Coaching episode: Navigating Life Post-Treatment: Boundaries With A College Age Son, Lots Of Advice And Re-Focusing On Self Care

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Coaching episode: Navigating Life Post-Treatment: Boundaries With A College Age Son, Lots Of Advice And Re-Focusing On Self Care

This coaching episode covers a lot of ground with a mom who is doing so much right, yet she questions her actions due to lots of advice from others, her mom-intuition and the heightened sense of urgency from her nephew's recent fatal fentanyl poisoning.

This mom and member of The Stream Community is co-parenting her college-age son with her ex-husband and while they're not in total alignment with each other their son seems to be doing "ok" at the time. But because she knows he's using substances while he's away at college, she wonders what to do.

Listen in to hear how:

  • after going to wilderness therapy and boarding school, her son is still misusing substances
  • she's learned to set and communicate her boundaries when her son comes home from college
  • mom wonders if she should be more forceful – or back off – about her son getting therapy or more treatment
  • her son isn't experiencing too many negative consequences, so what can she do?
  • parents who have already paid a lot for treatment can maximize their investment
  • we talk about what happens if her son violates her boundaries, but she still wants to spend time with him
  • mom has a goal of getting over her night terrors
  • the loss of her nephew to a fentanyl poisoning is impacting her decisions 

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SPEAKERS: Mary, Brenda Zane

[00:00:00] Mary: I worry that some people say I need to go farther and to, to try to get him to go to therapy and go to rehab or whatever. But the question is how is his usage of alcohol or drugs helping him be successful or not? And I don’t know that. And I want to ask him at some point, are you on the path to being a successful young man that you want to be and does drugs and alcohol limit that in any way? 

Other than that, other than setting boundaries in my house. And being there for him 100 percent at all times and just being educated and aware and asking questions. I don’t know what else I can do. And that’s what I’m asking you. 

[00:00:54] Brenda: Hi, this is Hopestream, the podcast for parents of teens and young adult kids who are misusing drugs or alcohol and struggling with mental health issues. So if that sounds like you, then you’re in the right place and you are in really good company. I’m your host, Brenda Zane. I’m a parent who can totally relate, and I am honored that you’re here with me today. 

This week, we have another coaching episode. I have lost track of which one we’re on. At first I was. I was, I was labeling them as coaching episode number and I’ve lost track. I want to say maybe it’s six or seven, but I’m just so grateful to the wonderful moms in the stream community who are willing to share their coaching sessions with you so that you can eavesdrop on what their experiences are and how we talk through them together. 

And we come up with solutions, help them think about things in new ways. so much. So I think you’re really going to enjoy this. But before we jump into that, I just want to remind you that if you’re listening in real time, which is June of 2022, we are working on launching an online community for men who are parenting a son or daughter through this experience of struggling with substance use, addiction, and of course, the underlying mental health issues that come along with those. 

And we would love to get these guys on the list so that when we’re opening up our beta program, which will be July, they’ll get notified. So if you are a dad or if you know of one in your life who could benefit from just having a group of guys to connect with on all of this stuff, To learn craft skills, which are the, evidence based tools and approach that help us motivate and move our kids toward healthier choices and to enjoy guest speakers and things like that. 

have them go to brendazane. com forward slash dad DAD and drop us their email and then we will be in touch. Okay. the mama you’re going to hear from in this episode has a college age son. Okay. He has been to treatment. He was in a wilderness program and then residential boarding school. Then he finished high school and is now in college. 

He lives in another state though, so she doesn’t see him often and she knows he’s using substances. So naturally she’s worried. She has gotten a lot of input. I’ll call it input rather than advice. But wink wink. She’s gotten a lot of input from lots of people in her life and she isn’t sure if she should be doing more, if she should be doing less, or if she should be doing something completely different. 

She’s having night terrors and would really like to get to a place where she’s able to reduce those. And sleep better and just feel more confident overall in what she is doing. Also, tragically, she recently lost her nephew to a fentanyl poisoning. So her son’s use is naturally, especially concerning. 

This is a mom who has done a lot of great work on her own boundaries. You’ll hear how she did that. And she is on a really great path. So we will jump straight in as Mary brings us up to speed right now on where her son is currently. Enjoy. 

[00:04:26] Mary: He is a freshman there, so he’s just about to finish his first year. As far as I can tell, he’s doing well. He is not using a tutor, which he had tutors almost all of his high school career and, and before that he’s doing well. His philosophy is. I can make A’s and B’s, but why do I need to when I can make C’s and not have to work as hard and have more time on the golf course? 

Because he’s in the PGM program, Professional Golf Management Program. So I just say, Because that’s life. You do the best you can with whatever you have in front of you. And so anyway, he’s still, he’s one of those just, average students. It just wants to get by. And anyway, he is there and he’s doing, doing well. 

As far as I can tell, he, when he was in high school, he was slowly getting into marijuana and drinking and all. And he made a decision to take an Uber. To a school function with a water bottle full of red wine, and he didn’t know that mucinex would be a catalyst for that wine. I think he was taking it. So he had a sinus infection. 

