Seeing the Paths of our Difficult Children in a Positive Light

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by New Leaf, Nov 18, 2015.

  1. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    "How can this be so?"
    You may say.
    "How can we see this horror we go through with our d cs in a positive way?"

    Cedar brought up, that in the past, folks posting in CD started calling their d cs "gifts from God. "
    I like that concept. Thank you Cedar.

    Copa, introduced Viktor Frankl in the Family of Origin forum -9/27. Mahalo nui, Copa.

    I wanted to share a clip I found this morning, from a Ted Talk by Viktor Frankl.

    Viktor Emil Frankl, M.D., Ph.D. was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor.

    I think substance abuse and addiction creates a kind of holocaust within our families, it is devastating to see our children choose this path. There is suffering and turmoil, with the recognition of it, our deep love for our children, trying desperately to "help" them, realizing our helping isn't helping, then understanding the need to develop new patterns away from co-dependency, and eventually, understanding the meaning of, and need, for loving detachment.
    This can create a suffering in us. We reject joy, thinking it selfish, because our d cs are suffering.

    I have gone down the road of awfullizing and despairing over the "what ifs" and "what could" be happening to my d cs (gifts from God).

    I have struggled over my response to them. I have lost sleep, and had stomach problems. I have at times, felt numb and paralyzed, faced with the reality of their choices.

    I am coming into a new understanding of myself and my reactions. I am hoping to be able to better my responses when I have contact with my two, to be able to make a difference, without enabling, or striving to "fix them."

    I am seeking to build up the joy in my life.

    Please view the following from Frankl, to understand what I am getting at.

    So, if I apply what Frankl said, I can find new ways to converse with my two.
    I can stop awfullizing,
    because I am recognizing my twos' "will to meaning, search for meaning".

    I am seeing the "spark" of their search for meaning.

    It is a relief for me, instead of envisioning the worst case scenario,
    I can "presuppose" what my children are capable of becoming- the positive things, their endless possibilities, and in turn, mention this, when I have opportunity to speak of them and with them.

    I am not writing of returning to enabling them, frantically trying to help them.

    I have learned already, that this will not help them, or me.
    Enabling does not allow my two, to see their own meaning and purpose in life.

    I am seeing through Frankl's words that when I think or speak of my d cs, or in talking with them, I can recognize their "spark", presuppose it with my thoughts, words and actions, thereby "elicit" what they are capable of becoming. Elicit what they are capable of becoming in my own mind, then channel that to them.

    So, instead of thinking "What ever could be happening to my child, out there on the streets?"
    I can marvel at her capacity to survive.
    Instead of saying to her "You need to find help, go to a rehab."
    I can say "You are capable of helping yourself, you are strong."

    I will practice this, first, in my thinking.
    Thoughts have power.

    “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
    Henry David Thoreau

    Our thoughts have power, for they turn into words, then action.

    Thought patterns, beget speech patterns, beget action patterns.

    The thought,
    The pebble thrown into the still pond.
    Ripples from that small pebble
    reaching the other side.

    Then I will practice it in action.

    If I think this way, then I am allowing myself to create joy in my life, despite the path my d cs choose.
    I shall not say "How can I have joy, when they are out there suffering?"
    I shall say, "My two are on their way to discovering their best selves,
    therefore, I must discover my best self. "

    Still again, I will practice recognizing the "spark for meaning" in my gifts from God,
    affirming this in my thought patterns, speaking of them, and speaking with them.

    "You have strength, grace and beauty. You have had it all along. You are capable of so much. You will find your meaning and purpose."

    What do you all think?

    Can we see the paths of our gifts from God in a positive light?

  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    The earlier in their lives that we can start this, the easier it is on all of us. This "looking for the good" is a philosophy we have tried to use in our parenting from the beginning. We haven't had much support from others - family, school, medical. But, it does work - or at least, works better than any alternative we've tried at this point.
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  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Most of us in the SA forum have no problem seeing our loved ones in a positive light when they are not using drugs. For us it is the drugs that cause them to act in a way that is difficult to love, but we always love them. It is why those of us affected by substance abuse have such a difficult time with enabling and tough love. We know what they are capable of and what their true persona is without drugs. That is why it is so difficult to watch them destroy their lives and why we can't give up on them as long as they are alive. It is what brings us hope and keeps us going. Miracles happen every day in the substance abuse world.

