Coaching Episode #3: Finding Points of Control When Life Feels Chaotic; Post-Residential Struggle, Marijuana Use, Mental Health Concerns And A Very Tired Mom

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Coaching Episode #3: Finding Points of Control When Life Feels Chaotic; Post-Residential Struggle, Marijuana Use, Mental Health Concerns And A Very Tired Mom

Our coaching episodes are always hugely popular and today you'll get to hear how Mandy is dealing with a high-risk teenager who's been to residential treatment and is now home, returning to old habits (marijuana) and friends, and is newly on probation…⁠

Plus she works for the city she lives in, so from the police chief to the judge who sentenced her son, all eyes are on her.⁠ Oh, and on top of that, she has two other sons and a husband, all of whom need her time and attention. Add in COVID and a few other obstacles and you can start to understand the difficult place she's in.⁠

Mandy shares:

  • how she's getting over the "denial" phase about her son's behavior and conduct⁠
  • her son's mental health diagnosis, ⁠
  • why she and her husband decided against the advice of therapists to bring their son home from residential treatment, and how that's working out⁠
  • how this experience has impacted her marriage⁠
  • why she's trying not to "fix" or rescue her son anymore⁠
  • how she's able to find self-compassion⁠
  • why she's worried about her son's brain health⁠
  • and where she'd like to be in 6 months

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Speakers: Brenda Zane, Mandy
Brenda Zane  01:07
Hello, friends, it is a coaching episode. I love these so much. It’s such an honor to talk with our members who are working through things with their kids with themselves. And I get to come alongside them and find ways to navigate what is currently going on and then help them find solutions as they try to move forward in these really difficult situations. When I was doing my coaching certification through the Mayo Clinic, I tended to work with people on changing habits around their diet or exercise or quitting smoking or things like that. And then when I got certified as a parent coach with the Partnership to End Addiction, it helped me shift from those kind of health based scenarios to ones that typically involve a child who’s got substance use issues. But the core coaching goals are the same, which is to help you sort out what’s going on, think about what a positive change or outcome would look like, make it real, put some time around it, put some real steps around it, and then start finding ways to experiment with making little changes to move toward that goal. 
Brenda Zane  02:21
In today’s conversation, you’re going to hear Mandy talks about the challenges she’s having with her 15-year-old son who’s got some mental health and substance use issues. And who is home now after spending a year at a therapeutic boarding school. He is back in the school environment with old friends, and is back to smoking marijuana and drinking and probably more. He has recently been in trouble for selling drugs, and is on a year probation. In the very small town they live in where eyes are on everyone. Mandy is trying to get to a place where she responds thoughtfully instead of reacting to what’s going on. And she really wants to be able to have some peace of mind. Does that sound familiar? This is a conversation that I know you’re going to be able to relate to in so many ways. It reminded me in many ways, I have my own situation. And I can’t thank Mandy enough for being generous in sharing this session with you. It gets personal. So I really do appreciate when members in the stream are willing to come on with me talk through the challenges that they’re going through and let you learn from that as well. So grab some coffee or tea or lace up your shoes or hop in your car. And we will get into it
Brenda Zane  03:53
welcome Mandy to a Hopestream coaching episode kind of a fun thing a little different probably than the normal coaching session that you might have. But thanks for being willing to do this. It’s so helpful for other people to hear. So welcome. And thank you for doing this.
Mandy  04:13
Thank you for having me. And thank you for the assistance. 
Brenda Zane  04:16
Yes, of course. It’s really interesting that the coaching episodes get so many downloads because I think people can really relate. I mean, we all have it listening to experts, right? But it’s like, oh, come live in my house. Right? Like I sometimes want to say that. Like, obviously you have never lived in a house with a 17-year-old who’s going off the rails, right? So I think that’s why these are so important is people can really relate to each other. So with that, why don’t you just tell us a little bit about you don’t have to get super specific but little just enough to get to know you and your family. And then we’ll talk about what’s going on and why we’re talking today. Okay.
Mandy  05:05
Well, thank you again. So I am a mother of three boys. our oldest is 17. And a senior this year, our middle son is a 15 year old freshmen, and then our youngest is 12. And in sixth grade, and my husband and I both work, I spent the first 10 years of my mother, you know, my mother incur at home, I took some time off when my oldest was born, and was home for 10 years, went back to work when my youngest was about three, little over three years old, and have always worked about three-quarter time. I really love my job. And I love the, I guess the stimulus it gives me to be an adult and use my education and my brain. And then this can still be a mom, and as present as I possibly can. 