I was out of town. He filled up the water bottle with red wine, showed up at school function, skunk drunk, got asked to leave school. So that was high school. After that, when that was around Christmas of his sophomore year, we sent him to a Sparrow. So wilderness therapy, he did great. He learned a lot. We sent him to a therapeutic boarding school and he got a lot of tools. 

The school broke out with COVID. So my ex husband decided to take him out of the school and house him in our house in Colorado. Enrolled in high school and finished his senior year from high school. Had a great tutor, was successful all while, smoking pot and drinking. So then he graduated, he applied to these different schools that he wanted to go for golf, professional golf manager. 

That was his dream. He got into his number one choice school. He’s there now. Skip forward the next time that he was going to come to my house. I basically contacted him before he came and this was spring break of this year. So a couple of months ago, and I said to him that I have done a lot of research and I’ve thought a lot of drugs and alcohol. 

And I’ve decided that the new rule in my house is there will be no alcohols or drugs brought into my house. And this is not. to punish you or punish anyone. This is about me and how I feel and my, the level of safety and security and responsibility that I want going on in my house for me. I did not say, I don’t care what you do elsewhere. 

I did not say that. And he said, mom, I’m going to do what I want to do, but okay. And I say, just respect my boundaries.  

[00:07:32] Brenda: Right.  

[00:07:33] Mary: That’s all I said.  

[00:07:34] Brenda: Right.  

[00:07:35] Mary: He came, he pretty much did what I asked. However, I did find after he left some little tubes at the joint comes in in the garage. So I don’t know if he went out and was sober and came back and smoked a joint and came into my house. 

I did talk to your partner about, Kathy, about this and, and what she said was, next time when he’s going to come to your house, maybe say, I don’t think I was clear, but what I mean is that when you come to my house, I don’t want to see any leftover, not only alcohol and pot and any drugs, but left over empty bottles, empty cartridges. 

And so I don’t want to see that. I don’t want that in my house. It’s just do mom a favor and respect these rules. I don’t feel comfortable. I worry. My goal in life is to keep you healthy and safe. I know you are in charge of you. This is an extension of that rule. I’m just clarifying and taking it a step further. 

[00:08:42] Brenda: Yes.  
[00:08:43] Mary: So that’s where we’ve left it, but he has not come back to my house. He was supposed to come this past week, but he, for Easter, but he, said he had a stomach flu, which I doubt he did. It’s no problem if he doesn’t, his dad was going to fly him in. I don’t care if he comes in or not, so I didn’t make a big deal out of it. 

In the meantime, I, I have a psychiatrist that I work with because I take Lexapro. And so I have it med check like every three months. And he said, I don’t think you’re taking it seriously. And I need to educate myself on the model. In other words, I said, if he doesn’t want to go to rehab or try to change, there’s nothing I can do about it. 

And he said, you’re wrong. And. He said, you need to educate yourself on the model of an alcoholic or somebody who has a substance, substance use disorder. He said, risk requires strategy by learning what he should be doing. What is my role so that I am not enabling? Setting boundaries is good, but also educate myself about alcoholism. 

Understand addiction. Where do I fit in? It’s best to be on the same page as my ex husband, which is very difficult. And he suggested Al Anon. This psychiatrist said he was mad at you about not smoking for two days. That’s out of line. I’m like, he’s mad at me because he’s 19. And he’s just mad at me all the time. 

[00:10:15] Brenda: Right.  

[00:10:16] Mary: He said, I need to understand the model, the treatment, and the health promoting responses to this. I talked to my therapist. This is why I have no money. I talked to my therapist and she said, she said, he’s 19. You are not there to control him. So here is where I am. And now I have Brenda.  

[00:10:38] Brenda: Yes. Oh my goodness. 

So you have it coming from so many directions, different advice, different schools of thought. And that’s really difficult because all you want to do, I’m guessing is have a healthy son. Who’s safe and functioning, and that’s the end goal, I’m guessing, is that, is that correct?  

[00:11:03] Mary: Yes, I don’t necessarily think that I can force him to go into treatment. 

I don’t know how alarmed, I don’t know how much he’s using, I just don’t know, and he’s not going to tell me. I want him to be a reasonable 19 year old, not in trouble, being successful. In the way that he can at 19 year olds off at a college with no supervision. and so how alarmed should I be? And should I go to Al Anon? 

I don’t mind doing that to be educated. And I was talking to a friend this morning and I said, I want to have all the information in front of me so that I’m not hit blindsided if, something serious happens, but I’m not sticking my head in the sand.  

[00:11:49] Brenda: Yes, It sounds like you’ve done so much homework already and I know you’re part of the stream, which is helpful because you’re seeing lots of different experiences and seeing lots of different responses to those experiences. 

And what I, what I guess I would start with is, What or how do you feel, so put everybody’s opinions and advice aside, how do you feel about how he’s doing?  

