220: Breaking Free from Family Triggers – The Power of Reparenting (Sort Of)

The podcast episode explores the challenges of navigating relationships with family members, particularly parents, in the context of recovery and mental health struggles. The hosts share personal experiences and insights about setting boundaries, dealing with triggers, and engaging in self-reparenting processes to heal past wounds. They discuss the complexities of maintaining relationships with parents who may exhibit toxic behaviors or resist change, highlighting the importance of prioritizing one’s well-being while also acknowledging the desire for familial connection. The conversation delves into the emotional impact of confronting parents about harmful behaviors and the difficulty of finding a balance between forgiveness and self-protection. Overall, the episode provides a raw and honest exploration of the nuances involved in family dynamics and personal growth during the recovery journey.

Near enemies episode

Love languages episode

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Transcript:

welcome back it’s recovery sort of the podcast where we explore the struggles of Life the challenges of mental health and recovery and the spaces between we express our personal views on life here and this podcast is not meant to replace medical advice or tell anyone the right way to live this podcast is best used as a place of curiosity and questioning to accompany you on your journey be aware there is strong language here we [Music]

go [Applause] [Music] so I did I did a lot of work on my like parenting game early in recovery because I had little kids two two little kids and they were like triggering um uh issues in me you know I found like so like they would behave in a certain way and I’d react like I’d yell or get really frustrated or angry and then I learned that it’s because um I was like bringing stuff from my own childhood and how

I was raised and basically so I I started working on like how to parent my kids and it was healing me so now I have grown and I’m learning how to reparent myself um you know working with inner child kind of stuff and like I get to a certain level and um but my mom is still in my life and then she’ll come and just be her o old same old way and I get I react almost over the top so like say she tries to like uh pull like the guilting thing that parents do you know on me or my child I I like go over the top I’m like no no no no no like I like and basically I there’s other things too like so um visiting my parents house at the holidays like I’ll be cruising along at like Jenny speed doing my life I’m like I got nice balanced you know equinity and you know steady mental health going on and then I go to my parents house for the holidays and I like just kind of take a dive like go back into like old ways of thinking behaving acting reacting it like so I guess where I’m going with this is to still have them in your life and they’re not changing and growing and then I’m trying to change and grow it just kind of zaps me back to where I was and I’m trying to find a balance without being so angry about it you know like I’m trying to find a balance in um Me growing but they’re not changing their ways and I’m trying not to be resentful about how they

are sounds like your parents are almost triggering to you like they they trigger you in a way almost most yeah they definitely they definitely do so it’s just it’s my mom and my stepdad my father’s gone and then recently I lost my grandmother and it’s so weird when I so when I lost that like paternal lineage like I felt like I was like free sort of in a way like all right well I don’t have to people please that them anymore is that weird you know like but I still have like I still have my mom’s lineage and like

I’ll give you this example um my mom comes and visits the kids a couple times times a month well visits all of us but you know the grandkids are the focus um and she’ll bring a craft and like so my 9-year-old like used Too Much glue with the craft and she was just like she wouldn’t like she wouldn’t stop like kind of teasing her about it like well it’ be nice if you didn’t use so much glue you know like that kind of stuff and I was like finally I was like Mom stop you’re G to make her hate crafting you’re going to traumatize her and then she flips it around like you make me feel bad because I was just trying to love her and I’m like oh my God like you know like she gets really like I don’t know for lack of a better word like butt hurt about it you know like and I’m like I’m like I just don’t want her to do to my kids what she did to me you know also I’ve come to know she doesn’t listen to the show so I it’s so weird because my Dynamics with my parents my especially my mom were never like oh my feelings are hurt or anything like that it was like [  ] you you son of a [  ] you know there was never any of that like yeah it’s very different so it’s almost funny to hear like I couldn’t imagine my mom being like well this really hurt my feelings well it’s funny I think she’s just enough therapy to be dangerous I think I was wondering which one do y all think is more damaging that’s my curiosity I I

I think being cursed at by your parents is going be damaging I don’t know like there’s part of me says that is obviously blatantly rude and awful and terrible it’s very easy to see it’s very easy to be like it Jenny’s parents version is so much more Insidious and like like hey I’m going to look like the the it’s the near en it’s the near enemy it’s the niceness not kindness right and it’s like it’s not genuine or authentic but they keep playing that role so it’s hard to be mad about it or you start second guessing yourself like I don’t know I think that’s really damaging it’s a I wonder if it’s a difference between like what’s the most damaging as a small child versus an adult like you’re probably less picking up on the nuances of that as a small kid whereas if you’re being like screamed at and cursed at you there’s that’s tough but then I think as as an adult when you’re being screamed at and cursed at it’s a little bit easier to just say um that no bound like boundary stay away from me whereas I think in Jenny situation then it gets blurrier well did you feel like your parents were nurt uring when you were growing up like was your mom nurturing to you or did that feel just like fake criticism no I

I felt nurtured but then there was like there was the underside of that there was like the subtle digs you know um and that still goes on so my one friend calls it guilt Fu because it’s like ninja like it’s like ninja moves guilt Fu funny yeah yeah that’s pretty good because I used to do it I like I I mean I that’s how I was raised that’s how I I did it and so I it was a very it’s Lissa one of my best friends you know for like decades she pointed out she’s like that guilt food Jenny and I’m like what are you talking about it took somebody else to point it out to me well it took my wife to point out like she had to tell me that my mom was super mean to our kids like she wasn’t now I was an adult and I would just tell her get away from me or whatever if she was being like you know I was able to stand up for myself a little more as an adult and our Dynamic was different but she would do that sort of same like if you get something wrong it’s like oh what are you doing you [  ] idiot or you know Jesus Christ what’s wrong with you why’ you spill that all over the floor was like real obvious like outward like almost aggression and uh like it took my wife to stand up to my mom and she’s like that’s not okay for her to treat our kids like that I’m like what like that’s completely normal you know that’s how you’re raised like

I don’t even know what you’re talking about and she’s like no that’s not okay and so we sat down with my mom and she told her she’s not allowed to talk to her our kids like that that’s awesome yeah I was like wow that’s I could never say that to my mom always trying to figure out why I’m so messed up I just realized I had one of each of these parents I’m like [  ] Jesus I had the [  ] idiot and the guilter damn um no so I I yeah I remember my kids coming back from my mother’s uh house with the saying you get what you get and you don’t get upset and that was cuz apparently my mother couldn’t handle the fact that they liked whatever toy their sibling got more than the one they got you know but it was a it’s a way to shut down the experience that person is having right and and like when we say damage into kids like I get you in the physical sense maybe the kid can’t necessarily see what’s going on exactly but that internalized experience I think is what Billy and I were talking about recently that self-actualization versus procedural learning right like my body’s telling me to explore the World by putting things in my mouth and my parents are yelling at me that that’s wrong and

I need their approval to get love and food so like that’s where it’s like it’s kind of like a gaslighting thing to do to a kid even before they can pick up on any of the tone of it like they know my body says this and you’re telling me that’s not okay so that means I’m not okay I don’t know that that seems really [  ] damaging I guess but either way I mean I don’t know that it matters which one’s more damaging that’s not the point they’re both sound terrible and probably it’s person by person right I guess like depending upon what is worse for I don’t know that we actually have that answer yeah I think we think we do but I don’t know that we actually have that answer well Jenny have you been able to set some boundaries with your mom at least for yourself in recovery or is that relationship pretty much just stayed the same you know I haven’t I’m always refining them and it like there comes like Peaks and valleys and like so um we just went through a really you know kind of nice holiday season she was visiting a lot but then it gets to be too much and I think I have to do a boundary like like this is my home you know like this is how we act here and we don’t you know like it just that’s what it is it’s and this is why I’m discovering this we got through the holiday season and I realized I’m slipping back into some like reactive ways and I have calm and balance for the most part but then when I hang out with family it it it like erodes and I go back to like a more anxious um State you know and that’s what I’m trying to avoid and I

