What’s it Like for a Family to Attend a 7 Steps Retreat?
What does the third BALM principle have to do with your emotions? When we explore the third BALM principle, “It is important to Let Go without Giving Up or Giving In”, let’s look at inner emotional energy.
As we have discussed before, at any moment, a family member is either contributing to the substance use disorder (SUD) or to the recovery. Contributing to the SUD includes behaviors such as enabling, staying in denial, and treating the loved one with disrespect and even contempt.
BB (Before BALMing) you may have done these things because, quite frankly, who wouldn’t bail out a loved one from jail with no strings attached? Who wouldn’t want to believe what their spouse tells them? Who wouldn’t be disgusted by the behaviors addiction leads their loved one to participate in?
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AB (After BALMing), however, things just aren’t the same. You see yourself starting to ‘take care of things your loved one can do’ and you recoil. You hear the same lies over and over and you no longer believe them. At the same time, you start to see the value of treating your loved one with dignity and respect.
But then there’s this little thing called ANGER. And who wouldn’t be angry at a loved one who is snorting all their potential up their nose or shooting it all into their veins? At a certain point, the BALM program asks you to reconsider even your anger…not the initial feeling of it. That initial response, is after all, almost primal.
But, the question is asked, what will you do with that anger? Will you control it or will it control you?
Unbridled anger goes part and parcel with contributing to the substance use disorder. It leads to yelling matches, tears, and sometimes even brawls. Ultimately, unleashing one’s anger on a struggling loved one gives them a ready-made excuse to go out and use/drink again, as in: “If you had a wife/husband/mom/dad/aunt/sister who treated you like that, you’d drink, too.”
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In Principle Three, we learn that we can’t force outcomes, but we can learn new behaviors and attitudes that will allow us to contribute to potentially better outcomes.
Among those new behaviors you will master over time in the BALM is the ability to channel love rather than anger toward your loved one. Once in the BALM community, you listen to the Principle Three lesson on “How to Let Go without Giving Up or Giving In”, and see how its tips can help you dissipate your anger in favor of a new, more loving approach.
We are not talking about the feeling of romantic love here.
We are talking about love as an energy of seeing your loved one as capable of moving toward health and well-being, and taking productive, non-enabling actions to help him or her get there.
Of course, the 12 Principles provide the information while the 7 Steps provide the tools, moment-by-moment to empower you to Be A Loving Mirror.
If you see your family members expressing anger in your interactions with your loved one, maybe everyone could benefit from a “conversation overhaul”. And the BALM 7 Steps Retreat may be exactly what you need!
In the meantime: