99: How Can We Prepare Our Children for Mental Health and Addiction? (Sort Of)

Do you talk to your kids about drugs? Do you remember what your parents and others said to you about drug use? Was it helpful? We explore the idea of how to prepare our children for a world where drug abuse, alcoholism, and severe mental health problems exist. Was the DARE program actually useful? The world of addiction being a moral failing is all but gone, yet we still hold onto the idea of “just say no” as the way to talk with our children about drug use. Knowing how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) substantially increase the odds of addiction and mental health outcomes, do we do our best to avoid ACEs in our kids’ lives? Is that the best we can do? Can telling our children about our own experiences and warning them that there is a biological link to the chances of them also struggling help at all? Generally, we agree that being honest is useful, age appropriately, of course. Join us as we explore the topic of how to break the cycle of addiction and mental health struggles, then let us know any strategies you’ve come up with that you think are useful. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com, or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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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’m jason a guy that is trying to give a message of not using drugs or staying mentally healthy or something to my kids i don’t know and i’m here with jenny hi i’m jenny and i’m a person uh who doesn’t have to drink to get through my day anymore there you go that’s a good one um so we’re going to talk about the idea of how do we talk to our kids about drugs how do we talk to our kids about mental health how can we help our kids not need help with mental health or drug addiction or alcohol use or how to help our kids find better coping skills i don’t exactly know but something like that yeah god are we doing this right i don’t know i don’t know we this is ridiculous we’re set up in a basement and whatever um before we get into it we did get a a response or a comment on the what does being clean really mean episode and uh stephanie you know reached out and said that for her being clean is having a clear spiritual connection with her higher power so she can work the program and be easily guided when she puts drugs in her she stops hearing god hire power buddha whatever you want to call it while caffeine technically is a drug she doesn’t consume enough of it to interrupt her spiritual connection or sway her moral compass if she did then she would say she was not clean i like that it was an interesting take on it right like what comes between us and that spiritual connection as deciding what’s clean love stephanie uh i think my perspective will be a little different because i do believe there’s been times when like i really wanted that coffee and without being able to have that coffee like oh i have my second coffee at 1 pm every afternoon and when i can’t have it one day because life dictates that i just can’t get to a coffee that day i don’t think i’m a spiritual right i do think there’s these things that have power that i give connection to and maybe coffee is a even though i do think that’s true but definitely nicotine like let me not vape and see how spiritual i am for a couple days right so i i don’t know i mean by that definition i guess i’m not clean and so i should stop worrying about it is it still like is life still manageable with caffeine though there’s that keyword management but i’ve had a manageable life at times with certain portions of drug use and i definitely wasn’t clean yeah yeah but for what length of time you know like all right i was good for that hour what about somebody who’s on methadone for 30 years and goes to work every day like i don’t think i don’t think they’re clean i mean they might but again by my old definition of clean right it’s like at this point i i don’t think clean is actually a thing yeah it’s tough one and i know like i have reached for a cup of coffee in the same uh energy that i used to reach for a beer like oh my god this day and i’ll grab a cup of coffee as if that’s gonna solve it and um you know it doesn’t lead to six more coffees just one coffee you know you know and a deep breath usually helps me out but i know i’ve had that same feeling that i reach for that coffee like i used to reach for a drink so uh yeah i mean we could probably have a whole nother episode on that because i don’t even think i was done talking that day and you didn’t get to talk that day but let’s uh let’s focus in on on talking to our kids about drugs i think this is slowly changing in our society like i definitely i mean i heard more about drugs from dare than i did my parents right like the rhetoric on the tv was nancy reagan and just say no and dare came in and taught us about all these drugs and and how great they were or how they’d mess us up how it depends on how you look at it yeah uh and i didn’t i mean that was middle school i didn’t even understand what they were talking about really a whole lot it was like oh god we got to do this do you know what i remember is this is how i remembered the difference so barbiturates were the slow ones and amphetamines were the fast ones so barbiturates i remember with barbie

