Afraid to Let Go: Overcoming Codependent Patterns to Support Your Child’s Recovery

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Afraid to Let Go: Overcoming Codependent Patterns to Support Your Child's Recovery
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:

“Codependent” is one of the many words that has moved from the mental health field into casual, daily conversation. Unfortunately, its broad use has left most of us without a grounded understanding of what codependency really is, how it can affect our lives, and what to do about it.  

Mary is the Faculty and Program Coordinator at San Jose City College Alcohol & Drug Studies Program, the Co-Founder and Clinical Director of Recovery Connections Treatment Services, and far too many other programs to list here. Her expertise on attachment and codependency led her to a simple principle: people develop a secure attachment to substances to self-soothe when key adults can’t see them or respond to their needs appropriately.

After decades of clinical work and academic instruction, Dr. Cook is uniquely qualified to explain the connection between codependency and substance misuse. In this episode, we’ll cover the three components of codependency – development, behaviors, and physiological consequences – how they’re connected to substance use and our ability (or inability) to set appropriate boundaries, and the crucial concept of “lifting the bottom up” for people struggling with substance use disorders.


EPISODE RESOURCES:

This podcast is part of a nonprofit called Hopestream Community
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Find us on Instagram: @hopestreamcommunity
Download a free e-book, Worried Sick: A Compassionate Guide For Parents When Your Teen or Young Adult Child Misuses Drugs and Alcohol

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Mary:
 0:00People who have upper middle class kids, their kids have never known a moment of discomfort in their life, right? And their parents are like, well, he’s just going to be homeless. And I think to myself, yeah, no, because your little suburban kid is going to last about a day. Okay. It’s so interesting. But the parent is a hundred percent convinced that this child will never talk to them again if they tell them no. And I get that it’s painful. And when you first start saying no, you hold your breath and you know what? Most of the time, nothing happens. Okay. They have a little tantrum. The belief is that a tantrum is a deal breaker. It’s really not.
Brenda:
 0:52You’re listening to HopeStream. If you’re parenting a young person who misuses substances, is in a treatment program or finding their way to recovery. You’re in the right place. This is your private space to learn from experts and gain encouragement and support from me, Brenda Zane, your host and follow mom to a child who struggled. This podcast is just one of the resources we offer for parents. So after the episode, head over to our website at hopestreamcommunity. org. I’m so glad you’re here. Take a deep breath, exhale, and know that you have found your people. And now let’s get into today’s show. Welcome back, my friend. I hope you’re breathing and taking such good care of yourself today. I recently returned from a few days in the beautiful dry warmth of Arizona. Um, which feels amazing, especially when you’re coming from the cold, wet Pacific Northwest in late May, early June. It’s a lot. I was really fortunate to spend some time connecting with other moms and coaches who support parents when their kids are struggling. And it was incredibly restorative and healing. So Um, because this is so fresh in my mind and I’m still in a little bit of that Zen space, I just want to reiterate how critical it is for you to get some time to take care of yourself. Whether that’s five minutes sitting still and being present in the morning before you pick up your phone, or maybe you can also get away just for 10, 12, 24 hours with a friend or just by yourself. Today’s episode is, I have a feeling, going to be a huge knowledge bomb for you if you’ve ever wondered why you respond to your partner or spouse or your child the way you do. I was lucky enough to get time with Mary Crocker Cook, a licensed marriage and family counselor and advanced alcohol and drug counselor who has been practicing since 1988. In addition to her clinical work, she developed and continues to coordinate the San Jose City College Alcohol and Drug Studies Program. Mary holds a PhD in clinical psychology and addiction studies, and she has authored over, I think it’s 13 books. The one that caught my attention and prompted this conversation is called Afraid to Let Go for Parents of Adult Addicts and Alcoholics. Mary’s an expert in codependence and attachment. And in this conversation, we talked about a wide range of things, but importantly, she breaks down what codependence really is. And by the way, it’s probably not what you’ve been led to believe. We discuss fear based love and decision making. We talk about why boundaries and natural consequences are so extra hard for some people. Why some parents have an anxious or avoidant attachment style what it looks like when parents can’t connect with their kids And she explains why as parents of kids who are caught up in an addictive cycle using substances We can do crazy and ridiculous things just like our kids. It is a goldmine for sure I can’t wait to let you learn from dr. Mary Crocker cook. So here you go Dr. Mary Crocker Cook. I am thrilled to have you here today. I have never addressed the topic of codependency and how this kind of trickles into all kinds of spaces, our relationships with our families. So I’m thrilled to have this conversation. I know I’m going to learn a lot and I’m just happy to have you here. So thanks for joining me and taking me the, taking the time. to come on hope stream.