Mandy  06:08
And I mean, I guess our story and why I’m here and why I’m a member of The Stream community really, is for our middle son. He, from a fairly early age, I knew he was different and different. I don’t know, I used the word hard for a long time. And someone challenged me on that recently. So I’m trying to find some different vocabulary. But I knew it was different in the fact that any parenting tool that worked with my oldest son absolutely did not work with him. And it was interesting, because as a baby and a toddler, he was probably my easiest, he slept all the time, he was a good eater, he was happy, just easy, easy. Well, we started watching a shift in his personality when he was about four. And he just went from being happy and content to being a pretty angry and agitated kid. And that’s been his state of being for most of his life. He’s been in and out of psychiatrists, and therapists, and always I think seeking I have been seeking just assistance and support to, to better understand him. 
Mandy  07:18
But unfortunately, I think along the way, I the subliminal, or unintended message that he got from all of that was that he was a problem that needed to be fixed. So we would have periods where I would totally back off and just kind of try to let things be, and then things would get a little off the rails and might have to dig back into either therapy or change a medication. And so it’s been a it’s been a different journey with him. Our youngest son and our oldest son are pretty typical neurotypical, and very similar to one another. And then he’s in the middle. And it’s, it can be challenging. He’s incredibly creative, incredibly funny and spontaneous and brave, into anything that gives him an adrenaline adrenaline rush. And so, you know, trying to see the positives and some of these difficulties. But we, we realized, early 2000, and funny that we were at a place where things were getting beyond what we could handle at home. And we ended up taking him putting him into a therapeutic boarding school at the recommendation of a family friend who was the former executive director of the school and we trusted implicitly, he spent a year there. 
Mandy  08:41
It was a year I when I look back on it, I have had people ask me if we regret it, and I don’t, because it was a year of you gave everyone else in the family a little bit of a breather. It was just we were able to be things were just calm and easy and let you know, much less confrontation, arguing yelling, and the school very much felt that he needed to stay for longer than we were able to afford to keep him there. Schools like that residential treatment programs, wilderness therapy, you know, they are incredibly expensive, mind-boggling, mind-boggling, expensive. And we were fortunate. I mean, we’re fortunate we’re two professionals, we do well, we had to savings to tap into we had some college savings for him that we tapped into, but at the end of the day, a year into it. And $150,000 Later we just there had to be a bottom right of how you know how well we did
Mandy  09:41
so against the advice of the therapist and the clinical director we brought him home, knowing it would be difficult. The first probably three months he was home it was really good. Kind of just getting back into the swing of things but and I know I’ve heard you say it many times on the on the podcast When you bring them back into the same environment in the same social circles, it, it’s difficult for them. So about three months into it, things started to unravel a bit at school. And we ended not intending to put him back in public school, he was in eighth grade. And he begged us because he was doing homeschooling and doing online. And he was incredibly lonely. And I was so concerned about the depression, that I decided, let’s put him back in with his peers. 
Mandy  10:29
And, you know, some of those decisions, and in hindsight, I regret but we did what we did at the time that we thought was best. So through going back into school, and eventually, he didn’t even finish the semester, because things just went off the rails. And then that was the beginning of his, you know, I would say, consistent use of marijuana. And it just seems like it’s been a shift from there, you know, from that point on, as far as just the increased level of dangerous behavior, drug use drinking, and you know, and now he’s in the criminal justice system, he was just sentenced yesterday for selling drugs. So we live in a fairly small community and I work for our city, I’m, you know, I’m in the administration. And so, having to sit across the table from our police officers, while they’re telling me all of the things that my son has done is it’s been a lesson in humility, it’s been a lesson in working not to blame myself, we have periods of time when I think things are getting better. But just asked often feels like when I let myself get to that level of comfort, then something else happens. And I’m just looking for a different way to react, respond, not react, I react all the time looking for a way to respond, that shows my loving, I love him. And I’m here to support him. And not to react not to like lose my mind. And just, you know, I live in this like state of constant suspicion,
Brenda Zane  12:03
well, I just want to back up for a second and order everything that you are going through, because I think sometimes, especially as moms, we forget how much we are caring, and the fact that you are working, you’re caring for two other kids, I assume your senior son is looking at some sort of next steps, which always takes coordination, whether that’s college or whatever it is, you have a sixth grader who’s watching everything that’s going on as well. And that is so much, I mean, just that take out your 15 year old.
Mandy  12:44
Right, right.
Brenda Zane  12:46
That’s, that’s a full life, that is a lot. So I just want to make sure and recognize that in everything that you are juggling, plus a relationship with your husband, plus, I’m sure you have family, and you’ve got all kinds of things. It’s not like this is just all it defines your life. So the fact that you’re feeling that, you know, some of that shame, and some of that, like how can I be doing this better? And you’re going through, you have also that unique situation at work, that people at work are watching what’s going on, in a small town. So if you’re, if you’re if you weren’t feeling a little bit crazy, a little bit exhausted, a little bit scared, I would be a little bit worried.