and amphetamines and vitamins amphetamines that stuck with me that’s did they teach you that and dare yeah they thought about barbiturates and phenomenons and that’s how i remembered it you know for the quiz was it or maybe it was health class dare health class i don’t know yeah blended together yeah and i think my parents maybe just said drugs are bad okay like that was about the extent of what i got yeah i remember like being seven in second grade for some reason this memory sticks out and they taught us about smoking cigarettes in school and how bad it was for you and i do remember leaving school thinking why would anybody ever smoke and i think i even said that to my parents like that’s the dumbest thing ever did your parents smoke no oh but i just remember feeling that way like that is so stupid why would anybody ever do that my dad smoked and um i remember hating smoking right up to the day i started smoking like i started at 14 and it was like it was on yeah i was like yeah yeah and i was and i still i guess technically kind of am oh i call it vaping but it’s it’s similar you should quit jason one day all right so what what did your parents tell you about drugs um so yeah we had the regular elementary school education and at home so you know drinking drinking is drinking it happened so i’m watching my parents drink and family aunts uncles grandpa every day but then it was like the message was like no no not for you when you’re old enough you can and it was like almost like a crowning achievement oh yeah so driver’s license yeah it was like one day you’ll be able to drink too and i was like oh i can’t wait to drink i remember thinking even little like single digit age i can’t wait to drink because all the grown-ups were having um way more fun right and it was like one day no no no they’d like hold they’d let me smell it and hold it and i would fetch it for him and not for you you know you can’t have this yet you’re too young but one day you’ll be able to drink but they also had the message of no drinking and driving i do remember that like you know like uncle al can’t take the motorcycle now he’s had too many so i do remember that lesson and um not too much about drugs maybe in high school it was like uh you know don’t do drugs they’ll finger like just this don’t do drugs but not a lot of deep conversation at all the conflicting message was like you know like once you’re old enough you know you can drink but they didn’t talk about the negative sides they never talked about hangovers uh the money um before decision making yeah yeah i mean literally like you know like my dad would go out for like they ended up getting a divorce when i was a teenager but like sometimes we wouldn’t see him for days like i’m not saying he’s going to binge but he would just go to work party go to work party go to our party we wouldn’t even see him and nobody ever equated that to alcohol you know and uh my brother and i started putting things together about it but yeah so that was that was my message for alcohol and it was just always the crowning and i remember this too so they really wanted me to go to college and i did for a little bit until i drank myself out of college but the they really wanted me to go to college and all they ever talked about in college was the partying and i love it there’s parties yeah and they would have pictures of like frat parties and i mean i swear to god we had like the wall of pictures family pictures and in the dead center was a frat party picture like it looked like animal house so you know they wanted me to go to college and nobody ever said about how much hard work it is they just talked about the partying that was the message about alcohol so i was really primed up for alcoholism well and i mean it it’s not a shock from that idea that you went to college and partied yeah like that’s what you were told yep that was all i look forward to so i did start drinking in high school and they that’s when my parents got divorced and neither of them wanted to really look at that nobody they kind of looked the other way and i was smoking cigarettes too i mean clearly you can’t hide cigarette smoking you smell like a cigarette you know like so almost 13 14 smell like a cigarette nobody really wanted to like acknowledge that you know i and i had a bedroom that was like on a different floor for my parents but i mean if you smoke in a house oh definitely the smoke and i would i just smoked in my bedroom and and every once in a while somebody be shitty and say something about it but generally no it just got ignored i had a black light in my room and a big black light pot leaf poster at like 15 and oh jason’s fine he must be into that rock and roll his experiment i guess i i don’t know what the hell they were thinking but it yeah so yeah jenny one plus one is two and college is partying and you you you did all that perfectly yeah that’s the way you were talking nailed it so it’s interesting you talked about the idea of glorifying this certain age when you can drink and there have been people that propose the idea that the reason europe or other parts of the world but europe in particular doesn’t have the kind of alcoholism or addiction that we do in the u.s is because it’s normalized way earlier right having a glass of wine at dinner seven-year-olds can do that right 14 year olds definitely are doing that like that’s not a big thing so it’s not this wait until this age it’s so glorifying once you get there you’ve you’ve arrived i don’t actually think that’s really that accurate that that’s useful i think it’s entirely a different culture but yeah it is interesting that that you know those two things exist at the same time exactly yeah i like shredder when you say seven-year-old drinking but i’m like but and they just they do they have uh you know european values are totally different than american value so i think they have better they’re better set up for mental health in general let alone some sweet except finland i think they’re pretty [ _ ] up i know nothing about finland no i think they have like outrageous alcohol alcoholism rates it’s gotten better but uh i just remember they were like champion world champions for alcoholism world champion where’d it go finland i do think i saw some stat recently and i don’t even remember what the stat was or what it was about but it was something negative and like they were second to the u.s even though they’ve got like so fewer people in the world like they were the second worst and i was like oh wow uh when i got sober um you know when you get sober all sudden like new things are coming to your attention that you never thought of before and there was a uh like a psa out of finland and it showed what uh you look like to your kids as a drunk and i was like wow eye-opening like no no translation you know language translation necessary it showed what you look like to your kids as a drunk and i that really encouraged me along my path wow yeah so i i think our language is changing as our understanding of addiction drug use whatever you’d like to refer to it as is changing right we we don’t i