    The term difficult child was developed many many years ago, I was there when it was decided. It was our way of describing our difficult children without being negative. There were times I did not feel as though it was a "gift" but rather a challenge from god.
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  4. Carolita2

    Carolita2 Member

    I wish I knew how to highlight and comment..This is a beautiful post...
    When we began the big detachment from our son I had just read Setting Boundaries With Your Adult Children, by Allison Bottke..My take away from the book was love and forgiveness...for our son and ourselves...then we began, in earnest, the letting go process, and withdrawing of financial support..The first thing we did was write a letter of amends to our son. It was basically about what we perceived as our role in the situation and how our enabling had been harmful to him and sent a negative message to him about himself, "he wan't capable of taking care of himself". We really believed it!!! What's worse is I think he believes it too..
    This act, was what it took for me to begin to detach because I felt it was done with love and not anger..What he got out of it I don't know. There was/is still plenty of anger on his part towards us..
    I guess my question is do any of you feel that addiction is an illness?
    In the Naranon blue book it states" we have learned that addiction is an illness, not a moral issue..It is a two fold disease: A,physical allergy coupled with an obsession of the mind..It can be arrested but never cured. It is similar to diabetes in this respect. Only complete abstinence from the use of drugs or alcohol can arrest this disease..We can no more prevent the addict's use of drugs then we can stop the tubercular's cough. No one, not even the doctor not the clergy, nor the family, can do this for them.
    We have found that compulsive use of drugs does not indicate a lack of affection for the family. It is not a matter of love, but of illness. The addict has lost the power of choice in the matter of drugs. Even when he knows what will happen when he takes the first drink, pill or fix, he will do so. This is the insanity we speak of in regard to the disease.
    When we fully understand and accept that addiction is a disease, that it is both mental and physical, and,that we are powerless over it, we become ready to learn a better way to live..
    This doesn't mean we go back in or enable or try to change them but as we accept them as they are and love them from afar even, it nothing else, it can make us better.. and we are the only ones that we can truly change.. (last paragraph was my synopsis from Naranon chapter on helping, but 1st 3 paragraphs were verbatim from the book).
    I believe in the power of love and this website and the love expressed here one parent to another embodies the healing power of that love...
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  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    New Leaf, this is a wonderful post. I agree one hundred percent. The only way to survive this challenge is to grow from it. We have already suffered enough. Our suffering does not help them or us.
    My son is living as he needs and wants right now, in a way that has meaning for him. It must or he would not do it. As he learns and meets challenge and grows, he will find his way to where he needs to go and who he needs to be. I will not be afraid. I will live my life so fully so that I do not make my fear or guilt a center of my life, or act from it, towards him.
    This is the most important part. Not talking down to them. Realizing that our judgments come from our own fear, guilt. If we can think in ways that illuminate our own paths, where we need to grow in ourselves, instead of focusing on them, we show the way to them. There is no security that they will follow, but we leave the circle of their pain, and our own.

    Realizing that our judgments can be as difficult as any one of their behaviors, towards us, is key, for me. Making us and often them miserable and making us ignorant. Throwing darkness on our path rather than illuminating it.

    Thank you, New Leaf.

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    Last edited: Nov 19, 2015
  6. La Mesa Mom

    La Mesa Mom Member

    Thank you New Leaf! I actually read this before going to my Concerned Others meeting tonight. Inspiring! So thought provoking and on point and hopeful for many of us on this forum!

    Watched the 2nd half of the movie Pleasure Unwoven at my meeting, which if you have't seen it Carolita, you should. It is the argument of why addiction is a disease. It describes what drugs do to the brain. It documents the medical support. It describes what cravings are and the pain associated with them. But most importantly about the hope of recovery. The more we learn the better equiped to accept and move forward we become. My son is still not committed to his recovery, but I am going to work on encouragement and allow him to find his spark.

    Thank you all!
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  7. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Hi Carolita.

