Get OFF the Roller Coaster!

You know what I can’t do anymore? Ride roller coasters. They make me sick. I get dizzy, my head hurts and my entire day is ruined. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older or because my body has changed or what. But one thing is for sure, I don’t ride them anymore. I learned that I don’t like the way they make me feel or how they impact my life. So I quit.

Being in a relationship with an addict, is a lot like riding a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster of emotion, that you ride all day – every day.

They take us up and then they take us down. They take us side to side and for loops. And then just when you think the ride is over and it’s time to get off, they hit the reverse button and you do it all again, but this time backwards!

Loving an addict can be nauseating! Up and down, side to side, head over heels craziness can really suck the life right out of you.

I’m sure as many of you moms and dads read this your heads are nodding as fast as the Dwight Schrute bobblehead doll from The Office. You fully admit this is the way it is, yet for so many of us we can seem to avoid taking this ride.

We tell ourselves, we won’t do it any longer. We say NO MORE! I’m not getting back on that ride. I’m tired of being dizzy, exhausted, depressed and sick to my stomach! Yet so often we find ourselves back in line handing our ticket over to the carney and watching as he lowers the bar onto our laps and quietly whispers, “Hold on, this may hurt a little.”

Learning to stop getting on this ride is a HUGE step in the recovery process for all parents and spouses of addicts. Your ability to stop riding the emotional rollercoaster that their addiction produces is the first step towards finding your peace again. It also just may be the shove that finally pushes your addict to truly see their need to ask for help.

You see, each time you get back on that roller coaster with them. Submitting to their requests for money, buying into their grandiose stories of victimization or allowing them back into your home. You’re showing them that no matter how many loop to loops their rollercoaster has on it, you’re not getting off. You’re always gonna be there to hold the barf bag…

It’s time to get off and stay off.

It’s time to show them what a firm boundary looks like.

It’s time to start taking care of yourself and let them deal with the consequences of their actions.

I know it’s easier said than done. I get it. And if that’s the way you feel, then this week just start small. When he or she tries to pull you into their emotional craziness. Just take a deep breathe and say no.

No, I can’t help you today.

No, I can’t give you any more money.

No, I’m done bailing you out.

No, I will not let you back into my home.

No, I will not get back on this roller coaster with you.

When you stop taking your seat on their roller coaster of life, you start shutting down all the options that have supported their addiction. The longer and more effectively you can do this, the closer your addict gets to that pivotal point in their life when recovery becomes the best option.

For more help on learning how to get off the proverbial roller coaster that is loving an addict, pick up my book: Finding Hope, a Field Guide for Families Affected By Addiction.

My Moment

“We do not remember days, we remember moments” – Ceasre Paverse

It was a normal morning. It started off just like almost every other morning had the previous three years.  I woke up blurry eyed, hungover, jonesing for something to take away the pain.

My legs were kicking and my stomach was aching. I took my time getting ready for the day, stopping every few minutes as my gut rejected all the previous night had forced upon it.

It was miserable, but it was normal.

With a hand full of pills in my pocket and a few more waiting for me in my top desk drawer, I headed out. A couple Red Bull pit stops later and I made it into work about 9:45.

Locked inside my office, my day began. Chopping, smashing and lining up 3 beautiful rails that would be my breakfast. A mixture of Oxy’s and Lortabs flew up my nose, at about the same time I heard a pounding on my office door!

My life changed in this moment. It was at this precise moment that everything began to change. It was April 6th, 2011. 5 years ago today. (click here to read exactly what happened)

I often ponder what God must have been thinking the days leading up to this moment. Was He excited? Was He smiling? Did He wonder what choice I would make when given the opportunity? Or did He already know? What did God think about this moment?

Of all my experiences the past 5 years, it was in this moment where everything stood in the balance.  I could go and open the knocking door, face the truth and begin to change. Or I could open the door, continue living in denial and run from reality like I had done for so long. This moment offered two distinct options. Freedom or continued bondage.

I’ve often said that what changed for me in that moment was the choice I made to finally confess. Instead of arguing over details or trying to manipulate my way out of it, I just admitted the truth that everyone else already knew. I was caught and it was time to get honest. It was my moment.

Since that moment at roughly 10AM on April 6th 2011 nothing has been the same. Life has truly been magical.

