Coaching Episode: Learning to Let Go with Tracey

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Coaching Episode: Learning to Let Go with Tracey
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:
Having a child who misuses drugs or alcohol can look very different for all of us – especially for children of different ages.  For parents of kids who are still living at home, the responsibilities and realities are simply not the same as parents whose children are young adults, living on their own outside the home.

In today’s coaching episode, my guest Tracey tells us how her 26-year-old son finally accepted treatment just a few months ago, after more than a decade of alcohol misuse.  Tracey is still learning how to strike that balance between support and control, and how to let go of the downward spiral of anxiety about her son’s relapse that, I’m sure, so many of us can relate to.

In this episode we discuss:

  • how Tracey finally came to understand why her son began drinking so many years ago
  • how she has made so much progress toward her goal of relinquishing control of her son’s life, and what she might still do to improve
  • and a few tips and tricks to staying grounded – from a “letter of resignation” to ice cube handling

EPISODE RESOURCES:

This podcast is part of a nonprofit called Hopestream Community
Learn about The Stream, our private online community for moms
Learn about The Woods, our private online community for dads
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

Hopestream Community is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an Amazon Associate. We may make a small commission if you purchase from our links.

Okay, It is coaching episode week and I’m so glad that Tracy decided to do this session because she is parenting a 26 year old who struggles with alcohol, which is very different from having a 14 or 15 year old who’s experimenting or struggling with addiction.
Just an entirely different experience. Tracy is a fairly new member of the Stream community and she has jumped in with both feet and has been learning so much. But even with all the growth that she has done as the mom of an adult child, she’s still really having a hard time with finding that balance between supporting and controlling what is too much, what is too little.
00;01;57;17
Brenda
And sometimes she finds herself spiraling downhill with a lot of negative thinking, a lot of really unhelpful thought patterns that get her off track. She is a self-declared controller in person and a helper, which isn’t surprising because she is a nurse and she defaults to that helper role. I’m guessing that you’re going to really relate to the things that she is working on, because even if you’re parenting a teenager, there are things that hold us back universally and there are also things that we do that can feel like a really big weight on her kids, no matter how old they’re in the end.
Tracy And I came up with a few very good actionable things that she is going to start working on even in the next 24 hours to move away from constant worry and control and fear and more towards a place where she’s freed up to live her best life as the mom of three adult kids. And it’s always it’s very real, unscripted, relatable.
And I know that you want to get right to it. So thank you, Tracy, for being vulnerable and sharing a glimpse of your life with us. And I’ll see you on the other side. 
And welcome, Tracy, to Hopestream. It’s very nice of you to be here today. We’re recording at the end of the day on a Friday, which always feels like a lot, right?
Tracey
Yes.
Brenda
I love doing coaching sessions because I don’t get that much opportunity to coach people anymore. You know, I used to do it a lot, and it’s one of my favorite things, not because I have the answers by any means, but because I always find that you have the answers already in you. And sometimes it just takes another person to batted around with, right?
Brenda
And to sort of pull some of that out. So. Thanks for being here.
Tracey
Thank you so much for having me.
Brenda
Well, why don’t you give us as much context as you want for what brought you to the stream? Obviously, you’re a member in the stream community, which is our community for the most amazing moms on the face of the planet, by the way.
00;04;18;15 – 00;04;18;26
Tracey
Yes.
00;04;19;03 – 00;04;28;20
Brenda
Just a little bit of information just to give us some context of, you know, where you what you’ve come through, where you are now. And then we’ll talk after that a little bit about what you might want to work on.
00;04;29;18 
Tracey
Sure. So my son is now a young adult. He is 26. And I say we’ve been doing this dance for at least 11 years. You know, as a teenager, I really thought it was just experimenting. That’s what teenagers do. That’s what I did, sneaking the alcohol and, you know, just being a teenager. What I didn’t realize and probably the last five years into his early twenties, is that this is looking a little dangerous.
And this is starting to worry. Worry me about some of the high risk behaviors. Really scared me, was really, really starting to scare me. So I really just found myself living in this cycle of fear and anxiety and just survival really. I think that’s the best way that I can even explain it. Kind of. The big incident that hit was last February, a year ago in February.
And and I just knew that I couldn’t keep doing this. He couldn’t keep doing this. I needed help. And really all I knew about at the time was like Al-Anon and AA. I really was not knowledgeable of any other platforms. So I was trying to help him, you know, introduce him to AA. I was trying to, you know, get on Al-Anon and and it was it was fine for a start.