[00:12:25] Mary: I feel like the fact that I set those boundaries after listening to your boundary workshop,  


so that alone is just invaluable, but since I did that and he knows that I’m getting some education, getting some advice, studying about marijuana, studying about all these things. 

There was even a note in my car from your boundaries workshop, something about, it was something that I wanted to look into it. It was beyond therapy or something like that.  

[00:12:53] Brenda: Oh, beyond addiction.  

[00:12:55] Mary: Beyond addiction. And he, I know he saw that note in my car. So he knows that I’m aware and that’s good. I want him to know that I’m not just, that I’m, That I’m concerned. 

[00:13:06] Brenda: Yeah.  

[00:13:07] Mary: But I think I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing in a responsible way and that I’m, I’m being aware. I worry that some people say I need to go farther and to, to try to get him to go to therapy and go to rehab or whatever the question is. How is his usage of alcohol or drugs helping him be successful or not? 

And I don’t know, you phrased it in a different way. And I don’t know that. And I want to ask him at some point, Are you on the path to being a successful young man that you want to be? And does drugs and alcohol limit that in any way? Other than that, other than setting boundaries in my house, And being there for him 100 percent at all times and just being educated and aware and asking questions. 

I don’t know what else I can do. And that’s what I’m asking you.  

[00:14:10] Brenda: I think you just answered your own question because you are aware you’re educating yourself. You are. what it sounds like to me being really good at staying in your own hula hoop, which when we talk about that, it means we are only in control of our, and you’ve heard this in the workshop, right? 

I actually use the analogy of a yard. Like you can only build a fence around your own yard. You don’t get to build a fence around somebody else’s yard and start doing their gardening and start pulling their weeds. You can only do that in your own yard. And it sounds like to me, you’re doing a pretty good job at that, that you are not In his business every day, lecturing him, nagging him about what he’s doing and saying you need to go to treatment because maybe he doesn’t need to go to treatment, right? 

That’s he’s been there. He’s he’s done that. What I love is that he does have tools that he learned at treatment. a Spiro and in his boarding school. Are there any negative consequences that you know of that he’s feeling right now as a result of what he’s using or if he’s, because here’s the other thing like, yes, smoking pot and drinking at 19. 

probably not the best thing for his brain, his body, but neither is really unhealthy food or staying up all night playing video games, right? There’s a whole kind of spectrum of things that are unhealthy for our kids, especially at that age, because they’re young and they’re figuring it out. So Are you seeing any, or do you think that he’s experiencing any negative consequences from what he’s doing, the lifestyle that he’s living, that’s causing him to stop and think a little bit? 

Or do you feel like he’s managing things to the point where he’s I’m good. I’m okay with how, how my life’s going right now.  

[00:16:08] Mary: My impression is that he feels like he’s managing his life. There was An episode back in December, when we went to a wedding in Louisiana and my niece’s wedding, and he asked me if he could bring his girlfriend. 

And I said, yes, I flew them both in and they were perfectly well behaved until after the reception and they both just got sloshed. And I got them out of the wedding before they did anything. But my son is very, very sweet drunk. He’s just loving and he goes around and hugs everyone and he cries and he’s very sentimental. 

But the  

girl, the girl’s bad news and we all know it. And she, I think, enables him and encourages him to do what, To have an unhealthy lifestyle, neither me nor his dad care for her or want her in his life. So I decided I will not fly her in for any, after seeing this, after seeing her behavior and how manic it was, and her accusing him of hitting her or pushing her or something, I was like red flag, bad news. So I’m just not encouraging her in his life anymore. I don’t know if he’s seeing her. I think, I think he thinks no one approves of her. Even his friends do not approve of her. So he knows it in the back of his. 

brain that she’s bad news, but who wants to give up sex at 19 with a 20 year old who has money and has freedom. So I think he knows it. That is one of the only real red flags that I’ve got is that she is a bad influence on him. And if she were not around, he probably will be a little more settled down, but I can’t, I can’t do anything except. 

And certainly if I tell him what I think. He’s going to run the other way right toward her. Absolutely. I just am not, I decided after December, I’m just not encouraging her in his life. I’m not going to ask about her. I’m not going to be sweet about her. She’s done. I will not disapprove of her. I just will not encourage conversation about her. 

That is the only time that I saw a behavior that I would, a worry would get him in trouble somehow.  

[00:18:31] Brenda: So that’s a really good kind of overview to say, when I, when I span what’s going on, there’s no he’s calling me from jail, or he’s getting DUIs, or, these are the kinds of things that are typically happening when, when someone’s use is out of control. 

And so it sounds yes, he’s using. Is it to the point where it’s, really causing a lot of dysfunction in his life and it’s really, he’s getting tons of negative consequences. Not yet. And honestly, until that starts to happen, he’s not going to have any motivation to change. And so it’s, it’s great that you’re able to recognize and it sounds like you’ve really done a good job of establishing your role in saying, I’m here for him, he knows I’m here for him. 

