149: Family Members at the Meetings (Sort Of)


Have you encountered a family member at a 12 step meeting? I think it’s generally common practice at an anniversary, but what about at another meeting? Did you feel like they didn’t belong there, or were bothered by their presence? Did the non-program member feel like they hindered the meeting process in any way? Or have you always thought of family members attending as a positive, a family that wanted to be involved. We talk with a mom who attends meetings with her daughter about why mom goes, what mom has gained from attending meetings with her daughter, and how the family system can help support recovery. Listen in as Brook joins us to help us explore family members in meetings.

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Episodes mentioned:

Polyvagal Theory

Al-Anon

Principles

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Transcript:

recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I am Jason a guy who probably has some family members that are struggling somewhere and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery and today we have Brooke with us hi Brooke hello I think it’ll be better off if Brooke just describes her own situation so go ahead and tell us about yourself broken why you’re here today okay um well obviously I’m Brooke hi um I have a 16 year old daughter that is in recovery um and I’m very active in her recovery to the point where I even go to meetings and um the extended family is even very active my in-laws have taken her to a convention um my husband has come to at least a meeting or two he works a lot so it’s it’s normally mom I have another daughter who’s 12. she’s great we joke around that she’s the favorite um and I guess that’s pretty much it did I miss anything that you want to hear about uh yeah everything that we’re going to ask questions okay is that enough for the beginning though that’s great okay uh so do you attend every meeting that your daughter goes to no no I don’t attend every meeting um in the beginning I did um but now that she well she first came in when she was 15. so at that point of course I had to come

um but now she is driving but she’s only allowed to drive if my husband is home because I have a brand new car and she’s not there right now no no no she’s not driving that one so she does not have her car yet we are waiting for first report card to find out how she does and then she’ll get her car and then she’ll be allowed to drive by herself and let me just say it’s super important it’s impressive you know as parents that you show up and do that for your kids um we know from all the studies and things that that parents support that family support is huge in people’s success absolutely recovery um when I was a teenager let’s say I ended up in my first Treatment Center at 17. I was already driving but my parents were never coming to a meeting with me they were like nope that’s your thing you go do that and it wasn’t that they didn’t love me I mean they put me in treatment and they paid for all that but they just they were like that’s your thing and you go do that and we don’t want nothing to do with it and they never really understood any of the 12-step process or recovery they actually we would do family things and they’d be like well you’ll be able to drink we’ll just we’re going to have crabs and stuff and you can drink and it’s like no Mom so yes that’s excellent you know it really is going to help you know go a long way in her recovery oh absolutely absolutely and she really has come a long way she just hit 10 months amazing yeah yeah I’m so proud I I just oh it’s like a weight lifted you know what I mean we’re almost a year and I don’t know I was really worried in the beginning but we seem to be going pretty smoothly right now yeah knock on wood now do you have are you familiar with like Addiction in your family or your husband’s family or have you had any histories of that stuff yes we have I don’t really want to get too much into that but it’s it’s in there and she does know about it um and uh she’s also seen those struggling with addiction come back around and do so much better and actually live a fulfilling healthy happy life just to take us back to the version you were you know thanking the family to be involved it’s fascinating and I wonder if this is just like a pessimism or a cynicism with the world like no so I I guess in my head like I pictured all these um very negative reasons for for someone to have to come to a meeting with their kid right or you know maybe some safety concerns because of the world we live in and how dangerous it is or you know possibly even some other uh just uh maybe not atypical you know attachments in families that maybe aren’t so healthy or positive and like my brain will think of those to the exclusion of all the great I do you know Wonderful just involved families and I’m like yeah that’s a thing too I’m glad you said that there’s plenty of like that going on as well oh yeah absolutely um even uh my husband’s brother and our sister-in-law and niece are very active in this um in the very beginning when she would hit her markers like 30 60 90 three months six months um we would all get together and go out to dinner to celebrate it’s so awesome yeah it’s really cool yeah we did that and um she got to pick the restaurant and you know we’ve been to some nice spots and you know other times we’ve oh I don’t know where did we go that one time that we couldn’t get in um probably just like Red Robin or something so but it was still a celebration it was still a celebration so yeah the whole family is involved even my parents are involved but they live in Texas so they can’t be Hands-On like my husband’s well and and what Billy says is absolutely accurate like we know that the more people the more Supporting Cast around the person who’s trying to recover are supportive and understanding and get what’s going on the outcomes go way up that’s why it’s wonderful that’s that’s what we’re hoping and praying for so um it’s not a situation where we’re keeping it in the closet she’s very open about her recovery and and even does her own little podcast with a girlfriend of hers that’s also in recovery that’s awesome so yeah oh what’s that you can plug it for if you want um I would love to uh they’re on Facebook I think it’s under Jackie and Elena they literally just this morning sent me a friend request so I don’t think they’ve really done too much for it they’ve taken some videos and done their own little personal interviews where they ask each other questions and uh it’s been pretty neat so far but it they also do videos of them having a great time completely clean and sober so yeah that’s pretty cool one of the videos showed my daughter jumping off of a pier doing a backflip so I mean she’s she’s still a little nuts but who isn’t yeah right I’m just not that Daredevil but she is so were you familiar with like 12-step meetings or any of that before a little