00;05;55;01
Tracey
I needed a place to start. And then other things started to open up to me, other platforms. And I really say that I was able to find my tribe, my group of of parents who had kids that may have been struggling with different substances, but we were really all going through the same things that made me feel like I really had a support system.
I didn’t talk to anyone in my family, not sisters. I’m very close to my sisters, but I just didn’t want to be judged as a parent, nor did I want him to be judged as a human being. And it just didn’t feel like a safe place to share that. Of course, his sisters know they’re in the midst of it.
00;06;40;10
Brenda
Right as only siblings can be.
00;06;44;10
Tracey
Yeah, yeah. And they had he’s got two sisters older than him and each of them, you know, handle it differently. One is angry, one is like a little more understanding. So it’s just been a whirlwind. And then I got introduced to the stream, which I also say I found my tribe of other moms in particular who just really get it.
We all get each other no matter what our kids are struggling through. It may be different, but we all get each other. So just so grateful, so, so grateful to have found such a wonderful group of women.
00;07;29;26
Brenda
We love having you. And it’s you’re in our Warrior Mamas group, which is.
00;07;36;19
Tracey
Our.
00;07;37;21
Brenda
Very special group. I think you guys actually have double cape status in.
00;07;43;08
Tracey
Warrior Moms.
00;07;45;03
Brenda
Because we know that your concerns and your needs and your thoughts are similar but different than somebody who has a 13 year old or a 15 year old who’s.
00;07;57;05
Tracey
Right.
00;07;57;16
Brenda
You know, in high school or dropping out of high school or whatever, you’re you’re in a different elite category. So, yeah, I think that’s a very special group because you all can relate to that. Just the length of time that this has been a part of your life.
00;08;15;07
Tracey
Yeah, the longevity of it. And you know, he’s not under my roof anymore. He’s not a teenager. So, you know, it creates very different circumstances to be able to try to support him and. Yeah.
00;08;31;24
Brenda
Yeah. So has he had different periods of like being in treatment or being in recovery or what’s sort of that trajectory looked like for him.
00;08;44;05 – 00;09;08;11
Tracey
So we just started that in November. We finally had one of the big episodes happen and his sister actually sent me a link to a recovery program where recovery and they are actually a home program, which all this time, if, you know, as a young adult, he’s paying his own bills, he’s very high functioning, always goes to work.
So in patient treatment was just not an option for him because if you do that, then you lose your home, you lose your car, you can’t pay your bills. You know, you have to lose your job. You have to be in this treatment center for however long that it is. So that was just never an option for him.
And outpatient just really wasn’t working. And so his sister sent me this link for it where recovery and the medically detoxed him in the home. I stayed with him for the five days of medically detoxing him and they work around his schedule, so he gets the sober coaching and the psychological peace of a psychiatrist. I mean, it’s just a whole group of people as well as a nurse practitioner.
They do a lot to telehealth. So we started that back in November, November 30th, and that is his first attempt at recovery in treatment.
00;10;10;08
Brenda
Wow. Oh, that’s very cool. I will put a link to that in the show notes because I think that’s I’m always amazed. I just learned so many cool, innovative ways that people are doing this. And it’s something that we say all the time, right, is that there is no one size fits all. It’s not like, Yeah, here’s the way you get sober, here’s the way you get into recovery.
It’s just not the case. So that’s fascinating. So he did an at home and this is this is from alcohol.
00;10;40;24
Tracey
Yes.
00;10;42;02
Brenda
Sometimes people aren’t aware that alcohol. And you’re a nurse. I know. So you know this alcohol withdrawal should never, ever, ever be done by yourself, like at home because of the risk of seizures and death. So very important to detox from alcohol in a controlled setting.
00;11;01;01
Tracey
Yes. That was a requirement for him to have an ally, which was me. I mean, we had a lot box in the home. I was the only key holder. He had nursing visits twice a day with a certified recovery. R.N. And yeah, it’s nothing to play with.
00;11;18;27
Brenda
No, definitely not. But I’m I’m so excited to learn about that resource. So how’s it been going since then?
00;11;28;13
Tracey
He did. He did. Well, you know, I really knew in my head that this may not be a one and done I had done enough readings and research to know that it may take several times for him to go through this process. But of course, in my heart, I was hoping, you know, I just want him healthy and it was hard and he was physically detoxed from the alcohol.
However, I’m emotionally, mentally, he really had no way of coping with life. That’s like we took away the one thing that he used to cope with life every day and, you know, really gave him nothing to substitute with it. Now, he transitioned right away into having a certified recovery allies with him. They were contacting him every single day after the five days of detox, coming over and meeting with him.