Mandy  13:35
That’s validating. Thank you.
Brenda Zane  13:39
So so that’s a lot. I’m wondering, was there a particular not that this matters hugely, and what we’re going to talk about, but was there a particular diagnosis that your son received when since he’s been going through this since such a young age, it just makes me wonder if there was a diagnosis that you received?
Mandy  13:57
Oh, absolutely. And Julia was originally diagnosed with ADHD, like seven and it doesn’t he definitely has ADHD. I have no, you no doubt about that. Oh, and then I think, probably fourth grade, if I go back and think about it hard enough. But fourth grade, I would say he was diagnosed with major depressive disorder on top of that. And that’s where it ended for quite some time. But I have felt in my gut since even before we sent him to boarding school that there was something else going on beyond those two things. So when he returned from boarding school, and we were we went back to his old psychiatrist, and I was asking, like, what else is going on? Can we get a more in depth assessment and I just kept getting pushed off and my coping skill. 
Mandy  14:41
My coping mechanism is information like I just consume information when I’m when I don’t feel like I’m, I guess when I feel out of control, it gives me a guess a sense of control to just learn. And so I started just done a ton of reading. And so one of the things we chose to do is to say hi I guess I just didn’t feel like she was hearing us. I didn’t like she was really, truly looking for another answer, she was just happy to maintain what he was already doing. And I just didn’t feel it was working. And even talking to him, he was just indifferent to her. So we changed psychiatrists, we actually went to one that’s not technically doesn’t work with kids, but took us on a recommendation from this therapist, and he’s, he’s the best one we’ve had so far, because he just doesn’t really tiptoe around. You know, he’s very, very forthright, very, you know, direct. And that’s what my son needs. So he is considering a diagnosis of bipolar early-onset Bipolar. And because I’ve done a lot of reading about it, it makes complete sense, from those that you know, that early diagnosis of depression, to his very, you know, his very impulsive and dangerous behavior and his mood swings that can be epic. But you know, there were more looking like a bipolar two, not with such sustained highs and lows, but more of just that kind of chronic instability of mood. It’s, they’re hesitant to make a like a formal diagnosis, because once it’s made you don’t, you don’t get rid of that, and it will affect him moving forward for the rest of his life. And so I appreciate him wanting to treat for that type of a diagnosis without actually making a formal diagnosis yet, so.
Brenda Zane  16:34
Right. Sounds like a good fight. Yes. And that you, you seem to me to be a very intuitive person. And like you said, you noticed, when he was four, that there was something different. And so that tells me that you are really tuned into this kid. I’m sure your other kids too. But sometimes I know from experience that there’s sometimes you feel a bond with a child that is different than with other kids. And so I think that’s a huge plus for both of you. It puts a lot of burden on you. Yeah,
Mandy  17:09
I can, I think it can be a negative to, I think, becomes so enmeshed with him at times that it’s almost like I was like, where I end, and he begins, I have Yeah, I was a professional rescuer for a very, very long time. And I actually was having a conversation recently with someone who I was expressing just this, like, I just want to dornase was fixed. And he said, Well, that’s the that’s what got you here in the first place. This is this constant desire to fix. And, you know, and not in an in it wasn’t critical at all. But it really was just an observation that we had just always been working towards fixing something. And any my son, he’s expressed that same feeling that he just has always felt like he just was broken and needed to be fixed. So
Brenda Zane  18:01
yeah. And that’s, that’s a hard place to be. And, you know, there’s, I think there’s just a DNA wiring in moms that we, we just want to fix it. And so what, what’s your communication? Like with him? Would you say it’s good? Would you say it’s here or there? Like, how would you describe if there’s an issue, and you need to talk to him about it? How does that go,
Mandy  18:35
if I can exert some level of self-control, and not pounce on it immediately, and not react when the information becomes available to me immediately, I do a much better job. But it just seems like, especially as drug use has become part of this. I have this tendency to react almost immediately. And to accuse and to get angry, and to just, that’s not working. And yet, I’m stuck. I’m struggling to find a better, more consistent, I think I know what I need to do. I just struggled to do that in any with any consistency. I don’t know if he’s, if he’s hearing what I’m saying at all, regardless of what if it’s out of anger, or if it’s in times of calm. So,
Brenda Zane  19:28
does he open up to you?