    You put your cursor over the words you want, and they turn blue. A flag will come up, choose quote. You can do that as many times as you want, in a post. Then you go to the bottom where you write your reply. There will be a button that says something like insert quotes. Push that. A box with your chosen quotes will come up. It will ask if you want to go ahead. Say yes. And there you are.

    I forget the exact words but it will be self-explanatory when you do it.

  8. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Highlight in blue the words you want to quote.
    Click quote
    You will see written: message added to multquote.
    You can add as many quotes as you want.
    At the bottom where you write your message you will see a button
    insert quotes
    Click insert these messages.
    The code to do so will be included in your message.
    Then at the bottom like normally click post reply.
  9. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yes I believe it is an illness Carolita.
  10. SadFlower

    SadFlower Member

    Thank you so much for this post. I've copied it and saved it here to read through again later.
  11. Carolita2

    Carolita2 Member

    Thanks for helping me COPA! Not very tech savy...
    Thanks COPA. I am tech challenged.
  12. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Okay Carolita, you are getting there, it took me awhile to figure it out too. Now, if you click the insert quotes you will see all of your quotes come up in the box.
    There, you can move them to where you want, or delete, there is a remove button above each quote. You can play around with the big quote box and experiment until you get the results you want.
    Good luck from a fellow techno challenged sister!
  13. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Carolita, I think you did it. Next time write something between each quote so we know. Each quote will begin with a bracket parens with "quote" in it and end with a bracket parens, with "quote" in it. All of the punctuation has to be in it to work.

    First learn how to do it, and then you can learn to rearrange. Practice with one.

    Nobody on earth is more tech challenged than am I. I cannot even work a cell phone. I can work an alarm clock because I have had 50 years of experience.

    You can do this. Cedar taught me. I could not do it either.

    Do one, and write a short comment under it or above it, or both. I am waiting to see how you do. We will work on it together until you feel confident. Quoting makes all the difference. Because the quotes prompt you to think in the moment while you write.

  14. Carolita2

    Carolita2 Member

    Thanks COPA for being so kind and pstient with this..I think I posted 3 quotes last time.. saw them but alas did not know how to delete! Thanks again!
  15. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Yay! You got it!
  16. Carolita2

    Carolita2 Member

    Thanks Leafy! How are you doing? Think it's morning there? I have been enjoying all of your poetry lately..It's great thst you have such an outlet to express your feelings creatively..I love reading poetry but have no ability.
    My son wrote last night to say he has found a job...he wanted money for khaki pants..Done this before bought uniforms, etc Dad was dead set on sending it..Time willl tell if we've been had. They.never left apartment! Don't know why he has not been removed..I don't need to know..Something has changed for me. I just can't get into the drama..I have enough and the thought of getting involved with the story line absolutely overwhelms me. So I am choosing to not get into it..I believe that I am detached..not sure it's quite an alien feeling.or non feeling. I am embracing it while it lasts!
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    If you insert a quote, and then go below and click insert quotes, and again click insert these messages, you will see that your message has the code to insert a quote.

    To erase a quote all you have to do is erase the quote string from beginning to end, from the first quote, with your name to the last quote.
    You are welcome.

  18. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Carolita, it is evening here, rainy and a bit warm. We have a storm system moving in for the weekend. We need the rain, just not all at once.
    Thank you for enjoying my poetry. I think everyone has the ability. You express yourself quite well in your posts. I have been writing poems for as long as I remember.
    Money for uniforms hmmm. I know folks say don't send money, send the khaki pants. But if your hubs is like mine, he will do what he feels like. Yes only time will tell. There is no perfect solution here, we all just do the best we can.
    Didn't leave the apartment, what does this mean for you?
    I am glad you are getting to the point where you are done with the drama. Who needs it? It was constant with my two around- always something.

    It's kind of a numbing isn't it? It is a strangely odd feeling- kind of being in between. There but not. Then there are times I really need to draw strength and pray a lot. As time passes, those moments get fewer.
    You are doing so well Carolita. Keep going one day at a time. We will get there.

  19. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    New Leaf, Cedar asked you in a post a few days ago if you might describe a bit each of your two daughters. I took note of this because I, too, wanted to know them better, each of them.