think the message we were getting we were definitely all in on it’s a moral failing and you’re just weak willed and you have no self-control or self-will to stop and drug users are bad people right and so just don’t do them and you won’t be a bad person yeah um and i think the more science has helped us understand that this is really a mental health issue and you know it’s it’s coming from a different place i think people are starting to get that information it’s weird it’s like science gets information then the professionals read it and understand it and then they start giving it out and then it hits like pop culture universal understanding like 30 years later or something yeah so we’re slowly getting there but i still think it’s very confusing for parents like us who were raised in this one place and so we still have this lingering subconscious this is kind of how we think about it even though we understand it’s not that way like that old message still filters in and it’s hard to what do i do when my child uses drugs or my child is encountering a mental health dilemma and what do i do before they ever get there like to try to help avoid that or or give them the tools to not do that and i think that’s where this conversation comes in right what and how as parents can we you know you mentioned break the cycle of addiction or mental health and like i i can’t say that i really know i think it’ll be a useful conversation and i got some ideas but like what how the [ _ ] do you help people with a problem that you know i from my understanding and this isn’t universal but my belief is kind of like hey you have these traumas or aces right you know adverse childhood experiences we did an episode about that you have these in your youth and through these traumas and attachment issues of like not feeling enough not feeling loved you seek out coping skills and it just so happens that when you’re in pain emotionally you know when you don’t feel right when you don’t feel connected to anything in the world drugs feel really [ _ ] good and they fix all that so they’re actually like they’re much more a solution when you find them than a problem and you know especially with adults giving kids all this oh my god if you smoke one marijuana you’ll die right and then they they do smoke a marijuana and and they don’t die right well then they’re like well that’s all [ _ ] now so i i don’t think the the miseducation was helpful but what is helpful what can we give people as our kids like yours are youngest yeah i have seven and ten right and um so you bring up the aces i guess to start minimizing the aces i know that was and i don’t i do not propose to have all the answers but um i’m trying to keep those aces to a min i uh and just just trying to like so like in a they talk about the hole in the soul just trying not to get that hold started you know i know the world is still gonna bring stuff you know to my girl’s way but i’m gonna try to do my best to protect them and i’m i’m starting to talk to them about drugs and alcohol now so seven and seven and ten and um what about you you oh god i i so i have two 15s a 12 a seven and a two and uh i would say with my my oldest two my twins i have had conversations about you know kind of like what billy says and i honestly don’t i’m not sure how useful it is but i i think they should at least know it like hey uh i struggled with this in my history your mother struggled with this in her history and you know from what we understand through research that at least makes you 50 more susceptible to struggling with this so if you’re gonna try it just know that going into it right like this could be a real big problem for you like it was for me and your mother and not everybody lives through that like we well i guess not everybody lives through that their mother didn’t right i have so far um so i guess i was a little more open with them like they know that i used i don’t think they know a whole lot of the details i honestly had this grand plan that when they turned 14 the next year at my anniversary i was going to bring them and let them hear my story and then the pandemic happened and so i didn’t uh i don’t know how useful it would have been but i thought it was relevant and i wanted to wait to an age where it was appropriate because i cuss a lot and say some weird [ __ ] when i shared i didn’t want to take them too young um but no i’ve been pretty open with them but i don’t honestly feel like with my my younger three that i’ve had a whole lot i mean the 12 year old hears a lot through being around when the older ones are around and there’s conversation and i don’t necessarily try to hide it from any of them but it’s just like it just doesn’t seem relevant and and truthfully i don’t know if that’s a whole lot helpful versus what you were talking about is like trying to avoid the aces and the and the problems to begin with right like trying to give them really healthy strong attachment where they know they’re loved and valued like i from my point of view at this point in time that’s much more valuable to give my kids than telling them hey i use drugs or drugs are bad so uh the seven year old i should clarify something real quick for the audience so my 10 year old has down syndrome and so she doesn’t ask a lot of questions and um i mean it’s not like 10 year olds can’t i mean i’m sorry it’s not like people with down syndrome can’t drink or do drugs but the chances of my daughter getting into addiction are much less than my typical seven-year-old um so the seven-year-old ends up asking more questions and um this summer not too long ago she asked me she’s like mom were you addicted to alcohol and i was like whoop you know like i didn’t i didn’t know where that question came from but except for that we do talk about drinking and drugs as it comes up like it’s in a movie like you know that movie ratatouille like they drink drinking yeah there’s drinking in that and i i think i’ve said out loud i’m like man they drink a lot of wine in a kid’s movie um and uh we’ve talked about drinking in uh the sense of um maybe she’s overheard me say like oh will there be alcohol there i don’t you know i don’t even know we we just don’t have a lot of drinking friends but we went to a fourth of july party and when we arrived we’re like saying hello and hugging and stuff and the the man of the house was like opens the cooler of beers he’s like hey help yourself and billy the seven-year-old’s like we don’t drink alcohol and i didn’t even know like she had that expression in her you know repertoire but apparently i have said that we don’t drink alcohol