I’m not going to encourage the negative, including the girlfriend, including the substance use, and So what we talk about and what you’re in Beyond Addiction, which I would highly recommend reading or listening to on audio. I like the book only because I’m a highlighter. Like I like to go in and highlight. 

Yeah good stuff. is just focusing on the positive and really finding ways to encourage anything positive that he’s doing, which it sounds like a lot. He’s in this great golf program. He’s going to school. He’s getting decent grades. He could be doing better. But you know what? A lot of kids could be doing better. 

We ourselves could probably be doing better a lot of the time, right? So finding ways to reinforce all of the positive things that he’s doing is going to be such a good use of your time and your energy and your mental space that you’ve got available to apply to this because you’ve got other stuff going on in life, obviously. 

And just really think about what’s going right. And how do I just reinforce that to him over and over about all the great things that he’s doing? And are you able to have conversations with him about his, like you had said, you would like to have this conversation about, is this getting you where you want, or is it potentially getting in the way? 

Are you able to have those kinds of conversations with him? Okay. So that’s great. Because what that does is that. positions you not as a judgmental, disciplinarian, I’m an authority, I’m going to make you do this because you can’t, and you recognize that, but it’s, it makes you a safe space for him to come to when he does start to question that when he says, Gosh, you know what, mom, I, I couldn’t get to class the other day because I was so hungover. 

And that’s a really good conversation to have. Oh, wow. how did that feel? how is that going? What’s going to happen if that happens over and over and over? Maybe if it happens once, it’s not the end of the world. But if that keeps happening, what’s going to happen to your dreams of, your golf career? 

And that. Just makes you more of a consultant and a, and a person that he knows that he can go to, because if he knows he can do that with you, then he’s going to be able to start to rationally, think through in his own mind about it instead of, like you said, If you come at somebody from the front with an accusation or a demand, the only thing they’re going to do is push back. 

That’s the only choice they have, right? Because that’s just our natural response. And so if you take that away and you come along from the side and just say, Hey, I would love to have this conversation with you. How’s it going? And maybe you can relate something from your own life and say, Hey, you know what? 

I, I quit drinking because I realized it wasn’t getting me where I wanted, or I, whatever it is, I don’t, I don’t know your personal situation, but that kind of conversation lets him see you as a human heal. It lets him see that you have also had to make some choices in your life about what you want to do about what’s getting you the things that you want. 

And it just sounds like you’re in such a good position to keep this neutral stance without pushing him to get defensive, right? Because. That’s the worst is when we, when we put up those barriers, and you could just have those conversations like what would be the benefit of quitting for a few weeks? 

What would, what do you think would be the benefit of that? Or what would be a bummer if you quit smoking for two weeks? And just get his brain kind of thinking about that, but you’re not coming at it from a telling him what to do. Because. He’s got a lot of tools, and you could even reach back into that toolbox and say, hey, what kind, what kinds of things do you use? 

college is hard, right? You’re living away from home. You’re going to school. You’re having to manage a lot. What are the tools that you learned in wilderness and in your boarding school that you’re using now, not even related to substance use? Just about life. Oh yeah. He learned so much and you’ve invested a lot in that. 

I know how much all that costs. It’s not cheap. So like just from a financial standpoint, you could be like, let’s make sure this, this guy’s using his tools. We paid for her. Like we paid to give you a really full toolbox. How are you using them? How’s it going? What else do you think you might need in your toolbox? 

Is there, is there big empty pocket where you’re like, gosh, you know what? I really need something here because then it, it just makes you that person that he can go to and know that you’re not going to freak out. You’re not going to be punished. you’re not going to be that person who he tries to avoid. 

You’re going to be the person that he goes to because he knows that you can have the conversation and I and I say this to all the moms that I coach is you, you keep it together with him, right? If he comes to you and says, Oh, gosh, mom, this, this big thing happened, you can keep it together with him, have the conversation and then come into the stream and freak out, right? 

That’s where you Good luck with the Can say, Oh my God, I can’t believe this happened to, and, but with him, you’re that calm sounding board of Oh wow, that must’ve been really hard and just reflect back to him. Wow. That sounds really scary. Wow. That sounds really hard. Wow. What a bummer. you you missed a class or you broke up with a girl or whatever it is. 

I just think you’re positioned so well for, for that right now, just based on everything that you’ve told me.  

[00:25:12] Mary: he has mentioned to me several times in the past year about mom, I learned this at a Spiro and this really helps me.  

[00:25:23] Brenda: And  
[00:25:24] Mary: we were at a funeral of Elizabeth’s, my sister’s son who passed away at 18 from fentanyl last June. 

And we were at the funeral and a couple of my sisters were talking about the girl he was with when it happened. And they were saying she shouldn’t be able to speak at the funeral. She could be guilty. And my son turned to us and said, ladies, it’s a funeral. Give it a rest. He turned it. 40, 50, six year old women and said that he sounds  

[00:26:01] Brenda: like such a cool kid. 

