel better. I mean, eventually trying to control her became my drug. And then when that became painful enough for me, I had to…

figure out how to go down this other road of seeing addiction in a totally different way, researching it, finding things that resonated with me that made sense, finding a way to approach her addiction in a way that felt good to me because there was so much of what I was reading that didn’t feel good to me. It felt like…

I would be pushing her away instead of building connection with her. Connection is so important when it comes to addiction. I got so focused for so long on that was really my main thing was just creating connection with her. I had to get really focused on myself. I had to see what addiction was pointing out to me.

I had to see which situations were causing me the most pain. It was really hard for me initially to see that my daughter had met a lot of my emotional needs. And that was where a lot of my pain was when her addiction took that away. And I had a lot of pride in

What an amazing, wonderful kid she was. That was a huge need that was being met for me. I needed her approval in a lot of ways. And that might sound odd, but we just don’t realize that we’re seeking other people’s approval until it comes to you’ve got to hold a boundary with somebody.

and you’re dealing with the discomfort of holding that boundary and you want that person to not be upset with you for holding the boundary. You want them to make you feel better about setting the boundary and make it okay. And I had to learn to just sit with that discomfort. I would say one of the number one skills that I’ve had to learn when it comes to dealing with my daughter’s addiction is…

just realizing that I’m just in discomfort and identifying what is causing the discomfort. And then thinking about that in a different way, seeing what unmet need the discomfort is pointing out and figuring out how to meet that need on my own instead of

looking to my daughter or somebody else to meet that need. And that’s where a lot of the powerlessness comes in when we’re dealing with addiction is that all of our lives we’re kind of taught to look outside of ourselves for answers, looking to other people for how we feel. I mean, we’re told other people make us feel a certain way when in reality

it’s how we’re thinking about what somebody did that makes us feel how we feel. And if somebody says something to you and you don’t really believe it, you know, I have blonde hair and somebody said to me, if somebody said to me, I hate your red hair, I just wouldn’t think anything of it because I don’t identify as somebody who has red hair. I have no belief in that. It really wouldn’t mean anything to me. I’d wonder like, you know, what was up with that person?

But if I believed that I had ugly red hair and somebody said that to me, well then it would be painful. And so we have to look at the source of our pain and what we’re buying into and what the addiction is pointing out to us that we need to work on and we need to focus on those things.

instead of having our kids under a microscope. Now I’m not saying that we don’t help them if they want help, but I’m saying it’s really important for us to live the life that we want our kids to live. Like all we want is for our kids to be healthy and happy and to take care of themselves and to do the work that it takes to stay sober. And yet…

we’re struggling, our life is falling apart, we’re not happy, we’re not healthy, we’re not doing the work for our own happiness and fullness in life. And so that’s really where the answer in all of this is, is being willing to see addiction totally different than you’ve ever seen it, having, creating time and space.

for your own health and happiness. And being willing to see your child and what they’re going through in a different light, having compassion for what both of you are going through. And I’m not saying this means you let somebody walk all over you or you don’t have boundaries or anything like that, but it’s just about having

really clear process to follow when it comes to dealing with your child’s addiction and having your own belief system. The belief system that I came into addiction with didn’t serve me. I didn’t really understand it. I didn’t have my own clear beliefs about addiction. I had just taken on different things that I had heard over the years.

So I had to really question that. I had to find a belief system about addiction that was based in my own research and fact. And it had to be something that served me and made sense to me, that gave me clarity, gave me discernment in every situation. I had to have my own…

beliefs established instead of believing things that I had just heard along the way. You know, now I am confident in my ability to help and support my daughter in a healthy way. You know, initially I had zero confidence because nothing I was doing was working and I had to take a totally different approach to finding that confidence. And you know, I did learn to start taking care of myself.

So that I would have the resilience and emotional stability. I had to bring emotional stability to the situation when initially I was as unstable as she was. I was struggling as much as she was. I had to start building a stable foundation for myself so that I could bring that stability to the relationship.

And when I think about that, I always think about like this idea I call the captain of the ship and I just see, you know, the ship and it’s just getting tossed everywhere because the captain has left the helm of the ship. He’s not guiding it, you know, but when I stay at the helm of the ship and keep guiding it, no matter how stormy the waters get, I’m always

continuing to move in the direction that I want to move in instead of just being tossed all over the place. I’m the one bringing the stability to the relationship. I’m the thermostat. I’m the one setting the tone for everything. And you know, today my daughter and I have a wonderful relationship and I get to feel good about how I show up as her mom.

My dog is snoring in the background. But, um, you know, for a long time, I really didn’t feel that way. But the amazing thing about this work is I didn’t, it doesn’t just serve me in this one area of my life. It doesn’t just serve me in dealing with addiction or in my relationship with my daughter, it serves me in every area of my life and bringing me fulfillment.

from focusing on myself, creating a happy life for myself, having dreams for myself again, instead of just having dreams for my daughter, having things to work toward, having, I mean, it brought me a totally new career. I used to be a corporate controller and now I get to help other parents who are struggling with their child’s addiction and do something so much more fulfilling than I ever did before.

So there, you know, when we’re focused on how addiction is just the problem and not a symptom of a deeper problem, then there’s always going to be that divide. We’re only going to see our differences. We have to start seeing our similarities and having compassion and having

a new belief system when it comes to addiction. So when it comes time to make decisions, you have your own belief system to fall back on. You don’t have to depend on somebody else. I just felt like I wanted somebody. I just needed somebody to give me the answers please. Like I was desperately looking for somebody to just tell me what to do. But what I learned was…

There was nobody who could do that. There was nobody who could give me answers. I had to be stable enough, educated enough about addiction, and have my own clarity, my own way of working through situations so that I could provide those answers to myself. And that’s what I help my clients do. And that’s what that podcast is about.

helping you find your way. You know, it’s not a one size fits all approach. It’s giving you tools that you can use to create your own clear process, to have discernment in every situation, to have the confidence in your ability to support your child in a healthy way, to have the confidence about how you’re showing up in your own life, you know.

repairing your relationship with your child, repairing your other relationships that might have been damaged by addiction. If your marriage is struggling, this work will help you in every area of your life. So I will be back next week with another podcast with more information for you to help you with your struggle with your child’s addiction.


Thank you for listening to this episode. If you wanna learn more about my work, go to heat If you wanna 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.