Mandy  19:31
He does, and we actually I mean, I would say we have a very good relationship, he he tends to be honest with me, more so than with my husband. But I also am finding that in the moment of like an accusation or a question, he tends to almost 100% of the time, why in some way, shape or form to mitigate whatever it is I’m asking him about. And then of course, that just sets me off because I have like physical evidence of what is Then going on, and he has some random, totally outlandish, not plausible excuse. And so then at some point in time, he comes clean, and he tells me all of it, or maybe 80% of it, I don’t think ever probably get 100% of the truth. But so I appreciate the honesty eventually. It’s just hard because the initial dishonesty really does erode any, any sort of trust.
Brenda Zane  20:28
Absolutely. It’s so hard. So it sounds like it’s pretty good. If you and you recognize in yourself your tendency to to react versus respond. And that’s when you start accusing and getting that kind of out of control, feeling getting angry. But you also said that there are times when you are able to sort of catch yourself be a little bit more thoughtful and respond, and then that tends to go pretty well. And he at times opens up. Yeah, you’re not exactly sure how much. But yeah, there’s some, it’s not like you guys aren’t talking
Mandy  21:03
right, that that’s true. We do communicate something else, I guess, definitely a positive.
Brenda Zane  21:10
Yeah, that’s definitely a positive. And you talked a little bit about the, you know, the mom trade of wanting to fix and have him feeling like he has something that needs to be fixed, which I think is really common, and it’s hard. It’s hard, especially when you’re getting information from doctors and psychiatrists, and all this that are telling you, this is something that’s going on, it’s hard not to do that. And that enmeshment of where do I begin? And where does he end and vice versa. And when you have that special connection with a kid that that’s really hard to, if you were to hop in a time machine and go forward? Six months from now, obviously, we can’t just fix fix him. What would look like a wind to you? If in six months, I called you up and I said, Mandy, how’s it going? What would you tell me,
Mandy  22:11
I would not be constantly suspicious. And I wouldn’t be always assuming the worst. I think I I would love in six months to be in a place where when he leaves and wants to go hang out with a friend, I say, have fun. And I and I give him and myself the space to have that time without constantly worrying what he’s doing who he is actually with. And if he’s going to come home high, also that he is in a place where he can recognize the real consequences he’s facing if he continues to use. He was placed formerly on an a year long probation yesterday, and part of that as the drug and alcohol Assessment and Testing. And he has expressed to everyone he is not hidden this. And by everyone. I mean, his attorney, his probation officer and even the judge yesterday that he doesn’t want to stop smoking marijuana because it calms him down and makes that that sort of internal voice that tells him that he is a total screw up and is worthless. He calms that voice down to the point where he just feels he doesn’t hear it or you know, I don’t think it’s an audible hallucination. I think it’s just that, you know, that little inner voice telling you you’re screwed up and you’re you’re worthless and you’re a piece of crap that makes me as a parent one so sad into a little bit hopeless because I know that his mental health, that’s his mental illness talking. 
Mandy  23:55
So very much hopeful that he we can get to a point where he’s feeling kind of in a more stable place with his mental illness, and with his own brain health, so that he can do okay, without substances, I recognize he’s going to slip. And there’s going to be shoes dropping all over the place. But what I don’t think he fully grasps yet is that if the big enough shoe drops, it’s out of our control now. And the judge ordered some discretionary days which probation can just plop him into juvenile detention without going before a judge to seek an order. I have a very dear friend who happens to be the police chief. It’s all very interconnected. But they’ve been incredibly supportive to the point where I just I I’m grateful. No special treatment, but supportive and not ever making me feel or my husband like it’s our fault. I know there are plenty of other people who know, to some degree what’s going on. And who probably wonder what on earth we’re doing to cause this to happen, or at least at the very least allow it to happen. 
Mandy  25:13
And, you know, that’s part of the work I do with Mike for myself is to make sure I’m not giving into that thought that it’s our fault. But what I was seeing with the police officers that are with our my friend and police chief that he said those discretionary days can be very powerful, a very powerful tool that is built into the juvenile justice system for a reason because especially with our kids, like our son who knows in trouble, but with has never actually been in some level of detention, they can just literally just come and grab them and put them in detention for as long as they want up to that 10 day period. Typically, in the beginning, I guess it can be up to just, you know, a day or two. But it wouldn’t be listed as a parole violation, and it wouldn’t violate the terms that he was given. But it could give him a little bit of a taste of what could be if he continues to do to use the substances. So I’m hopeful that perhaps maybe he has a one or two of those days, to see what’s ahead of him. If he continues, so that’s where I hope to be in six months.
Brenda  26:20
You clearly are letting him feel natural consequences.
Mandy  26:25
This is a recent development, I will be honest.
Brenda Zane  26:28
Okay. I was gonna say, because you’re doing really well, when did that start?
