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BALM Coach Shares her personal experience of Principle Three: It is Important to Let Go without Giving Up or Giving In

BALM | June 22, 2017

Every Monday at 12:00 noon ET and Wednesday at 8:00 pm ET, the BALM® community welcomes a family member, recovering person or expert in the field of recovery for an interview related to their understanding of one of the BALM® Principles.

This week, Bev interviewed Tracy Ward, a BALM® Coach from Kentucky for the Wednesday evening interview. Here is the transcript of part of that interview.

Good evening everyone and welcome to the Daily BALM®!

This evening our focus on Principle 3 – It is important to let go without giving up or giving in.

This principle is so pivotal in the BALM® Program as it turns tough love on its head. The BALM® idea of Love is actually the opposite of tough love. The idea is not to let go of the person you love, but to let go of your obsession with making things turn out the way you want them to.

Our guest this evening, Tracy Ward, is a BALM® coach who has practiced this principle along with our other BALM® Principles and Steps. Tracy Ward is our Lead Administrative Assistant, and a Family Recovery Life Coach trainee. She has been in the 12-Step recovery community for 23 years, has taken it upon herself to start a BALM® Family Recovery Support Group in her community and to bring the BALM® to as many families in her community as possible.

She is the proud mother of two wonderful children and mentors other teens and young adult friends of her children. She came to Family Recovery Resources to find help for her son who struggles with a Substance Use Disorder, and has found hope and life beyond. Her passion is to help families find the same hope she found, and get their lives back.

Good evening Tracy!

  1. Tracy, I know this is one of your favorite principles. Could you share your journey with us, particularly as it relates to your growth in this principle?

Yes. It is probably my favorite principle because I have found a way out of the FEAR and trying to control my son. I have learned to let go of the outcome or results, at the same time being able to keep my sanity by taking care of myself, setting and sticking to boundaries (not always so perfectly), using my support, and keeping a connection with my son.

  1. How has your own recovery story contributed to your understanding of this principle?

Being in recovery myself, and being a “real addict”. Meaning I know I can not put any mood altering substances in my body without the fear of becoming addicted, and setting off that phenomenon of craving, I was faced with the dilemma of my son practicing harm reduction after treatment with using marijuana and alcohol. To me, from what I knew of my own experience of an 18 month relapse after 18 years of sobriety, that was a recipe for disaster that would lead him back to the horrific place we were before he went to treatment of using ANY/and ALL drugs he could get his hands on including XANAX and IV Heroin.

  1. So when Sean decided to drink when he came home from treatment, what did you do and how did you ultimately decide to handle it?

Well, I actually went to visit him in AZ a couple of months before he came home, and on the last day I was there, we spent some time together, and probably more quality time then we had spent in years. I really could see myself practicing what I had been learning over the past year in the BALM®. On that day, he was getting a bit antsy and I had to be at the airport in a few hours, and he told me he was going to the restaurant across from his apartment to have a few beers with a friend. I didn’t react, but inside I was struggling a bit. I said my goodbyes and headed towards the airport. Something inside me told me to go back and go to the restaurant, so I did, and I sat with them as they drank a pitcher of beer, and I continued just being present, and not judging, and I felt a new beginning for me and my son’s relationship.

  1. So how would this new behavior you have developed for yourself play out if he decided to start taking heroin again?

That definitely would have been another story. I had set a boundary for myself, that I would not continue to support him if he chose to do anything illegal, and something that could ultimately kill him. Being that he is 21, and I knew in my gut that we had made a transition in our relationship, that he had gotten to a place of being capable of making his own decisions, and that would be more meaningful for him than me trying to control the situation out of fear of what may or may not happen. Meaning, going back to using other drugs, and doing illegal or harmful behaviors.

  1. What has it been like for you, watching your son practice harm reduction essentially with alcohol, when you know your history and that of his father?

Honestly, it has not been easy. We have had a couple of incidents of his over using of alcohol, and me setting boundaries for myself, and how I want my home to be. I really have learned to let him have his OWN journey.

  1. What I’m hearing from you Tracy, is that you have striven to keep your relationship with your son alive in the most powerful way throughout. How have you done that?

When I started really learning about motivational interviewing and the importance of the keeping the connection with my son, I knew intuitively that this is what was missing in other ways I tried to deal with my son’s substance abuse. For me, it was the next step after learning how to be CALM, and have BALM® conversations with him. It took it to another level.

  1. Could you talk about how motivational interviewing and the BALM® 7 Steps have shifted your ability to help your son and your family?

Like I said, I learned immediately coming into the BALM® how to start communicating with him differently, by taking care of me, and learning to keep myself CALM. Our relationship started changing then. Then I took the 7 Steps to BALM®, and learned how to deepen my communication with him in a way that allowed him to keep his dignity. Then I learned about the motivational interviewing, and for the first time instead of talking at my son with my agenda, I learned to allow him to think and process, and make choices for himself. This was so empowering for him. Being the control freak I had always been most of his life! 🙂

  1. What would you say to a family member that is just not getting around to taking a 7 Steps course or showing up for group coaching, both of which are offered twice a week?

I would say…..the 7 Steps is transformational if you take it seriously, and put the effort into it. It is very simple, but so different then what I had been used to doing. I learned new behaviors that changed everything. The group coaching is very important to me, because I want to be there to help other families that are where I was, and be there like someone was there for me!  Plus, I am NOT perfect at it, and I want to continue to learn and get better at all the tools I have learned. Every time I go through the 7 steps, I learn more deeply.


Update by Tracy 6-22-17:

Within 15 minutes of doing the interview, my son came up to me and said “I am really struggling. I have smoked weed the last 2 days, and I don’t know why I did it. I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I am feeling really anxious and irritable. I am NOT doing it anymore, plus I want the supervisor position at work in a couple of months, and it’s stupid for doing it.” I just stood there listening, and said, “sounds like you have a plan”. I went to bed, and slept well. To me, this is BALMing at its finest! 


The 7 Steps to BALM® is the transformational piece of the BALM® Program. Families often report a whole new perspective and ability to relate to their loved ones as a result of taking this course. To join one of the 7 Steps courses running this summer, send us an email at info@familyrecoveryresources.com or CLICK HERE for more information