Episode 27 Approaching Addiction With Love

Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Living While Loving Your Child Through Addiction
Episode 27 Approaching Addiction With Love

When I was struggling the most with my daughter’s addiction it was because I believed all the messaging that said if my daughter was mad at me I was probably doing the right thing.  Approaching my daughter’s addiction with love was the only thing that felt right to me, but I didn’t know how to do it. I didn’t know that a shift in my belief about love would give more more power and leverage than anything else I had tried. In this episode I share that belief shift so you can use it to create an approach to your child’s addiction that not only works, but also feels right. 

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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.

I just had the funniest thing happen. So here I am getting ready to record this podcast about love and I put one of my dogs outside because he kept barking and I noticed that my hibiscus, one of the flowers was on the ground. And if you follow me on social media or you’re on my email list, I’ve posted pictures of this squirrel that’s it’s eating my hibiscus.

and I keep moving the tree so hoping the squirrel can’t get to it because it was right by my fence. So he was jumping from the fence into the hibiscus tree and it’s not working. And so I’ve been like really keeping an eye on it and yelling at the squirrel every time he gets in there. Well, this morning I go out there and I see that and I look up in the tree and that squirrel is like peeking around one of the branches.

staring at me. And it’s so funny. I’m like so frustrated with this squirrel and I’m getting ready to do this podcast on love. And so that’s me. I’m always like trying to figure out how I’m going to get him out of my hibiscus because he’ll go get a leaf and sit on the fence and stare at me while he or she eats the hibiscus leaf. It’s so funny. It’s almost like he’s throwing it in my face.

So anyway, if you guys know how to keep a squirrel out of a hibiscus, let me know, cause I need some help over here. So one of my favorite questions to ask myself, and maybe I should ask myself this about the squirrel, is what would love do? It really helps me get out of fear and negative thought loops and into solution mode. And love has never steered me wrong.

Like when it comes to my daughter or any other relationship, including my relationship with myself, I often say that I became a coach because once I found solutions for myself, I felt compelled to share them with other parents. But that’s really an oversimplified version of what really happened. And I saw a meme the other day that reminded me that love is why I became a coach.

and I’ve seen it twice since, so I feel compelled to go deep into the topic of love and how it heals. And if you don’t have a really clear perception of what love is, and I didn’t before, then that might sound odd, but I’m gonna clear that up as I explain it throughout this podcast. And the meme said, and I quote here, if the addict is pleased with your help, then you’re probably enabling.

If the addict is pissed as hell, you’re probably helping the person you love. Honestly, you guys know that calm is my superpower, but this kind of messaging really pisses me off because it represents so much of what’s wrong in the way we view addiction. I think it destroys relationships, adds to the stigmas of addiction.

And I think it destroys hope in a parent that just wants to love their kid. And it insinuates that in order for you to be doing things the right way, and I’m air quoting here again, that you will have to have a bad relationship with your addicted child. In fact, the relationship should be full of anger. It insinuates that they won’t respond well.

to strong loving boundaries or that boundaries push people away instead of making them closer. It also insinuates that if you have a good relationship with your addicted loved one, then you’re doing something wrong. We’re fed that message from so many sources and it never sat right with me. It never felt right to me. In fact, it went against everything in me as a mom just and as a human in general.

In my experience, and this is just my experience, when I was married to my daughter’s father, who’s an alcoholic, and in my experience with my daughter, not enabling never caused me problems in either relationship. In fact, not enabling, having boundaries, and being consistent made my relationships with my daughter and my ex better.

I only had a problem in those relationships when I was enabling because I felt like a victim of their addictions. I felt like I had to do things I didn’t want to do, even though I was choosing to, and then I would get mad at them for choices I made because I wasn’t owning my choices. And that’s when those relationships suffered. When I was inconsistent,

scared to say no because of fear they would be mad at me. And I was all over the board with my reactions and emotions. My relationship with my daughter was awful. She hated me. And I can’t say that I blamed her. Sometimes I would do or say things I regretted out of frustration because I wanted her to change and I didn’t know what else to do. I wanted her to change.

