October 10, 2017

Facilitating a healthy separation

If you read last week’s blog, I shared my challenges adjusting to the new normal and struggling to embrace the presence of positive, effective change. It has been difficult for me to let go of past experiences and trust in the shifts I have been experiencing in this recovery season on the addiction journey. One parent even commented, “it sounds like you are still in the addiction cycle.” Do we ever truly get out of it?

At one point, I believed it was possible to simply transition to a place where there would be enough distance between their addiction and my recovery, where I would not be highly sensitive to the continuous shifts in behaviors and choices. I still believe this is possible; but, it requires a higher level of awareness to our connection to and dependence upon the outcome of full recovery. I continue to be a work in progress.

I have recently come to realize how much my interaction with my son featured barometric measuring components. Despite celebrating the incredible power and healing which comes from meeting them wherever they are on their journey, without judgement, criticism, or shame, I found I was still bringing my recovery meter with me. I was unintentionally gauging his progress against my yardstick and performance measures.

Despite not being aware of my active measurement process and not being overly conscious I was keeping score, my son was acutely aware of my underlying activities and how he was feeling about it.  I wasn’t intending to put pressure on him and I really didn’t; but, that did not prevent him from knowing through past experiences which behaviors and activities would make me feel better about where he was.

The conflict that arises from his awareness is, to make me feel better and safe about his recovery, I am projecting onto him my desires relative to his choices, decisions, and activities. While they may not be on his list as he moves through his recovery process, he is aware they are on mine.  Hence the conflict.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet with him and have a great, enlightening conversation over lunch. He shared he is only touching base with me on a weekly basis because he needs the space to work through his recovery at this point, alone and on his terms. While he enjoys talking with me, he gets a sense from our conversations or face-to-face interactions, my natural desire to understand where he is and how he’s doing.  While these are normal interactions, he is calling me, not to report on his progress, but to engage in a conversation about life, in general. His awareness of my needs and how I communicate puts pressure on him to report, or stop over, or hang out so I can get a better sense of where he is.  While my son said he loved and appreciated how we were getting closer, have been healing our relationship, and this all has a positive impact on him, he feels like he needs to simply focus on being free of the expectations associated with those interactions while focusing on being healthier alone.

I completely get it.  I will explain this more in this week’s “Inside the Blog” podcast. At its core, part of the struggle with addiction is how a person feels about themselves and their search for something to make them feel better about themselves. My son is learning about being comfortable with, and learning to like, the person he is with when he is alone. Being able to articulate this process and express the desire to operate in this space is very powerful and profound.  I love how he felt safe enough to share this with me and appreciate the authenticity of the conversation.

Once again, this conversation reminded me how easily, even though it was natural and unintentional, I can insert myself into his recovery process. What I need, want and desire in the recovery process is not the driver or the issue. The parent our children, my son, needs me to be must be my highest priority. Discovering how to accomplish this, including being highly sensitive to and respectful of the desires and strategies of my son, is a critical piece to his recovery journey.  If I want my son to find and embrace his recovery, the most powerful resource I can be is one who does not get in the way, no matter what! This isn’t always easy, but it is essential. Something to think about when we go to inject ourselves into their recovery process.


Want more insights from this blog?

Join me on the podcast “100Pedals Talk: Inside the Blog” as I delve deeper into this post and share personal stories or reflections behind the article. (Note: The podcast relating to any particular blog is released on Thursday of the same week this blog is posted.) Subscribe to this podcast on I-Tunes here.

This week’s blog podcast episode: Healing and Healthy Detachment

I would love to hear from you.

What issues are confronting you today? Where are you currently experiencing fear and shame relating to the struggles in your life? I have some pretty cool tools to guide you and would love to help.  Please let me know: dave@100Pedals.com.

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About Dave Cooke

Dave Cooke is a dad on a mission. His mission is to help parents get control of their lives over the powerful, destructive influences of a child's addiction. As the father of a son in a ten year heroin battle, Dave knows all to well the challenges parents and families face. He also knows there is a way to find peace in the chaos. It is his mission to help parents discover their path to a healthier, balanced life even if a child's active addiction is still part of their daily journey.