‘m trying to protect my kids too it’s like when I being a parent of two small children in early recovery so so many so many things were triggered and that’s when I like even took a look at my childhood like I just thought it was so normal but then it was uh you know it’s like why was I yelling all the time you know like um so I’m just I’m sorry I’m having a hard time like remembering like specific examples but like all I know is that like like I’m just trying to find a way to be with this you know my mom or other family members where I’m not old Jenny like I’m new Jenny it’s hard to hang on to this new me yeah early on in in recovery I would do limited exposure to family things you know what I mean like we’re going to go we’re going to stay two hours and then we’re out and that was pretty healthy for me just being around like say that yeah I need a bound like that that’s a great example that’s probably what I need I mean now it’s not as bad and I I make my mom sound like this terrible person she she had flaws but she was a good person in a lot of ways and like as we got older she was always one that was very big on like obvious favoritism like she always had like a favorite grandkid and I was her favorite kid so

I got the benefits of that and it was very like obvious to my siblings and obvious to everybody else like you get special treatment and we don’t and you get you know and it she was like that with our kids too and so we as we got older we’re able to talk to her about that my wife and I and like kind of point it out to her sometimes like hey you know it’s really not fair to you know Sophie our middle daughter when you’re so favoritism towards Abby like it it’s obvious and she seemed pretty receptive to it and she tried to start doing better um you know sometimes it would still come up and we’d kind of have to be like hey you know you know your favoritism shit’s coming out but it became like a thing that we could talk about with her and she was receptive to um yeah I really I admire your boundary for that I I just I’m not it was my wife I just was a lucky recipient work I’m kind of in the camp with Caroline um the reparenting myself feels like a separate thing from the interactions from my parents triggering those programmed wounds you know um um I guess the reparenting for me is being able like okay my parents trigger that old wound they touch that bruise that they installed on me and after I’m able to get out of that moment I go home and my typical standpoint would be to be frustrated with that that family member right I’m going to sit there

I’m going to Stew in it I’m going to be annoyed by him I’m going to think how dare they do that to me I might even [  ] about it to other people or something if I need to and like that’s where I want to do the reparenting because the parenting I got was to ignore myself that was hurt underneath all that and instead of sitting there frustrated and ignoring myself just like my parents did I need to find a way to give me a new kind of parenting I need a parent in me to step up and come be with me and hug me and say man it sucks when people hurt your feelings the parenting I didn’t get you know so like my reparenting is what I try to do after my nervous system gets triggered whether that be from parents or whoever I guess that’s like my way of looking at it okay yeah I guess if I could kind of tie that in uh to so when it’s my parent that triggers me I need to then nurture myself with my own inner parent even though it should have been her but I have to develop the one in my head and I have to like figure out that that’s not her right yeah so

I mean we hope and wish that everybody just had that ideal parent for them whatever that was for them um and that they wouldn’t even need this reprogramming or reparenting at this point they would just have already had it and they would just do this naturally they would get upset and they would go to themselves and say man it hurts to be upset and I’m going to give myself a hot tea and a maybe a nice walk you know to attend to me um but since they didn’t yeah we’ve got to learn that that our typical reaction to our nervous system disregulation is the shitty programming it’s to do anything but take care of ourselves so the issue in my head is actually I I think I need to drop that image of my mom like detach and and just start to like create a new mom in my head I mean I think I’ve already done that sort of but I need to like really solidify that practice like like yeah and then just have a more um detached relationship with her that that’s I if that’s what you want right like it’s It’s tricky because okay I didn’t want to go here but we’re going here so [  ] it I don’t think my mom listens either um so my mom for my whole life has shown Love by uh gift giving I guess we’ll call it you know and I’m bitter about the whole Love Languages thing and I

don’t think giving gifts is an act of Love anyway that’s a whole another episode we can do uh one day so um like over the course of my life I have struggled with depression with energy with motivation with the ability to keep up and pick up after myself I I had for a long time attributed to this to uh you know in the 12-step program I was in um that I struggle with addiction and they talk about like feeling like what an average person does on a daily basis to take care of themselves was just too much for me and I always identified with that statement I’m like it’s way more than I can [  ] do I need somebody to take care of me um which I you know coming on therapy back end I see a whole lot of stuff about how I got programmed and why that is that way but my my mom will like she gives she just brings stuff to my house every time she comes to my house every time she sees my kids there’s new little toys for them from the dollar store or the Cheapo ow or the she works in a grocery store so the latest 5 years Endeavor has been to bring bags of the clearance rack [  ] whether we needed it or not it’s like look I found the most useless item ever for 24 cents so I