come about as far as like what’s happening and counseling and then they recommended meetings or did you just know what to do or no this is this is what um really surprised me I was totally shocked my daughter came out for the the second time um from uh Mental Health institution um because she had been suicidal um and we had thought at that point that she had stopped using drugs well come to find out she had not it was escalating even more she was admitted um and she detoxed there and when she came home and she had been in therapy for quite a while and on medication for quite a while and uh well it wasn’t working because she had not stopped using um anyway but this time she gets out of the hospital and she decides that she wants to do better not just for her family this time um because you know she went into it with the thought of oh my parents are so disappointing you know it which I’m sure there there was a level of disappointment there of course I mean it crushed me as a parent you know you immediately think what did I do wrong um but she got out of the hospital and came to me within a few days and said Mom I think I want to do n a so it was all her idea um and I I suppose I was just still processing everything that was happening you know with what’s the next step how do I help her blah blah blah and she comes to me with the answer of I want to do an a so we uh absolutely got on board and her very first meeting now you asked me a second ago about do I go to Every meeting well the first meeting was actually here we didn’t know it was going to be a men’s meeting do you remember that yeah we were here for that one or you were here for that one and um she did not want me to stay and I said let me just safety issue let me just make sure everything’s okay and then I’m very smart by the way yeah I will go outside and wait in the car once I feel comfortable with you being alone so that’s exactly what I did um and it was in the dead of winter and it was freezing outside so here I am in the car now granted I did have it running but it was still you know it was still pretty cold so I told her I was like I’m not staying in the car ever again right and she was like okay so yeah that’s how that all got into in this the swing of things with not only me bringing her to meetings but actually attending all right Billy so you’re taking your 15 year old daughter to her first n a meeting and you walk into a men’s meeting and she says can you wait in the car what are you doing are you going in the car are you staying I’m probably I don’t know I don’t know I think I’m staying yeah I’m pretty sure it depends on the Kid ah see I would say my older kid I would probably stay my younger one I would probably leave just because she’s a little more independent and a little more Elena’s pretty independent um I mean you’ve met her um she’s quite the little Spitfire