Mandy  26:34
well, about the time he got arrested. Well, he didn’t get arrested. But this where he was charged with this, this, this, this charges, it became very evident to my husband and I that whatever we had been doing, it just didn’t hold it really wasn’t seemingly impacting him the way I would like it to. And we hoped it would so
Brenda  26:57
and so before then, you feel like you were kind of doing some rescuing,
Mandy  27:01
Oh, absolutely. Lots and lots of rescuing and lots of assuming it was someone else’s fault. Like I cringe, I literally physically cringe. Thinking of some of the times I you know, very, very much a high horse walked into that Principal’s office at that middle school and couldn’t possibly have been his fault,

Brenda  27:21
because you can’t imagine it, you truly can’t imagine it. So it’s not that you’re in there. You know, being insincere. You, you literally can’t imagine that your child is doing those things. So give yourself a little bit of grace there because, well, my eyes
Mandy  27:39
have been opened. And I will tell you that and I won’t say Nothing surprises me. But some of the decisions he’s made these last six months, you know, I would have never ever, ever, ever in a million years thought my child could do. Right. And I know just from listening to your son’s story that you know exactly one of these, like, I think that the word you use for your son was the thug life. Yes, yeah. So we had a little bit of that, which was what landed him in this legal situation that he’s in, and I just, I want to look at him and just, and that’s where I think maybe that was the time in which I was able to make that, in my own mind that distinction that this clearly as slate, we’re dealing with something beyond what I was, you know, like beyond the normal, like, we didn’t teach you that? No, no, no, none of the things that he was doing that for a period of time was something I would like to think any family, whatever teach, but certainly wasn’t something that was ever condoned, or, you know, in our homes. So I think it was a good almost like it was so dramatic and so drastic that I was like, Okay, this is so not something that I’ve done.
Brenda Zane  28:50
Right, it really sets it apart from having to feel like in question, because at Yes, at that point, you know, this is beyond a parenting, right error. Not that it ever is a parenting error, but we can feel like it is. And so when something really dramatic happens like that they don’t let you know about the community that Mandy has mentioned. She’s a member of the stream, a private online membership pacifically her mom not been strong enough with his kids who are struggling SSRB dishwashers, thinking if I went
Brenda Zane  29:30
in, I know that there is a lot of focus on your sounds like your past that as well as taking care of you mama. That is what we do in the stream. So we have parenting skills workshops, we focus on health and wellness. We have expert guest speakers, and we just give you a place to exhale and get plugged in with other moms who can relate and it’s a positive and inspirational place to be. You can check out our membership plans at the stream comm Okay, let’s continue this conversation with Mandy.
Mandy  30:34
It’s definitely affected our relationships, my husband and I, I suppose some people in our lives because, again, I think if you’re someone who doesn’t know what it’s like you’d like to have a 17-year-old completely losing their minds or coming home and you know high on God knows what, or making these decisions and hanging out with people and doing things that you just can’t even wrap your head around. If you don’t have experience with that, it’s easy to judge and it’s easy to blame. And, you know, right now in this moment, my my brother has asked that we just really not have a relationship with our family, because they feel as though my son has led their son down a very, you know, down some searches and bad choices. And while yes, they made some decisions together this summer, I recognize that it’s easier for them to blame our son than it is to maybe look at why their son, it gets messy, very messy, it is incredibly messy. And it is nothing like I’ve ever experienced as far as it just not just finds its tentacles into everything
Brenda  31:39
it does, I want to go back to getting to something where you feel like you have something that you can work toward, because obviously, you’re you’re going through, there’s a lot of moving parts here, you’ve got the legal stuff going on, you’ve got his use going on, you’ve got the other kids family, everything, and work and it sounds like what you really want most is to have some peace of mind around him what he’s doing the choices that he’s making. You’d also like him to understand consequences and things like that. That’s not in your control. Right. So I think we’re gonna put that one on the background.
Mandy  32:26
That’s okay. Sure. Yeah, I mean, I’m absolutely here just for my own tools. Yeah,
Brenda Zane  32:31
well, and the thing is, I think often we forget that they are working with an unfair, fully formed brain in the part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, that is going to help him understand consequences, isn’t done baking, right, the cake is not baked. And so we so badly want them to see what those consequences might be, and to think about their actions before they do them. Especially in boys, especially in boys with ADHD. That is like asking for a pink unicorn to fall out of the sky, and come and kiss you on the forehead, right? Like that. That’s our dream, it’s likely not going to happen for a while, it will happen, his brain will develop. I have seen it, I can attest to that. But it might not happen at 17. And so for you for getting to this area of being a little bit less suspicious. I’m wondering what things are you doing right now that have nothing to do with him, or with work?