got five of them and now you can have them but like even during this like I remember getting her criticism and judgment for how shitty my house looked and the like conditions I was raising my children in and like I’m a little bitter like looking back at like you were bringing the [  ] but anyway um so like sometime six seven eight months ago I started planting this seed my wife and I talked about it I’m trying to change my life have less belongings I think that’s the path to me being able to keep up with keeping my house organized and clean in the way I want it is to just have weight less and if I can’t keep up with it all I’m gonna [  ] get rid of it because I don’t deserve it I don’t I don’t really mean that but I don’t need it basically it ain’t bringing me happiness if

I can’t keep up with it and so we started asking my mom to stop bringing so much stuff right and like h nicely kindly hey M you know just we really don’t need all this a lot of times it’s not feeling good we don’t use it goes to waste like maybe just so we started doing this over the course of months and months and months and this most recent time about a month ago she came in my house with some stuff on the day and I was like Hey Ma what’s what’s up with all that stuff oh she asked me to bring it and got like really really jacked up quick I was like what in the [  ] I was like who’s she right oh well it’s it’s just stuff and I was like Mom I well I I I’m just going to leave I was like well you’re really welcome here I’m just asking you why you know I’ve talked to you about this stuff before and like you keep bringing it and so she walks like 10 feet away from me doesn’t say another word to me stops in front of two of my kids and says I was going to have these Valentine’s Day gifts for you but your father won’t let you have stuff anymore so sorry and then leaves and I was like oh okay oh um so like we didn’t talk for a couple weeks and then

I sent her a message and uh I I calmly tried to explain like if she were in my shoes she would like to write to ask somebody to stop doing a behavior that doesn’t feel good for her and like I’m not apparently she had so after this whole thing she goes and starts talking about me to like my wife and stuff and saying I’m not her father and how [  ] dare me and all this stuff and I’m like like how [  ] immature why don’t you just come talk to me so this is when I reached out directly to her and made this this statement and then I waited like a week and then she sent me a text that said I’m not ignoring you I just don’t know where to start and then I waited another week of being ignored uh before I got a message that said I’ll respect that and and some other stuff that I don’t know still doesn’t feel like she totally grasped the whole thing because like at the end of the message she was like

I just get my Joy by helping and I guess I’ll just have to give that up so that I can be have my son in my life and I’m like that’s such a madeup story in your head because you’re getting joy out of [  ] hurting us that’s what you’re doing right and like trying to set that boundary is difficult trying to hold that boundary and and and I think for me the way it has happened is I I did disconnect from the emotional part of it the part of it that’s like why the [  ] does my mom treat me this way man I I’ve get disconnected from the hurt really and just focused in on I need to be strong and hold this boundary because I can’t [  ] live like this anymore and if that’s and almost like in a sense kind of giving up Hope on her getting much better and our relationship getting any different and I don’t I hope that’s not permanent I hope I can regain that hope because I feel kind of shut down in that spot but that’s where I’ve been at wow I really commend you because that that you’re doing the hard work like I could have these conversations and experience the awkwardness of maybe ignoring each other for a couple weeks I’m I haven’t summoned that bravery enough yet so thanks for that example because I’m that’s that’s the kind of stuff that needs to happen because there I don’t know

I’m I’m a little tongue twisted but there’s a lot more examples that resemble that in my life that I need to have conversations but I’m scared to like cause a rip CU L know like you said Billy my mom’s not a monster you know like she was she was nurturing and she was a good person but she just I don’t know she did the best she could I truly believe that about both my parents um and that was you know like again coming in recovery like I had to work through that and come to that belief that they really did the best they could with what they got because then I look at their parents and what they lived through and I’m like all right well I think I see how this came to be but still like you just kind of wish they did better and and I guess since me and my brother are healing cuz he’s recovery too I’m like come on we’re doing the work we’re trying to get better can’t can’t you come with us come on like come you know get the therapy get the work have self conversations you know well there’s a thing I try to do in my life and it’s not necessarily specific to this situation but it might help sometimes