um and she’s you know the the thing is she’s incredibly smart incredibly smart as my mother-in-law likes to say being smart is not her problem and that’s most addicts I mean that was always my problem you know I was honor student and straight age and all that in school and that was my justification to my parents was like well look I get good grades and I do what I’m supposed to do and at the time I had a job and I have a job so just leave me alone and let me do what I’m doing I wasn’t quite doesn’t sound like in the same crisis I wasn’t suicidal at that point no as a matter of fact she wants to get a job and my husband and I keep telling her no at least for right now in the thick of coming around and um getting into n a was her sophomore year and she struggled quite a bit with school whereas her freshman year and all the years prior she was basically a straight A student maybe a b here and there um but as soon as she detoxed and started with n a she was struggling with balance and I it took a long time to get through to her that you know yes recovery comes first absolutely recovery comes first but you have other responsibilities as well you can’t put everything to the Wayside um like school you know she goes to she’s a very privileged young lady and she goes to a girl’s private Catholic School you know it was it was getting close that if she was going to continue down this path we were going to yank her from the school you know we’re not going to pay for you to mess around like that that’s not gonna happen so anyway she uh struggled there for a while but this year we have very very high hopes for junior year that you know now she’s had that summer to do everything she needed to and come back into this school year which starts I think on Wednesday yeah Wednesday school starts Wednesday um and uh you know she’s she’s really looking forward to this year it’s it’s going to be a big year we’re going to be looking at colleges you know it’s it’s going to be a big year so she’s excited she’s really excited and she’s gung-ho with studying um although I have to say that little stinker’s not quite done with all of her summer work yet so procrastination not always a good thing uh I I feel like I don’t hold any family members responsible for knowing this because I feel like you know a good portion of the members of Narcotics Anonymous probably don’t know this but there’s actually meeting designations that are different for meetings that family members are welcomed at and ones where they’re maybe not so welcome open meetings yeah open versus closed right and and I don’t feel like we ever talk about that on our schedule it’s just a little o or a little C right there next to the title but yeah so an open meeting anybody is welcome to it exactly and then a closed meeting is for people who struggle with the problem um of disordered drug use and you know specifically addicts only right and so I you know a family member might not know that and if you are a family member that attends every meeting your child goes to you might want to you know look into that but even a lot of times people at the meeting won’t even know the difference honestly yeah most people probably wouldn’t even know what their meetings listed as on the schedule right well and we we actually were paying attention um she started n a with zoom because it was in the middle of the pandemic the um meetings at that time were not in person so she started in zoom and I think they call it a zoom baby for n a she’s always saying something about being a zoom baby um and you know it’s kind of cool but uh no she’s attended some Meetings online in the zooms um that were closed and I knew I couldn’t be in that room wow so that would make it a little easier though that would eliminate some of the safety concerns right because I remember I always tell the story my daughter was probably 14 or so and she was at horseback riding lessons and I was like I’ll just pick her up and I’ll go right to my home group and I’ll just have her she can sit in the back and do whatever and we went in there and within 15 minutes I can’t remember it seemed like the most inappropriate conversation and the most inappropriate place to have her and we left like I was like I cannot have my kid in this meeting you know this is some of the topics get very intense yeah some of them are sexual in nature um which you know is is a part of life and it’s a part of you know every aspect of life whether you’re in recovery or not and there’s some very sensitive topics that get discussed like abuse assaults drama trauma yeah a lot of trauma absolutely but I think the biggest one is death and she lost a friend recently took that pretty hard took that pretty hard and she’s also had people that she knows go back out and she took that pretty hard too but she’s getting exposed to so much it is a lot it’s a lot to a 16 year old and 15 when she first came in of course you know at first I wasn’t even sure exactly how to handle it and she would kind of shut down a little bit and then I realized that that’s how she processes things she’s got to Center herself and acceptance all over again you know unfortunately this is what happened and this is the result of it and you know it’s it’s it’s a lot for a kid to take in at that age yeah and I think in general we tend to look at teenagers and our children and think that we are here to protect them or Shield them from these things that are in the world and that that’s our job and I don’t know as my kids have gotten older I’ve realized that’s not really what I can do well I can do that but I don’t know that that’s what’s most helpful what’s most helpful is that I’m there as a support or like a hopefully a guidepost or a resource that they can come to as these things come up exactly because like saying I imagine getting into meetings of any kind n a a but going to 12-step meetings or even being in like mental health facilities like once you get into that world you’re opening up a lot of very adult conversations and topics oh absolutely it really is exposing you to a lot of things that we hope our kids won’t have to deal with till they’re older but unfortunately I know which there comes into play my 12 year old who has been exposed to quite a bit at a very young age and I really and truly wish that she did not have to deal with any of this either because she she’s seen her sister go through the whole thing um manic phases and you know getting her to calm down and you know unfortunately there are some times where there’s yelling involved and you know I try my hardest not to yell and it normally works you know normally I can talk to her and rationalize things with her but I have to get her to calm down first and then you know things will go smoother but there’s been a lot of difficult conversations in that house so you know you you mentioned showing up for the meeting and you had to drive her because she couldn’t drive yet and that was part of your reasoning for you know I’m not going to sit in the cold car I’m just going to be these meetings with you that was my reason to get into the meetings okay and then and then Billy’s given the uh you know the version of the family members just being involved and getting in the know and being a part of so that’s probably a portion of why you would want to be in the meetings and then there’s you know I don’t want to put this on anybody but I would be worried about kid is talking to and what they’re telling them and how what kind of relationships are being formed they’ve been using nice language calling that safety concerns yeah you have to be real yes I would be worried about my child being the crazies are in there right right yeah so and predators what kind of percentages did you feel about your desire to attend like what if we know that all these are parts of our decision making like what kind of percentages would you put on each of those was it like 33 each or is it like big safety concerns and you know as as a mom and as as parent the biggest concern is always safety always safety and if I know where she is what she’s doing and who she’s with then I have a better chance of being successful as a parent so that’s that is the ultimate concern but I also wanted to get to know the people that she was associating with you know I have a big thing if you can’t look me in the eye I don’t care how old you are you could be 12 years old or you could be 95. if you can’t look me in the eye immediately my red flags are going um so and recently she introduced me to someone that really didn’t it turns out that the kids painfully shy like painfully shy but I even told her I’m like no I I don’t care for this I couldn’t even look at me and you know the people that only speak when they’re spoken to you know she’s there’s a lot of uh aspects of it that you know I just I want to know what’s going on I it’s not that I need to know everybody’s hairy sort of details it’s not it’s not that but I have to know where she is I have to know what she’s doing and I have to know that she’s safe right and just due to the autonomous nature of the program I mean there are certain things that you don’t know about people so you can’t look like we don’t necessarily know everyone’s last name so you can’t you know all right check the registry but there’s there’s another reason um that you didn’t touch on okay and this was one of my biggest reasons um I wanted to learn from everybody else in the room sharing I wanted to learn the best way to handle and talk to my daughter wow that’s a really awesome reason yeah well it’s interesting that brought up so in I’ve learned a lot yeah in Narcotics Anonymous we have an IP and it’s called for the parents or guardians of young people in n a i don’t know did you have you ever seen that or did you look at it at all yeah um I I read it I would think I didn’t find it very useful or helpful that much I didn’t really either I think there section there it is right oh they got one over there there’s two of them the one for parents and uh by Young addicts for young addicts um I’ve read both of them and uh yeah I didn’t really learn anything they’re lacking yeah well and the first thing I thought is it doesn’t seem like they really talk to parents it seems like they just wrote it like hey this is what a sponsor is and this is what meetings are like all these basic things that are helpful to anyone but that aren’t specific to young people and then they didn’t really address any of the issues that might be more relevant to young people like hey there’s a lot of adults here you know how do we navigate those situations what can a youth do to to build different relationships and that’s that’s one of the biggest problems right now there’s not a lot going on specifically geared towards the youth within n a or even any type of Recovery Center like the local ones they don’t offer recovery for teens they only do it for adults yeah yeah so it’s it’s really just a mental institution and they’ll keep you in there until they know you’re safe and you know potentially detox so and that is a resource that has been recognized as lacking within the state and it is a media Community yeah um Ashley father Martin’s Ashley over in Harford County just opened up a team so I mean just opened up like this week it’s a clubhouse for teens of either in addiction or in families of addiction okay um I don’t know much about the program but it’s through father Martin’s Ashley um and then there’s a recovery High School in gosh it’s out towards like Western Maryland okay um and it’s specifically a high school for people in recovery I know uh voices I hope has been looking into some of that trying to start a recovery High School in this area um but it is definitely a resource that is very very lacking of addressing that period I think that the reason is because it’s widely considered to be an adult problem right but it’s not you know it’s it’s really not I mean for example my daughter started when she was 11 years old and I kept it very well hidden for quite a while and that was me I started at 12 and I was I mean I was in full-blown active addiction by 17. I was using every day you know all the time I mean ended up in my first treatment center by 17 and same it was like even amongst like my parents and I think even professionals there was like this idea that you can just like grow up out of this you can just start oh it’s just a phase right and it wasn’t no I don’t think it was looked at it’s like no this is the same thing it’s just already advanced you know yeah like early stages of cancer like no it’s already here now we gotta address it now we’re in stage four right anyone else and I I think for a lot of adults it’s easy to say oh you can you can still get you know turn into a regular adult we can break this of you without addressing like that the mental aspects of addiction yeah this episode has been brought to you in part by Voices of Hope Inc a non profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the Dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at