Mary:
 5:04This is my favorite topic. So thank you for giving me an opportunity to talk about it.
Brenda:
 5:10Yes. Well, what that tells me is if it’s your favorite topic, it probably is pretty impactful when you share this information with people. Otherwise. It might not be your favorite topic.
Mary:
 5:20Well, it’s also, you know, I think it’s also personal. I mean, cause when we start to talk about codependency, now let me lay the, set the table a little bit, the way I talk about, uh, codependency is from an attachment perspective. Okay. So I know that, um, one of the difficulties with it. Is in the nineties, it got really so watered down, like, you know, like checklists and it’s like, well, anybody could be codependent. Uh, that’s not true. And in fact, part of my mission, because I teach this also at San Jose City College and I taught it in different, um, venues, is to say, you know, absolutely not everybody is codependent. However, uh, there is a cohort of us that struggle around our early attachment. Um, issues and they do absolutely affect our parenting, um, they affect our, all of our relationships, right? Parenting really is just a relationship. Would you like me to just sort of give you a overview of the definition?
Brenda:
 6:19I think that would be helpful because we hear it all the time, especially for the parents who are listening, who have kids who are struggling. It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot, but I don’t think anybody takes the time to really tell us what it means. So I would love that.
Mary:
 6:32Well, here’s how I, now this is my definition. And again, this is, uh, So what I believe to be true after doing this for like 35 years, okay? So at its heart, codependency is a set of behaviors developed to manage the anxiety that comes when our primary attachments are formed with people who are inconsistent or unavailable in their response to us. Okay? So that’s part one. We develop, okay, we have a lot of anxiety about our early ability to connect with other people. Because they were either not available or sometimes available. Part 2. Our anxiety based responses to life include over reactivity, image management, unrealistic beliefs about our limits. And attempts to control the reality of other people. And so in the process of managing our anxiety about our connections to other people, we lose our boundaries. Okay. Our self esteem tanks. Ultimately our, our, you know, even our reality can get kind of fuzzy. And then part three, this is the final part. This is important that codependency is also a chronic stress disease. Okay. Uh, because of the chronic anxiety of trying to manage our connections with other people. We are, we, it can devastate our immune system and leave to systemic and even life threatening illness. Okay. So when I’m, when I’m talking about Codepeda Z, I’m really talking about three different, three different pieces, but they go together. Okay. So we’ve got the developmental origin, we got the behaviors we do, and then we got out the toll it takes on our body. Okay. Because Some of us, again, we have been doing some of these behaviors way before we ever had a kid. Okay. This, this is part of the way where we operate and you add your kid in and okay, there’s yet another relationship.
Brenda:
 8:29That makes so much sense. And what I love about it is it doesn’t, it doesn’t say, Oh, you’re this like dysfunctional person that’s intentionally trying to script your relationships. Like what I heard in the, in point number one is that. It’s really a coping mechanism that we have developed as a result of some stuff that happened when we were younger and, and I would love to talk, if you would, just for a minute about what counts as not available. So I think a lot of us feel like we’ve. Um, either our parents were very available for us, yet we still might have some of these tendencies or we were very available for our kids, but they are. So in the past, I think it’s been a lot of feelings of blame and shame. Yes, I know. If you’re considered codependent, right? Like you abandon your kid or if you know, if you have these poor attachments, so maybe talk a little bit about what does it mean when you say. You know, the people around you when you were young that cared for you, caregivers or people who loved you, were not available or, or not available enough?
Mary:
 9:38That’s a really good question because I love parents and I think it’s the hardest job in the whole wide world. So it’s not about blaming. What it’s about is the ability to be seen and heard accurately. Attachment, it comes from a child to a parent and it’s their natural instinctive desire to connect, to survive. They need to attach. Bonding comes from shared experience. Okay. One of the things that we talk about available is the, uh, the caregiver has the ability to see and hear the child accurately, which implies. They’re available and not caught up somewhere else. And it is, it is never intentional. Okay. It’s not like I’m trying to ignore my baby. Availability has to do with the ability to, to be able to mentalize or focus on the child from the child’s perspective. But if I’m a highly anxious parent, I’m really afraid I’m going to screw it up. Okay. I’ve had clients that have had, you know, rather checkered past. Okay. And their biggest fear is their kids going to wind up in San Quentin like them. Okay. So early on, they’re constantly anxious and over, you know, like, Oh no. Or you have other parents who are, you know, sometimes they’re available and they’re, they’re able to really focus and be present, but they also have their own challenges, either depression, anxiety, alcohol themselves. Um, A dysfunctional marriage they’re trying to manage. Okay. They have their own off the hook parents and their sandwich parents. And so they’ve got, you know, these parents over here who are crazy and they’re trying to manage that. Right. So, and then you have the parents that, that in some ways just, um, are not present for themselves or anybody else. So they might be physically present, but they’re not able to see and hear the child. They just cannot. It’s almost like they only see and hear who they think the child is. Okay. If that makes sense,
Brenda:
 11:50the parents who maybe are military parents, one parent is deployed and they’re not, they’re physically not available or you travel a lot or you have a, another child who’s very ill and in the hospital and you physically can’t be there with that. Does that fall into that same bucket?