Mandy  33:44
I am working on myself. I’ve been doing some trainings, and just really kind of looking into who I am. And, and apart from him i have, like I said become so enmeshed. And so I’ve learned some things about myself. And there’s been some real clarity there. I just am so frustrated how quickly I fell back into my old habits and my old behaviors. And knowing and doing I think are so two totally different things. I do know that the more invest I invest in myself and the better I take care of myself, the better off I am to everyone. person for most of myself, but so I’m trying to exercise I go to yoga, we try to spend time with friends.
Brenda  34:32
And when you do that, what do you notice? Um,
Mandy  34:35
I’m just, I’m a calmer version of myself. I’m less there’s a lot less anxiety. I’m kinder to myself. He went even on when I mess up. I’m not quite as hard on myself.
Brenda  34:48
So you have some self-compassion. 
Mandy  34:51
definitely self-compassion. I also have become a lot more aware of the lack of time I’ve been giving given to my marriage over the years. I mean this really He has I mean, as you know, can do a real number on. On relationships. This
Brenda Zane  35:07
we keep the marriage therapists in business. Oh,
Mandy  35:09
absolutely. And I would say my husband and I are in a better place now than we’ve been in a long time. But we both come to the point of recognizing we need breaks, we’re just not in a position where we can take them together, which is hard, because we need that. But I think we’ve been good at recognizing that. And in fact, my husband is off on a golf week work week of golfing with some friends. And I’m incredibly Miss envious, but I also know that he’ll come back, you know, rested and better version of himself. So
Brenda  35:44
yes, well, and then in October, when we have our retreat, guess who was going to be able to come? Yes,
Mandy  35:49
I couldn’t have gone and enjoyed myself, because there’s just I, we just aren’t in a place where I could one of us like, where we could both be gone for that long of a period, right. But it’s like that six months down the road thing, I would like to think in six months, perhaps we are in a place where we can trust to leave our kids with my mom, or his parents, and, and go away for you know, a few minutes, it’s just a long weekend, and have some faith that crazy won’t happen while we’re gone.
Brenda Zane  36:22
Yeah, or crazy will happen. When you’re gone, that is gonna happen. Either way, that is true. You are the mothership of this family. And you are what everybody ladders up to right like not to say that your husband isn’t also in a position of control. But you, you’ve got all of this circling underneath you. And if mom falls, everything goes down, we got to keep you going. Right, we’ve got to keep you going. And so I won’t spend a lot of time on that. Because I know that as a member of our community, you’re not going to be able to avoid the self-care conversation. So I feel pretty good that you’re going to keep doing that. Because I’m not going to let you forget. But I think were another area to look at would be in this, you’re starting to change the way that you’re thinking and you’re starting to sort of have a different lens, it sounds like on what’s going on. And it sounds like a pretty healthy lens. And I’m wondering if you would be able to have some of those conversations with him. Just to give him an idea of where you are to say, you know, I recognize this, or I I feel like I’ve been trying to fix you and I don’t want to do that. Are those conversations that you’ve been able to have? Or that you think you could have?
Mandy  37:54
I probably had some level of that. But I think it’s an Yes, I I could and I will doing that in a time when we’re calm. Right. When there’s no confrontation, there’s no suspicion of some substance or choice. Yeah.
Brenda  38:12
And when when are those times, like when you think back to some of the good conversations that you’ve been able to have? What’s going on?

Mandy  38:20
Definitely, if we’re doing something in addition to having the conversation, because it’s so much easier for it to be a conversation and not a lecture. And I have found that with my iPhone, that was my oldest son, he’s not, he’s not a talker. He is like his dad, where he just likes to button up and not communicate. And so if I can get him doing something even as innocuous as doing the dishes, I typically can get more out of him than if we’re just sitting on the couch, you know, and I’m desperately wanting to know what’s going on in his life. And I also think just a time, you know, and this actually was suggested to us by our therapist the other day, because she asked my when’s the last time the two of us just the two of us have gone and done something fun. And we looked at each other like I don’t know, forever, just finding the opportunity. And it doesn’t have to be an entire day. Right, but just something fun. But yeah, those are the times I think when we’re just doing something positive, and then recognizing when to stop, right? I tend to go into lecture mode. And then the the message is lost.
Brenda Zane  39:23
It sounds like you you have a pretty good handle on when a good time to approach a conversation like that would be and in spending that time away too. One of the things that I think can be a helpful visualization in this is that, you know, it’s very hard to take stuff away from them, right. If you said, buddy, I’m going to take away that marijuana, you’re never going to have it again. He would be like, Oh, hell no, you’re not. Well, I can’t I mean, like I have learned you can’t, I know you can’t. But you what you can do is you can crowd out some of the behavior that you don’t want to see. So Adding in some of that fun time adding it. So you’re trying to add in enough stuff to crowd out some of the other stuff. Is there anything that he likes to do that you could foster?
