How Parents Can Create Conditions For Change Using Compassion and Self-Care When A Child is Misusing Drugs or Alcohol, With Dina Cannizzaro

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
How Parents Can Create Conditions For Change Using Compassion and Self-Care When A Child is Misusing Drugs or Alcohol, With Dina Cannizzaro
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ABOUT THE EPISODE:
It’s tough to come to terms with how little control we have over whether our kids choose substances or healing and recovery. In this episode, you’ll get to hear from Dina Cannizzaro. She’s a mom who has been through hell and back but has channeled all that fear and anxiety into actionable steps toward relearning how to connect with her son and harness the surprising power of self-care.

Hear how far she and her son Parker have come now that he’s been in active recovery for six years. You’ll also hear how she had to repair relationships she let suffer (including her other children) as she became all-consumed in her fear and efforts to support her son.

You’ll be thrilled to know she will also be your guide through the Beyond Addiction Study Group, so be sure to sign up for that ASAP, as it starts November 7!

In this episode, you’ll learn: 

  • Why Dina chose to push through her crippling fear of rock climbing
  • How she invested in the relationship with her son even when he wasn’t ready to be in contact
  • What anticipatory grief is and how it showed up in Dina’s life
  • What helped Dina realize she was just as sick as Parker but without the influence of substances
  • Why she won’t stop sharing her story with anyone who will listen

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.

[00:00:57] Brenda: Hello and welcome. You’re listening to Hope Stream. If you’re parenting a teen or young adult child who’s experimenting with drugs and alcohol, or who’s in active addiction treatment or early recovery, you’re in the right place.
[00:01:11] I am Brenda Zane, your host, and a mom who has been there. So just take a minute to exhale, know you’re a good company and just know this is your place to soak up. Understanding and get some really great information. You can learn more about me and Mark I do to serve parents like you@brendazane.com.
[00:01:35] Before we get into my conversation with Dina, I’d like to check in with you and find out if you’re breathing, if you’re taking really good care of yourself, because in my mind, I have this image of you racing around. Maybe you’re in your car somewhere or you’re on a subway, commuting to. Or you’re in your kitchen or your backyard doing all of the things that life requires, and I really hope when you press play on an episode of Host Dream, you know that you are being held in sacred space.
[00:02:08] I want you to know that this is a time when you can just let your guard down because you’re in a space with me and with people who fully 1000% understand where you are. What you’ve come through and what you might even be going through in this very day today. I know I have probably said it at least a hundred times, but you just can’t make up the stuff you go through when your kid or your kids are in this stage with substance use, mental health challenges, the stories, the decisions, the circumstances they find themselves in, and the circumstances they put you.
[00:02:51] The impact on your ability to think straight and focus at work, or to be fully present for your other family members. And that’s why I call this sacred space because you know that I know and I don’t for one minute take what you’re dealing with lightly and if you haven’t walked through this fire, you have no clue how hot the flames are.
[00:03:16] Right? My favorite, or I guess I should say one of my favorite quotes is she has been through hell and back. So believe me when I say fair her, when she looks into the fire and. By e Corona. Of course, this applies to you if you’re a he and not a she, because this whole substance use and mental health thing might be beating you up right now.
[00:03:39] Or maybe you’re in a better place, but you still have scars. Just know that those battle scars may someday be put to use in a way that today you just can’t even imagine. Okay, so that was my very long and roundabout way of. Please if it’s safe, close your eyes. Take a couple of deep breaths. Just let go of your to-do list and your eyes should list for the next hour.
[00:04:08] Because you’re gonna hear an incredible story from a mom who got pretty beat up and has taken her bruises and scars and turned them into a beautiful gift. She’s the mom of a young man who’s now six years in recovery from addiction, including IV heroin. She’s an uncontainable bundle of energy and positivity, and we’re super fortunate to have her as an advisor member in the Stream community where she coaches and leads our weekly craft classes.
[00:04:42] She’s also the person who will be leading you in our Beyond Addiction Study Group if you’re joining that, starting November 7th, 2022. So if you’re listening in real time, you can get signed up for that. There’s a link in the show notes. Tina Candar is a former high school teacher and has been an educator all of her life.
[00:05:03] She’s the mom to three now adult children, and we sat down to talk about all the fire that she walked through. The things that helped her and the things that didn’t. And she’ll share with you how she was able to maintain a relationship with her son Parker, even as he was using an actively addicted heroin.
[00:05:24] You’ll hear how Dina realized that she was as out of control as Parker was, even though she wasn’t using heroin and why today she’s found that she’ll never. To that unhealthy place, and she shares the practices that she’s put in place in her life to make sure that doesn’t ever happen. You’ll hear also some really beautiful words about why it’s important for Dina to stay present and aware of her fear, which she intentionally accomplishes by doing things like rock climbing in some really insane places.
[00:05:58] It’s honestly one of the most personal and impactful conversations I’ve had here on hope. And I know you are gonna get so much out of it. So settle in and listen in to my conversation with one absolutely incredible person. Dina Canaro. Enjoy.
[00:06:19] Ms. Dina, I am so excited to have you on Hope Stream and I know that you, you are. You’ve had a long day and I would love to have you talk about what you’ve done, cuz I think it’s really awesome. But I’m just super excited to have you. I get the joy of talking with you all the time, but, A lot of people don’t get that privilege, 
[00:06:38] Dina: so that’s really sweet of you to say
[00:06:40] I don’t think I’m always in joy, but , I appreciate you saying so. 