Mary:
 12:10Exactly. Exactly. There’s so many reasons that attachment gets disrupted that have nothing to do with love, right? My father was military. He would leave for six months to a year. Nothing to do with love. All right. I can love somebody very much. I have a medical condition that I have to be. hospitalized, right? For a long period of time, or I’m deployed, or I’m working three jobs because I live in California. Exactly. And you know, I like to feed my children, so I work three jobs, right? So yeah, I’m really glad, Brenda, that you’re opening it with this, that it’s really not about parent blaming at all. And here’s the good news. The definition is founded on early attachment, but we can change this. But it’s not like, you know, well, because I have my own early childhood, uh, interruptions, uh, interrupts my own parenting and I guess we’re all screwed. It’s like, no, we can, we can become more available to see and hear the people in our lives, right? We can, we can change this.
Brenda:
 13:22I love that. And I think the other thing that that does for me at least is we hear a lot about helicopter parenting and, you know, parents who are trying to exert so much control over their kids. And I don’t hear the term helicopter parenting as much anymore. Maybe that’s because I’m older and I have older kids, but I’m guessing that these are two different things then.
Mary:
 13:45They are. There is some overlap in behavior. Because the foundation of this is because I have interrupted early attachment myself, I don’t truly trust that my connections are solid. And so one response to not trusting that my connections are solid is to, uh, risk, perceive threat to the attachment. So when you’re, when you, my child, aren’t responding, you’re unavailable. Uh, you’re not listening to me. I could perceive that as something’s wrong with our connection, our relationship. And so I may in fact be intrusive. I might actually monitor highly too much. I’m monitoring you because really I’m anxious. I want to make sure we’re okay. Are we okay? How are we doing? Right? So that, that’s where you could see some behavior that overlaps versus, yeah, I just want to control the control. It’s more like. I want to make sure that we’re still okay. And so I, I do. I may be intrusive and I may be up in your business. And I do it, by the way, if you do it with your child, you do it with everyone. Can I just say that? Okay. If you’re, you’re not just a helicopter parent, um, pretty much if you, if you’re coming from anxiety, you also are intrusive with people you love, period. Okay. Got it. It’s, it’s not only my kid and like, you know, rummaging through their stuff. Okay. Probably not. In fact, the more you love somebody when we have, when we struggle with this, the more likely we are to break in their email. You know what I’m saying? It’s a sign of love.
Brenda:
 15:26Yes. Yes. It’s, it makes a lot of sense the way you describe it. And and then, you know, the sort of the crux of all of this is then when you talked about, you know. If that person, you feel like the attachment isn’t solid with them, when you have a kiddo who’s, you know, struggling with, with drugs and alcohol and a high risk lifestyle and mental health, they are not present and available a lot of the time. Most of the time. That’s right. Right. So then that just adds an extra layer of anxiety.