I just want to meet your son because he sounds really cool. Hey there. I’m jumping in for just a quick minute to let you know that there is a very special community I created online where moms who have kids misusing or addicted to substances gathered together and get their kids. Through this hard stuff together. 

It’s called the stream and it is unique in that it’s not on Facebook and we focus on positively holding each other up when our kids are struggling. It is a place where we focus on you because if you are one of these amazing moms. There’s a lot of focus on your son or daughter but who is taking care of you. 

That’s what we do and we would love to have you join us to get a team around you to help you learn some great tools for encouraging change in your child. And just to have a place to connect with real moms who totally get it. You can take a look at our membership options at the stream community. com. 

And I will see you there because I am there a lot. Okay. Let’s get back to this great conversation.  

[00:27:10] Mary: But he, he has learned things and he, he has, and right now I think he’s, he’s a little pissed off at me, just a little, a little pissed off at me for setting those boundaries and that’s okay, I don’t care, because he’s short on money and he will ask me for money and his, my ex husband told, told me don’t give it to him because then I can’t track where it’s going, so he’s a little frustrated with me on that because he’s short on money and I’m not handing out. 

He’s just a little frustrated with me, but on the other hand, he’s My partner reached out to him on Easter and he said, Hey, it’s Mike here. How are you doing? Want to hear actually called him back and said, Hey, looks like I’m going to Pittsburgh this summer to intern for my golf internship. So you have this long conversation with Michael, but not me. 

But that’s okay. Because, that that’s okay.  

[00:28:01] Brenda: Yeah, that’s fine. That’s so good that he’s got those different people in his life that he can reach out to. And, with the boundaries, when you do hold a boundary, The people who are benefiting from you not holding the boundary are obviously going to be a little unhappy, and that’s okay. 

It’s totally okay. In thinking about the next time he comes home and you, and you re clarify like Kathy had said, let me just clarify in case I was unclear and let’s, let’s just play this out. He comes for a few days and he leaves and it’s gone well. He hasn’t used and you’re not finding any paraphernalia in the house. 

What then? Like how does that? How does that feel to you?  

[00:28:44] Mary: Oh, I would feel like, success. I would feel like I’ve held my boundaries. I’ve set my rules. I’ve done what I think I need to do in order for me to feel safe. And not have night terrors, which I do have night terrors. And, my goal is not to have those night terrors, not to have nightmares and worry, worry, worry, and to sleep better. 

And, and, and I think me setting boundaries and rules and not giving in to the request for money makes me feel better about what the job I’m doing.  

[00:29:20] Brenda: Yeah. And when you’re sleeping better and you’re not having night terrors, everything gets better because. You’re exhausted when you’re not sleeping.  

[00:29:29] Mary: Yeah,  

[00:29:29] Brenda: and that’s the first domino that I always see and it was true for me is When you don’t sleep I think we really undervalue sleep because it impacts how your brain functions how your body functions How you view the world? 

How you view your family. And I just want to acknowledge that you have the lived experience very recently of seeing your nephew go down this path and die from a fentanyl poisoning. So it’s not that you are. overreacting, that you are some crazy mom. You have seen this up close and personal in your family. 

You went to the funeral like this is so real to you. And so there’s no wonder that you are worried about this and that you’re getting different people’s opinions because this isn’t something that you’ve just seen in the newspaper. Or on TV or in whatever you have lived it and you’re still living it because your sister is still going through it, right? 

so I just want to acknowledge that because that is real and that is so impactful and so Have you been able to have conversations about that as well to say? Hey, I don’t know what you call him, buddy I call my kids buddy, I’m I’m not a crazy mom I love you and our family has been through this and And I just want to be aware so that if you feel like things are ever getting out of control that you know I’m here for you, right? 

It’s not, you shouldn’t do this. look what happened to your cousin. No. And is that a conversation you’ve been able to have?  

[00:31:10] Mary: Yeah. He, he was at the funeral and gave us the film burst into tears in my, in his head, in my lap. And oftentimes he’ll say, mom. What happened to Graham really affected me and he will actually send Elizabeth my sister little post about maybe a picture he found or he’ll I don’t know sometimes the young kids dedicate something to the teenager that passed away and Actually had something engraved on his golf clubs. 

Oh about Graham, so I think He’s, he’s still, he’s affected by it. And I, and I try to be able to talk to him about, last time he was here, I said, when you, when you get this marijuana or whatever you’re getting, how do you know, how do you know that it’s safe? 

That’s what I would worry about. How do you know that you’re not going to end up like Graham? He said, because I get it from so and so and he gets from a dispensary. I said, okay. I said, and I think I said something like, it might be good sometimes to, test yourself, test your urine and see what really is in there. 

He said, mom, all I’m doing is telling him that I’m concerned. I’m not saying don’t you dare do it. Yes. I’m saying. I’m concerned about it, right? And I think he knows that. And I, I, I, who knows? I, he, one time, I guess this was last year, I found him with a vape pen and had pot in it. And I just went upstairs and I said, he said, mom, did you take my vape pen? 