But of course, they can’t provide that assistance with the the anxiety and the depression and the cravings that come afterwards. So it was a struggle. It was hard for him and it was hard for me to watch. I mean, they did medicate him with things to help with the cravings and the anxiety, but it just it was not enough.
I don’t know how to explain it, but it was just a struggle. He really stayed. He stayed sober and struggling for 45 days. He made it through New Years when his friends were drinking. He was able to stay sober and then, you know, life just kicked him in the butt in the middle of January. And he had a little lapse.
And so we kind of go back and forth right now, although I’m super grateful to see that the high risk behavior has really gone down. Actually, I haven’t really seen any we haven’t had any incidences of that high risk behavior. So I’m super grateful for that.
00;13;26;11
Brenda
Yeah. So there’s the usual roller coaster, the ups and the downs and the loop de loops and, you know, jerking starts and stops and all of that. And and Mom is along on the ride, whether she wants to be or not.
00;13;43;11
Tracey
Oh, yeah.
00;13;45;17
Brenda
When you kind of thought about doing this coaching session, what were you thinking that you might want to work on that would help you the most because you’re you’re a veteran at this. You know, you can’t change him. So I don’t even think I need to go there with you. But what what would help you the most?
00;14;07;04 – 00;14;46;00
Tracey
You know, I think just really being able to I’m such a controlling person. I know it sounds terrible, but I’m a fixer, I’m a nurse, I’m a I’m a nurturer. So I like to fix things. And this is not something that I can fix for him. And so it’s just been really difficult as a mom and and watching your child struggle, you know, I’ve learned that natural consequences are something that that he does have to go through, which I tried to avoid those for many years and tried to not let that happen and it didn’t help him any.
So that’s been a real learning curve for me, is really just trying to support without interfering, without trying to control and finding a space for myself where I’m just not sitting and spiraling, wondering what’s happening with him every day.
00;15;06;16
Brenda
Right. How far away from you does he live? Like, are you guys in contact?
00;15;11;14
Tracey
Yes, he is 20 minutes away from me. So of course, when I get that feeling, you know, it’s easy for me to jump in my car and drive over there. And now I don’t do that anymore. I got myself at the door and say, No, we’re not doing this. We’re not going to continue that cycle of, you know, getting on the crazy train because most of the time I’d get there and he’s fine.
But you just I think when you live that way for so long, you just don’t know any other way.
00;15;42;12
Brenda
Yeah, you don’t know any other way because you’ve been doing it for so long.
00;15;46;28
Tracey
Yeah.
00;15;47;23
Brenda
And what strikes me is that you have been doing this from the time when you really, you know, when he was 16, you really did have to be more in control, right? Because he’s an adolescent. Legally, you have to be more in control. And so you’ve gone through this period of time, which is difficult for any parent, even if you have like the most perfect child who never uses substances and does, you know, volunteers for clean water and wherever, like it’s even hard to know how to start letting go as a parent in the best of situations.
00;16;26;29
Tracey
Right.
00;16;27;28
Brenda
So the fact that you’ve done this through his life in a really difficult and dangerous situation, it’s not surprising that you are having a hard time with this. It really isn’t, because there’s first of all, there’s no training manuals. Spoiler alert.
00;16;47;04
Tracey
Exactly.
00;16;48;02
Brenda
Anyone who’s waiting to find it, Tracy and I are just here to tell you it doesn’t exist. So you haven’t had a support system to help you pull away from a kiddo who’s really hurting. Yeah. So that’s a really hard situation that you’ve been in.
00;17;10;13
Tracey
Yeah. And I really once I started to do the work and really started to learn about craft and, and really understanding things, you know, I was able to, to have the hard conversations because you always think it’s your fault. You were a bad parent, you did something wrong. You know, to have that conversation of why and what he what he gets from the alcohol and really learned.
I knew he was an introvert and I knew he was a shy kid, but it was because of just extreme social anxiety, which of course when you’re 15 or 16 and you’re entering high school, all you want to do is fit in. And that’s really where it started. So that helped me so much to understand the why behind it, because so many times I would be sitting here.
I’m like, I don’t get it. I don’t understand. You physically don’t feel good after your mental health is in the toilet. Like, help me understand why this is serving any benefit for you. And when he and I had that conversation and like the light bulb went on, I was like, Oh, that makes complete sense. I get it. I completely get it.