www.voicesofhopeemaryland.org and consider donating to our calls

I did want to take us back and you were talking about feeling safer with the the zoom meeting being closed uh I you know it made me think of a time when I was uh interacting with my daughter a little differently and like we had very much limited her ability to contact friends or people on social media because she was kind of a a Flight Risk to us at the time and the way we were addressing that was to try to remove ways for her to have opportunities to do that right so I would feel just as you know what I mean like with all that was going on she was a risk for suicide and a risk for disappearing like I wouldn’t feel any better leaving her alone in a closed meeting in a room in my house that would have felt just as risky I guess in some ways so that runs its own risk depending on what mental health challenges are accompanying right you know and my daughter wasn’t going to any any or anything like that but just like if if that would have been the situation for me it’s like that wouldn’t that wouldn’t have been safe so how have you felt uh Narcotics Anonymous or 12-step Fellowship like how do you feel that that’s been working what have been some of the benefits for you more and for her I mean besides her but for you what do you think of that you know the meetings and stuff and how has that helped well you know they they they address more than just addiction they actually give a lot of really good life advice the principles those are great things and Elena’s working on them and her defects so but she started so young and she’s she said this before because she started at such an early age she had not developed all of her own personal defects right so now she’s discovering them and that’s been kind of interesting too because in the in the thick of conversations every once in a while she’ll get all upset and I’ll have to say look this is something that we have to work on because this is obviously and and when I speak to her I quote things from out of the uh the text and I hate to say that probably gives a parent a little more credibility because it’s easy to be like your parents and say oh you don’t know what you’re talking about you don’t know what it’s like to be me you don’t know what I’m going through I learned a lot from somebody else you know it’s somebody else saying oh yeah oh yeah and she’s really helpful and she’s told me before Mom you have no idea what you’re talking about and I’m like sure okay why don’t you go call you know so and so on your uh on your contact list and your in your circle and and see what they have to say well let’s just say mom was right quite often that’s fun yeah that’s funny but you know you know as a parent you don’t want to really say I told you so

I’m kind of curious in your attending meetings with some you know normalcy and regularity and I don’t think either of these is bad even though I feel like one kind of feels like it has more of a negative connotation but I’m just curious do you feel more like you’ve made your own friendships within the program with people or do you feel more like just kind of token Mom that’s in the room you know everybody’s like appreciative of you but it’s not really strong connections a little bit of both okay it’s it’s actually a little bit of both you know when we first started going into the meetings Elena would say hi I’m Elena loud and proud you know and then she’d look at me oh this is Mom so the funny thing is is that there are still people that I see on a regular basis that don’t actually know that my name is Brooke they just literally call me Mom and uh you know for a while there I would constantly hear someone in the middle of a meeting trying to get my attention mom mom and I would finally turn around and say what’s up babe and there have actually been a few members within n a who have basically adopted me as a mother which is is you know that that warms my heart because obviously there’s something going on that I’m doing that is comforting to them and and some people just really need great big warm hug yes you know and I don’t give half hugs you get a hug from me it’s gonna be a hug it’s not gonna be a hey no that’s gonna be a hug that’s awesome yeah so obviously Annie’s Huggers so right yeah I just I I mean I’m a personal believer in the healing power of of hugs or or you know I say intimate touch I feel like everybody thinks sex when I say that but just this idea you know just you know purposeful exactly something shared between two people that that’s an acting factor to it you know I’m curious so my my father uh before he passed and this was a quite a long time ago or in the early days of my recovery he would he would get annoyed with some of the like program stuff I’d come home with and some of our Saiyans and you know I guess how something I think it was all crap well it’s not so much that it was all crap I guess but early on it was like I guess I changed and bought in quickly and so like he you know he would call it a cult and you know say they were brainwashing me and all that time takes time Dad I’ll get to the lawn when I can well I have to say I was I was slightly taken aback when during the meetings I all of a sudden you know a new person would introduce themselves and everybody would say welcome keep coming back it works if you live it I mean and it was all like in this monotone sound and cool yeah definitely so I mean I was kind of thinking of you know taking a bag by that but it it was funny at first and then you know of course I just started doing it right you know it’s it it just it was part of the routine and who doesn’t love a routine well let me just tell you that yeah and that stuff has gotten worse over the years so I’ve been around a while and we never like now there’s chanting through the whole thing it’s a little bit obnoxious actually I’m like this is like a bad Sandra Bullock movie it’s like with all the chanting and [ __ ] like we gotta knock this off yeah so it can be a little weird

well I guess I was wondering too like he was on the outside right so when I’m coming home spouting this n a cliches and stuff at him like he’s like what is all this [  ] he’s throwing at me right whereas you’re from attending meetings you’re on the inside so you’re hearing the stories and the cliches as they work right and as they’re happening in people’s lives I was just curious does that feel like uh it’s easier to buy in when doing it that way and maybe even like in that question have you heard anything in a meeting where you’re like that sounds like some [  ] I hear a lot of that oh my goodness well it wasn’t even so much like a buy-in it was like I said I went with the the biggest idea of learning and as I was learning I was you know of course picking up all the tidbits and how to deal with my daughter you know there there have been some interesting characters to say the least and uh you know of course me personally I’m like I wonder what’s really going on with them is it more than just addiction yes so so yes all spectrums of mental health absolutely absolutely I mean I’ve run into some schizophrenics and unmedicated and uh that sort of thing so that that’s always kind of interesting you know you just have to take it easy and take it slow when you’re when you’re dealing with people that you don’t know and you know just as long as they know that you’re not out to get them that’s fine yeah there’s one guy that we run into all the time and uh I just always give him a great big hug yeah it’s even more more challenging than I guess what I was thinking of in my head of who you run into or what you hear in a meeting