Mandy  40:13
Oh, gosh, you know, that’s kind of the enigma of this kid is he’s an incredibly talented kid who tends to start lots of things and not finished them. I almost think that I’ve done that so much that anytime I show any willingness to support something he’s willing to do, I truly, almost get to the point where I think if if he thinks I want him to do something, he might just not do it for that very reason. So that’s tricky. We, his probation officers suggested we find him an extracurricular activity. And I just wanted to like,
Brenda  40:46
you just want to laugh out,
Mandy  40:47
I really wanted to just laugh out loud, because I mean, I’ve been looking for extracurricular activities for this kid since he was five. Yes, and ways to get that energy out since he was five. If it were that easy, trust me, we wouldn’t be where we are.
Brenda  41:00
Right. Right. Exactly. And you talked about his ADHD, there’s actually going to be a podcast episode and I think, a week or two, from an ADHD doctor, one thing, that he I will give just a teeny tiny sneak peek of it, because I think it’s so good and so relevant if you’re talking with your son. And this was a perspective I’d never thought about before, is that he was saying that ADHD is not a deficiency at all, it is truly a gift. And he names all of these crazy, amazing people who have ADHD and all the things that they’ve done. And so the way he puts it is that they have a Ferrari brain, and they have broken brakes. And so that what marijuana does is it slows down the Ferrari engine. And instead, what you want to do is you don’t want to impede that engine, because it’s amazing, right, and creative and brilliant, and all of that you just got to improve the brake system. So they have a little bit more control. So it’s a great analogy. 
Brenda  42:00
Yeah, it could be something that you could have a conversation with him in the right time, right to say, I heard this thing, and I never thought about it that way. Like, I don’t want to do anything to change that about you. Because that is your superpower. That is what’s gonna make you the most amazing whatever you want to do, instead of using the marijuana to, to slow down the Ferrari, what can we find that can just make your brakes a little bit stronger, so that you have that control so that when you want to go fast as the Ferrari you can, because the problem with using marijuana to do that is then when they want the Ferrari to go fast it can because it’s gold, right? So I don’t know if some language like that might help it. And I think there is so much power in saying, I don’t know, I don’t know. But I am so here with you to figure this out. And what I do know is that you’re not broken, you are perfect the way you are, there may need to be some controls that you have control over some of those levers to pull when you want to pull them. But I think there’s a level of empathy that it sounds like you’re having now to say, Oh, I realized there are some things here that are out of my control out of his control, you know, there’s some medical stuff going on. So that just might be if you’re able to have some of those conversations with him to really be able to relate and come at it from curiosity. And if you were to use the Ferrari and the brake, you know, analogy, you could say, well, what do you think about that? Right? Like, that really curious mind from us can be so good, because we’re not trying to judge we’re not trying to fix we’re not trying to anything, you know, what, what does it feel like when you use marijuana? Like, what is it doing? And it sounds like you’ve had that conversation?
Mandy  44:01
Backwards, slow down, it just slows everything down,
Brenda  44:03
slows everything down. Right? And so it’s doing some it’s achieving something for him.
Mandy  44:11
Unfortunately, he doesn’t in you know, I’m sure you’re familiar with this as well. He knows more than I do. And it’s not addictive and he can really stop anytime he wants. And it doesn’t lead to other drugs and other things. And other coaching episodes are very helpful. But I also have found some immense value from the episodes you’ve hosted with addicts recovering addicts. Yeah. And just hearing what they say. And I think that probably has helped me come to the conclusion to about my lack of like, I really have no control over this is listening to them talk about it didn’t matter what my mom and dad did. I mean, it was loud and clear when he because I think you asked him if you could go back to that like 14, 15 year old you could your mom and dad have done something and you’re in his response. was very much like no
Brenda  45:02
empathy, they could have had some empathy.
Mandy  45:05
But really it was it’s a decision that he had to make. And he had to get to a place. And then the other one that my, again, I am not good with podcast numbers or names, but he talked about he was a baseball player, and he talked about not getting low enough, like, keep there was still a little bit lower to go. And when you find when, you know, what would have been everybody else perception of his low was in his low, he still had a little bit further to fall. So I just I mean, really what I’m looking for are some tools in those times to like when I just need some way to respond. That is adequately like, I’m not okay with this. I love you. And you might end up in jail. Like I that’s where I’m struggling right now is to be okay. Maybe not okay, but not angry and suspicious all the time and constantly looking for evidence of abuse or abuse
Brenda Zane  46:05
in craft, you know, motivational interviewing is a big part of that. And one of the things that I think is really powerful about motivational interviewing is it really makes the decision is his right, you obviously can’t, barring like, some legal stuff, if he ends up in juvenile detention, obviously, he won’t be able to use their hopefully he wouldn’t be able to use the choices his. And it can be really powerful to let him know that you know, that. Buddy, the choice is yours, whether you’re going to use or not. I can’t stop you from doing that. What I want to understand is, how is this gonna affect you? Down the road, and again, limited, you know, brain capacity there, but you can start like, kind of like the Time Machine thing. Okay. So you keep using marijuana and, you know, six months or a year from now? What is that gonna look like for you? Right? You’re not trying to solve it. You’re not trying to tell him to stop, because the minute you tell him to stop, what’s he gonna do? He’s gonna say, No,
Mandy  47:16
I’m gonna do what I want. exactly where I want to say it to me, but then I’ll go around and do it anyway.