Mary:
 15:59Absolutely. That, and so, you know, when you see, when I see the parents and again, I, I tend to work with, I’ve worked with older people, so I work with older, I don’t work with teens. I work with. Now, young people and older, okay? But the parents usually look like raccoons, um, they’re not sleeping, um, they’re very worried and in fact, they say things like, oh, thank God he’s arrested, at least I know where he is. Um, you know, there’s a, there is a lot of anxiety around what are they doing? And genuine fear, genuine fear around what is happening, are, are they dead on the side of the road? And it is, it’s very frightening to love somebody who’s out of control. It’s, it’s genuinely frightening. I mean, it’s not just codependency. Okay. Right. Codependency would be genuine fear on steroids. So I was already struggling, but then now I have an addicted child. And so now I’m, I am absorbed and lost in this drama. I’m, I’m hijacked. And this leads me to that third part. Remember I talked about the medical. Okay. When I say hijacked, what I mean is when people are highly anxious. They constantly get locked in a fight or flight or freeze stress cycle. So it’s like the way it’s supposed to work is a tiger is going to eat me. My entire sympathetic nervous system jacks up and I get ready to protect myself or run away. The tiger either eats me, right? Or I get away and everything calms down. When you have attachment challenges, Your fight or flight system and perception of threat is heightened. And so you, you don’t get to relax and rest very much. It’s like your foot’s on a gas pedal, right? And you never let it up. And so what happens is your body parts start to break down just like your car would. Okay. And so what I see with the parents is gastrointestinal, immune system issues, headaches, and so on They’re on antidepressants, anxiety meds, because it’s so hard on their body. And one of my reasons and passions around this, particularly for parents and, and really significant others of people who are addicted is paying attention to your body. Okay? Because what happens when we are caught up in this is for a lot of us, we’re like floating heads. And if I grew up. I’m not trusting my attachments and I’m on the more avoidant side. I hide in my head. My thinking is my happy place. So what I do when, as soon as I have a feeling of any kind is I down regulate it, go up in my head and I start research, research, research, research, research. I love reading, reading, reading, researching. That’s my happy, happy safe place. But your body is still anxious. So even though on the outside of you, you look like, okay, I’m, I’m just, I’m on task, right? Um, your body is still at the same level of risk as somebody who’s openly anxious. In fact, the cool thing about the openly anxious people is they’re also sensitive to their body. So they’ll start to notice things faster where the avoided people show up into ER, right? Because they’ve, they’ve ignored their body, ignored their body until now. Okay. Now I need emergency care. Yeah. Yes. This is a really important for the parents listening, pay attention, listen to your body. It’s a very smart. Yes. And if you aren’t sleeping and you’re not taking care of yourself. You’re doing, you’re not helping anybody else and, um, you’re leaving yourself really vulnerable. Yeah.
Brenda:
 19:56Right. You need, you need your health. Absolutely. Codependent or not. Right. We need our help. Is there like a test or how, I’m just curious, like, how do you know, like, how would I arrive in your office and say, Dr. Cook, I think I might be codependent. Like, what would I be doing or displaying that would tell you that?
Mary:
 20:17This is so funny you asked this. All right. Because this term is so fuzzy, the only way people ever come into my office and tell me they might be codependent is if someone else told them they are. Right. Which is very funny to me. Okay. That is funny. But there is a book that came out a couple of years ago for the general population called Attached, and that has to do with your attachment style in your adult relationships. Okay. My book for parents is called Afraid to Let Go for adult parents of alcohol, of addicts and alcoholics. Okay. So if you, so you can read about parent, child, I have Afraid to Let Go, right? You can get it on Amazon or adult relationships. You can take a look at Attached and they have little quizzes and things in there. Okay. It’s not as much a quiz in my world as much as a book. When you look at how you are behaving in your relationships, are you, um, if you’re anxious, you have a tendency toward the intrusive side, right? So you have a tendency, you’re the kind of person that, okay, text. Okay. You haven’t answered in a minute. Okay. Texting. Okay. Texting again. Okay. W WTF. Okay. You’re not answering. Avoidant people have a tendency to Because the way they help a relationship is to not be a problem. So unfortunately what they will do if there’s anxiety is withdraw. They won’t go toward it. They go away from it because their version of love is You’re clearly already overwhelmed. You’re clearly already having a hard time. The last damn thing you need is me. And so Unfortunately, they give the impression they don’t care. In fact, if you have avoidant attachment, the more you care, the less present you are. Because, because what you’re, what you think is, if I ask for things, if I need things, I’m going to overwhelm you and you’re going to leave, right? Yep. Now they tend to marry each other and you can see why, right? Oh boy. If you had two avoidant people, first of all, who would ask for the date? Okay. This wouldn’t go well. Or our dates would be every two months. You need one person who will pursue. All right. So 10, they get to tend to choose each other. But then the parent fighting is the perception of caring. You care too much. You care too little. Okay. It’s not about caring. It’s about responding to anxiety. Okay. And if I, what I grew up with is the message I got was my needs and wants were overwhelming to my caregiver. I learned early on to manage myself and not be a problem. Okay. The more anxious side of the codependents have a tendency to, they try to make their parents be better parents by forcing the attention. Okay. So they do the more intrusive behavior, you know, like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Pay attention. Okay. Now pay attention. Right? Yeah. So, the parents get into conflict because their, their attachment styles trigger each other. Right? And, around the kid. Like, well, you know, obviously I love our child more than you do, blah, blah, blah, blah. Nothing to do with love. In fact, though, the harder the situation, the more you see that. Yeah, so some of what I do and have done is, you know, when I have parents, um, you know, I basically translate attachment style for them. I also have YouTubes. You could look up on attachment style and Mary Crocker cook TV Um, because you, if you understand at least what’s happening, it makes it a little bit less personal.