00;18;27;01
Brenda
It’s really interesting to hear you talk because you’ve mentioned several things that I just want to point out, because I don’t know if you’re aware of them, because it’s really hard to be aware of ourselves right. And the things.
00;18;40;00
Brenda
Things that we’re doing. Right. Because you are doing so much right. You’re so self-aware. You you know, you started out by saying, I am a really controlling person. I, I have that tendency that takes a really self-aware person to say that. So you’re self-aware, you’ve started to allow natural consequences, which is really hard to do. So that’s huge.
You’re having her conversations. So you’re not you’re not avoiding the difficult things that we have to talk about with our kids and you’re getting into that way. So you’re really starting to to build that empathy and the compassion for what he must have been going through in high school and how now it’s still impacting him. So that just builds a huge amount of empathy and connection between the two of you.
I’m curious how his how did he how is he kind of been responding as you have shifted your way of being and you’re becoming more aware, you’re becoming more empathetic, What’s happened to your guys’s relationship?
00;19;51;29
Tracey
You know, we’ve always been close. He’s always communicated things with me, his feelings. But it was just this kind of like on my side, Why can’t you stop? And his side is like, Why can’t you understand? So it’s not that we were angry with each other. It was just we didn’t get it. He couldn’t express why I didn’t understand.
And once we really started having those affective conversations, which I learned about on these wonderful meetings of really just timing, if he’s in a heightened state, his energy is high. That is not the time to have the conversation. So I have learned to pick and know when the right times to conversate with him. And I remember the very first time that I tried conversation, like this craft method of converse conversing with him of, you know, we were having a hard conversation and I said something and I stopped and I just said, No, What?
I didn’t mean to say that that way. That’s not how I meant it. Give me a do over. And we just took a breath, both of us. And I said, You know, this is how I wanted to see this. And, you know, I’m not perfect. I’m trying to learn how to support you the best and allow you to be a young adult.
And I’m going to make mistakes. And he just looked at me like I had three eyeballs. Like, who are you? And we he just looked at me and he was like, Are you okay? And I’m like, Yeah, are you okay? It’s like, Yeah, but that was really deep. Like, that was like, what’s happening? And we both just burst out laughing. And so, you know, now when we have those conversations and he gets heightened or I get heightened, we’re both so much quicker to stop and just say, I’m sorry.
00;21;54;29
Tracey
I’m sorry. It looks like we either change the subject or we just say I need a do over. I don’t mean to say that and I don’t mean to be, you know, heightening. They’re angry. And and this is really how I wanted to say it. And he does the same thing as so it’s just really so much more productive than where we were at before.
00;22;16;25
Brenda
That’s amazing. I love hearing that. And I sometimes feel like, you know, when we’re talking about craft, it almost sounds too simplistic, like, are you crazy? Like, that’s not going to work. And then when people try just a simple response like that, which it it’s simple, but it’s not easy because you had to catch yourself. You had to recognize where you were and you had to make yourself vulnerable to him to say, I need a do over.
And that is not easy to do. But isn’t it easier the second time and then the third time and then the fourth time? Because then it becomes the way that you are interacting?
00;22;58;27
Tracey
Yes, completely. And the more that you do it, the more it really is easier in the conversation. And it allows for him. It allows him to be not on the defense it he knows if we’re having a conversation and it starts to get deep, that there is a way to just say, oh, maybe we should change the subject.
Or, you know, there’s just a way to not enter into this, you know, a battle every time we have a conversation. And, you know, I just try to have like a weekly can we go to lunch? Can we just reconnect? You’re busy and working on busy and working. And he’s he’s good to let me know. Hey, I’m just my energy is not where it needs to be right now to go and have lunch with you and that.
So I respect that. And we just make, you know, another time for us to be able to do that, you know, whereas before that would probably put the fear and panic in me, right? Like, no, we need to go to lunch today. Nope, I need to see you. We need you. So now it’s just, it’s, it’s easier, but it’s it’s not easy.
I don’t know how else to explain it.
00;24;15;03
Brenda
Hi. I’m taking a quick break because I want to let you know about the private online community I created and host for moms who have kids misusing drugs or alcohol. It’s where I hang out between the episodes, so I wanted to share a little bit about it. This place is called The Stream, and it isn’t a Facebook group.
It’s completely private away from all social media sites where you start to take care of yourself. Because through all of this, who is taking care of you? The stream is a place where we teach the craft, approach and skills to help you have better conversations and relationships, and we help you get as physically, mentally and spiritually healthy as possible so that you can be even stronger for your son or daughter.