Brenda  47:21
Right? So. So if you come at it from the side, instead of head on and say, Hmm, so I can’t stop you from doing this. Your dad can’t stop you. This is your choice, whether you’re going to change or not. Let’s talk about what that looks like. What if you do get caught in the park? With marijuana? And you’re on probation? What’s gonna happen? You can work? He probably knows that, you know, cuz you’re smart. You work for the city, but you could kind of try to play dumb like, Well, what did they tell you might happen? Well, I’ll probably go to juvenile detention. Okay, and then what? Well, then you’re gonna come get me out? No, not. Right. I mean, those are, that’s kind of the dialogue that you could try to, to open up just to sort of rewind and land in six months. If you were to feel a little bit more of that ability to respond, instead of react. You know, your self care is tied to that for sure. You’re hoping that you might be able to get away for a weekend. And we talked about the fact that crazy is going to happen one way or the other. So all you want to do is just make sure that somebody whose home is there to pick up the Crazy, right? But you don’t have to do it. Sure. It could be somebody else. And just trying to find a few more of those moments with him, where the circumstances are good for and a conversation. And coming up that from a place of curiosity and empathy. To the best of your ability, it is not easy. It takes a lot to do that. 
Brenda  49:11
But I think what you’ve from what you’ve described, as you’ve really seen, the different pieces of what’s going on is that this is not that you have a bad kid. It’s not that you have a bad kid. He’s got some challenges, and he’s so smart that he has figured out a really effective way to manage it. In the short term. Yeah, right. Yeah. Right. It’s working long term, different stories. Yeah. And that could be a conversation that you have to write. It’s your choice, whether you’re going to quit or not. Let’s look at the short term pretty good, except for the legal stuff, long term. What might that look like? You know, and just have him envision it. Well, I don’t know if that was helpful at all.
Mandy  49:59
I will tell you But it probably was more helpful than you realize. Because I often feel like I’m so I’m seeing when you’re close to something you can’t really see, like, think about when you are raising a baby. And you don’t realize how much they’re growing. But someone who hasn’t seen them for a week or a month, they’re shocked right at how big this child has gotten in this period of time. But I as a mom, who is there, every waking moment of every day, I don’t see the change. So I appreciate just the reinforcement. That while the craziest still happening. I’m doing things that others who have walked this path before me suggest or are, are good and are positive ways for me to cope.
Brenda  50:50
Absolutely. You’re doing so many things, and you’re not going to get it right every time. There’s just no human way that you’re going to get right every time. And I’ll wrap up with this because I know you have to go that if you do lose it with him, and you catch yourself such a powerful thing to do would be to say, buddy, I totally sucked right, then I am so not happy with how I just responded or reacted to you. Can we just rewind and do that again? Because that models for him what you want to see from him, which is some insight, some wisdom, some ability to look at yourself, you know, that self-awareness. And so if you lose it, just think of it as a great teaching opportunity. Like oh, well, there we go. I get to use this as a teaching opportunity. And you could just be really humble and say, I can’t believe I said that. I’m so sorry. That’s not how I wanted to respond. And you might just see that he like, wow, what’s my mom doing?
Mandy  51:54
It’s different. Yeah.
Brenda  51:56
Thank you so much for volunteering for this.
Mandy  52:00
You know, just again, looking forward, it’s what those six months might look like. I like that I’m looking forward to the things that I also have control over. Because I find myself future casting on about things that I don’t have any control over. And that’s when I allow myself to kind of get a little bit into the maybe not doom and gloom, but the more negative aspect of what could be.
Thank you so much for listening. If you’d like to go to the show notes, you can always find those at, each episode is listed there with a full transcript, all of the resources that we mentioned, as well as a place to leave comments if you’d like to do that. You might also want to download a free ebook I wrote called hindsight. Three things I wish I knew when my son was addicted to drugs. It’s full of the information I wish I would have known when my son was struggling with his addiction. You can grab that at Thanks again for listening and I will meet you right back here next week.

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