Brenda:
 24:14Yeah.
Mary:
 24:15Otherwise, otherwise you’re, you’re withdrawing from me, right? Right. You’re controlling me.
Brenda:
 24:29Hi, I’m taking a quick break to let you know some exciting news. There are now two private online communities for supporting you through this experience with your child or children. The stream community for those who identify as moms and the woods for guys who identify as dads. Of course, this includes step parents and anyone who is caring for a young person who struggles with substance use and mental health. The stream and the woods exist completely outside of all social media. So you never have to worry about confidentiality and they’re also ad free. So when you’re there, you’ll be able to focus on learning the latest evidence based approaches to helping people change their relationship with drugs and alcohol. In both communities, we have a positive focus without triggering content or conversations, and we help you learn to be an active participant in helping your child move towards healthier choices. You’ll also experience the relief of just being able to be real. Connect with other parents who know fully what you’re going through and have battle tested mentors alongside. You can check out both the stream and the woods for free before committing, so there’s no risk. Go to HopeStreamCommunity. org to get all the details and become a member. Okay, let’s get back to the show. As a parent, when you have a child who’s struggling like this, of course you’re going to be anxious and worried. Yep. No matter if you’re like the most emotionally healthy person on the planet, you’re going to be worried and you’re going to do crazy things that you wouldn’t normally do.
Mary:
 26:10Of
Brenda:
 26:10course. I think it’s good to hear about some of these other outline things that if those are also showing up. That’s a sign that this might be not just typical, like, you know, worry and concern as a parent. Is that true?
Mary:
 26:25Yeah. Here’s a good measurement. If I am in more secure, normal range of attachment where I trust my attachments in general, I can go to Al Anon. I love Al Anon. I cannot talk enough about Al Anon. And I can actually work the steps and do them with normal anxiety. If I’m in the anxious or avoidant range I can’t do them. They make me nuts. I need, I’ll need outside help. I’ll need therapy on top of that. Like, I mean, because, because the stakes are too high, meaning if I try to set a boundary, my son, I hear this, they’ll never talk to me again. Yeah. Again, I don’t trust that then my son loves me. Right. I don’t trust the relationship. Right. Right. And it’s particularly interesting to me when I, when you see this with like people who have upper middle class kids. Their kids have never known a moment of discomfort in their life, right? And their parents are like, well, he’s just going to be homeless. And I think to myself, yeah, no. Because your little suburban kid is going to last about a day. Okay? It’s so interesting. But the parent is 100 percent convinced that this child will never talk to them again. If they tell them no. And is losing sleep over that. See, it’s a matter of degree. Um, the other thing I also want to debug is Top Love. Not a fan. In general, you know, staying connected to your kid somehow is for, it’s for their own sanity. However, they don’t need to live in your house. Right. So kind of where I kind of go with it is, look, I think your kid’s going to have to go because they’re stealing your crap and they’re making them, you know, no. Okay. They’re bullying their kid, your siblings, whatever. But that doesn’t mean you don’t talk to them ever. Right. In fact, I would still talk to them. I would take them out for a sandwich once a week. Absolutely. Okay. It doesn’t mean I never speak to them again. Okay? It does mean I have limits around how much disruption I’ll tolerate. Yes, mostly because my body can’t handle it man. I can’t handle this two o’clock in the morning. I can’t handle police activity I’m not having to screaming. I’m not having the stealing not having it. Okay, but I love you and I’m not going anywhere I’m still gonna talk to you I’m not gonna give you money But I’m gonna buy you a sandwich because I’m a mom and I want to look at you because parents feel better when they eyeball Them. Okay. I mean I We can text them. But it’s different when you eyeball them. Just look at them. Okay? Yes. So, I, I, I just wanted to throw that out there because I, I, I’m a connection person in terms of honoring that. Right? I think people, when we look at research about people staying sober long term, it’s because they have connections to others. Yes. Right? Yes.