Have you shared at a meeting yet no um and uh I’ve been told that I would be allowed to share you have read readings I have that’s actually how I learned your name because I didn’t know your name either until you did a reading one time I was like okay he probably was one of the ones I thought my name was Mom Mom do you want to come on the episode for us sure no I haven’t uh because I have the mindset that doing this is all for Elena it’s all for Elena and as as a parent and you know the the rest of our family feels the same way we will do anything and everything within our reasonable power to assist guide help anything that we can do for her so my sharing versus not sharing at a meeting I’ve never really even contemplated sharing just because you know what what am I going to share about right it would involve my daughter or you know family and uh some things that my daughter may not even know about or be aware of and you know so that’s why I have my own therapist right and that was going to be one of my questions is do you have your own sort of recovery or do you have like supports through like there’s a couple different ones I’m just going to throw them out there for like advertising as anything yeah there’s Al-Anon there’s naranon meetings which are the Narcotics Anonymous version of that um there’s another great resource in Maryland it’s called the Maryland Coalition of families they uh that’s not really 12-step based that’s more of they help you with three sources with either people that are using whether that’s trying to get treatment help mental health all sorts of things is another great resource but therapist you know something like I think it’s important I’ve got therapy and medication so I’ve got I’ve got it I’ve got it

but in the beginning I will tell you it was really Rocky um I um I hadn’t had a panic attack in years and I had a couple in the beginning and that of course is freaky in itself so got over that and uh for the most part my medication just helps with everything throughout so and I haven’t even really had to use any of the uh rescue medications so and I do keep one on hand right I’m curious um I guess when I was thinking about this episode I was thinking of reasons why people might be at a meeting with their child beyond the the security and safety things we’ve thought about and it made me think of something I’ve been looking at more in my own life uh and with people this idea of like an unhealthy over attachment to our kids right and it’s kind of this idea it’s been no no I don’t like her that much it’s been passed down from our parents to us right like our parents made us feel responsible for our parents feelings right I’m angry and you need to alter your behavior in order for me to be happy and so then we carry that on to our kids and then it makes a world full of people Pleasers and blah blah blah anyway from a totally non-judgmental place like this is just what I was thinking like something I’m looking at in my own life but I was wondering like how would you even know that about yourself or or like I guess you would have to know that your motivation for attending the meetings is is making sure your kid is happy or something I I don’t know I don’t even know how that would exactly play into that but I just thought it was an interesting thought about it do you have any thoughts about that or well I mean it of course for safety is number one um but I want to be involved in her life and I feel that if I am more involved in her life and I experience a lot of the different aspects of her life in person then I’m better able to help her but recently um I have been a little bit more relaxed in letting her attend meetings by herself when she first got out of the hospital she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere do anything see anybody without me her father or my in-laws and that lasted for a very long time because we had to work on building the trust back right in truth be told I hated doing that but I had to make sure that she was safe had to make sure that she wasn’t exposing herself to people’s situations places that you know all the nouns that could be a factor to have a relapse right but then once I started getting more comfortable with her choices she was really growing as a person and once I started seeing that growth and my husband was the same way we started loosening the reins a little bit a little bit at a time um because you know there’s there’s no reason that she shouldn’t be able to at the age of 16 being a legal driver she’s legally allowed to drive by herself um but not until we get that report card back

say

a great time tell everybody I said hi you know but for a long time we were not comfortable as a family giving her too much Freedom we kind of set it up as being like a halfway house you know what I mean lots of restrictions um but even more so because of her age you had brought up she was the one that initiated going to Media yes was and it seems like now you guys get along pretty good with most of that but was she okay with you coming to all the meetings in the beginning or was that something you kind of had to push and now she’s just gotten okay with it um well when she first started coming she was still in that phase of not being allowed to go anywhere without a family member so she had to accept the fact that one of us was going to be going if she wanted to go yeah yeah well absolutely and then you know she’s she still even goes through phases where she’s like you know just her little bouts of depression um I don’t want to say little as in I’m making it seem insignificant but um but she goes through like these periods where she’s really down in the dumps and anybody that suffers from depression or anxiety I do as well as does she no matter what medication you’re on how long you’ve been on the medicine you still go through those Cycles and she will go through those cycles and I start really paying attention I don’t mind if she misses a meeting here and there but at one point she was missing few meetings and then I finally said nope we’re going to a meeting and she looked at me and she’s very angrily said you cannot force recovery on me and I said no you’re absolutely right but what I can do because you’re a minor is make you go to the meeting and take your cell phone so that you can’t be on there ignoring everything going on like you can’t take my phone yes I can oh absolutely I can and you know she like held it away from me I said I will have that phone turned off in five minutes I just have to call Dad and she was like oh you know and she would go into the meeting and I’m sure you’ve seen her at some of the meetings where she’s just not her usual bubbly self guaranteed that was one of the meetings I took her phone yeah and I guess that’s sort of where I was coming from as far as if we were say given some advice to other parents like was that an area where you really had to push with her to say like yes I’m going to these meetings with you and I am you know this is like I’m gonna be actively involved in your recovery because like for me I didn’t have a great relationship with my parents at that time I probably wouldn’t have wanted them to come I would have been like no you can’t come with me I would be so embarrassed well I’ve always had a good relationship with her even when she was using and I didn’t know it she’s always been able to talk to me it’s now to the point where a lot of her friends will say let me talk to Mom about blah blah blah and it’s it makes me feel kind of good and as a matter of fact the other day one of her one of her friends he said you know what I think I really want to talk to Mom about this so you know and it’s it’s it’s it’s good I mean they need an adult to be able to come to that they’re comfortable with and safe and you know there’s only one time that I contacted a parent with something that I found out and uh it was life-threatening for the most part you come to me I’m a vault but if there’s a safety issue that’s different do you feel like uh because this is what I thought you were saying I just want to make sure I heard you correct that you were a ton of meetings because you want to know more because you want to know how to relate and talk to your daughter and what I took out of that was that like you know in a family therapy setting the the scapegoat child the one who we we put all the blame on right the the bad kid or whatever takes all the Flack but the theory is that like really it’s the family system that’s kind of running in a way that’s not quite as functional as it needs to be and the the kid who’s having the struggles is really like the mouthpiece calling out for help like Hey we’re not operating right and everybody else is just kind of ignoring it and playing their role I’m curious for me what I heard when you said I want to learn more and be able to communicate with her was like this shift to help her is going to require our whole family system to really change in ways not just the recovering person and I love that I think it’s beautiful and I was just wondering if you wanted to maybe share some of the ways that you’ve noticed the different members of the family like shifting and changing into this new Dynamic absolutely uh one of the biggest changes I have to say my husband is a loudmouth Italian and he grew up with loudmouth Italian New Yorkers as parents so learning how to dial it down