[00:06:44] Brenda: You always are with me, so, um, yeah. Well, good. I’m excited. Um, so I wanted to have you on because you have such a great perspective and, um, you sit in a position now where you. Context and perspective behind you. You have current, um, parents who you’re working with right now.
[00:07:07] And I just feel like that’s so valuable for people who are really looking for tools, looking for words, looking for inspiration. Um, and that kind of is everything that you come with. And so I thought we would just have a little chat today. 
[00:07:23] Dina: I’m excited to be on. Thank you. Yeah. Tell 
[00:07:26] Brenda: us what you did today, because this is so awesome and I wanna know.
[00:07:30] Okay. Well first tell us what you did today and then I have questions for you. . I, 
[00:07:34] Dina: uh, I’ve been on a week long trip with my son Parker through the national parks, and today we did some rock climbing and um, repelling. And is really scary. . 
[00:07:49] Brenda: Yes. Okay. So my question is, when did you start all of this? Is this new or is this something you’ve done all your life?
[00:07:55] Like, tell, give some 
[00:07:57] Dina: background here. No, no. Normally I’ve been a big chicken about life threatening kinds of things. Um, I stopped skiing when my kids were born. I just don’t like to get hurt, but, Parker’s a rock climber. He’s been a rock climber since he got sober and he’s been sober. It’ll be, uh, January 19th will be six years.
[00:08:21] But he started rock climbing. And so when I would come visit him in Utah, I’d go with him to watch him. Cuz I thought, Oh my gosh, this is amazing. Um, and one time in the gym he had Miguel on the wall and I went like four steps and then fell down and I’m like, Ugh, this is so. And then I started for myself doing Pilates, um, which I’ve done for about three years.
[00:08:44] And at that same time, I started telling myself that I thought I could do rock climbing and it would really be a good bonding experience because Parker and I had a lot of makeup to do, um, in our relationship. And I love being outdoors. I love hiking. He loves the outdoors. All my kids do so. We went outside one time and I was the photographer and at the end of like five hours of watching him climb, he and his buddy, its like, Mom, I have one I want you to try.
[00:09:16] And we went down to a lower spot and I did it. Um, I was scared. I cried during parts of it. I was completely outta my comfort zone. He had bought me the right shoes and I was on a rope, but it was the most scared, besides when he was in his active addiction. It was the most. I’ve ever been for my physical life and wellbeing.
[00:09:41] And afterwards we went to dinner, which is like a reward. . Yes. But I was shaking for about three hours. Wow. And that is what a lot of people like. I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t like that kind of adrenaline rush to last for so. , but I tried it again and I’ve been trying it every year since. And I don’t do that anymore.
[00:10:07] I don’t get that three hour. I am physically just depleted, but I don’t get like that anymore. And it to me, as I get older, this year’s my 60th birthday, so I had Parker plan a really hard climb. To me, it’s super important to get out of my comfort zone and to face fear every so often. Because I did that for so many years constantly, and I don’t think it’s good to do it like that because it depletes everything in your body.
[00:10:38] But I think I need to keep, for me, I need to keep what it feels like. I need to know what it feels like to feel that fear every so often. Mm. 
[00:10:49] Brenda: Wow. 
[00:10:51] Dina: I think it’s important. It makes you courage. It 
[00:10:54] Brenda: does, but, but what strikes me is that now you have control over that fear. You have control to say, Today I wanna have this experience that I know is going to be scary, and I’m intentionally putting myself there versus what we know and what, what we see in the stream community.
[00:11:14] And with the parents that you work with, you’re just, Kind of jerked around at the, the whim of your kids in the drama and everything that’s going on. Yes. And so that fear you feel like you don’t have control over, and we’re, we will talk a little bit today about some ways that you can reify 
[00:11:35] Dina: that. Yeah.
[00:11:36] Right. You’re a hundred percent right Brenda. And it’s, it’s a different kind of fear. It’s an emotional draining fear. This is, Part of it is a motion to get over the fear so you can actually climb the rocks. But that’s momentary, and you’re right. I’m putting myself in that position knowing what the outcome’s gonna be.
[00:11:57] I know I’m either gonna do it or not. I’m gonna feel good about it or not, but I’m controlling that. And also I get to say, Stop. When you’re going through it with your kid, you don’t get to say, Stop. It’s constant. That’s a huge difference. It’s a huge difference, and I don’t know that I’m explaining the fear thing and how important I think that is.
[00:12:23] Like I could cry right now thinking about it because the fear that you feel when your child’s going to possibly die versus this fear is different. But I don’t ever wanna lose touch with that because that’s the reli reality. Yeah, but it’s, it can happen. Um, and I need to be emotionally and physically fit for that.
[00:12:52] Brenda: So you’re saying that it’s important to remember that because his sobriety and recovery is not guaranteed. Is that kind of the idea, or what do you mean by that? That’s part 
[00:13:08] Dina: of it, but more importantly, my reaction. to his sobriety not being guaranteed is even more important. Mm. Okay. I, My health and wellbeing should not be dependent on his sobriety, but I know how easily that happens, and so I wanna always be in a preparation mode to never go back to where I was before.
[00:13:36] With the tools that I have now, I don’t think I. I feel pretty guaranteed that I will never go back to that place, but it was a really dark place and it lasted a really long time. Mm. 
[00:13:50] Brenda: Let’s talk about that a little bit because I want to give people perspective of like, we’ve heard a little bit about you today.