Brenda:
 29:25Yes. And I’m so glad that you kind of went down that, that tangent because, which is not a tangent, um, because I was going to ask about my. Two least most favorite topics with this is boundaries and enablement. And it feels like if you’re a person with these codependent traits or tendencies that. You would have a really hard time with boundaries. Like you just said, well, I can’t, I can’t kick them out because they’re going to be homeless and they’re never going to talk to me again. I always find when people are struggling with boundaries that there is, and I hate the term enabling, but parents are overhelping or, you know, doing things that make them feel good, but aren’t necessarily good for moving their kid toward health, I guess.
Mary:
 30:17You’re exactly right. If, if I. Physiologically, go into fight or flight at the thought of telling you no, right? I can’t even breathe, I’m so frightened. Yeah, I’m going to have a really hard time setting a limit. You bet I am. And that’s why parents need to get help with this. Because it’s pain, almost physically painful for them. Just to do something that they believe will damage permanently the relationship because that’s what attachment challenges make you feel like Yeah, everything becomes a deal breaker. And so yeah, you do wind up doing ridiculous things I’ve had parents take their kids to the dealer themselves because they wanted to make sure that you know, nothing happened to them Okay? If you’re taking your kid to the Tenderloin to buy heroin, you need to get help. Okay? That is not what parents do. Okay? So, but I understand it. I understand it. If you are, you fundamentally believe it’s a life or death relational issue, why you would do behavior like that? Okay? I get it. I get it. And I get that it’s painful. And the, and when you first start saying no, I You hold your breath, and you know what, most of the time, nothing happens. Okay, they have a little tantrum. The belief is that a tantrum is a deal breaker. It’s really not. Right. It’s not. Okay. I know it’s uncomfortable. And a 50 year old having a tantrum is uncomfortable, just like a 13 year old having a tantrum. Yeah. And in fact, a 50 year old looks like a 13 year old, right? Right. Yes. And they do manipulative, yelling behavior, intimidation, yes, they’ll do that because it’s always worked. And that’s why, if you really are struggling with this foundational level, you need support. You’re not going to read a self help book. Look, I wrote a really nice little book, Afraid to Let Go, and that isn’t going to fix it. It helps you, like, get the foundational understanding of what’s happening. But, it takes support to have the courage to risk a relationship. Because you’re saying, you can’t live in my house and use drugs. Yeah, yeah. If you really believe, in your heart of hearts, that’s it. In fact, I’ve even had parents say to me, Okay, I’m prepared to let them die rather than watch them use. It’s almost like they get to that point. Because they’re so sure. Like, so those are the decisions they make. Okay. I’m, I’m, I’m willing to let them die. I can’t watch. I mean, it’s hard. This is hard. As a parent, everything in your body says protect, right? Yes. Yes. A hundred
Brenda:
 33:10percent.
Mary:
 33:11And we’re basically saying, yeah, but you’re not protecting them when you’re taking them to the dealer at the tenderloin. And the other fear people have, which is true, is that the bottom for addiction is death. Okay. So I get, don’t let them hit bottom. Because we die, right? We die. I get it. That’s why we raise the bottom. I’ve noticed you have people who do craft. Love craft. Good job, Brenda. Okay. Yes. Yes. Yes. The whole family needs to get help and we don’t have to wait until they’re, you know, ODing in the emergency room. Okay. Now, if they do, they do. But it is a required. It’s a myth that people have to want to get care. No one wants to get clean. No one. They get clean because not getting clean is worse. Look, I had a guy come in two weeks ago and he’s been drinking solidly for 25 years and it says identity. And I remember, and here’s what he, you know why he’s good. He’s cutting, he’s not going to drink. He’s had a kid. That’s why he says, I don’t want my child to think it’s normal to have bourbon at dinner. That’s what it took. Now his wife had been mad at him before. He’d had other issues. Oh, well, oh, well, oh, well. Yeah. Yeah. And then suddenly there’s another generation and he says, uh, Oh, I don’t want my kid to see this. Yeah. So we never know. The same day I saw a guy who’s on his fourth DUI, you’re like, how many DUIs do you need? It’s such an interesting dilemma because it’s so not frontal lobe common sense. Exactly.
Brenda:
 34:56And we wish there was a formula for it. Like we wish that there was. Totally. That thing, but I think that’s such a perfect example. I’m so glad that you said that about having a kid because would you call that rock bottom? Absolutely not. I would call that like reaching for the stars. Like, man, what an awesome decision.
Mary:
 35:15It’s a hard decision. He’s uncomfortable. He’s grumpy. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. It’s not easy, but that’s why he’s doing it. It’s not because he’s OD’d in a jail cell.
