Second Chances – Puppy Love Part II

We hear a lot about service as an important part of recovery. Midwestern Mama observes #SoberSon experience the boost in self-esteem that comes from helping others – this time, a rescue puppy who needs a home.

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Just as there is no one-size-fits-all treatment program, the same should be said for recovery. My son floundered in traditional approaches yet has thrived in the past 18 months through a guided, but self-directed program. In addition to counselors and family members, our family dog has been a central part of his recovery, and most recently, a new dog has offered him an opportunity to grow.

Enter a two-year-old pit-bull mix from a local adoption program that works through foster homes instead of shelters. Our daughter and son in law are fostering the puppy until it gets its “forever” home. Because they work overlapping full-time schedules, there are some points during the day when they need someone to let out the dog, take it for walks, and give it some love.

Enter #SoberSon. His spring semester college schedule has him wrapping up classes by early afternoon a couple days each week, so he’s able to take on dog duty those days. Not only is this another example of the growing trust that our family now has in our son – he has a key to their house – it’s an awesome opportunity for him to volunteer his time in exchange for tail wags and dog kisses!

He realizes that he’s saving the dog’s life and helping it heal from whatever past it may have had.

He commented the other day that, “it’s all about giving him a second chance.” My heart melted because, I think he realizes that he, too, got a second chance when he embraced treatment, sobriety and recovery.

In a few weeks, this dog will go to its new home and when it does, it will go with its own renewed sense of trust in people and belief that the world can be an awesome place

Midwestern Mama

©2016 Our Young Addicts            All Rights Reserved

Experiences, Resources & Hope for Parents

Happy Monday! If last week is any indication of all the possibilities ahead, then this week is going to rock. Midwestern Mama was out of town last week on a mini vacation, had a fantastic weekend at home with the family, and is excited about what’s next for Our Young Addicts.

Road Trip

Like most of the world, Monday morning has a way of greeting us with a groan, but instead, today I’m smiling as I think about all the opportunities ahead for the Our Young Addicts community. Before I highlight this week, let me tell you about my road trip last week.

Road Trip

My youngest son – our 15-year-old – spent five days at an intensive sports training camp in Missouri. This year, my husband and I drove him there on Sunday and then had several days to take a mini vacation. Although we both did some work each morning in our hotel room, we spent the rest of the day exploring the area. We had some fantastic meals, great conversations and even saw a matinee movie.

Husband and Wife, Dad and Mom

Recently, I wrote an article for In Recovery Magazine, which will run in the September 2015 issue. It’s about the impact of a child’s addiction on the parents’ marriage. While I won’t spoil the article, I will say that our mini vacation was an example of why our marriage – although stressed by our older son’s addiction – has continued to grow stronger. We thoroughly enjoyed our time together.

Trust Feels Good

What made this even better was that our older son, who is now in recovery, was able to house- and dog sit without any worries whatsoever by my husband and me! That’s a huge step forward for all of us.

The Best Gift Ever

Over the weekend, I wrote a blog post for I Have Will which will run on Friday this week. It focuses on the “best gift ever.” And, again, without spoiling anything – it’s absolutely the gift my husband received for Fathers Day.

Guest Blog on Wednesday and Throw Back Thursday

This week for Our Young Addicts, we’ll continue with a guest blog post on Wednesday and with a #TBT post on Thursday. I think you’ll like both of these and find the content of great value no matter where you and our child are on the continuum of addiction, treatment and recovery.

The guest blog post will be from a substance abuse and mental health professional who shares his personal story and how his experience with addiction prompted him toward helping others. It will be a three-part series interspersed with other guest blogs from parents and young people in recovery. I am grateful for having such a wonderful community willing to share experiences, resources and hope.

Midwestern Mama

©2015 Our Young Addicts                            All Rights Reserved

#TBT – Addiction … Truth for 24 Hours

Three years ago, Midwestern Mama contemplated what it would be like if her son could tell the truth for 24 hours. Here’s a column that ran in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. #TrustFeelsGood #OYACommunity

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You know the saying … we’ve come a long way, baby. And thank goodness for that!

