FAMILIES ARE A CRITICAL PART OF RECOVERY

From my son, I learned that an important part of his recovery was the knowledge that our family was waiting for him when he chose health. He knew that when he made the decision to live a sober life, we would be at his side. 

My reflection: A wonderful man was the director of San Patrignano, a recovering community, in Florence, Italy. He taught me the meaning of stagli vicino (stay close to him). He counseled me to stay close to my son, but out of the chaos of his addiction. 

Today’s Promise to consider: There was a time when the standard advice to parents of children suffering from substance abuse was Tough Love. While there are some aspects of merit to this thought, in Italy I learned a more effective approach for our family: Stay Close. Don’t abandon your child, but stay out of the chaos of his addiction. By staying close but out of the turbulence, my son knew my boundaries, yet he also felt connected. He knew he was not alone in his battle. Through addiction’s trauma, family can be part of the medicine of recovery.

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Jill in MI
Jill in MI
7 months ago

We have struggled to stay close and out of the chaos. Lots of us providing support in the beginning 11 or 12 years ago – Two trips to wilderness, 18 months therapeutic boarding school, rehab after rehab, sitting with him in the hospital after both ODs, etc. We have really backed off, but let him know we love him and will support sober living – be it therapy, transitional housing, etc. He has never really ever talked to us about “what” happened or why he has not turned around at the many, many opportunities he has had to change his path. This past weekend we set another boundary. After another go ’round of trying to him him – help him fill out his taxes – it was our fault that whatever was happening in his world was not going well. He is not in a good place and lashes out at my husband mostly. Well, my husband has now blocked his texts and calls. He just pushed us too far. The weight of the fear and anxiety has just become too much for us right now. I have been so very sad this week. Just weary and sad. I feel like this is a new broken place. I know this is kind of a temporary boundary, but putting us through the wringer time after time after we have tried so hard to help – then backing off to let him to the heavy lifting – figuring out what was “too much helping” – always praying and hoping for the best – trying to balance the boundaries – right now it is just too much. Sometimes I think because he does have us to lash out at – it kind of bolsters his opinion that he doesn’t need help. Just so sad. I pray that he gets help.

Charlene Czaja
Charlene Czaja
7 months ago

As I was trying to formulate my thoughts in regards to this weeks blog, I read Jill’s response…it is verbatim of what we have experienced over the last 15 years. Sadly, my husband passed away last year and now I’m feeling so alone in this battle. I am now facing another crisis with my son and I’m extremely confused as to the difference between “tough love” and “stay close but out of the chaos”. I’ve read your book and watched your video, but am still struggling. I truly feel like I’ve never had the right resources.

Charlene Czaja
Charlene Czaja
7 months ago
Reply to  libbycataldi

Libby, thank you so much for your response…I am indeed doing all of those things you said. Apparently I’m on the right path, it just seems so foreign as a mother. The one thing I haven’t verbally said to him are the words “you’re going to die”…even though I think them all the time. I know what his response will be because of the frame of mind he’s in and I don’t want to hear it.

Jill in MI
Jill in MI
7 months ago

Thank you for the response Libby. I did watch the video and listened to your son. His words were good to hear. I sent my son a text telling him I loved him and urging him to fight. I agree with you that sometimes saying only a few words speaks much louder then an entire discussion. Most of the time it comes out sounding like a lecture anyway. Peace to you, Charlene and all the rest who are walking this road.

Charlene Czaja
Charlene Czaja
7 months ago
Reply to  Jill in MI

Thank you Jill…I wish you the same. Our children deserve more in this life than the ugliest disease they are struggling with.