“They are accusing me of helping to kill my granddaughter?”, Sally said to me as tears welled up in her eyes.
Let me stop here for a moment. Many family members I meet are like Sally. They genuinely don’t see their part in the drama of family addiction. As Sally put it, “How could anything I do ever hurt her? I love her. I treat her the way I treat all my grandchildren and they aren’t having these problems, yet they’re blaming all of this on me.”
If you have a Sally in your family, I bet you can finish this conversation in your sleep. No matter what you say to them, it feels like they just don’t understand that they have a part to play in helping your loved one stay sick or get well.
Frustrated Family Member Tip #8 will be important for YOU to get:
Actions speak louder than words! Learning new ways to interact with a family enabler is more powerful than begging them to change their behavior.
So again it all comes back to skills and tools. I help people like Sally to add these tools that can and do help end addiction to their everyday life. I’ll tell you about these tools later on. When I begin working with families, they often feel hopeless and helpless, yet, a few months later, they find themselves with an arsenal of new behavioral tools to help them be more effective advocates for their loved one and their family’s recovery.
Who are you in your family’s addiction drama? Are you Millie, determined to help her daughter take personal responsibility? Tom, newly converted to responsible parenting? Or, Sally, a well-meaning parent, spouse or grandparent who just doesn’t see that there’s anything she needs to do differently?
Each family member has a role to play.
When I work with a family, it’s best to have time with each member, but that’s not always possible or necessary.
Instead, I work with whoever is willing and teach them skills to deal with their loved one and any family members blocking progress toward recovery.
When I taught these skills to Millie and Tom, they used them not only with Melissa, but with Sally, as well. Imagine using these tools to simply better any relationship, not just the ones that circle around drug addiction.
Frustrated Family Member Tip # 9: BALM® (Be A Loving Mirror) is a way of communicating with yourself and others that is grounded in a calm state of being. A person who practices BALM® observes their loved one’s behavior objectively, and shares the facts of what they see and hear without judgment, anger, or fear. While BALM® was developed for communication with a using loved one, it works well with a sober loved one as well as with anyone whose behaviors are making life difficult for you or not working well for the family.
There are four parts to “Be A Loving Mirror” that Tom and Millie began to practice to help Sally face her enabling behaviors. How did they do it? I’ll tell you about it next week; however, if you’d like, you can read more about the tips and tools Millie and Tom use to work with Sally and their daughter. Suffice it to say, these tools have given them a whole new way of looking at Sally, at Melissa, and at each other.
Could you use a new way to view yourself and others that drops the judgment and brings peace into your environment? People say that’s what the work I do with them helps them create. How much would that help your situation or the addict themselves? How about Mellisa, the addict? What must she think of her family? Are they conspiring against her?
You may have missed parts of Millie’s story. If you’d like to read more about Millie, her family members and the techniques I mentioned earlier, you can go to the upper right hand side of this page and add your best email address to receive a free guide to being in relationship with a loved one who is dealing with addiction. It tells you a bit more about “Being a Loving Mirror”. You’ll also be able to follow stories like Millie’s through regular emails delivered to your inbox.
One more thing. Do you know a Millie or a Tom? Share these stories with them.