Trust is Possible

When trust is lost during addiction, it takes time to rebuild during recovery – sometimes it seems like forever – but Midwestern Mama is discovering that trust is possible. She’s coming up with more and more examples of the growing trust that’s taking place with her son.

Trust is possible.  A few months ago, I would have been skeptical of that statement.  A few years ago, I would have thought it was impossible.Today, I know it is not only possible, it is true.

Already, I have noted at least 13 examples of trust that I now have in my son.  Each day this month, I am capturing example after example.  Check out our twitter @OurYoungAddicts and Facebook for these updates.  I will share more examples here, too.  When I look at all of these together, I am filled with amazement and I am filled with excitement.

We still take things day by day; however, with each act of honesty, the trust gets stronger.

Yes, trust is possible!

Midwestern Mama

Positive Change is in the Air!

Today is eight months sober for Midwestern Mama’s son! Not only is trust growing, she is trusting herself more and seeing the #PositiveChange that come from trusting that things will turn out as they are meant to be.

Encouragement is one of the best things we can offer each other, especially for those of us who are parenting young addicts – in active use or in recovery. It’s often the most uncharted territory we’ve ever experienced, so that’s why encouragement is important; but I’d say that’s where unvarnished truth is paramount as well. We need to hear the good and the bad because the truth in neither good or bad – it is simply the way it is currently and it gives us an opportunity to see the possibilities ahead.

In each of my interactions with the Our Young Addicts community, I offer been-there-done-that perspective. I’m a naturally upbeat, positive person but don’t confuse this for being naive or oblivious to the challenges that addiction and recovery bring.

When we discover substance use and then begin to experience addiction, we focus on “if they would just go to treatment” or “if they would just stop using.” Sometimes they do. Sometimes that happens right away. Quite often, it takes time – lots of time and consequences – before they are ready. During this process many mantras surface, including the familiar “letting go” where you and a higher power connect.

Then, one day, recovery begins. With that comes a whole new slew of hopes and expectations. Once again, the “letting go” mantra surfaces. This time, letting go is about three-way trust – you, your higher power and your loved one. This third component – your loved one – is so much stronger than you ever imagined.

Trusting my son means trusting myself and also trusting that things will work out as they are meant to. Whoa! What a difference.

As I write about the many positive changes taking place for my son and our family, it’s also had its challenges and concerns. Recovery is not easy for any one of us, but trust me we much prefer this stage.

In particular, my son has a good deal of social anxiety. He pulls it together for school and work, but frankly, it exhausts him and overwhelms him.

Initially, he reconnected with some of his high school friends (now in their early 20s and having moved on with their lives) but has sense withdrawn from them. He has very little social life – and mom, dad and little brother day in and day out are a poor substitute for the fun and interaction that a 22-year-old craves.

Because he doesn’t embrace 12-steps, there are fewer options for support meetings. And, because he doesn’t like groups in general, he doesn’t want to attend alternatives such as Health Realization or SMART Recovery or Sober Meet Ups. It’s frustrating to live in what’s affectionately known as the Recovery Mecca or Land of 10,000 Rehabs (Minnesota!) and that he doesn’t want to be part of this community.

At work, he’s convinced that no one likes him and that his coworkers conspire against him. He’s certain that’s why he doesn’t get the good shifts. Likely it’s not true, but it feels miserable all the same.

All this pessimism worries me. It feels like an anxiety attack or depressive strike in the making. It feels like a relapse could trigger. Sometimes, I realize that it could be even worse – suicide or overdose. Honestly, I don’t sense this is eminent or I would be taking extremely proactive steps. I do, however, know that I have to be aware and that I have to trust myself to intervene or to let go. I pray a lot. And as you know, I write and reach out to others. I am blessed with a wonderful support network and this community. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

With all that aside, let me share with you a recent positive change, however, and I am crediting it all to the growing trust that we’re experiencing!