So I didn’t have to deal with the discomfort of saying no. So I kept saying yes and getting mad for her because I was saying yes. So that meme really has it backwards. If the addict is pissed as hell, you’re probably enabling and blaming them for it and engaging in arguments trying to prove that they’re wrong and you’re right. You’re probably also being incredibly inconsistent

because you want to change your reaction to the situation, but you don’t know how, so you keep flip-flopping. That’s exactly what I did. If the addict is pleased with you, then you probably have strong loving boundaries, show up in a consistent way where they know what to expect from you, and they probably even feel supported by you. That really is the reason I became a coach. My mission as a coach

is to show you that you can show up with love for your child and not enable them. To show you love is an approach that works. And part of love is educating yourself, focusing on what you can change, and getting help with making boundaries and being consistent. So if you’re scared to set boundaries, scared that it will hurt your relationship with your child, ask yourself if messaging like this,

is part of the reason why you’re scared to try. Love is behind everything I do. It’s behind this podcast, my coaching, my relationship with myself, and my relationship with my daughter. If you’re struggling to have a good relationship with your child, or you don’t like how you’re showing up as a parent, I’m gonna repeat this, ask yourself if you’re afraid to show up with love because of messages like this.

Sometimes we withhold our love thinking it will protect us and keep us from getting hurt. But I want to show you or tell you what that really does. It denies you the experience of love. You’re the one who is feeling the denial of love, not the other person. You feel the withdrawal of love.

and instead you feel whatever feeling you replace it with. It’s so interesting that we see this as protection, but it causes us great suffering. You’re just hurting yourself ahead of time. So imagine saying what you’re doing out loud. It would sound like this. I don’t like what you did, so I will punish myself by feeling negative emotion about it and reacting in a negative way towards you.

And this is always optional. We don’t have to put conditions on our love. We don’t have to deny ourselves that loving feeling when someone doesn’t do what we expect them to. Once I realized that I was trying to protect myself, but I was walking around angry and bitter and uptight, I realized like how counterproductive that was.

I was trying to protect myself, but instead I was just hurting myself even more. And honestly, I did have to be brave and vulnerable to lean into love. And I had to remember that love never hurt me. It’s not the love that hurts. My thoughts about who people are and what I make what they do mean about me. That’s what hurts me.

And I want to repeat that in case you missed it. My thoughts about who people are and what I make what they do mean about me is what hurts me. So say your child steals from you. It doesn’t hurt because you love them. It hurts because of the meaning you assign to it, such as I’m a terrible parent, I failed.

My child doesn’t love or respect me. Or you could choose to think, my child’s brain is hijacked by drugs and I need to put boundaries in place that protect me, my valuables and my relationship with my child.

Those are two very different responses and they will produce very different results. Now play it out in your head. Like see that second scenario is loving for everyone involved and doesn’t cause anyone any additional discomfort.

It’s clean pain. When you respond with love, it’s clean pain because love feels good and provides the best solutions. And once I understood that, it opened the door for me to figure out ways to be able to feel that love that I missed feeling, and I just wanted to give my daughter love. Part of my heartache about her addiction was just how much I missed loving her and expressing it and feeling it.

And in order to open up to her, one of the things I had to allow myself to let go of was the idea that if I didn’t constantly tell her that I disapproved of her addiction, that she would think I was okay with what she was doing. I had to understand that this is an act of acceptance, not approval. I can let that go. I can trust that she knows. And acceptance and approval are very different.

Acceptance is simply receiving the situation as it is rather than resisting it and fighting against it. When you accept it, you are no longer telling yourself this shouldn’t be happening. You accept that this is reality and figure out how to work with it instead of against it. And with that resistance out of the way, I could just love her as she was in that moment.

Looking for ways to create connection with my daughter is as much for me as it is for her. And I’m open-minded enough to say that it’s more for me than it is for her because it feels good for me to love her and connect with her. And it feels good to be, and I’m air quoting again here, a good mom. I should record myself doing this podcast sometimes because it’s got to be hilarious.

I’m a hand talker, you know it if you’ve ever seen my videos. I get very excited and when you hear this noise, it’s my hand accidentally hitting the microphone. And last week, I actually tried holding the microphone so that I wouldn’t hit it. It didn’t work though. And, cause I was just using my other hand and my arm got all cramped trying to hold the microphone in the same place. Anyway, back to love.

When I switched from giving my daughter rides because I had to, to choosing to give them because I loved her and I wanted to connect with her, which by the way, I also learned to say no, I became willing to sit with that discomfort and not get mad at her for it, I owned my discomfort and said yes when I had time and when it felt good.

It felt good to do it because I love her. I love taking her to eat to express my love for her. I looked for ways to show her I loved her with little care packages of soaps and toothbrushes and stuff like that. I gave myself the pleasure of giving her a gift and feeling my love for her. And I gave her the pleasure of receiving my love and a gift. Cause I can assure you that she needed it.

every time she received it from me. And I needed it every time I gave it to her.

I can’t even imagine how I would feel today if I hadn’t opened up to that love. And just saying that brought tears to my eyes and made me feel very emotional because I could instantly feel that dark place I used to live in. I would not be the same person. And I wouldn’t have the privilege of sharing things like this with you. I would be brokenhearted and alone.

And I probably wouldn’t have a relationship with my daughter. And the thought of that just breaks my heart. And I am so grateful that I found a way to show up with love and do what felt right to me. Because I can still remember the first time my daughter had a run-in with the police and I had to pick her up from the police station. And a friend sent to me.

She knows what she did wrong and what she really needs right now is your love. And I could feel a universal truth in what he said, but I didn’t know how to do it at that time. I was too scared and I was still desperately trying to control her. So I did the only thing I knew how to do at that time. I yelled at her and I grounded her and I stayed angry at her.

and it didn’t feel good. Today I would be able to love her and give her consequences and it would feel completely different to both of us. A few months ago, my daughter totaled her car and I went to see her the next morning. She said, I know everybody’s mad at me. I don’t need a lecture. She was feeling defensive and I wasn’t there to give her a lecture.

I was there to give her a hug because I knew she needed it. And I was just grateful that she didn’t die when she ran into the back of a semi going 65 miles an hour. I knew the natural consequences she experienced from that were enough. She only had liability experience, so she lost her transportation at the time she was actively using. So that meant no way to get to her drugs and…

I knew that she would be beating herself up and really struggling with knowing that she had that extra barrier between her and what she thought she needed. But I didn’t pressure myself to figure things out for her. I just held her and told her I loved her. Love feels so good because it’s generous and nurturing and compassionate. It’s forgiving, affectionate and uplifting. It just feels good.

And I wanna be clear that loving your child is never wrong. I know we get that messaging sometimes and we fear doing things that make us feel good for them, but showing them you love them and telling them you love them is never wrong. We get to feel love no matter what they do. Anyone who says loving your child who is addicted is enabling, is misinformed. You get to love your son or daughter

no matter what. People make mistakes, flash out, they do things from a place of pain. We can hate them for it, or we can just love them as humans. I love you no matter what is the most amazing thing to say to somebody and have somebody say to you. I love you even when I’m angry at you or disappointed in your actions. It’s unconditional love.

And don’t worry about losing control of your child when you love them unconditionally, because you don’t have control of them anyway. Control over another person is an illusion. If they are behaving the way you want them to, it’s not because you’re in control. It’s because they’re choosing to act that way. It has nothing to do with you. So there you go. I give you full permission to love your child, even when they’re struggling with addiction.

rethink how you look at love and acceptance and see if you wanna change your approach. Love is the only approach that feels good to me and the only approach that worked for me. I get to work with parents and witness how showing up with love for their kids brings so much peace to their home, their child that’s struggling with addiction, their family and their heart. The number one thing parents say they want when they work with me

just to feel peace again. It’s possible for you to feel peace too. If you’re ready to take an empowered loving approach to your child’s addiction, I can help you with that. Send me a message or sign up for a call using a link in the show notes. I hope you have an amazing rest of the week and fill it with love.

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.