that was key that was definitely key and you know for the most part I always stay very even killed it it does take a lot for me to get really upset so both of my daughters including my husband they know if I actually raise my voice it’s serious but like I said for the most part we talked to her and that’s not been the easiest for my husband it’s been a challenge you know because he’s that’s not what he grew up with and you know when when you are taught from a very early age that this is normal it’s hard to break that cycle absolutely and I grew up with a lot of noise in the household so when I had children I decided okay you know we don’t need to have all that yelling and luckily my husband agreed but um took him a while to get on board with you know you’re you’re gonna get a lot further having a conversation and being a rational even healed conversation than if you just flip [  ] it’s true and I do get through to her much better talking just talking and allowing her to talk to me listening right yeah now that’s a key piece I feel like a lot of and I’m not just criticizing parents like this is me too right like a lot of my parenting earlier on in my kids lives was definitely I didn’t hear or have validation or respect for much of what they were saying no I had [  ] I needed to get done right you need to get your shoes on and we need to get to the store and I don’t care how you feel there are times where I do have to put my foot down and say this is what we are doing this is not up for debate it’s not up for discussion we have to do this now but that’s not the norm right so if I do take that path they know that it’s serious it’s more of talking and listening not dictating mm-hmm and I feel like for parents at least you know speaking from my experience the hardest part of that was like this kid already looked like they were struggling to make any good decisions in their life so how do I step back and have any trust that they’ve got to be a part of the solution because they do because they got to buy in they do after and if it’s something they don’t want and you just try to put it on them they don’t want nothing to do with that [ __ ] and they’ll Rebel till the end so it’s like how do I but how do I put any stock in you being a part of the solution when you’ve made such horrible decisions already that’s why that’s why in the very beginning we were on lockdown with her we were on complete and total lockdown with her um and she gradually started becoming more responsible and more respectful and we would have conversations of how can I earn your trust back and I just kept telling her I have to see your behavior is changing I said I can’t put a time on that I can’t Mark that on the calendar that you know on this day that’s when everything’s going to change and you can go and do whatever you want we still have a lot of restrictions on her in that if I don’t know the person the answer is no and that’s that’s the biggest thing that is the absolute biggest thing if I don’t know him the answer is no you gotta introduce me to them and I gotta spend some time with them they better look me in the eye

and and this is another time when I guess for me it’s just like this remembering and relearning that this is why recovery supports and programs need to be so individualized because one size doesn’t fit all right we struggled with my own daughter and we put all the lockdowns and everything and restrictions in place and nothing helped like it kept going worse and worse and worse and escalating and suicide attempts in hospitals and you know uh checking her into places and yeah well nothing worked until she detox well well what ended up happening for us was we had to like totally let my daughter go and live with a friend and look live your own [  ] life do whatever you want and then there was like already I’ll be here kind of sorta and there was this painful separation and then going through the pain of that and then getting to the other side of that and accepting more that like her life looked better and this that and the other and portions of what worked for her which is cannabis use I I don’t know how to explain it but I mean what I can say is through saying it’s not my way anymore she is now back in our house we’ve taken vacations with her she’s a [  ] lovable person again and I want to be around her and it’s like I’m supporting her and going for her medical marijuana card because why the [  ] not what she’s doing is working but like I had to buy into her method of recovery honestly that’s like my method was no we’re going to restrict you and punish you till we get what the [  ] Behavior we want and that wasn’t working and so but it’s like just the different modes right you’re getting success from some of that and I was there there were a couple of points that I differed from with my husband but he was able to talk me through because I would have been a heck of a lot more strict than him I mean I really would have I would have just put her in a box with cushions I used to actually say that about my kids I used to when my kids were young I would say if my kids ever get into addiction I will physically handcuff them to the bed and I won’t let them do anything until we get through it right I don’t know what get through it man but well and and our biggest issue that I was very very much against was her smoking you know very well she smokes that’s not how I wanted that to happen but we did a lot of reading and you know talked to a lot of different people and it was it had to be drilled into my head okay that it was a bad idea to get her to quit smoking and give up all of the drugs all at the same time sort of like pick your battles exactly and you know people at the meetings would even say to me you let her smoke and I said well she’s no longer a suicidal drug addict so I’ll take it um one of the dangers of the meeting people say stupid well yeah and I’ve heard somebody for you they’ve been standing up for yourself oh absolutely absolutely a backbone is not something I have a problem with and and that’s also my daughter she definitely has a backbone um sometimes She’s Gotta tone it down a little but no so that was that was definitely a source of contention it was definitely an issue and I finally in the I had to cave on that one right but I was I was still not completely on board and now it’s like I’m on step one acceptance yeah I mean navigating parenting for me and and I’m sure there’s people who would criticize the beliefs I’m starting to come to but like it’s definitely starting to lean more and more towards I’m not some dictator in charge of this person and really like they’re their own person man I’m here to like help guide them they get 15 16 I think yeah it’s not going to look like what I want them to look like they are a [ __ ] person they’re gonna be that houses are out of season now yeah and that’s the hardest thing with parenting if you read enough books you’ll hear contradictory stuff and like even at meetings like if you’d have got her to quit smoking you’d hear the same what you made her quit smoking how dare you that’s such a terrible thing so it doesn’t matter what you do someone’s gonna have some opinion as to like this would be better that would be you know well and I I did take it a step further because I know she’s a smoker for her to be able to get through a day school I got her nicotine gum and it works she’s not allowed to have it at school so one of the teachers actually because they think it’s a stupid rule told her get one of those mint uh containers like the icebreakers or whatever and put them all in there and it’ll look like you’re just taking a mint so that wasn’t my idea I didn’t like the idea of her you know sneaking in at school and that sort of thing but at the same time what are you gonna do I mean she can’t go psycho at school because she’s going through nicotine withdrawal