but yeah so recently she asked me mom were you addicted to alcohol and uh and in the in the moment we were like running i’m like uh let’s talk about that but not right now because we were like running somewhere or whatever so then within a few days i did have a chance to talk to her about it and i only answered what she asked you know i didn’t go too far and i was like yes i was addicted alcohol um you know i hurt people i love and um i could have been in an accident and i had to ask for help to stop and now that’s when i told her so she knows i go to a meeting every thursday and i said so that meditation meeting i go to that is for people who had trouble with drinking or drugs and so she kind of put the big picture together but then i stopped there and i’ll just wait for her to ask more questions but i kind of wanted her slightly informed because um if it came up at school if anybody was like oh your mom runs that drug and alcohol meeting or anything like that i didn’t want her quite so blindsided you know um so i’m glad she has like a basis for that no questions since g7 there’s roblox in minecraft to do seriously i think it went right from like okay did i tell you about piggy and minecraft i’m like what i don’t think there’s any alcohol in minecraft so that’s good oh good yeah you know when you’re sensitive to it it’s funny how often you see alcohol cartoons you’re like is that really necessary you know and just how glorified it is across the board in our society yeah if if you didn’t know if you just came to the us and you know lived here for a month and saw the advertising billboards commercials whatever sporting events you would say god 95 of this population drinks oh yeah and it’s not even close that was a yeah less than 50. yep that was a question on my intake they’re like how many how much of the population do you think drinks and i knew it was a trick question by the way he phrased it so i went i don’t know i think i said like 60 he’s like no at the time i think it was like forty percent yeah it’s incredibly low considerably first thing that flashed in my head i was like are there that many mormons like i was thinking about all the amish and mormons but that’s because that’s who i surrounded myself with was like all people who drink well it’s the message our society gives i mean totally even the message of you know drink responsibly starts with drinking right right right that’s all i hear drink response don’t drink or make responsible decisions about if you want to drink it’s just drink responsibly yeah every new strip mall that goes up there’s a liquor store in it seriously check out that was on my like resentment list why do we need so many liquor stores to sell the alcohol god can we get a shoe store like

so i think how you choose to talk about drugs and alcohol to your children and i don’t want to lose the mental health aspect because that’s how i conceptualize all this so i think that’s crucial too but how you talk to your kids is definitely going to depend on how you view the problem right because how you view the problem is how you’re going to view the solution and that’s kind of what we said earlier if you think it’s a moral failing you’re going to say don’t do it right just don’t do it you’ll be morally strong if you don’t right great character he didn’t do drugs but if you view this as like a problem where people are using as a coping skill because they can’t cope with life without it then the conversation really has to me in my mind has little to do about drugs or alcohol and it’s really about like how do we find coping skills how do we feel safe and comfortable in our bodies because that’s the whole thing right what word what i believe uh and what you know others in my field believe is that like trauma aces however you want to conceptualize this issue that happens to humans maybe it’s just happening to humans because it’s 20 21 and we’re all on cell phones and who knows why right maybe it’s not even trauma but we’re getting to a place where our regulatory system in our bodies feels like we’re being attacked by you know vicious lions or something at all times and then our brain is sending the signal that nothing’s wrong so what’s wrong with you for feeling like you’re in this life or death situation all the time but then we’re gotta find a way to cope right you can’t just stay in this dysregulated oh my god life’s gonna end if my friend doesn’t invite me if i don’t get 100 likes on my picture if this boy doesn’t talk to me or respond to my text like everything feels life or death and at that state you need something to help man that’s painful right or along with that state the idea of i don’t even want to call it depression but just this idea that life isn’t enjoyable there’s like no joy ever like even on the best day of your life when you do get the 100 likes and the boy does text back there’s just no joy inside of you right and i think that’s a place that a lot of people or at least some people are getting to and that’s a life of pain right and i read this book recently the guy was like getting off heroin and all these things kept going well in his life and he just kept ending up back on heroin because life felt like pain and he used a painkiller to treat it right and he couldn’t find a way out of that and he couldn’t understand why he couldn’t feel good because he loved his daughter and he loved his wife and he wanted to just feel good in that moment but he couldn’t and i think for me at least looking at you know what people are going through through that lens of like they just can’t do anything else and they are just in pain and if you were in pain who wouldn’t seek relief that makes it make a lot of sense to me but i don’t know that that helps with how to talk to him like that’s more of how do we help people not get to that painful place and i don’t know that i have an