You can join us free for two weeks to see if it’s the right kind of support for you and learn more about all the benefits that you get as a member at the Stream community. Com And I’ll see you there. Now let’s get back to the conversation. So you said that you’re kind of thinking about something that would help you is to find a way to support and not control, sort of find a little bit of balance there, which it sounds like you’re doing a pretty good job at.
Like you’ve established this, you know, this ability to verbalize to each other what’s going on in a very respectful way and that it’s okay if he says, no, mom, this isn’t this isn’t a good time, let’s do it another time. What else feels important to you right now to start to sort of rebalance life so that you’re not kind of tipping towards him?
00;26;02;05
Tracey
That’s the hard part, because I spent so many years just being so intertwined with him and his struggles that now as I’m unwinding from that and allowing him to be him and need to be me and it’s just hard sometimes to really kind of say to myself, Well, what am I doing now? You know, I learned a lot about self care, so I do a lot more of that.
I meditate in the mornings. I really just set my space for the day. Only now I do it without the anticipation. Anticipation of something terrible happening every day. I’ve learned to just really try to breathe that, although some days it just doesn’t work.
00;26;48;15
Brenda
And what happens if you don’t reset? What’s the outcome when you are tipped too far in the direction of controlling or worrying or kind of ruminating on on that or just feeling like you don’t know what to do.
00;27;06;01
Tracey
It’s just a spiral in my home. I’m here by myself and I know that he’s fine. It’s just a matter of me getting out of my own thoughts and all the patterns of behavior. And some days it’s easier than others. Some days it is just hard. The meditation doesn’t work. The quiet walks don’t work. You know, there there are days I just literally have to speak to myself out loud to snap me out of that mental space, you know, just stop where?
Okay. The dog thinks I’m absolutely crazy because I do walk around the house pacing and talking to myself on those days because it’s just really hard to snap out of those dark spaces sometimes. Yeah.
00;27;55;07
Brenda
And in when you’re in the dark space, what or what’s the concern? Is it he’s he’s going to never be okay or like, what’s the messaging, What’s on the mix tape that’s running through your head?
00;28;09;03
Tracey
So my mix tape has changed in the last gosh, when did he relapse? In January. So the last six weeks, my mix tape is definitely changed. Before he started recovery, it was definitely fear. Is he going to be okay? Is the natural consequence which could be death? You know, that that kind of just fear that with me at all times, somehow things shifted when he relapse.
There was just this realization that this is this is hard, this is the long haul. And although I had kind of shifted out of that fearful state, I was now in a state of, oh, my gosh, I’m 56. Like, we’ve been doing this a long time. Am I going to be 80 years old? And we’re still trying to struggle through that, even with all of the help and all the support and my tribe, This is hard.
And I just at one point, like my soul was just tired. I don’t know any other way to describe it. My soul was tired and I had to regroup. I actually went away for a week. I booked a cabin in the north Georgia mountains and I still worked because I’m fortunate enough to be able to work remotely. But I just I had to get out of my space to reset.
00;29;41;29
Brenda
Yeah. You know, you have been at it a long time and it is a long haul. We always talk about it as a marathon, not a sprint. And you’re on the like Iron Man level who your soul is Tired.
00;30;00;19
Tracey
Yeah. Like I just go back to thinking, like, in my head, I knew that this would probably not be a one and done, but in my heart I really wanted it to be not only for him. I have to be selfish and say for me too, because I’m tired.
00;30;15;00
Brenda
Of course.
00;30;16;10
Tracey
So yeah, I think that realization of being able to turn him over to specially trained people in this program, he was still connected with this program. He was still trying to work the program. They were taking care of him. And so that helped to remove me from all of that immediate stuff. And I think that it just hit me like a ton of bricks, like, oh boy, like this.
This really could be an even longer haul than what we’ve been through. So I struggle with that. I have noticed that my mixtape tape has changed and that that seems to be more of my struggle now.
00;30;58;12
Brenda
So it sounds like you’re thinking a little bit longer term. Worst case scenario, this does play out for another 20 or 30 years. You want to still have a life. You’re a vibrant, educated, amazing woman. You want to be able to live out your time and have your life. What needs to shift between where you are now to a place where you would feel like I am living my life in a way that I really love?
And he’s still struggling and I feel really good about my life day to day. What are one or two things that that would really pretty radically need to shift to get me there?