I try to think all right if this was just like a person that I know that was in like early recovery like not this expectation that I put on because they have this label of mom or dad or sister or brother but would I give them a lot more uh space Freedom uh leeway if I didn’t have this expectation on him that you were my mom so you owed me all this or you were supposed to be all these things and just treated him like another human being and I think that helps sometimes as far as the relationship with that person now is for me like my reparenting stuff like I don’t know I had to come to peace with like like said my parents did the best that they could but they were damaged people that didn’t have really good instructions on how to raise kids and they didn’t do a I mean they made some mistakes somewhere they did some things good like most situations if I can look at the good parts of what I took away from that relationship you know and just be okay there but yeah that’s hard sometimes I mean I think for me like the the difference between a person and early recovery and my specifically um is that the person in early recovery at least has the desire to change and be better um and my mom very blatantly does not um what do they want to change I was thinking the person in early recovery is going to get cut out of my life well yeah I mean my mom kind of has

I haven’t had a relationship with my mom for the last year and a half so um I mean we’re we’re we can we’re fine at holidays um you know I see her like I’ll see her at Easter at my mom at my sister’s house and I’ll give her a hug and make Pleasant chitchat but like that’s pretty much the extent of my interaction with her is holidays at other people’s houses um for the last year and a half now so and that’s because of things that she that something very specific that she did at then unlike Jason I didn’t reach out I felt like it was her job to reach out to me and she didn’t and so but I think for me like I had to accept that I’m doing the best that I’m can in the moment when all this stuff happened it was um it was within a week of when I found out I was getting laid off so it was a tough time mhm on top of an already tough time right cuz I found out I was getting laid off like a year and a few months after Mata it was like just just thing after thing after thing um maybe two years after I don’t know but um so she never reached out to apologize and that’s kind of been the end of it and at some point maybe I will be in a place where I feel like I want to be the one to address the situation but right now for me this is what’s working now granted I don’t have kids right so when you bring grandkids into the mix and there’s these other humans that are entitled potentially maybe not

I don’t know that you know you have to factor that in like my do my kids have a right to have a relationship with their grandparent do does my parent have a right to have a relationship with my child maybe not I mean maybe the parent is so toxic or unhealthy that they don’t it doesn’t sound like that’s probably the case for I don’t know I’m not going to make that judgment but you know I’m just going to say nobody has a right to anything I mean but it but I guess the the point is is it’s much easier for me to cut my mom out of my life because my decision to do that doesn’t impact other people that I love yeah I mean it does so my sister is pregnant and she’s due in August and I planned her bridal shower with my my mom hosted it um but I helped plan it and uh it was kind of a pain in the ass my mom lives on the Eastern Shore she’s an hour and a half away so I’m trying to like design what the party’s going to look like without being able to go to her house and I’m like send me pictures so I can try to figure out what’s going to go where crabs eastern shore crabs no she no she no she she just she does not want that she does not want a crab wedding shower wedding shower or baby shower nope that’s a hard no so my sister said to me she’s like do you want to help plan the baby shower and

I was like not really I was like Mom can do it like I didn’t feel like I brought that much value last time and my sister got very upset um and I didn’t want to do it cuz I don’t want to deal with my mom you know um but my sister came back to me later and was like I was really hurt that you said no I really want you to be involved cuz I feel like you’re going to do a better job decorating the party and so I was like okay I guess I’m then then I’ll do it if it matters to you that much I will do it but if it was simply a matter of I mean honestly I felt like my sister might be trying to like get us to get along like this might be a little like but she said no it’s not that she just wants her Bridal or her baby shower to be really pretty and she has confidence that I can do that so um so I’m going to have to interact with my mom more over the coming months to to plan this this this baby shower and maybe as a function of that we will end up having a conversation will I be the one to drive that I’m very willing to have that conversation with her should she be willing to initiate it because to me that would say okay there is a little bit of recognition of your part here um do