answer for that i definitely don’t have an answer for it but i see where you’re coming from it makes me think of two didn’t they find like monkeys in the jungle like getting [ _ ] up for fun like are they having early childhood trauma like what’s you know well and and that’s a thing i think one of the things that’s been weighing on my mind lately honestly this book really monkeys in the jungle really yes i think about monkeys in the jungle all the time and they’re bad monkeys and we should spank them um no this book has messed my head up right because i’m like i kind of feel like maybe i ignore it but i sort of live in this state of like life just doesn’t really feel good enough kind of at all times even on the great days it’s like i don’t feel as connected as i’d like and i don’t feel like like i want to just push through and take my kids out in the front yard and kick a soccer ball around or throw a baseball and it’s like i just can’t and i’m like i don’t want this to be all my life is and i don’t have and so this got me thinking and reading and researching and iv ketamine treatment for depression and people who microdose uh for a month to you know restart their brain and create these new channels and all this stuff and i’m like what if right and i look back at our history and i feel like every ancient civilization or culture had these moments you know whether they called it a friday night kager or whether they called it like seeking a spiritual enlightenment with peyote like whatever it was all these ancient cultures did have these times when they used something whether that was something they smoked something they drank something they ingested to to have a psychedelic experience from time to time that was part of what they did and i just wonder i’m like yeah i get that we come from a place of drugs or bad and you know we should never do them and we’ll never stop doing them but i’m wondering if there’s not this healthy place of like this is what our culture does every so often because [ _ ] living without it is ridiculous and you know doing it creates this environment for a different purpose right it’s not just like oh let’s get [ _ ] up it’s let’s speak seek spiritual enlightenment let’s look for god let’s just have an out of my body experience for a while whatever it is like i feel like that always has existed and now we’re kind of missing that to an extent so you think this whole like you know addiction crisis is like part of the level up process i i think it’s the fact that we don’t know how to live in tune and connection with our bodies and with the universe kinda uh and and that just puts us in a place of not ever finding joy and and what do you do when there’s no joy right you gotta seek when you’re always in pain you seek a painkiller i guess that’s one of the things that just stuck out from this book like if you’re in pain you seek a painkiller and removing the painkiller does not remove the pain and what do you do with that how do you solve that problem and i’m not trying to solve addiction here like this is more how do we help our youth like not need it right to survive but but i guess when you brought the monkeys getting messed up it just made me think like maybe the goal isn’t really abstinence like maybe it’s like hey once a year we all go out to i think a burning man is like the the ultimate like modern version of this but maybe there’s something better than burning man that we come up with that it’s like hey once a year we go on sabbatical and we all take mushrooms and we [ _ ] try to seek being a better person maybe yeah coming from the right place yeah i don’t think that helps addiction i know because some people are going to go to that and be like why can’t we have three burning mans a year you know well maybe we do need it every year right right yeah the whole idea if they invented a cure a pill that cured addiction like the addict would say what would two do for me yeah i get that i well i think that state though of wanting to be and that’s kind of how it’s been conceptualized by some people in my field is people who feel safe and regulated in their bodies don’t often seek to be out of their bodies they just don’t have the desire to because they already feel safe and comfortable people who feel dysregulated and unsafe at all times always want to be out of their bodies and so i think our modern society has created this culture where everybody feels unsafe all the time like this is just the byproduct of technology whatever progress whatever we want to call it and so now we’re all seeking this escape whether that’s the the the drug the alcohol the cell phone the sex the gambling like we’re all seeking something to occupy our time the netflix right the binge watching netflix episodes like that’s i don’t think that’s something that somebody who feels healthy does yeah i think did you tell me this one it’s that uh technology and society is evolving faster than our brains can no okay i don’t think if i did i made it up well what do you think of it it’s possible i i guess i look at that that whole rat park experiment where they took the rats that had like these these wonderful conditions they had a little rat swimming pool maybe they had a rat diving board right maybe they had uh rat swimsuits and hot rats soft serve ice cream right rat sauce yours are much more nice than mine mine are like pornographic rats and yours are like humble ice cream eating rats um but anyway the rats who had all these enjoyable things and the ball to play with and the frisbee to throw around like i’m sure rats aren’t throwing frisbees but they tried cocaine and then had it available and didn’t go back to it whereas the rats who were in you know the cage with absolutely [ _ ] nothing went back to the cocaine time and time again and and i don’t know that that so much works like i don’t think you could just take our society and put us in this utopia and all of a sudden we’re better but growing up that’s our internal landscape is how i look at rat park right our internal landscape is empty now and so we need these drugs whereas if we grow up in some kind of environment that we can give our kids hopefully where the internal landscape feels peacefully and like we’re lying on a