[00:13:58] Very active. The, for those of you listening, this lady could hands down, run me around the block. Like I feel like I’m pretty in shape. And then I’m like, Oh yeah, and then there’s Dina. So you’re super active, super fit, You’re very healthy physically, mentally, Um, you’re very sharp. And so we know that that, you know, is wasn’t always the case.
[00:14:24] So maybe you can rewind for us and take us back. So you said, um, Parker will have six years in January, which is Yeah. Phenomenal. But take us back prior to that six year mark and just tell us a little bit about, you know, what the family dynamic looked like, what was going on, so that we can understand sort of where you’ve come from.
[00:14:50] Dina: So I, um, have three grown children. One’s 35, one’s 30 Parkers. . Brandon is 35 and Cassidy is 26. Um, I’ve been a single mom for many, many, many, many years, and when Parker was 13, uh, he started smoking marijuana And, um, that progressed, you know, I was aware of that, Did all the things I thought were right. Sent him to counseling, kept an eye on him.
[00:15:22] Became more strict as a parent. put more parameters. , then he went to Ecstasy sophomore year in high school, junior year, probably used every synthetic drug that there is. Um, and then the summer of junior year, he went to Paraguay to do volunteer work, and he worked really hard to get to that space. He had to be fluent in Spanish.
[00:15:51] He had to go to classes every weekend. And so something he really wanted to do, he really believes in, um, people, and he’s super compassionate, which I think is part of the issue, is he’s uber compassionate, so he feels things very deeply. Um, and when he came back from Pargo, he really could not reenter our world very well.
[00:16:14] Hmm. He saw things there. , he appreciated a lot more. And that was family values and church and things that brought people together and it wasn’t money. And you know, the things that we have material possessions. So when he came home, he didn’t wanna be home. He went to all boys private, Catholic high school.
[00:16:33] He did not wanna go back there. He didn’t feel like people would understand what he’d been through. And that was a downward spiral he started using. Um, Ivy Heroin and, uh, I didn’t know that though until a few days before his 21st birthday. So he, I had to ask him to leave our house when he was 17. He wasn’t out of high school yet because I felt like he was putting my daughter and I in danger with the people he was hanging out with and money he owed, et c.
[00:17:12] That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Yeah. Cause he wasn’t of age yet. Um, I ended up letting him come home so that he could graduate from high school. I don’t know why, but for me that was super important. Now I look back and I’m like, Who cares? Right. Um, but then it seemed really important cause I was a teacher for 36 years.
[00:17:32] Well, yes, you’re a teacher. iEducator. . Yeah. You know, it’s like, Oh, my kid has to graduate from high school. Not, Oh, my kid needs to live. , but again, perspective, right? Yes. Yes. So, uh, I’ll make this short, but he went to one rehab, was sober six months, went to sober living environment, relapsed, went downward spiral pretty quick.
[00:17:57] Um, went to uh, New Roads, which is here in Utah. Um, did a longer program and was sober over a. and then relapsed. And he told me the first time he did it for me, the second time he did it for our family. And then when he relapsed after new roads the second. The second time, he relapsed bad. He was homeless, living on the streets in the snow, sometimes would sleep in the back of somebody’s car.
[00:18:33] He was stealing. He was doing bad things to get his fix every day. I didn’t hear from him for a really long period of time. Um, he came back home and, uh, went and lived in Santa Cruz, California, in a bush for six months. And finally, um, one of his friends contacted me and had found. brought him home and he had had a plan to commit suicide that week.
[00:19:07] He was really despondent and, um, I said, Well, let’s see if we can, you know, get you back into rehab. And he was ready at that point. Um, so he went back to New roads. Anyway, he relapsed a few times. This time, he’s been sober for almost six years. But the difference is he called me and asked me if I would support his rehab, and I said yes.
[00:19:38] He goes, Not by paying all clean toilets, I want rehab so bad this time. I want it. Will you support me just by being there with me as I go through it? And I said, Of course, you know I will. But I kept asking, in my communications with him, which weren’t two way, by the way. Um, I had a, the last three years of his active addiction, I was really in a bad space.
[00:20:05] I was, I say I wasn’t really living, I was going through the motions cuz I had to work cause I was a single mom and I would go to work and then I would come home and wanna go to bed. I didn’t wanna see my friends. I didn’t wanna exercise. I just didn’t have any energy and I wasn’t sleeping at. Yeah, so I would my, then I finally got a therapist, which made a huge difference cuz she was an older lady, like a grandma.
[00:20:31] And when I say older, like 80 and she had lost two siblings from, uh, heroin od. So she knew what it was like. Yeah. And she led me to learn some coping skills and learn about. A little bit, but I, I did have to go on a low dose anti-anxiety, um, for about six months because I just wasn’t doing very well. I didn’t have any tools and I didn’t know that there were things like the strain.
[00:21:06] Yeah. I didn’t know that there was the partnership. I didn’t know any of this and I was quite naive even for being a high school teacher. So it all took me kind of by a whirlwind. . I was one of those people who thought, my kids come from a good family. I sent them to a private Catholic school. We go cut down Christmas trees at Christmas.
[00:21:27] We see grandma and grandpa all the time. Why? Why would my child choose this? I didn’t understand the first thing about about it, but the last time Parker went, they did a dual DI diagnosis, which my personal opinion is almost every single time that should be the case. He was. And he was filled with shame at that point.