    Your daughters interest me a great deal. I am interested, too, in your relationship with each of them, how each of them are like or different from you. What they were like as children. Where you think the turning points were for each of them.

    Do you have names for them? Suzir calls her son Ache. And Serenity names all of her kids and grands. I remember.

    I found myself smiling that your daughter feels she owns the house. Is actually convinced. I loved that. How spunky.

    Were they at one time active like you in sports?

  20. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Hi Copa, Cedar
    Thank you for your interest.
    I remember now, the question, if my girls were together, if I could tell you about them.
    I think it was in FOO, because I was writing there, and then I got that phone call about the neighbor dropping my eldest off. I shall call her Rain.

    "I just dropped Rain off in front of your house, she is in pretty bad shape......"

    I am not trying to evade the question. I haven't been well for the past few days and honestly, Copa, I cannot go there right now.

    I have been working so hard these past few months not to view my two as children. I have entered another point of struggle in my feeling ill, and so, I will answer the questions when I am stronger.

    How were my daughters when they were younger, what was the point that I think they started to spiral?

    To write now, of my girls as children,
    I will go back to mourning the loss.
    For the thousandth time.
    I will revisit guilts door.
    Was it something I had done?

    When I am able to write of my two as such, you will know that I am at a better point, feeling more stable.
    I am sorry.
    It is too painful right now.

    I was tonight watching tv and dozing off, then waking up to the same program, but several minutes had passed. Over and over, till I woke completely.
    Slowly, I shook off the confusion of my sleep roused brain, to figure out where I was, what time it was, what I was watching. Why was I sleeping so early, then my head throbbed again and I remembered I was not feeling well.

    It hit me. This is how it feels to be in the deepy dark of the swirly whirly of my d cs depth of desperation in their drug use. Entangled, enmeshed.

    This I can write of, it keeps me in the reality of our situation.

    One minute, just floating along, as if in a peaceful sleep, the next, waking up to confusion and watching things unfold in front of me that I never imagined I would be viewing. Not being able to place myself, in time, or even how, or why I was feeling what I was feeling.

    I was dreaming that I could fix them Copa, each and every time, I took them back in, I was thinking, "This is going to be it. Things will be better this time. They really want to change. We can fix this."

    I would rearrange my home, to house my daughter and three grands, and excitedly envision the change. I helped my daughter enroll them in school, get a TRO against her boyfriend. I would take my grands to the beach.
    I foresaw in my minds eye, my daughter getting stronger and growing.
    It was all an illusion.

    Then the eldest would appear.
    There, watching. Knowing.

    They both knew, what the other was doing, but still kept it from us,
    the secret code of addicts, don't tell.
    Keep it hidden.

    It was if a macabre dance was going on, between the two, the grands, us.

    The illusion turned into the horror.

    I will start by telling you of my daughters and what the reality is.
    This is what keeps me knowing that I cannot fix them.

    Tornado and Rain have been home and gone,
    back and forth for years.
    They had not been steadily living with me.
    It was a series of comings and goings.
    Then things would become so obviously out of control,
    there was nothing I could do but tell them to leave.

    It didn't happen overnight.
    The downward fall.
    like a
    fragile leaf drifting
    from a tree top
    on a still day,
    till it lands
    on the ground.

    Our grandchildren so confused and lost.
    We wanted to save them.

    Their mother, father and aunty going round about in this dark world of theirs.
    Hiding it from us.

    We tried everything.

    We had our grands home, so beautiful my brown skinned three.
    So mixed up from their short life experience, of turmoil.
    We had them for awhile through CPS, but the goal was to reunite them with the parents,
    and that is what happened.

    Volcano, the father, was the first to get treatment (required by court), and was coming out of rehab back then. Tornado and the grands were with us. She called Volcano to come over to watch the kids, then she started to disappear, more and more. Her behavior was erratic and wild. She claimed she was fine, tired from working and caring for her three kids. "HE is their father, mom, he can watch them , too."

    The truth was, we often took care of them, while she slept (she worked graveyard).
    Then, Volcano was over more and more, Tornado, less and less.
    When she was home, she was angry, moody, slap happy with the kids.