beach at all times right then we don’t need these escapes and so from that context if we could get to that place where we don’t need the escapes i don’t think burning man happens four times a year i don’t think we want to did they do a rat park experiment where they started them in the bleak environment then put them in the rat park i actually think they did that as part of that experiment and do so do rats get early childhood trauma no i don’t believe so domesticated animals can be traumatized but wild animals don’t and i guess these rats were domesticated but i still think it’s much more difficult because they go through the entire process and experience of the traumatic event and then at the end they like shake it off and [ _ ] and just run off and they’re fine whereas we don’t follow through in the process we get stuck our regulatory systems our nervous systems get stuck in the traumatic experience and so our body moves on but our insides stay in that either fight or flight or the the freeze because human beings tell stories rats don’t tell stories right and we’re telling ourselves the same stories yeah okay we don’t we don’t have a way to complete the process so i i don’t know if any of that long-winded explanation helps us with what we need to do i think we got off a little bit on the monkeys getting high um but it’s so fun to think about monkeys getting high 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.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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i don’t want to get too in detail and personal um my daughter is struggling with her mental health right if you’re struggling with your mental health if you don’t feel good in your body that’s a problem and should be taken pretty seriously um even if the fear isn’t losing your child like just the fact that your child is that discontent and at that much dis ease in their life like that should be serious enough for any of us and and i get it right we got jobs we got to get the groceries we got to pay the bills we got to keep up with the sports activities but we got to take the time to address this and and look at it like it’s a serious issue and i think one of the most important things for me right now in that situation is to make sure that she knows that however she feels it’s okay right and i’ve been like because i’m in that situation thinking a lot about that um and when i say she’s okay when she feels that i don’t mean like she doesn’t need help i mean like you are allowed and and perfectly it’s reasonable to feel this thing you’re feeling and it got me to thinking about when i first got clean and i haven’t thought about this for a long time but i remember sitting in a meeting and saying there’s something really wrong with me because i’m an addict and and my parents didn’t even divorce that was a big thing to me like i just assumed like if people had childhood abuse child sex abuse if your parents got divorced like those were traumatic events and it would make total sense if you got high after that and needed drugs like those are serious right my parents didn’t even divorce what the [ _ ] am i using for i’m just a piece of i remember that right and and i’m like watching my daughter struggle and and trying to almost like trying to blindly point right it’s like pin the tail on the donkey like what why and she just can’t and i want her to know that it doesn’t you don’t need a [ _ ] reason right maybe there is a great reason and we just don’t know it yet maybe it was something that happened when you were a kid that you’re not aware of maybe your mother didn’t pick you up when you were crying in the crib and you [ _ ] you know never got comforted maybe you never learned how to co-regulate that’s all possible maybe it’s just in your [ _ ] biology i don’t know and i don’t think any of us know that answer yet but the fact is whether we find out later oh yeah now this repressed memory came back it was totally that that caused this or whether we don’t you feel that way that’s valid that’s enough like we don’t even have to have a reason you don’t have to feel like something’s just [ _ ] wrong with you because you feel that way no you you feel that way that’s okay we’re gonna do something in early recovery i find it helpful knowing that it wasn’t my fault or at least believing that and then i came to a place you know like like in early on believing that it wasn’t my fault helped me get clean and then later as i healed and progressed you know i owned my part you know i don’t know if that makes sense but yeah for some reason early knowing that you know like it was kind of written in the stars helped me seek recovery right right well and that’s i think that’s a it was the mindset i needed to get help well is it a bad mindset and is it not true like we can just we say it’s a mindset like oh well it’s not true but i needed to think that for a while to get here i think there’s a lot of mindsets for me in early recovery that just helped me get to a place and you know but like you know you change you grow do you think you’re responsible for your alcoholism oh tough question yeah so even though i came from an alcoholic dysfunctional background i still had free will i guess wow on what level do i accept responsibility do you really have free will right do i really walk out into the world and decide one plus one is three no no you’re right because i believe i am just a product of my environment we do what we’re taught i’m a product of my environment so my parents my hometown the united states of america yeah planet earth yeah i’m not very special i’m just a product it’s kind of depressing but yeah mm-hmm yeah and and that’s i mean what could we do what could i have done different i truly believe and i came to this in my therapy if i wouldn’t have had drugs i would have killed myself i really believe that i i had some self-harm behaviors in my teenage years and they only came out when i didn’t have drugs right what would if i didn’t fall in with the bad crowd in high school what would have come with me if i didn’t fall in do you think you fell in with the bad crowd i sought the bag the bad crowd looked outside like i felt on the inside i swear to god they selected me they’re