I want to be the one to be like we need to have a conversation about this not I haven’t been in that place where I wanted to and so I haven’t made myself yeah I don’t think I did it because I I felt some obligation that it was my job at all I I sort of kind of agree that the the parent kid relationship was mostly One Direction um I did it because I wanted to be heard I did it because I’m at a place in my life where I’m ready to hold the people that say they love me accountable to that statement this is what it means for me you can either support that or you can get the [  ] out personally um I don’t care I know sounds harsh but like at the bottom line being my mom or my daughter or my wife does not give you the [  ] right to abuse me and like and if anything you should care more about that than the average stranger that generally does not abuse me and cross my lines you know and if you can’t and if you can’t hear me say that I want to know that because I need to make a hard decision yeah and maybe the point of clarity so the situation was that it we went out for my birthday my mom drinks every day my mom knows that

I do not enjoy being around alcohol that I do not enjoy her being drunk it’s it’s triggering for me alcohol has caused some issues in my life yeah um and you know this was a week past finding out that I was getting laid off from my career that I loved and we were out to dinner and she in the period of an hour and a half slammed three glasses of wine and and then was drunk and so she was supposed to spend the whole weekend with me and the next morning I confronted her about it and she got very defensive and I said I think you should leave I don’t think we should do the rest of this weekend so I did there you know I had already she knows where I stand and and it so I did I guess maybe that’s why it’s a little bit different it’s not like I was holding it in or she doesn’t know like I said my piece and she never came back with an apology and I haven’t reached out again to try to talk talk about it now that things have calmed I was offended by mine going and talking about me behind my back that’s why I went to her it wasn’t like oh

I need to go address this it was like oh she’s going to run her mouth and say I’m doing this let me correct this [  ] situation and explain to her that is not what I am doing Goa I’ve never once told you what you have to do I’m not being your father I have asked you to love me that’s all I’ve done and like that’s I needed to correct the The Narrative that cuz if she just stayen story in her head nothing was going to change and this is probably the worst way to handle it but I’m like couldn’t you just take all her stuff and then just throw it in the trash when she leaves and I I could and and and there was a part of me that was willing for that to be the solution look if this is what you feel like you need to do I will just but I’m going to do it in front of you because I want you to know that you’re wasting our [  ] time I’m cleaning this [  ] up a year later after you give my kids candy because they don’t [  ] want it like we’re eating additive free at my house like

I don’t know it’s just one of them things like so yeah my my my correction of it was I didn’t want her sitting off in a corner stew and telling this story that she’s doing something righteous and Justified when not some horeshit so that’s where I was at I was like I at least want you to have the option to hear a different version of that story you’re telling yourself start messaging her a list of things you actually need here’s a list of things that’s where I get to that’s where I want to get to like uh uh you’re telling me you want to help like why don’t you just ask me what kind of help we need cuz we need some I got some kids that need rides during the week that you could help with like bring me this clearit instead of maybe instead of being at the grocery store buying [  ] to think about my family you could just come be with my family and spend time with us how about that we love that yeah quality time you know and and it’s like I kind of want to say [  ] like that

I know it sounds like shitty but that doesn’t sound shitty though say it again I mean I think it sounds kind of like a dick not to the person that’s in that I mean actually just spend time with us to love usuh you know instead of buying this [  ] while you’re not here [  ] kind of comes across I I don’t so though I think I think you’ve already been a dick you’ve already crossed the dick line so just do it finish it like finish finish the finish her Jason [  ] fatality point out the obvious you don’t spend any [  ] time with us and you just buy garage out ofest I me then you want to do godamn it I’m telling you to do this cuz this is like what I want to do like you know so I’m like let’s let Jason do the experiment first I I I am going to say it so she made her statement about you know she couldn’t have her Joy anymore and I I responded back I said hey thank you for respecting my boundary we love you we can’t wait to see you I I

I think there’s some more to talk about but it can wait for now and like basically that it can wait for now is I need to wait till I find a way I can say it without sounding like an [  ] right I no I can’t right now I’m still very very activated around a lot of it um but yeah that’s what our close people do we programmed in all that stuff about connection and disconnection and love and they they trigger the [  ] out of [Music] us have you found that listening to the recovery sort of podcast has helped you in your day-to-day Journey please share the message of compassion and well-being with the loved ones in your life connect with us at recovery sort of.com Facebook Instagram threads YouTube and other social media spaces and have a great

[Applause] [Music] week