    Volcano was the opposite, he took care of their needs, did homework with them, read to them. Became a parent to them. He was over the house, often, being a father, my daughter, less, not being a mother.
    She was out of control.
    Spiraling down a dark chasm.

    Volcano came to me and said "I cannot keep this from you anymore, it has become dangerous for the kids, Tornado is like this, because she is on crack."
    The word echoed in my head. Crack, crack, crack, crack, like a broken record.

    I talked with my niece, they were once best friends, and she said,
    "Aunty, that is why I do not hang out with her anymore. It is true, she mixes it with pot"

    I was in shock. Crack? Really, isn't that the drug we learned of in the late 80's- highly addictive, first time users hooked.
    I confronted Tornado, she denied it, "I only smoke pot." shifting focus towards her sister, "Did you know Rain is using METH mom? Meth!" The words echoed in my head, meth,meth,meth,meth, like a broken record.

    Shock, dismay, the reality of it, the evidence through behavior, the guilt.

    My daughters, my grandchildren.

    At the same time all of this was happening at home, an ocean and a continent away, my father was in hospice, dying.

    Deep feelings of loss enveloped me.
    Two months later, my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
    More loss.
    It was unbearable.
    I had to carry on somehow, through all of this.

    With the knowledge that Tornado was on crack, the choice was inevitable.
    The grandchildren needed a stable parent.

    We allowed Volcano to stay, while he found housing, and we asked Tornado to leave.
    This must have been the ultimate betrayal for her.
    We chose her rocky, sometimes violent, boyfriend, over her.

    He had made a transformation, and was caring for his children, she was not.

    My hubs then became ill.
    Hospitalized, near death.
    Thankfully, he recovered.

    I told Volcano he needed to ramp up his efforts to find a place. He did. Working with social services, he found a temporary solution.

    My husband convalesced at home, things became peaceful once more.

    There was still, that emptiness of not knowing of my two.

    A year passed.
    My hubs became ill again.

    Tornado reunited with her kids.
    It seemed things were going well.
    It fell apart between her and Volcano

    Then they were back again.

    The macabre dance started all over.
    That was the last time we had them home.

    Four months ago. It has been four months since I have seen them. In my search for answers, for meaning in all of this, I found Cd.

    In these four months of posting, reviewing my past, viewing others stories, encouraging and gaining courage, I have come to the point where I know I cannot fix my two. It is not up to me, it is up to them.

    When I wrote this thread, I was trying to work through my mind, a better way to grasp what is happening to my beloved daughters. I was enthralled by Frankls idealism, how simple. A way to envision a better future for my girls, and rebuild the joy in my life.
    We have all suffered enough. I am not deluding myself in this, it is what it is.
    I do believe there is hope for everyone.

    One reply mentioned "those of us in SA"
    I was a bit taken aback by it, it felt kind of exclusionary.
    I am sorry, for my honesty in writing of this, it may be my rawness, in the throes of it all.

    I have been posting in PE, that is where I began.

    Truly, I too, am "us" in substance abuse.
    As far as I know, my two are still in drugs grasp.
    My children, on meth, crack, weed.

    I did not mean to offend anyone by the notion of finding something positive, with the paths of our d cs, on drugs.
    I would like to think, even in this, even though they are actively using, there is hope. That they will be able to become clean.

    One of our cousins children, on and off meth for ages, has been clean for four years now, and is a rehab counselor. She came to me one day and said "Aunty I just wanted to apologize, if during my drug days I did anything to hurt you. I am clean now, and I know I was not in my right mind using."
    I thanked her and we chatted awhile about what she was doing and where she had come from in the dark depths of drug addiction.

    We spoke of my daughters. She said "I wouldn't be here, if my parents did not make me leave. I did not wake up, until I knew that I could not go home. Still I recovered and stumbled a few times. But I am clean now and hope to stay clean. There is always hope."

    No Copa, Cedar, I cannot tell you of my girls growing up, not yet. That is the past. I need to focus on the present, and look towards the future.

    I will tell you, I am hard at work thinking on Frankl's theory. Striving to see a bright future for my girls and myself.

    Thank you