00;31;49;15
Tracey
Yeah, that’s the hard part. It’s almost like guilt that now if I let and I don’t mean let go like detaching, but let go of the control that I have felt the need to have and I kind of move on with my life. There’s almost that guilt at will, but he’s still struggling. Like sometimes I just feel like I’m not doing enough, that I go away for a week to reset myself.
And, you know, the things that struggle were still happening here while I was away. So I think that that is the struggle of of being okay with okay, well, I’m going to have joy and I’m going to have good things in my life and I can still be here for him while he’s struggling. I don’t need to reverse it too, or behaviors.
I just it’s that realization of that. Yeah, we could be doing this for a very long time. That’s the hard part.
00;32;54;18
Brenda
Yeah. I’m thinking about when you have kind of let go of some of that control and his experience from natural consequences because it sounds like you have started stepping away. Do you think he thinks that you don’t love or care about him?
00;33;13;26
Tracey
No, but I thought that as soon as like really when he started the rehab, after we got through the first five days of the physical detox, and I really felt comfortable turning him over to these group of professionals who are now there for him all the time. So I think it’s it’s like proof of life. And that sounds terrible, but that was that was what I needed to I needed to connect with him every day.
I needed to hear his voice or get a text or, you know, something to show me that he was okay. And now I didn’t have to do that. Like, I was just turning him over to this group of professional people who were going to take care of him. And I started to notice that like, Oh my gosh, I hope he doesn’t think that I have abandoned him.
I really hope because our communication has changed. It didn’t get worse. It’s just changed from my fearful energy of I need to hear your voice every day or I need you to text me every day too. He’s so busy with all of the people that are coming to him and he’s working the program. But it was within me that I felt that was like, Oh my gosh, you know what?
If he feels like I’ve abandoned him or detached? Yeah.
00;34;38;08
Brenda
Because I think sometimes that holds us back. We we have that fear. And what I have learned in talking with a lot of people is that that typically is not how they feel. They actually appreciate some of the distance. Right. Because he’s got a lot to work on on himself. And I just I have an idea that I could throw out if it would be okay with you of a way that you might be able to get some kind of concrete things down on a list that would help you in those moments where you’re feeling like, Oh, I’m not able to sort of calm myself.
The meditation isn’t working. The you know, the walks are working. I’m talking to the dog. He thinks I’m crazy. Would it be okay if I shared an idea with you about something that might be worth experimenting with?
00;35;29;28
Tracey
Absolutely. I am always looking and welcoming that.
00;35;34;27
Brenda
I recently heard somebody talk about how they. They decided to write a letter of resignation their child and the letter of resignation was all of the things that this mom was doing that she knew she shouldn’t be doing for her son. And she decided that the only way she was really going to be able to think about stopping doing them was to physically write it out as if she was retiring or resigning from this job because it felt like a job to her.
So I just wonder if there are things and I’d like to brainstorm a few now with. You. But I feel like this might be even a kind of a fun conversation that you could have with him to say, Buddy, I don’t know what you call him, but could we talk about some things that I could let go of that I could resign from, that I’m going to stop doing and I want you to catch me if I am doing them and remind me that I have resigned from that position.
Does this sound crazy or does it sound like something you might want to experiment with?
00;36;40;25
Tracey
Oh, my gosh, no, I got goose bumps when you said it. I’m a very like, write it down kind of person. I have Post-it notes all over my office because I like to write things down and it helps me actually get out of my head. So yeah, that sounds right up my alley.
00;36;59;06
Brenda
Okay, so let’s brainstorm three things that you would be willing to put in your letter of resignation with your son.
00;37;10;22
Tracey
He’s so independent, really. There’s not a lot that I physically do for him. The issues are mine. The issues that the activity, the driving over the texting. So I would I would say that’s definitely one of them. Not to get in that panic mode and get in my car and drive over. You know, there are times I don’t even go in.
I just want to make sure his car is home and then I go home. So that would definitely be one. And the second one I can think of is the texting for sure.
00;37;42;11
Brenda
Talk to me about the texting. What happens?
00;37;44;23
Tracey
Yeah, it’s just getting in that fearful place again of needing to have him text me back or call me back or just I can tell just by talking with him like where his energy that where his anxiety is, that his his depression, all of those things. So I don’t need to do that anymore. Those are those have been hard things to not do.
I just have to literally say to myself, stop you boys trying to work here. You know, he’s just trying to do is exactly I mean, he he gets up every day and he goes to work. I mean, he pays his bills. And I just literally have to say to myself, stop.
00;38;31;18
Brenda
Yeah, okay, I love those because those are very practical. And what you know, when you have this conversation with him, he could just simply if if it’s a texting or calling thing, he could just simply reply with, Oh, mom, did you forget your retired?