I mean there’s there’s a lot of things that have happened that I would not wish on anybody anybody but now there’s a lot of really beautiful things happening you know she’s coming into her own that’s exciting as a parent you want to keep them cute and cuddly for as long as you can right well you know they do eventually get to be 16. and it’s good to see her making so much better choices she’s been spending a lot of time with other members of N a nine times out of ten anytime she says I want to go hang out with so and so the answer is yes because I know so and so every once in a while like no honey not that no no and we end up having to have a conversation about it and normally that’s okay normally every once in a while she’ll she’ll question me but why Mom but why well you know it has a sixth sense about some of these things and and they say trust that stuff too exactly trust your instincts um and I’m a firm believer in that too so she had to get a small dose of what I was talking about and after one of her friends went back out I said you know this is why I didn’t want you around that particular person because I didn’t feel that it was a gung-ho n a type of situation and she said okay well do me a favor don’t tell me about that Sixth Sense again

and I said okay you know I won’t tell you that I’m that I’ve got a bad feeling but I’ve always trusted my instincts always you know uh going back to something else you said it’s like my least favorite piece of information to ever share with anybody including myself because I hate to hear it as well but this idea that you know without uh sour sweet doesn’t taste the same right oh yeah and like you mentioned having all these beautiful moments now and just thinking about like even in my life how did those low points really make me reevaluate and be aware and see more of these beautiful times that I probably would have glossed over if we wouldn’t have had those struggles to begin with oh absolutely absolutely I mean she got really low really really low I mean I was I was terrified at one point well multiple points but once I started seeing the change it was it was like this is my baby back you know granted she’s 16 now but my kid this is my girl there’s life in him again there’s yeah you know and it’s just the the small things you know like getting together and going out for dinner with the family to celebrate you know she’s got 60 days you know I mean that that feels good it feels fantastic and it should never be papooed by anyone right you know what I mean now she had also struggled with um people telling her she didn’t belong in n a um

people in N A telling her you don’t belong here absolutely that was really upsetting the first time it happened was in the the zoom meetings and this one particular guy told her you know you need to get off of here and go do your homework that’s terrible and that horrible I mean I know some people now you know one young lady I think she’s got eight or nine years now but she came in when she was 16 or 17 and you know she’s doing great you know my wife got clean when she was 18 and now she’s 30 some years in recovery I mean it’s important you know people don’t need to suffer using no matter absolutely it doesn’t matter your age your race your sexual identity your your religious beliefs nothing none of that matters if you feel as though you belong then you do right yeah and I’m glad you stuck around I mean we need that those you know we need people that stick around yeah like it’s yeah the Pioneers or whatever you want to call it exactly exactly and not too long ago as a matter of fact we found out that someone locally was saying that you know she didn’t belong and a couple of the other members I never found out who it was that was saying this but um a few of the the other members um got together and apparently intervened on Elena’s behalf I have no idea what they said how they handled it or anything along those lines but she never heard anything like that again but well we used to actually have a meeting over in Harford County it was called youth in recovery and it was a young person’s meeting for people I think it was like 25 and under or something like that I mean they obviously people could still go but the general idea was it was for young people in recovery because they do have some unique or different challenges and the things that they have to go through and deal with as any you know special interest meetings would have yes yeah it’s just terrible people would say things like that that’s right we’re like the spot where the Misfits fits sometimes like the first place we feel at home and you’re gonna kick somebody out of that why we have these traditions and why yeah yeah absolutely no she uh and she was she was really rather distraught I mean she she really just was and it it took a lot of talking to her and calming her down and well right I mean so you take a person who has struggled with substances at all in our lives like we’re already people who question who we are and then you take a teenager who’s already the time of life when you’re questioning who you are and then you’re gonna like don’t put your own opinions on it let them figure it out I know on the other part of meetings and I’m sure you’ve experienced it at this point is like different meetings just have a completely different vibe a different group of people some feel I’m gonna say better I know it’s not better because obviously people find places that they feel the most comfortable right but for me personally certain meetings feel more comfortable other meetings don’t and hopefully the ones that you don’t feel so comfortable you can just avoid them and stick to the ones where where you do feel more comfortable and that’s what she’s done and that’s what she’s done and you know I’ve