That magic moment brought so much truth into my life. I learned that confrontation breeds change. That God is not, was not and will never be, mad at me. I realized that He had a plan for my life. I began to see that my life was worth living and living to the full. I chose freedom and I’m so glad I did.

That moment changed me forever.

I believe moments like this happen every day for so many of us. I believe God provides “a way out” of pain, divorce, addiction, guilt, shame and resentment all the time. Sometimes it’s through people and sometimes it’s through circumstances. But the moments of change are always present. Freedom is always one moment away.

The question is, “What will you do with the moments God gives you today?”

Could it be that the life you’ve always wanted hangs in the balance of the choices you make in the moments God gives you today?

My life is proof that that is possible.

So make the most of the moments God gives you. Choose to embrace challenge, step into confrontation and as often as you can, confess you baggage.

Life is meant to be lived free. May you step into the moments that God gives you today and find the freedom you deserve.

Hope is Alive!


It Got My Son (Part 1)

Guest Post: Pam Lang

There is a tremendously thin tightrope parents struggle to walk. You work to be omniscient in order to protect them from evil that is lurking. You strive to see their vulnerabilities and train them to overcome… to be strong when temptation raises its ugly head. This is what I desperately wanted to do for my children. I had seen the absolutely devastating effects of drug abuse and alcoholism in my husband’s family—how it took lives, how it destroyed relationships, how it left family members poverty-stricken.

My husband had nursed his father (with whom he had never lived) as he lay dying in a nursing home with an acid-eroded esophagus from decades of alcohol abuse. We had seen so many divorces it was hard to remember in-laws’ names. We experienced family members going from owning businesses and living in nice homes to begging us for money.

It was ugly, and I wanted my children to see alcoholism and drug abuse for what it truly was.

As a parent, I tried to live out the principles of scripture as laid out in Deuteronomy 6 where it says, “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your house and on your gate.”

When bad choices cost people or took people’s lives…it was the lesson I taught. When people made good choices and God blessed them, I gloriously set their example as a trophy in front of my children. My husband made sure they were surrounded by godly, Christian men and women. We had missionaries, evangelists, pastors, and denominational leaders intentionally in our home for them to learn from and hopefully emulate. I talked to them about how important it was to never take that first drink or experiment with that first drug due to the rampancy of abuse in our family. At the breakfast table each morning I prayed with them and for them. I searched for age-appropriate devotional books for us to read together, we memorized scripture… I strove to fully arm them as they left my nest.

Yet, it got my son.

Did I see it coming? Lance was strong-willed, incredibly capable, always the leader, always out front, always first… always pushing the boundaries, so did I see it coming? I guess I worried he would get into some situations where he would try stuff and we would have to discipline and pull back the reins, but I never thought bad choices would totally alter the whole course of his life. I had been too proactive for that to happen… but yet it did.

In the course of a few months he went from being a high school graduate enrolled for college in the fall, to being a teenage husband and father. I find out a decade later that he had begun to dabble with weed his senior year of high school which led to a whole pattern of bad behavior.

Was I blind? How did I not catch this? How did this happen under my watch, under my roof… am I the worst parent in the world? Did I not do enough to prepare him for temptations, did I not pray enough, was I not strict enough or was I too strict, did I not check out his friends and activities closely enough? If I allow them, these questions continue today to eat me alive, to suck the very life right out of me. Why…

Because, it still got my son.

Since we became pros in the addiction/recovery world over the last few years, I have discovered a new word…the word is enabling. Evidently, many times alcohol or drug addiction is the result of one or both parents enabling their child not to grow up, to remain dependent, to not accept responsibility…in other words, to do too much for them. So I have self-examined. I have searched myself; I have pondered and I have scoured my soul. My conclusion: I guess I did.

What I thought was empowering maybe was enabling; what I thought was giving good gifts to my children maybe was spoiling; what was pushing them to popularity and success in a lot of activities maybe was imposing my life upon them. All I do know is this: I wanted them to have the very best life possible and be thankful; I wanted them to be godly, holy Christians that made a difference in their world; I wanted them to respect authority and above all fear their God, for this truly is the beginning of wisdom. I tried my best, I failed a lot, I have regrets, I would do things differently today, but unfortunately we don’t have mulligans in raising our children. My intentions were good…

Yet, it still got my son.

Check back next week for Part 2 of “It Got My Son”.

To read more amazing content from my mother pick up my new book, Finding Hope.

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