00;38;48;29
Tracey
Yes.
00;38;50;15
Brenda
And then it’s not this big, heavy, serious like, you know, emotional thing. It’s just like, oh, mom, remember he retired from that.
00;39;01;23
Tracey
And he would love that. You would let his sense of humor. He would love that.
00;39;07;11
Brenda
So what about is there an emotional thing? And like an example of that could be, you know, I’m going to retire from having to, like, be the emotion detective with him. Like, wait, did he smile? Did he? And I don’t know what it is with you guys, but is there something or in yourself, like you catch yourself ruminating or you catch yourself kind of doing that doom spiral thing or the this is never going to end thing?
00;39;40;07
Tracey
Yeah.
00;39;41;01
Brenda
Is there anything like that that you want to retire from?
00;39;44;04
Tracey
I do like the just the emotional catastrophizing, which I’ve gotten a little bit better at. But sometimes I’ll call me after work on his way home as something has happened, it’s, you know, life stuff. And I worry with him because of the anxiety and the depression, of course, that if you know this thing, this event that he’s talking about is too bad or he won’t be able to cope with it or oh, no, this is big and he’s going to go home and drink.
And yeah, that’s something that puts me in. That’s been that spiral. And I don’t say it, you know, to him because he doesn’t need to hear that from me. He doesn’t need to hear me say, you know, Oh, gosh, well, I don’t want you to go home and drink now. Right. So, yeah, that that’s that is something big.
00;40;39;15
Brenda
How would you catch yourself in that moment? And what, what have you found to be successful in the past when when you start to go there and then you remember that you’re going to be retiring from that, is there a replacement thought or a replacement behavior that you can start to really lean into when you’re tempted to get back in business?
00;41;03;19
Tracey
Yeah, Yes, A lot of times, you know, I’m sitting and trying to work or, you know, if I’m done working and I’m sitting in the living room and I, you know sometimes it’s easier than others just to see it in my head. You know, He’s fine. He’s. He’s good. Everything’s okay. Sometimes, though, it’s not. I literally have to get up from my seat, whether it be in my office chair, the living room, the couch, whatever.
I have to get up and just physically say, Stop. Got out loud. And it’s almost like that jolt that pulls me out. It’s like a smack in the head, like pulls me out of my brain spiral and puts me back into a physical space. When I just do that and say, Start out loud. And sometimes it’s quick and it’s like, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
We don’t we don’t have to do that. He’s And if life does kick him in the butt, I mean, that’s a part of growing up. I can’t be triggered every time things happen that, you know, he’s going to drink. He might and he might not. He’s learning. He’s learning his way through this just as I am. So I hate to say it, but most of the time it is that physical moving out of that space and just talking to myself.
I’m just saying, stop. There’s there’s no need for this. You’re putting yourself into a space where we don’t need to put ourselves.
00;42;32;24
Brenda
Yeah, that’s really, really great. The physically getting up and moving. And there’s another trick that has been proven to work really well, which is going to sound crazy, so stick with me on it. And that is to pick up an ice cube and hold an ice cube in each of your hands. It is the weirdest thing, but it somehow and the person who I learned this from could tell you all the science behind it, because there actually is science behind it.
Oh, I know it really works because it just jolts your body into such a different sensory experience that your brain kind of just does like a jolt. And then it’s not that everything’s fixed, but it, it gives.
00;43;25;20
Tracey
You.
00;43;26;22
Brenda
The space that you need to then talk yourself through that. The other thing is like a splash of cold water in your face is also a really good one. So either the ice cubes or the cold water splash in your face. And these sound kind of silly, but I think sometimes we can try to over engineer what we need to do.
Right. And we get so in our head. And and that’s a scary place to be, especially, you know, you I do the same as you. I work from home a lot of times it’s just me and the dog. And that can get weird because you’re like, Who am I talking to? So just also remember that you can pop into the stream and you can just be like, Hey, warriors, Sisters, like.
00;44;10;04
Tracey
Yeah, I spiral.
00;44;12;09
Brenda
Right now. Can somebody please pull me out of the spiral? Yeah, but it’s, it’s really I think you have three really great things to start with in your letter of resignation. And of course, you can add to it and I will try to find I have a full letter and it’s got like 15 different things on it that I will post in the community for you guys.
But I think the the driving over in the texting could be kind of a fun little way for you and him to partner on this. Yeah. That he can hold you accountable with with his you know input and then even I think it could be since you guys do have such a good conversation in communication, you could even ask him, like, what do you want me to put on the list?