[00:21:50] And he told me, Mom, I’m not gonna be able to stay sober unless I take care of some things. So he turned himself into the police Right when he got outta rehab, by the grace of God, he didn’t get jail time. Wow. And he paid restitution. He did pay restitution for quite a few years, um, and was on prob. But didn’t go to jail, and he’s on a low dose antidepressant, takes it every day and said he will take it for the rest of his life.
[00:22:21] So one thing that that did for him is it helped him not be despondent. 
[00:22:27] Brenda: I am really excited to tell you about a study group we’re offering for the Book Beyond Addiction. This is the book I talk about frequently and it is hands down, the most comprehensive source of information on understanding substance.
[00:22:41] Addiction, motivation and what makes people want to change. It’s a book that will help you as a parent start to make a positive impact in your home, and also to start feeling better yourself. The book is so full of information that it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re also going through a crisis or if your brain is just on overload.
[00:23:03] So starting November 7th, 2022, we are hosting a six week Beyond Addiction study group that will walk you through each chapter and section of the book with a. It’s going to be led by a craft certified coach, Dina Kaar, who is a battle tested parent herself, and will give you really practical insights and nuggets of wisdom from her knowledge of the book and from her applying this approach in real light.
[00:23:31] Again, we start on November 7th, 2022, and you can learn more about the study group@brendazane.com slash Beyond addiction, and I hope we’ll see.
[00:23:47] Wow, that’s, 
[00:23:49] Dina: It’s such, there’s so much more, but you know, only have so 
[00:23:52] Brenda: much time. , right? We’ll have to, Yes. It’s always that case. But you gave us really good context for here you are living this normal life, just doing your thing, raising your family, working to support your family. , and I hear that so often that we get blindsided by this thing that happens and we can’t figure it out because I think the, the assumption that a lot of us have as parents is that I am in control of this.
[00:24:26] And what we, at least for me, this was a shift that occurred to me after a while is, Oh no, I am not. I want to be in control. I wanna have the family that goes and cuts down the Christmas tree and carves pumpkins at, you know, the, the perfect life. And that doesn’t exist. Just spoiler alert for anyone 
[00:24:48] Dina: who’s, it doesn’t.
[00:24:50] But I don’t think you realize that until you either have some kind of trauma yourself or you’re astute enough to look at other families deeper than the surface level. Yeah. And I know for. In the community where I was raising my children, there was a lot of so-called perfect families that I have since learned aren’t so perfect.
[00:25:13] And now, now I believe no family’s perfect and I don’t have any shame. I think the minute I let go of the shame about having a child that was addicted to heroin is the moment things kind of shifted a little bit. And it was the moment that, because Brenda the truth, when they’re little, you do control their safety.
[00:25:36] Right? You do control their health to a certain extent. Yeah. Like you are powerful in that way, and then they get older and you are stripped of that power and no one teaches you that along the way. Right. There’s no recommendation about how to gently shift away from. Keeping them safe to allowing them, and I’m a high school teacher.
[00:26:01] Okay. I talk to parents all the time about letting go and letting your kids make mistake. And that’s what teenagers jobs is to make mistakes and learn that I can recover from this mistake. Yeah. But there are some mistakes that they don’t recover from. And that’s, I think as moms, what we’re so fearful of, um, at least I was.
[00:26:24] The minute that I was able to, and I should say I have a really strong faith life and so that helps a lot for me. I did a lot . I did a lot of yelling at God. I was training for a half marathon and I would yell as I crying, ugly cry. and yell at God as I was running like a maniac throughout my neighborhood.
[00:26:48] And I am sure people saw me and thought, What the heck is this woman? But, um, I’d be on my knees pretty much daily, like on the hardwood floor knees, like, I need some intervention here. God help. And this is gonna sound really stupid, but one day I read this reading, it’s in one of my devotional books, and it was about making your child your.
[00:27:14] And how that’s not what God wants for us. And when you do that, you’re not allowing your go your child to take control of their own life and their own recovery. Yeah. And it like slapped me in the face really hard because a couple days beforehand, my eldest said, Mom, if you continue down this road with Parker where he’s your everything, and Cassidy and I are nothing.
[00:27:42] We’re gonna exit because we can’t watch you do this to yourself. Mm-hmm. , he’s taken enough of you and you have to figure something out. And then I read that reading and it was like these signs kept coming. Um, and so then I started releasing Parker. And I mean, people take this the wrong way sometimes, but I’m gonna say it.
[00:28:09] I released Parker back to God and I said, I’m glad you made me his mom and maybe this is what you have intended. And if he’s in so much pain and lives like this, please take him because I don’t wanna watch him live like this. It’s too painful. And if that’s his destiny, then I release him to you cuz he is not mine.
[00:28:35] I know that sounds really bizarre, but it’s what I did and since that day I’ve been a lot better. 
[00:28:41] Brenda: Mm. So that was a major light bulb moment for you and, and did, I’m sure he felt that in some way, even if you weren’t communicating, and I think what you said about the siblings and how you, how the other kids are feeling.
[00:28:57] When all of our attention is on that one child because, and I remember saying this so many times that I, I really believed that I could only be as happy as my unhappiest child. And that is the worst possible . Yeah. But 
[00:29:14] Dina: we don’t know that when we believe that’s true. Right. And so we learned some tools and skills to think, help us see things in perspective.