The other day, my son begrudgingly went to his workplace party – a Monday evening dinner with games and prizes. All on his own, he styled up in a sharp sports coat, button-down shirt and leather dress shoes. (Most days, it’s sweat pants and a hoodie.) Not only did he enjoy the meal, he played cards and even won one of the raffles, and he got to meet and chat with the owner of the company. He stayed the whole evening and was in an upbeat, chatty mood when he got home.

The next day, he worked a lunch shift (since he’s on spring break from school and had extra hours available). He was tipped well and again came home in a positive mood.

That evening, he ran some errands with the family and we went out for burgers at a new restaurant. Often in the past, we’d ask if he wanted to join us and he’d say, “No, don’t feel like it.”

Today, he took the dog out for a walk – something that subzero temps have precluded. The sunshine and mild temperatures spoke to him. I can only believe that some Vitamin D will do him some additional good!

And, he shared with me that one of his friends is turning 24 today and that he had reached out to say happy birthday. I was so proud of him for doing that. Further, the friend lives a couple of hours away and my son asked if it might be possible to borrow the car to go visit him sometime. Absolutely!

It’s funny because a week ago I had said to my husband that I’d probably trust our son to drive to visit his friend and stay the night. We agreed we could trust him, but I was hesitant to suggest it. Instead, he came up with the idea on his own – thus, he likes the idea! This really encourages me. This is a friend who stuck by him through his worst days and who is himself a positive role model.

I’m encouraged and trust this is a turning point.

Midwestern Mama

Defining & Demonstrating Trust

Trust is one of the greatest gifts of recovery. During March, Midwestern Mama contemplates the meaning of trust and highlights daily examples of the trust that is growing in her family.

Whenever the word trust comes up, most people mention things like honesty, integrity and confidence. We also tend to talk about trust as something that is earned. And, boy oh boy, if trust is broken, that’s a major no-no – for certain, that’s when rebuilding trust takes time to earn back.

One of the first signs we noticed when my son was struggling during high school was that we could no longer trust him. He’d say one thing and do another. He’d never be where he said he was going to be including places like work or school. (Amazingly, he almost always was at sports practice – it was more a matter of what he did or where he went before and after!) This dishonesty also encompassed stealing and outright lying.

Who was this young man? Why was he breaking our trust? As we would find out, trust and honesty disappeared as his drug use escalated. He had never given us reason to not trust him. It was devastating.

With kids, sure trust is earned; but is earned as they grow up. I think we have a different set of standards for our children than we have for strangers or even acquaintances. Of course we trust family, right? Perhaps, that’s part of why it’s doubly difficult to rebuild broken trust.

In early recovery, it’s easy to trust too soon. Before they are ready for that responsibility and accountability. Before our wounds are healed. We think by granting them trust again that it will give them confidence. Instead, it can back fire especially with relapses. That’s even more devastating.

However, when trust is demonstrated, well, that’s when we begin to believe. That’s when trust grows!

Recently, here are some of the examples of trust that we’ve experienced:

  • Today, I trust my son is saving money and paying off debts incurred from his years of addiction.
  • Today, I trust my son will take his Suboxone as prescribed.
  • Today, I trust my son has a job and will be at work.
  • Today, I trust my son has the tools and desire to remain sober and resist relapse.
  • Today, I trust my son will be home each night unless he’s made other arrangements.
  • Today, I trust my son will stay sober when he experiences disappointments or tough times.

The growing trust that we are experiencing with our son is truly encouraging and energizing. Each of the examples above was something that even a few months ago, especially a year or more ago, was no longer a given in our family. Now, these things are possible. #Recovery #PositiveChange #TrustFeelsGood

Share with us the examples of trust you have right now with the young adults in your life – whether in active addiction or in the glory of recovery.

Midwestern Mama