I said, yeah, I did. And he said, why? And I said, because it’s my house and it’s not in my house. And I’m curious about it. And he said, what do you want to know? I said, let me come upstairs and talk to you. So I went upstairs. I took the vape pen. I said, okay, what is it? How does it work? How do you know what’s in it? 

Where do you get it? How, how does it work? Does it burn you when it’s going down your lung? Does it affect your lung? Does it make you cough? And after that, I said, okay, all right, thank you for, and basically I just wanted to know about it, not saying, I know you’re going to do it when you want to. 

But I want to understand what it is. And so we’ll do stuff like that. We’ll do stuff like that. And then, taking it one step further, I didn’t do that before recently in saying, okay, I don’t want it in my house for the past couple of years before I set my boundaries. I thought, better to have him doing it safe in my house, not getting in a car then Going and hiding it and doing it somewhere and then getting in trouble. 

And that was my philosophy for a while until I internally, my gut just didn’t feel right. It just didn’t feel right. And that’s when I decided I want to set new boundaries. And that’s why I told him I’m reading, I’m learning, I’m researching, and this is how I feel about it. in the past, it was, I’d rather you be in my house. 

in the backyard with your vape pen and driving around illegally. with this stuff. And then I thought further, wait a minute, it’s still illegal. And it’s in my house. Why am I putting up with that?  

[00:34:25] Brenda: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s the great thing is you get to decide, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve had the conversation with him because it, one thing that we can do with boundaries is you can set a boundary and then you can change it. 

Like you did. However, sometimes we forget to communicate that change to the kids. And so all of a sudden they’re like, wait, this used to be okay. So it sounds like you were very clear about that. And you’re going to, obviously just continue to communicate that. And if you can be having those conversations, and I love that you said that you’re curious about it. 

Those are all the things that just will keep the communication open. And. Just, to continue to come at it from that stance of, I’m here for you, I’m curious about this, I’m curious about what it does for you. Does it make you more confident? Does it calm you down? Do you have anxiety? What is it doing for you? 

Because obviously there’s a benefit that he’s getting from it or he wouldn’t be doing it. So that’s another great conversation to have. And just to keep those lines of communication open, because at some point, he’s 19. He doesn’t have a prefrontal cortex that’s developed. He doesn’t have the ability to fully see consequences and all of those things. 

So just the more that you can be open and genuine about that and curious about it, it’s going to be so good for him to, to be able to come to you and have that. So I just want to go back to you. You’re, the nightmares that you’re having, the sleep problems that you’re having, what kinds of things are available to you to shift those into a better place? 

Are there things that you used to do that helped you sleep? Are there tools that you’ve used? I’m just wondering if we might be able to brainstorm a few of those to help you. so I’m going to ask you to refocus because I, I think you know what you need to do with him when you have those conversations and those opportunities, but he doesn’t live with you. 

So I feel like there’s also some time for you to now shift and really put some tools in place for yourself. And does focusing on, on sleep seem like a good place to focus or is there something else that’s on your mind that you’re like, Oh, gosh, I’d really like to make this better.  

[00:36:41] Mary: No, actually I love. and learning about sleep and recently, and meditation is one thing that does help me  

[00:36:49] Brenda: if I  
[00:36:49] Mary: do it regularly and I use headspace and that helps me. 

And, and I listened to a podcast recently on sleep and dreams and all. And one of the things that this author said was that rather than waiting to. You’re ready to go to bed, to shut down. You have to take little breaks during the day and shutting things off. And that could be driving in your car without the radio on, driving your car without, without, in fact, I just did that on the way from the gym back home. 

I just didn’t turn anything on. Meditation, time to let your brain sort through, okay, what do we need to work on tonight in my dreams? What does my subconscious need to work on and rather than all of a sudden saying, Oh, it’s nine o’clock. I’m going to bed. Try to go to sleep. Is that your brain is going and it never had time to sort through what are the little nuggets I want to work on while I’m sleeping. 

So that’s one little tool that I’ve just picked up. And, and, and then I also have a therapist that we work through dreams. Yeah. And we work through the dreams and it’s really, really good. I don’t know. as far as me going to sleep, I take a Valotone in and I take a Triazidone before I go to sleep. 

And that usually helps just get me under. But, but sometimes I’ll have night terrors and I won’t remember them, I’ll just be screaming. And sometimes I, I don’t often have nightmares, but I will have night terrors. And then in the morning, my partner will say, you were screaming for 10 minutes last morning, between nine 30 and 10. 

And I’m usually saying, no, no, stop it, stop it, Gage, Gage, what the F U C K, and I’ll, I’ll do that in my sleep. So I know that I’m just subconsciously really worried about him. Yeah. Yeah. I just am, one wrong, one, when, after he left, I think in December, I found a pill upstairs in the, I tried to look it up. 