Brenda:
 35:27Right. That is really true and I love the, and I try to emphasize this whenever I can, that you, you really are lifting the bottom up when you use natural consequences and when you’re setting boundaries and it is so hard. So if somebody was trying to set some boundaries and be really firm in that, yet they still haven’t sort of worked on their own stuff, I guess you’re going to want to do it at the same time. Right. Because. You’re going to need that, like you said, you need that support to be able to risk your own feelings while you’re trying to do what you know is right with your kid. That’s so, it’s a lot.
Mary:
 36:09I know. It’s scary. It’s genuinely frightening because the risks. The stakes are high, right? And at the same time, if you do not let them have natural consequences, they can’t grow, right? The way BBs, part of how they walk is they fall down. If we put people in bubble wrap, right, they don’t develop muscles. So, it’s that balance between, I want to be here for you, at the same time, I don’t want to put you in bubble wrap, man. I want you to have the opportunity. To learn and sometimes what and I could tell you this about addicts. Okay, I’m I I’m a person a long term recovery myself We are hard headed and rarely do anything the easy way Rarely, that would be really swell, you know, if somebody just said hey, you’re some great advice and we said you’re right This weed isn’t working for me. I mean, come on. No, that’s this is not our learning curve No, we have to learn ourselves by doing it And then going, Oh, okay, that’s a good, yeah, or I really want some, I think you have to want something to stay sober longterm. There’s something you have to want. You can’t stay sober to avoid consequences. That’s the other reason this is important because I can get sober for consequences. I can get sober, but I won’t stay sober. So I have to, in the getting sober process, which somehow. Something needs to happen where I’m doing it also for me to stay in sobriety. Right. But, um, again, almost nobody starts saying, I really want to be sober. And you know, even my guy with a child, he still is negotiating beer. If he just gives up the hard liquor, I’m just saying, okay. Even though, even though he has the best wishes in the world, there’s still a little bit of negotiation going on. Yeah. Yep. Is it really withdrawal? Maybe I’m just hot. Okay. I get it. Yes.
Brenda:
 38:25That’s so true. I love what you said about you can’t stay sober to avoid consequences. I think that is such a beautiful insight, but that you can want to get sober for those consequences. And then maybe that’s where, uh, Especially with adolescents. I think it’s hard to, while they’re in that process, like giving them enough to look forward to because they’re so young, they can’t see the end, like they can’t see that long term because their brain’s not developed.
Mary:
 38:55No, their executive functioning is not even developed yet. God bless them.
Brenda:
 38:59I had a question around. Self sabotage. I, I see our kids that struggle, they’ll start to do well and they get to a certain point. And I, I speak from experience of watching my son do this. And then. Right when he’s about to like do the thing, he does something so incredibly self sabotaging. Is that just kind of like young person brain development or is that something to do with all of this?
Mary:
 39:31No, they do that at 45. No, no. Part of it is they don’t have a picture of success and a lot of people equate success with responsibility and it scares them. I’m not going to be able to do it. I can’t do this adulting thing. I’m not going to be able to keep up with my obligations. I’m going to disappoint everybody in the world. And being a screw up in a way is kind of a comfortable place to be in. Lowered expectations. People aren’t proud of you for doing almost nothing. Right. Yeah. You, you’ve got two weeks over. Okay. Nobody’s asking me, you know, do really hard things yet.
Brenda:
 40:19Yeah.
Mary:
 40:20It’s hard. It’s hard because once you really embrace. Okay, I’m going to be a self sufficient person. I’m going to take care of myself. I’m going to own my part. It is heavier. Being an adult has some downsides. I have this conversation all the time with people. Yeah, adulting. Yeah, I get it. I have a guy tell me, he’s like 37. He’s like, yeah, adulting is really hard. It’s boring. Okay. I, I hear you. It is boring when I have to take the trash out every single Wednesday, pay my taxes, change my oil. Yeah. Do my laundry. Okay. He goes, it never ends. I have to do laundry every week. I have to clean my, my kitchen. It just never stops with the cat litter. I always have to change it. I said, I know.
Brenda:
 41:08It’s amazing.
Mary:
 41:09And that’s why as grownups, we also create. escape hatches to balance it.
Brenda:
 41:16Yes. That’s called vacation.
Mary:
 41:17It’s not unrelenting cat litter. Okay. We also go on vacations. We have evenings with friends. We go for hikes. Okay. It’s not unrelenting adulthood. That would be a horrible. That’s so funny. I don’t have to put you on antidepressants. No. That
Brenda:
 41:37is so funny.
Mary:
 41:38And he’s 37 and he’s like, by the way, well educated, good paying job. Can’t stop drinking. And that’s why.