for where she wants to go and that was great because I was there with her and seeing and hearing and learning everything that she was as well but it was uh it was amazing to me she was developing those opinions and you know it I guess I at first had the mindset that it’s Nene meeting it’s going to be the same no matter where you go well guess what guess what parents it’s not

so as as we’re getting near time here I’m just curious do you have any final thoughts stuff you thought about since you’ve been coming maybe useful things for other family members or things you encountered that you found odd or weren’t ready for or helpful if we want to rewrite that you’re ready for any of your parents in recovery what would you put in there that they left out I was not ready for any of this so first time you know it’s like being a first-time Mom all over again but it doesn’t involve diapers hopefully right this time it does not involve diapers or potty training or anything like that but the ease of advice that I would offer is talk to your kids talk to them get them to open up and how do you do that you tell them about yourself you know and and you make yourself relatable and they’ll they’ll comment here and there on really I mean even my 12 year old now is asking me all kinds of stuff she’s asking me stuff about like ex-boyfriends and stuff like where are you coming up with us okay we’ll go with that all right I’ll answer um and the biggest thing is I will not lie to my children I might tell them let me think about how to answer that and I’ll get back to you or you know this is you’re not at the right age to know about X Y and Z you know we’ll we’ll I’ll give you a a brief summary but you know we can get into depth about this later but you know just just talk to your kids make yourself relatable you know we do stupid stuff all the time like tick tocks with our daughter and just crazy stupid fun I mean I was riding in the car with her and we were stuck in traffic on 95 and uh she was actually driving that night and there it was construction that was holding everything up it went from three lanes down to one it was a nightmare um and as a matter of fact we were coming home from the meeting that we always see you and uh she sees these construction work and she’s like Mom can I yell out at him I was like well it depends what are you gonna yell and she said that they’re doing a great job I said sure So she puts the window down I mean we’re at a like a dead stop and maybe crawling here and there and she yells out to him hey you guys are doing great and the guy calls back at her say hey what’s up baby you know stuff like that I mean it’s it’s it’s fun right and you know if I just don’t close myself down to stupid fun oh it’s it’s being silly and letting them be kids and I don’t know you just if you block them off in a certain way they’re going to feel blocked all the way around that’s my own personal opinion you as a therapist how do you feel about that I just think there’s too much pressure from the world for us to be adults before we’re ever ready to be adults right oh yeah even as adults it’s fun to act like a kid sometimes well oh my husband’s one of the biggest kids I’m even thinking through about like just the idea of whether I would send my kid to a meeting or whatever right like our meetings are no different than a subgroup of Representative of our entire population right we are not necessarily terrible people or anything I talked uh I have a 16 year old daughter that works at the ironberg stadium and she’s never said anything creepy has happened but she has alluded to the fact that all the people she encounters at work whether they people who are coming to the game or people she works with think she’s somewhere between the ages of 19 to 21 which to me says oh yeah they’re acknowledging some things right that feel weird to you and she hasn’t said any more than that to me and I don’t push for any more than that but it’s like I’m willing to let her go to work why wouldn’t I be willing to let her go to a meeting you know what I mean she’s encountering the same possible sketchy scenarios anywhere in her life School anywhere she goes with her friends like and that’s that was it’s everywhere one of the biggest things the school that she attacked you would think that in all girls private Catholic School would not be quite as run over with anything they have cameras that don’t hit certain areas and guess where the kids go right they all know right right and uh they they do they all know where to go to not get busted but in the in the beginning of her recovery and I think you heard this at a meeting there were kids that were so obnoxious some of these girls so obnoxious wanting to see her fall flat on her face shoving drugs directly in her face you know you want some wow that’s crazy so to answer your question letting her go to a meeting by herself I let her go to school and this is what she gets exposed to at a very prestigious school so I I don’t know I I think this has been a really interesting episode but it’s not often we get to talk to like a family member that’s come around and what they feel about the program but and it’s it’s been heartwarming too yes oh good beautiful it really is beautiful because I mean I think his parents and me getting older now I realize but as a parent you think you’re supposed to have all the answers and you’re supposed to know how to do everything and you’re gonna be able to fix all these issues and then you have kids and you’re like this yeah you’re just guessing as you go but what’s important and it’s almost like like you said what the benefit of going to meetings for you is that I acknowledge like hey I don’t have all the answers maybe someone can help me with this or maybe I can look at some different things and I don’t have to raise my kids exactly like I was raised with the same bad parenting [ __ ] that I got when I was a kid yeah I can grow and change and and be better and hopefully my kids benefit from that so that’s really beautiful parent will want to want to do just about anything they can to help their child and that’s where I am this is my life now well thank you so much for coming on n a mom it is a beautiful beautiful thing we really appreciate your time today thank you very much for having me I’ve actually really enjoyed this Elena’s like oh my gosh this is going to be so cool when do I get to see it I’m like I have no idea well and at some point I might like to have her on too to talk about being like a young person coming to meetings oh absolutely she would be oh I know she would do that in a heartbeat and she’s great but I did wear I was like oh she brings Elena she’ll talk the whole time and we won’t hear you well and she she even asked as I was getting ready to go she’s like am I not allowed to go I’m like no you’re not and she’s like what do you mean I can’t go well no you can’t go because I need to be able to speak freely yes that’s what I wanted to say yeah so you got me solo well thank you so much for coming out Brooke and uh you know everybody be well out there absolutely so you learned something did you like this episode share it with people you think might get something out of it check out the rest of our episodes at recoverysortup.com also while you’re there you can find ways to link up 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