like we heard your parents are getting divorced come with us that’s pretty much how it happened if i wouldn’t have been abducted by aliens when i was three i i don’t know i don’t know i just i i don’t think i can claim any responsibility and i’m sure there’s a lot of people that would argue i see people look we i post these memes all the [ _ ] time people have arguments i’m just trying to be entertaining they’re having arguments about whether suboxone’s clean whether na needs to shut the [ _ ] up whether uh you know you had a choice in using or not like all these different arguments so i know there’s a whole slew of opinions about how all this works and what it comes from and there’s people who are clean from addiction and i don’t know if this is so they can take credit for being clean but they’re like oh no it was definitely i chose it and i now i don’t choose it and blah blah and i’m like i just don’t see it that way i do not and i know people will sit here and say no dude you were totally responsible for picking up your drug you know what if i was it saved my life it was a protector it was a protector piece of me that said man if we don’t do something we ain’t gonna make it and we did something yeah i think so i know there’s certain parts of my you know my makeup that kind of shut down early on and they woke up in recovery so yes if i didn’t drink how much more would have shut down you know like memories and access to emotions and you know that self-worth kind of stuff so yeah that’s true yeah but what do we what do we do with that information what can we really tell our kids that helps right because so my daughter is struggling and not really in a place where she hears a lot like uh what i’m saying you know she’s 15 almost 16. i’m the old dad that doesn’t [ _ ] understand even though honestly she’s so much like me at that age that it’s like dude i don’t think anybody on this earth understands better than me my first reaction is can everything slow down like can just everything like like just slow down like like like barbecue nice should we give her barbiturates no but i just that that’s my gut reaction you know when when um the connection is lost slow down slow down the distractions like reassess your connection or re just reconnect with her and it might have to be like i know you’re busy as [ _ ] too like i mean like you can’t stop work so slow down you know to a point um i mean that’s my initial reaction well you know like um we’ve heard you know the word depressed deep rest you know maybe just slowing down you know the family as a unit i just don’t know right i want to give her the ability to know that it’s okay to be wherever she’s at not okay in the sense that you don’t need to do something about it but it’s okay to have whatever feeling of life is [ _ ] miserable and i don’t understand why but it just is okay you are you know the message you are whole just as you are this is this what is happening is complete how god i can’t remember the words help me this is complete just as it is that’s it so i don’t i don’t want to get us too far away from like the idea here of what what can we really give our kids and so this is where i get confused i want to say uh so my oldest two have a different mom um they spent at least half the time with her for their first seven years right and during that time i do not know what happened with them right they obviously got a different experience than they did at my house i know that much i know they were exposed through their mother and their mother’s family to like movies they had no business watching like they would definitely sit at their grandmother’s house on that side at five six and there would be r-rated horror films and slashers and titties and [ _ ] and all that like never gonna happen at my house right like you’re not catching any of that in fact i miss most r-rated movies because there’s no time to watch it after the kids go to bed i go to bed um but yeah so i i know the little bit i know from there i can only guess what other negative stuff they were exposed to right i know they were like in my mind walking to school by themselves way too early right i’ve heard stories about their mother not getting out of bed and them like scrounging for food in the kitchen and like eating peanut butter and [ _ ] out of the cabinet just out of the bucket like so i’ve heard some stuff so who knows what they got there uh that was a long way of saying that right um and i you know own my stuff like i was much more like my father in their first years of life maybe their first 10 years of life maybe not that much not that i don’t still have those moments when i’m not what i call a good parent at all right they still come out but they’re fewer and fewer and farther between but like definitely their first seven eight nine years of life like i wasn’t the prettiest dad right it felt like the good dad and then this [ _ ] hulk creature that came out that was angry and and loud just like my father and you know screaming at people about how you gotta be better and so they got that right which is what i i don’t know but i think is part of what [ _ ] me up too from my dad right um but here’s where it gets interesting not to say that the twin sister doesn’t have her struggles or that her struggles might not be harder to recognize or in different ways but generally her reaction to going through that same experience for the most part isn’t the same reaction and so like if we want to blame these aces and this trauma i’m not saying it’s not right but here we have the one sister who went through this and like really is having this incredibly awful experience and then the other one who is going to school and getting good grades and pretty trustworthy and honest and not trying all these risky behaviors and and i think that’s i’m not trying to portray one as a bad kid one is a good kid right but it’s more one can make decisions that keep her safe and the other one is making decisions to try to fix her problem but they’re putting her in dangerous situations whether that’s for her life or what like they’re really dangerous situations this is a fascinating twin study and surely they aren’t the first set to be like this aren’t there do you have access to