[00:29:22] Basically, I think we’re out of perspective. When the doors are blown off your life and something like this happens to a family perspective, goes out the window until you grab a rope and say, I want perspective back, and I realize I’m out. I’m out of control, like my kid’s out of control, but I’m worse because I’m not using drugs.
[00:29:49] And I’m out of control. 
[00:29:51] Brenda: Right. Right. You know? Yes. We’re both equally unhealthy and I’m not even using heroin. Right. Correct. Like that’s correct. How bad it is. Yes. I, I think that that’s great perspective, and I think that’s a good analogy because we do find ourselves so sick. Physically, emotionally, mentally, that we can’t possibly be good and helpful for our kids.
[00:30:18] And so I’d love to, to talk a little bit about how you ended up, um, so you said you released Parker back to God, which I think is brilliant. And I did the same thing in the hospital when my son was in a coma. And I said, Okay, right. Like I can’t, nobody can see us, but we both have our hands up, like 
[00:30:37] Dina: yes.
[00:30:39] There’s, Right. I give, 
[00:30:41] Brenda: I give. Yeah, I give. And so, and I did the same thing. So then from a practical standpoint, what does that look like? Like how did you start to shift your behavior, your words, your actions, and thinking and understanding so that you were healthier? And then what happened with Parker? 
[00:31:02] Dina: So, uh, just one more backwards and then we’re gonna go forward.
[00:31:06] Yeah, yeah. Um, the one backwards. , it was really important to me is I wanted car to know that I loved him and that he didn’t have any making up to do to me. Like he could come back and be healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. And he didn’t have reparations to pay for me. To me. Yeah. And I wanted him to know that like it was really important for me that he knew he didn’t have to feel shame with.
[00:31:39] because he felt a tremendous amount of shame. And that’s why I love craft, because it talks about communicating and in a way with compassion and making sure you find positive things about what your child’s doing, and they’re aware of the negative. We don’t need to point it out every time we get to have contact.
[00:31:58] And it is a privilege, in my opinion, Yes. To be able to have contact with my adult children. Yes. That is, I consider that a gift and a p. , but I had to learn that, and so I had to communicate with him. And my therapist suggested a really, I, I suggest this to every client I have that I parent coach with. She said, So basically you want him to feel like he’s still a part of your life?
[00:32:25] And he said, Yes. And she said, Well, while you’re not sleeping at night, get on your iPad and write him a short note about what you did that. and I did every single day. Mm. It could be something as simple as had a crappy day at work today cuz I didn’t sleep last night, but I sure love you. I, um, wish I could look forward to seeing you at Christmas, but you know, grandma and grandpa are doing well.
[00:32:55] Cassidy just got a new bite, blah, blah, blah. And I ended every single letter with I love you so much, you can’t even imagine. and I look forward to the day when you say you’re ready for help. Love mom. Oh, and every single letter. And I posted it to Facebook Messenger because at that point he had lost and sold a billion phones.
[00:33:17] Right? And so he would go to the public library every so often, and I didn’t know this then and read. And it would give him a boost, but more importantly it would let him know that I was still there and that the family was still aching to see him and wanting him home. Um, and so that was one thing I learned is the compassionate communication and to make sure that you find things that your kids doing right.
[00:33:46] Cuz once in a while, and I mean once in a blue moon I’d get something back from them that said. Something like, I’m not ready yet, mom, but I know I will be soon. Mm. You know, And that was enough for me to go on. And I thought, Okay, well we’re making strides here. He hears me, he sees that. And so when I started looking into, and I did tons of reading, by the way, tons of reading to educate myself about heroin addiction, about opioids, about how it starts and.
[00:34:18] You know, every so often when I’d have a conversation with Parker, he would tell me marijuana was my gateway drug. Mom, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Yeah, it definitely was. Um, and he was always really honest with me, so when I did get to have conversations with him, I’m like, Are you ready at, And he’d be like, No, I’m not ready, mom.
[00:34:36] I’m like, But you’re living on the streets. What? How’s that better than having a nice warm bed? It was really hard for me to, but then I did craft and I realized I had to meet him where he. and his behavior made sense to him, and I had to figure out why that behavior worked for him, why using drugs at that particular time was working for him.
[00:35:03] And when I did that, I could talk to him more honestly about it without being angry about it, without making him feel. Like he was a low life for using drugs. Yeah. Like I understood that there were other things in his life happening that made him feel he had to numb his feelings and his way of doing that was through heroin.
[00:35:32] Brenda: Yeah. You know, 
[00:35:35] Dina: so, uh, one of the things I do now is I practice craft. . Yes. I like to do the workshops cuz I think it’s super helpful to people. But I still have to practice cuz I fall into my old habits sometimes. Because you mentioned ptsd. Mm-hmm. , it’s a real thing. Um, I was diagnosed by my therapist when I was really at my worst with anticipatory grief, which means that you’re grieving your child before they’re even gone.
[00:36:10] And it’s like when the phone rings, you think it’s gonna be the call. And I was making the call to the Salt Lake City mortuary every Friday when I hadn’t heard from him in six months. And then I would make the call to the Salt Lake City Jail. And so I was very anxious about Fridays coming around. You know, there was a part of me that wanted to know, but then I would be anxious all week long leading up to that.
[00:36:35] Yeah. And so when she diagnosed me with that, I did a lot of reading about. and what that does to somebody and how awful it is for the psyche. And so I knew not only did I need to get tools when I worked with Parker, but I needed to get tools to help me become a human again. I really wasn’t human. I really wasn’t.