Brenda:
 41:47Yeah.
Mary:
 41:47Yeah. So because the only fun he can have is to drink. Right. I’m like, what? It’s like, dude, we got to expand your definition of fun. Right. I mean, Wow, his entire reward neural system is focused on one option for fun, okay, which is dopamine through their drinking. I get it. That’s why you have to detox him. But the adulting thing comes up a lot. I talked to mom and her 21 year old a couple weeks ago, bless his heart, you know, he’s working at a sandwich shop and now he’s smoking more weed again and he’s back to drinking and he doesn’t see that as a problem. Why? Because it’s non heroin. Well, okay. I’ll take you not doing heroin. The problem is your behavior when you drink and use weed is also snarky and shitty, right? But the mistake in that case is wanting him to do another rehab. He’s already done like three or four
Brenda:
 42:47and
Mary:
 42:48he doesn’t want to do it and let it go. No rehab person will not do it. You can make a mistake by, by making too many rehab requirements. I’m telling you, I love rehab and I’ve owned them and I’ve run them, but I’m going to tell you. If people are, do not, if they’ve already done rehab two and three times, be careful about, I, I’m really discouraged parents from ponying up 25 grand every, you know, year. That’s ridiculous. Don’t do it. Okay. Uh, at some point you’re going to have to figure out a different route, like a sober living home and maybe a, an outpatient program or a year long program somewhere. But yeah, I think parents tend to, Sometimes get a little taken advantage of if I’m honest, I mean, okay, you don’t need to pay 40, 000 if they’re over 18, get them on county benefits. I’m just saying stop it. Don’t spend poor parents. You know, they spent their retirement. They’ve second mortgage their house. I get while their kid is saying, I don’t want this, right, right. And I’m like, Oh my God, Oh my God, bless your heart.
Brenda:
 43:56Well, yeah. Even the, the people I’ve had on, I do quite a few recovery stories and they, they confirm exactly that. Like I could have gotten sober in the 50, 000 program, but I did get sober in either AA or my County program that was free. So, I know I have to let you go, but I have one quick question that I think would be helpful for parents to hear, and that is, obviously, having codependent traits is not hereditary from a biological standpoint, but if you are a parent who is codependent or has those traits, Is, is it guaranteed like you’re passing that down or are kids able to sort of grow up in this and go, I don’t know about that.
Mary:
 44:44Well, they’re going to have their own attachment style based on yours, just like you got yours. Yeah. Right. So yeah, it’s positive. What’s, what’s happened is, is they develop a reactivity to you and your style, right? So they may have their own style in response again, but that doesn’t have to be permanent. Right. Yep. Yeah, if I’m, if I’m an avoidant parent and I hit from you every time things got too hard, you may be an anxious kid. Or if I’m an anxious, intrusive nightmare parent, because I was terrified constantly, you may not want anything to do with me because I’m afraid you’ll engulf me and suck the life out of me.
Brenda:
 45:26Okay. That’s super helpful. What do you love most about what you do?
Mary:
 45:30I love letting, seeing people get their lives back. Recovering people and the people who love them. People actually being able to be comfortable in their own skin and you’d be able to do what they need to do. And I think then you come from a genuine place of love rather than fear. Right. It’s like redefining love, not fear based love. And that means you don’t need to be perfect. Neither do I, that we’re not going to be. We just need to surrender that and all right.
Brenda:
 46:07All
Mary:
 46:08right.
Brenda:
 46:12Thank you so much. This was incredibly enlightening. I feel like I want to take a college course from you or something like I need to, I need to dive deeper into this, but this is a really good, um, tap into it and I’ll make sure and put a link to your book in the show notes. So if you want to grab the book, um, it will be there and I just appreciate your time so much. Thank you.
Mary:
 46:33Oh, you’re very welcome. Thank you again. Let me talk about this. Yes. Okay.
Brenda:
 46:38Okay, my friend, that’s a wrap for today. Don’t forget to download the new ebook, Worried Sick. It’s totally free and will shed so much light on positive tools and strategies you can use right now to start creating conditions for change in your home and in your relationships. It’s at hopestreamcommunity. org forward slash worried. And as always, you can find any resources mentioned during today’s show at brendazine. com forward slash podcast. That is where every episode is listed and you can search by keywords. Episode number or the guest name, plus we’ve created playlists for you, which make it easier to find episodes grouped by topic. And those are at brendazane. com forward slash playlists. Please be extraordinarily good to yourself today. Take a deep breath. You have got this. You are not doing it alone. And I will meet you right back here next week.

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