other twin stories that have no but i mean i think what we’ve decided is that it comes down to epigenetics like you have your genetics that will react certain ways depending on your environment right and and like there’s this epigenetics that layer on top of that that kind of change what that reaction is going to be and so they can have different underlying genetics that the epigenetics filter out differently so they can go through the same thing and experience it different it’s like the person who can can walk away from a devastating car crash that killed people and they’re like oh yeah you know it was awful but i’m moving on with life and the other person who’s just hung up there and you know loses their job because they can’t go to work anymore well and and maybe they had differing experiences to hear their or otherwise right like my remembering of this which is not other adults remembering of this in my life is that the daughter that’s able to make the safe decisions she was more connected minded early on like she was very interactive with adults and wanted to be clingy and around them and the daughter that struggles with safe decision-making she always kind of kept to herself and so you know that can play a role like that sounds like biology and dna but also that feeds itself where the more interactive one is going to get more interaction and more love and more connection because she’s trying to and how old were they then i mean this is from birth like that was interesting the experience with both of them that one really wanted to be clingy and around you and one and and i remember thinking oh my god look at this great kid over there just playing all by herself doesn’t need anything and yeah scary because it didn’t didn’t really work out that way so i guess all that to say like i i still don’t know what i could have done different because i don’t know what exactly they went through that caused this because only one of them is really having the experience could i have been a better father absolutely and i wish i had the information and the capability to but i don’t know that that changes this right hindsight it’s always 20 20. or 2021 what year is it so i i don’t know what i guess what i want to give my daughter right now i want to give her the ability to know that it’s okay she doesn’t need a reason for how she feels this way i i i we’re not you know i’m not blaming her i understand at least that this is not a moral failing and that she’s not a bad person right i might not completely understand what she’s going through but i i want her to know she’s not alone you’re not alone in it i will be here with you i will try to help you with it in any way that you or i think might work like i’m willing to try some [ _ ] i’m willing to step outside the box uh i i guess that’s what i want to give her i don’t know that sounds like the best thing you can give her like that’s a totally open and willing dad so is that what we need to give him before that is that what we need to give him from birth yeah i don’t feel like i could have i don’t know that i can go out and tell parents hey you need to be open to anything from day one because i don’t i wouldn’t have been and i still don’t think i would like i need to know that this is life you can be open and still say [ _ ] no okay at least consider it at least think it through be thorough so how do we give our kids that idea that they’re not alone and that we’re there with them and and not go the [ _ ] outside and play and leave me alone until bedtime [ _ ] i don’t know i say practice every day just practice every day you’re still going to have like i need to be alone but if you if you bank up as much as you can i’m just trying to arrange my life so that you know i i don’t want to make you sound like you’re being selfish you’ve got a great life you know you have a career family ex-curricular you donate time and i think that’s awesome and it’s all like a real good package and i just i have mine set up where i i have my family time i make sure i do what i need to stay sober and i’m like i try to fill their bucket every day you know with a little something a little something that’s my preemptive i have younger kids and i mean i do have some black and white rules you know there you know i’ve there’s there’s going to be no drugs and no alcohol so and if you’re an adult and you choose that you know like there’s there’s going to be no sliding like well it’s okay if you had a little edibles nope that’s not like that’s unrealistic well i’m going to try for it and then i’ll i’ll doesn’t that still set him up for the whole so i dated this girl at one point and she was really sheltered and then she went to college and [ __ ] it all up because all of a sudden there was no rules and nobody to monitor her and no sheltering and i i don’t know that that’s exactly a thing if you’re not searching for it anyway but still like yeah in that case that case happens too but i’m gonna try to do like you know i don’t i’m not gonna send her out in the world with like you know like unrealistic stuff you know it’s going to be like you’re not going to do drugs because we have a family history of addiction and i don’t want you trying it and if you do do drugs these are your consequences laying them out ahead of time so i guess to wrap up like i just i love you i believe you like i i think the disbelief or the invalidation of how our kids feel is is extremely detrimental i i don’t know that it super helps to to validate them and believe them but it can’t hurt and i think the other alternative is really really awful to to just try to understand right just try to understand what they’re going through or where they might be try to conceptualize it in a place of they can’t do anything different because they don’t feel anything good and i think you know i don’t know just trying to give them that message from day one like i love you and i’m here and yeah and if you can’t be there from day one start where you are yeah that’s a good point for a lot of people who don’t have that day one experience because of our problems i don’t know anything else this was deep man too happy all right take it easy be safe love your kids

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