[00:37:00] So I told, I wrote a letter to all my friends and my family members and apologized. Uh, I’m gonna cry cuz I haven’t thought of this in a long time. For not being present Yeah. For so long. 
[00:37:16] Brenda: Yeah. 
[00:37:17] Dina: And not being able to live in a way that they used to know me. Yeah. And I explained to them that I was never gonna be that person again, but that I was gonna work on trying to feel moments of joy.
[00:37:31] Cuz joy was not something I had felt in like at least three years at that. So I did a lot of reading about anticipatory grief. I did a lot of reading about self care and about how to climb out of a well that was empty. That’s a metaphor of course, but, and my friends were awesome. They didn’t understand, but they were supportive and my parents were great.
[00:38:01] Um, encouraged therapy, but I think mostly. What I did is I, I learned how to take care of myself through exercise. I stopped taking the anti-anxiety drug cuz I didn’t like how I felt. Numb kind of on that a little bit. Yeah. Um, and I decided, okay, I don’t sleep well at night, but I’m gonna be okay if I don’t sleep.
[00:38:30] If I don’t sleep for three nights, I’ll go back to taking that for a couple nights. Yeah, you’re supposed to take it every night. But I didn’t wanna do that. Yeah. And I found when I exercised and when I started speaking publicly to groups of people about our families, I called our legacy now, but then I called it our tragedy when I started doing.
[00:38:55] So much of what was inside of me came out and people started reaching out to me. My uncle, my brother, my sister, my mother, my grandma, my, and I was shocked. I mean, you know, my school let me publicly speak in classes. Mm. About what it had done in our family and, and then kids and drove. Were coming to me, I’m like, This is happening in our family.
[00:39:26] What can I do? And I just wanted to have skills to help them. And I found the partnership and I took their parent coaching, you know, courses and certifi that certified. And then most recently I decided that I was gonna, um, become a drug and alcohol counselor. And I started that. And that’s really tough.
[00:39:49] But I’m learning a ton. I’m learning so much about the medical codes, about legal stuff, about what’s out there as far as resources. But I would say the, the turning points for me were letting Parker go learning tools through craft and through the partnership and speaking aloud about our story so that I could help other people.
[00:40:14] And it’s not like I have any great. I can help other people cuz I’ve been through it and I think that’s the most helpful thing to have someone who’s been through it, commiserate with you and, and support you and lift you up. I’m talking too much. I’m sorry. 
[00:40:33] Brenda: No, not at all. Not at all. That’s, it’s so great to hear the, the transformation and I love what you said about our tragedy becoming our legacy.
[00:40:45] That’s how I think about the stream and the com and the woods that’s opening and those communities to have a place that if you’re in the situation that you can find your people. Like, here are my people. You’re all amazing parents. You’re, you know, so, so committed to figuring out what you can do. And so I think that’s such a good.
[00:41:15] Perspective shift to say, yes, it was a tragedy and now it is something that I can give to other people and I can leave for other people. And I would love to hear what community means to you. We love having you in the community and you’re such a resource for so many people, but what does it mean for you personally?
[00:41:37] Dina: Uh, I learn every time I’m on the stream. You know, this retreat, we went on this. I know some people felt really like refreshed and kind of euphoric. I didn’t feel that way. I felt inspired. I felt like, damnit, these women, they’re fricking amazing. Like what the hell? Where do they get their strength? I didn’t have that kind of strength when I was where they.
[00:42:09] So I just left with, um, 
[00:42:14] Brenda: huge admiration. 
[00:42:16] Dina: Yeah. For the strength of women. Who are fighting the fight every single day and are doing so much better than I did. I’m like, Wow, you guys are freaking awesome, 
[00:42:29] Brenda: right? Like you got on an airplane and you flew to Utah and you have a suitcase packed and you, oh my gosh, you appear to be somewhat put together.
[00:42:37] Like I could have never. Ever done that while I was in, while I was in the heat of it. So I agree. Yeah. It’s like, wow. You know, and, and how much better for the kids, Is that right? That when you see a mom, and I’ve talked with, with programs and therapists who say, when we see a mom and a dad who are at least relatively put together, calm.
[00:43:09] And control their emotions. We know that kid has a better chance. 
[00:43:14] Dina: It’s a hundred percent true. Yeah. Parker told me, he was like, Mom, when you started going to counseling, I didn’t have to feel so guilty about making you so sad. Oh, you know, like, here’s the thing. I’ve said it before and it’s so true. Our kids are so ashamed.
[00:43:32] Yeah, so ashamed. The situation that they’re in and what they’ve, how, that’s what that’s done to their families and loved ones. They’re so acutely aware of that, that I didn’t need to tell Parker, I’m not sleeping at night. I’m worried about you, blah, blah, blah. But when I started writing to him and say, Hey, I have this great counselor.
[00:43:57] She’s so old, she’s like 80 years old, . But she tells me like it is, and she told me I need to do. and he would read that and it would make him feel like, Oh, mom has somebody, Yes, mom has somebody to help her feel better. And he told me later, you know, like, Mom, that was the best thing in the world because I didn’t have to feel guilty about you.
[00:44:23] I can just worry about getting healthy myself. And then as I worked through the steps, I could, you know, make amends to everybody and do what I needed to do, but I needed. Somehow take care of me. And I was already always so worried about what I had done to everybody else. Yes, it was really hard to do that.