It didn’t have any labels on it, and I still have it, but I would go to the pharmacy and see if they can identify it. But, and so I’m obsessed about this one little pill and it could be an  

[00:38:54] Brenda: aspirin that just doesn’t have any marks on it. It’s, it’s a lot. I think your experience with your sister and your nephew is so close still that I can see why you would have this heightened level of anxiety and worry and, and it’s not surprising that it comes out at night, right? 

And in the form of night terrors. So I’m really glad to hear that you have a therapist that you’re working through that with, because that’s, it’s deep, right? It’s deep in your subconscious. And I would say that educating yourself, like you said earlier, will really help. A couple of things. It’ll just relieve some anxiety about what’s going on to give you some tools to use. 

And we’ve talked about some of those, the commun ways of communicating, and this is the one I don’t fully agree with your psychiatrist, but this is the one area that I do is that education will. Help you in the fact that you’ll have more, understanding and more empathy and compassion for what and why people do use substances to that extent. 

If your son is, and again, we don’t know, right? He might be smoking three times a day, might be smoking once a day, might be smoking twice a week. We just don’t know. So it will provide more of that empathy and all of those things combined might just. ease your level of concern and anxiety to allow you to sleep better. 

And I like that you’ve got these tools with your meditation and you’re so right in that sleep. A good night’s sleep starts at eight o’clock in the morning because we have to regulate ourselves throughout the day so that we’re not in this crazy dysregulated place. And then at nine o’clock, we’re like, Oh, okay. 

Got to go to bed, turn off the lights and try to come down from, a hundred to zero that that’s just not going to happen. So it sounds like you have some really good practices in place. Is there anything else that either you’re curious about trying or that you’ve used in the past that you might want to bring back? 

That has helped you either regulate yourself during the day so that you end up in a better place to sleep or That actually helped with sleep.  

[00:41:13] Mary: No, but I wanted to go back and talk about what happens if he does come back to my house and He doesn’t obey my belt. He doesn’t respect my boundaries and he disobeys house rules Yeah. 

And let me just answer it first. And I was going to ask you to, yeah, I was going to say, okay, so I really don’t know. And I think when that, if that happens, that I’ll have to say to him, which you covered in your boundaries workshop, something’s going to have to change here. I, I, I don’t know what that is at this point, but we’re going to have to make some adjustments and. 

I don’t know if that’s saying what I don’t want to do is say you have to stay at your dad’s house because his dad has a history of kicking him out. So when doesn’t follow his rules, he will call me and say, he’s coming to your house. And at 1 point, I said to him. Many years ago, you need to parent your son. 

This kicking out is an awful pattern. And it’s a pattern from him to feel detached, abandoned, have attachment issues, which is what he exactly what he has.  

[00:42:26] Brenda: Yeah.  

[00:42:28] Mary: so I do not want a kid come out ever and, and I don’t want that to be a pattern that mom does. Yeah. So I, I don’t know. I don’t, I don’t know what to do if that, if that happens. 

Maybe I just say you can’t come out when you have to stay at school.  

[00:42:47] Brenda: Or are there other options besides his dad? I think it could be a very good conversation to say, Hey, I understand that it’s important to you to be able to smoke pot and drink when you are here. In the area. Unfortunately, that is that doesn’t work in my house. 

And so I would still love to see you. I’d still love to have dinner with you or go grab coffee or whatever it is. Where else would you feel comfortable staying and ask him because maybe he likes staying with his dad. I don’t know. And if he doesn’t like staying with his dad, then he’ll probably say, I don’t know. 

I don’t know. I don’t really want to stay with dad. Where else? And then you can brainstorm where else could you stay? Is there a, an uncle or an aunt or a, a friend or somewhere, or would you be okay saying, Hey, you know what? I’ll pay for two nights of a hotel for you. And I’ll see you when you’re sober, when you haven’t smoked, we’ll go have, we’ll go golfing or we’ll go shopping or whatever. 

there’s so many options available. And I think sometimes people get really stuck on this, like black and white, we have to do this or that we have to kick him out or not kick him out, or he has to stay at my house. There’s so many options, but I would really leave it up to him because it’s his decision that’s causing the friction, right? 

It’s his choice to continue to use. That’s impeding on your ability to have him in the house. And so I would just put it back to him. Hey, buddy, I’m so excited that you’re able to come home for a few days. Where are you going to stay? Where are you going to stay? Cause in my house, we don’t, we don’t have substances and it seems like that’s really important to you. 

And we could talk about why that’s important to you. I think that’d be a great conversation, but it isn’t going to work for you to stay here. Cause I, last time you were here. You did blah, blah, blah. Where are you going to stay? Cause I’ll come meet you for breakfast, I’ll whatever. Does that make sense? 

Yeah. And he’s 19. He could figure it out. He lives on his own at college. He’s got lots of resources and tools. And then he may say, Oh gosh, you know what? Okay, fine. I’ll just, I’ll stay with you and I won’t. Okay, great. I appreciate that. and then if he does, then you figure it out the next time, right? 