What do you want me to retire from? And I would guess he would say, Mom, I want you to not worry. I want you to retire from worrying. Right? He doesn’t want you.
00;45;12;09
Tracey
To be.
00;45;12;28
Brenda
Worried all the time. Anxious all the time?
00;45;15;24
Tracey
Yes.
00;45;16;27
Brenda
It for him to see his mom and I know you do You take really good care of yourself. And you do all of these things. You take time away. And that is so healthy for him to see his mom happy and thriving and taking care of herself. And, you know, you’re at a stage in life where, like finally our kids are adults.
We’re finally at an age where we can go do stuff where we’re not carrying a diaper bag and 15 schedules and the soccer practice and that, you know, Yeah, all of that yet. And so I think, you know, we sometimes underestimate the power of our happiness and how that is a halo effect for all of our kids. So not just him, but your daughters too, to see.
00;46;04;12
Tracey
Yeah.
00;46;04;25
Brenda
Wow. Mom’s not so stressed out about her brother anymore, right? It’s so powerful.
00;46;11;27
Tracey
Yes, for sure. And he is acutely aware of the fear, the anxiety and and the concern and love that I have for him and why I love her. And why I do the things I do. So, you know, that just puts an extra level of responsibility. But he feels that, you know, of like I’m causing all of this fear and worry on my mom.
And that’s hard for him. That is one thing I have noticed that he has said is that since I have changed and I have, there’s been a noticeable difference, he said. And in approaching things and that that makes him feel better, that I don’t seem as fearful and I don’t seem as anxious regarding him. So that was huge.
I didn’t want to do that. And the more I learn and the more I do these things, the less it takes that responsibility off of him.
00;47;12;06
Brenda
Yeah, it’s a burden that they carry because they, they do know that they’re causing a lot of that. So I think you’re right. The more you can lift that away from him and show him that you have the confidence in him that he can do this and that allows you to go and spend the week in the woods at the cabin or go on a vacation or whatever.
So so healing for him to to see that happen. Well, before we wrap up, what if you think about your letter of resignation and even writing some more things on it or more Post-it notes, what do you think might get in the way of you doing that in the next week or two?
00;47;53;03
Tracey
I don’t think anything will. I am so motivated to just continue to learn and grow with this process. I want to work on myself because I don’t want to feel like this, but I also want to work on myself for him so that, you know, as you said, he doesn’t feel that burden. Now that I have connections, I’m like a sponge.
I’m like, Tell me what you’ve done. If it sounds crazy or not. I love the Ice Cube thing. I’m definitely going to do that. And I just literally got goose bumps. When you talked about the letter of resignation that makes so much sense. So I don’t think there will be anything that’s standing in my way to do those things.
00;48;35;05
Brenda
Well, I’m excited to have you work on that. And maybe you can even share in warrior moms and let all the other mommas know what you’re retiring from. And so I look forward to following along with you in the journey. And just thank you for being so generous to share this with others. I know there’s going to be a lot of people listening who are probably getting out their pens and their Post-it notes to start their.
00;49;01;01
Tracey
Careers as well.
00;49;01;26
Brenda
So you’ll have company.
00;49;04;27
Tracey
Yeah, but is what I’ve learned in this group, we just lean on each other, help each other, learn from each other, and for is.
00;49;13;20
Brenda
It’s amazing. It is. Well, you can’t do it alone. You just you don’t need to do it alone, and you can’t do it alone. So I think it’s just a beautiful way to be able to connect as humans with each other and say, Let’s just do this really hard thing together. And and then we do. So. All right, dear.
Well, I will be following along and let us know how your letter goes and have a wonderful weekend.
00;49;39;20
Tracey
I will. Thank you so much. And you have a great weekend as well.
00;49;43;09
Brenda
Bye. Okay. That is it for today. If you would like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to Brenda Zane dot com forward podcast. All of the episodes are listed there and you can also find curated playlists there, so that’s very helpful. You might also want to download a free e-book I wrote. It’s called Hindsight: Three Things I Wish I Knew when My son was Misusing Drugs. It’ll give you some insight as to why your son or daughter might be doing what they are. And importantly, it gives you tips on how to cope and how to be more healthy through this rough time. You can grab that free from Brenda’s income. Forego hindsight. Thank you so much for listening.
I appreciate it. And I hope that these episodes are helping you stay strong and be very, very good to yourself. And I will meet you right back here next week.

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