[00:44:43] So in me getting healthier, I’m not gonna say healthy cause I wasn’t there yet, but in me getting, he, it was helpful to him, but also it helped me realize, I, I have nothing to do with your sobriety. Zero. Like I, I have zero to do with his sob. Now in the future. In the past, that’s all him. But the support that I give him can either lift him up or the lack of support could make him feel bad.
[00:45:17] So, but that’s not gonna, like I used to think if I said something wrong, he would go out and use. , if I do something that makes him sad, or if a girlfriend broke up with him, he was gonna go out and use, you know, uh, recently he had a, his best friend, He and his best friend parted ways, and it was super bad for him.
[00:45:41] And I, I admit that PTSD came forward and I thought to myself, What? I need to believe in him. I need to show that I believe in him so he could believe in him. Yeah. So yeah, it just changes your mindset when you, um, decide, Yeah, I don’t have control over this. It, it eases you to Yes, 
[00:46:06] Brenda: for sure. Take a huge burden off for sure.
[00:46:09] And I think what you, what you said about shame is so important because at least I know what I did. and what you do because it’s just the natural thing to do is you just take your shovel and you dig deeper and then you pour, You just bury them in more. Shame. Cuz I remember screaming and yelling, Can’t you see what you’re doing to me?
[00:46:31] Can’t you see what you’re doing to your family? You know, just like shame and more shame like, let me just bury you in this. How I thought that was gonna, you know, in my mind I was thinking somehow he would say, Oh mom, you’re right. I can see that I, I can see that I’m killing you. Let me just stop doing all of these things that I’m doing.
[00:46:54] Like, Right. Illogical. That sounds 
[00:46:56] Dina: now okay. But don’t beat yourself up over it cuz we, Every single one of us does that. I know. And you know, like I had to, I always say this to the ladies, I had to learn to love Parker. A new Parker. He wasn’t the Parker St. Parker that I had given birth to. Yeah. Physically.
[00:47:15] Okay. Well, not even that, but yeah. But he’s kind of reborn, um, because of what he’s seen. What he’s experienced. He can’t be the same innocent person. Yeah. But I love him so much more, and I didn’t think that was possible, like. I just appreciate the human being that he has become in spite of what he’s been through.
[00:47:48] But more importantly, we’ve gotta learn to love ourselves cuz we’re 
[00:47:54] Brenda: changed people too. Yes. 
[00:47:57] Dina: As parents. We’ll never be the same kind of parent and thank God, right? Cause we’re better. We’re better. Yes. Yeah, We’re better . We are. We are. But we will never be the same kind of parents that we were before. So there is the grief that goes with that.
[00:48:15] You have to grieve who you used to be. The innocent. Go luck. You know, Happy go lucky. I feel joy all the time. That’s not reality. Sorry. It’s just. Yeah. So fall in love with yourself again. Like I know I’m a way better person than I used to be. Not that I wish this on anybody, but hey, if you have to go through it, go through it and 
[00:48:38] Brenda: be good.
[00:48:39] Yes, definitely. And I think, um, knowing that. You are gonna be different is really important because we can spend a lot of time trying to rewind and trying to get back to the way things were, and it just doesn’t work that way. And at the same time, like you said, you can appreciate being a different kind of person, a better kind of person.
[00:49:06] Mm-hmm. one who’s way more empathetic, one who’s so compassionate to other people. One who can really understand when another person is hurting or how to hold space for somebody who’s losing their mind, you know, 
[00:49:23] Dina: not be judgemental. Like that’s a big one. Like there’s so many people in the world that judge, and I’m just like, Hey, I’m not in any place to judge
[00:49:33] I’ve been through it. I’m not judging you. 
[00:49:36] Brenda: Yes. Yeah. And it does, you know, that’s, I think a big part of the healing on, on a parent’s part is to say, Okay, I can’t change this and go back. We can’t erase it. So I can either walk through this and just be miserable and angry and bitter and resentful and all of those things that are just toxic in our systems and toxic in our minds, Or we can come through it and kind of, I, I, I have this vision of us like brushing off all of the branches and the thorns and the fire and the ashes, and we’re like, Okay, wow.
[00:50:15] Now, what am I gonna do with that? And I see you empower so many women in the stream with that. And I see Bill in the woods doing this with the guys. And that is really hopeful because you can take so much from this experience and do good with it and a hundred percent thrive, um, in something that just feels, and it, and granted if you’re in the middle of it, right?
[00:50:43] Know that you don’t have to feel this way today, right? Like, yeah. 
[00:50:47] Dina: It’s so true, Brenda. Like I, So I named my business cause I do coaching. I named my business next steps for parents. And then the tagline on the bottom is Survive, right? And learn to feel joy again. Because to me those are the next steps for parents.
[00:51:05] You don’t have to stay mothered in the sadness and the grief and all those are real feeling. , but I think we would never want our children to stay. If something tragic happened to them, any of our kids, we would tell them, Don’t remain a victim. Take what has happened to you and do something good with it.
[00:51:26] Mm-hmm. . So we have to do that ourselves. 
[00:51:29] Brenda: Yes, we do. And it doesn’t, you know, I just think back to some of those days when I had the police standing in my living room or in there when, you know, my son, we had him gooned and taken to wilderness therapy. And if somebody would’ve told me in that moment, Oh, you’re gonna feel joy and you’re gonna be able to do amazing things, I might have slapped you in the face because I was like, Like, Right.