And you don’t have to, like you said, you don’t have to deal with that in the heat of the moment. And so just give yourself some grace and some time to think through, okay. And I, I really encourage people to do this instead of oh, he did this. It means that I have to do that. Think of three things. 

Like what are three different reactions, or not reactions, but responses, like thoughtful responses that I could have to this. What are three different scenarios of places that he could stay, just to broaden it out because we do get stuck in these like if then kinds of situations, and that’s really hard because usually life isn’t that black and white. 

So if that helps, that might be a good approach for the next time. The other thing is, let’s say your sister was coming to visit you and she was like, yeah, I’m bringing my fifth of vodka and I’m bringing some weed. No. would, wouldn’t you say, okay, where are you going to stay? Yes. So it’s not that you’re doing this to punish him. 

You’re just saying in my house, this doesn’t work. Totally cool. If you want to stay somewhere else. But even if my sister was coming with her weed, I would say, no, thank you.  

[00:46:30] Mary: And, and I, don’t get me wrong. I do have liquor in my house, but it’s locked up and it’s nowhere near for, he can’t, he already knows, he knows where it is. 

And every time he comes home, he’s tries it, and it’s locked and it’s still locked. Yes. It is.  

[00:46:47] Brenda: So I think you’ve got some options there and some flexibility, but really think about putting it on him because it’s his choice.  

[00:46:55] Mary: I think, really what I wanted just was to run it by another source. 

And I feel I feel, I feel like I’m going to continue to educate myself and I feel like I should go to a couple of Al Anon meetings just to, just to be more educated.  

[00:47:09] Brenda: Yeah, you can. And, and I will tell you in Al Anon, you may love it and you may not. And often what you will hear in Al Anon is You have to distance you have to protect yourself. 

You have to let them hit rock bottom. So it’s a different Approach and philosophy than the craft approach, which is more about how do I keep the, how do I keep this relationship? How do I keep encouraging him to think about his choices? How do I motivate him to change? How do I reward his awesome, positive forward moving behavior and then just not reward him? 

His behavior that’s, causing problems. So I would encourage you to go and just keep that mindset. Just know if you’re hearing things that sound different, that’s why it’s just a different approach. It’s not that it’s bad or anything. It’s just a different approach, but what it will do is it will just give you good perspective on all the different. 

Things that people are dealing with and how other people, are feeling, and then also just stay really plugged in, in the stream and, and don’t hesitate to say, gosh, I’m really confused, or I’m really conflicted about this. That’s what it’s there for, to be able to bounce those kinds of things off other moms who are going through very, very similar. 

situations so that you can then focus on you and you can, you can say, okay, I know what I’m doing over here with him. I’ve learned a lot beyond addiction is going to be an incredible resource for you. And there’s also a 20 minute guide, 20 minute parents guide that goes with that. I think it’s the 20 minute guide. 

com. And it’s a workbook. Situation, which is great. Cause I like to let’s, let’s put this into practice and it lets you do that. And as you learn those things, you will feel more confident and you will feel more equipped to know how to approach the different scenarios with him. How does that sound? 

[00:49:13] Mary: Good. I’m going to just keep learning. Yeah. I’m just glad that if something does happen, that I have you guys to help me Absolutely. In other words, I want to keep the relationship with the stream because even though he’s not in my home and I’m not seeing, active problems, I want to be aware of it and I want to be able to help him in the best way if something does come up without giving ultimatums and punishing him  

[00:49:42] Brenda: because  

[00:49:42] Mary: I’ve learned that he’s the kind of kid that he’ll shut down. 

if he feels disapproved of, which comes from his dad, but right. And he only says he’s doing great with his dad. He said they have a good relationship and this is a whole nother topic. I don’t want to get into, but he’s afraid of his dad. So he doesn’t. He doesn’t ask for money or ask for anything. 

He’ll ask me because he’s afraid to make a wrong step and then get his dad mad at him. So that’s just something else that has to do with the cycle of, approval and attachment.  

[00:50:20] Brenda: I I feel like you’ve got a lot of tools in your tool belt also and he does so I would just encourage you Yeah, keep learning. 

Keep the communication open. Don’t be afraid to be really honest with him and say dude. I’m learning too, right? I’m learning and I’m doing the best I can and I’m gonna screw up and when I do I’m gonna be humble about it I’m gonna ask you to forgive me and I just want you to do the same Right. And, and try to keep that. 


[00:50:47] Mary: I have said that to him, I’ve said, he’s what the F mom, typical change in her mind again. And I said, I’m learning too.  

[00:50:56] Brenda: Yes. Yes. We all are learning all the time. So I think that’s a fantastic response. Yeah. All right, my dear, I, I will be touching base with you in the community and seeing how you’re doing and let me know how it’s going. 

Shoot me a note. Send me a chat every once in a while. Let me know. Okay. Thank you. Okay. That is it for today. If you would like to get the show notes for this episode, you can go to brendazane. com forward slash 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 ebook 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 Zane. com forward slash 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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