[00:51:54] Oh. This can’t happen, but just know if that’s where you are, that you’re going through what you have to go through. You are where you’re supposed to be right now, as horrible as that sounds. And in the future, you will be able to kind of move through. into a place where like you are Dina, or where I am, or where other people are, where you are able to help, but you don’t have to feel like that if you’re in the middle of it.
[00:52:24] What you just need to do is, like you said, survive . Mm-hmm. and part of Then you can thrive. 
[00:52:31] Dina: Then you can thrive. Yeah. Yes. Then you can feel joy again. Like it is a step by step process and everybody’s timeline is really. Yes. That’s another thing. Yes. You know? For sure, for sure. 
[00:52:43] Brenda: Well, before we wrap, oh, you’re wonderful.
[00:52:44] Oh, before we wrap up, um, I would just love to know if you think back, and there’s probably a million things, but you know, if you could go back and take the knowledge that you have now and restart with that knowledge, what, what would be kind of a key point that you would wanna. Have to take through this experience with you knowing what you know now.
[00:53:11] Dina: I think to be more vocal about what I was going through and to not be ashamed. At first, I was ashamed and I didn’t wanna tell anybody that my kid was addicted to IV heroin. Uh, that helped a lot when I let go of that shame, just like it helped Parker to let go of the shame. It helped me a lot. and you’d be surprised about how much support there is for us.
[00:53:40] How if you open up about it, people say, Hey, I know this great organization called This Dream. You should be a part of that. But no one knew to tell me anything cuz I was secretive about it. So I think that was one thing to not be ashamed cuz there’s no shame in it. And number two, to get as many tools as you possibly.
[00:54:05] for yourself so that you could be more helpful to your kid. Whether that’s craft, getting counseling, having a parent coach, there’s so many resources out there. . Um, yeah. And exercise. Oh my gosh, that’s so important. That’s been so critical for 
[00:54:23] Brenda: me. Yeah, no, it’s true. And, um, we’ll put in the show notes. We’ll put a link to the partnership to end Addiction, obviously.
[00:54:31] Um, we’ll have links into the Stream, which is a community that I created in, um, In the Woods. Also for the Guys Is, is Open, which is super exciting. That’s exciting. Men need. You know, I won’t say they need it more than women, but they need it just as much. 
[00:54:48] Dina: And I just don’t think there’s as many open forums for men as there are for women.
[00:54:53] So yes, they need it more. Yeah, I’ll go ahead and go out on a limb and say that . Okay, good. Good. . 
[00:54:57] Brenda: Yes. So, um, so those are all there and yeah, I think you’re right about opening up. Like nobody can help you if they don’t know. That you’re on fire, right? Like right. If your house is on fire, but you keep like patting the outside so nobody can see the flames.
[00:55:14] Nobody’s gonna come with a fire truck. Correct. So that’s super important. And I’m trying to remember where I was the other day, or I was, Oh, I was on one of the partnership calls that I, I co-facilitate and there was a new participant there and we have. 30 or so people on the call on, I’m on Tuesday nights, and you could see it was so cute.
[00:55:37] You could see him kind of looking around the Zoom screen and he was like, Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen this many people in one space. Who all have kids struggling. He, he was so shocked. He was like, I thought we were the only ones. Mm-hmm. . And I just thought, oh, it just broke my heart. 
[00:55:59] Dina: Yeah. It’s easy to fall into that and believe, like, cuz you get so much in your own misery Yeah.
[00:56:04] That you do believe you’re the only one suffering or grieving or doing whatever stage you’re. In that process. Yeah. So I’m really thankful to you, Brenda, for, for having these places for people to go and feel safe and feel lifted. I’m super excited to be a part of it. I love being part of the advocacy group cuz I do a lot of that on my own time.
[00:56:27] So it’s all good. Thank you so much. Yes, of course. 
[00:56:30] Brenda: And I just have to tell people our fun moment. We just got back from our, our fall retreat and Dina showed up with a big bag and we were all curious to see what was in it, and she opened it up and it was a bag full of Narcan , which is just so awesome. So thank you for your 
[00:56:47] Dina: advocacy because, and if anybody needs.
[00:56:50] I can tell you where to get it. Yeah. 
[00:56:51] Brenda: We will link to, we’ll link to Dina, um, in her website so that you can get in touch because she’s the master at knowing how to get free Narcan and it’s expensive. I paid, 
[00:57:01] Dina: I think I paid on Dunno, cause I’ve never paid for it. I’ve never 
[00:57:05] Brenda: paid for it. Gosh, it’s expensive.
[00:57:06] So yes, if you are on the hunt for free Narcan, we will hook you up. So thank you so, so much. 
[00:57:12] Dina: I will, Well, 
[00:57:13] Brenda: thanks for having me see you in the stream, but, um, and I’m excited to have you work on, we’re gonna be doing a Beyond Addiction. Study group that we’re getting up and off the ground so that we can help more people just understand and learn what this crafting is about.
[00:57:30] It’s not about making crafts. If you’re listening and you’re new, it’s, It’s an approach. It’s an approach to it’s tools. It’s tools, 
[00:57:37] Dina: yeah. Yeah. And so it is, it is tools to put in your tool bag and. God knows, we can never have enough of those. Exactly. So I’m excited about that. I think that’s gonna be really helpful to a lot of people.
[00:57:48] Brenda: Yeah, definitely. All right, well we will talk to you soon. Thank you so much. 
[00:57:52] Dina: Thanks, Brenda. See you soon. 

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