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Kehler Counseling Blog

Mother's of Addicts Greatest Fear: How Do You Compare?

These are the 6 ways that we 'compare' out - ourselves to others:  

3 things you pay attention to in yourself:
Describe your language skill/style:
Concise – sassy-wordy – detailed – good story teller – mainstream or local?
Describe yours:
Easy going /Anxious/Stressed?
Name at least 3 of your life’s major accomplishments:
List 3 major ‘things’ that you have acquired over time that you are proud of or value:
Talents or skills that you have practiced and have become proud of:
 This is a worksheet.    What I want to encourage everyone managing their way through this nightmare of addiction is that the common fear is that ‘what do I say’ when people ask how I am – how my kids are –and we know we aren’t able to say ‘good’ things.    The perception of the parent is that they should be ashamed.  They should feel guilty.  They should be embarrassed.  They should’ve fixed it.  They should’ve done something. 
Seriously.   Every addict I talk to KNOWS they are DECIDING – CHOOSING – DOING what is not ‘good’ or ‘legal’ – They know they made the decisions that lead to their history of trying drugs, playing with drugs, experimenting with drugs, using drugs ‘to feel better’, using drugs to ‘get high’, using drugs to escape, using drugs to be ‘accepted’ . .  .  never once do they say “I did it because my mother/father MADE ME’.   They don’t say ‘they MADE me hang out with the ‘troubled’ kids . . . sure a ‘hostile’ environment at home doesn’t help but every addict KNOWS that they CHOSE their path that lead to real addiction.  And it’s a PATH – journey – a series of choices – that one by one leads them to higher risks – people-places-events that shift the access to substance abuse.     I believe it’s a disease once we do it enough for the wrong reasons – but we CHOSE our way to it.  Once hijacked – then it’s ALL about getting the next fix. . . and YOU (parents) have NOTHING to do with that!    "It is what it is."   
So take yourselves off the noose –of guilt – shame – embarrassment – and start addressing what gets us there in the first place.
We need to ANCHOR ourselves in OURSELVES.  WE NEED to understand what we need to do to maintain our own value.  We NEED to encourage – embrace – empower each other with acknowledgement – feedback – reinforcement of what we DO RIGHT and WELL.    What qualities we have that got us to the accomplishments, achievements, abilities, acquisitions, attitudes and even appearance we have today.    This is the core concept of AUTHENTICITY.    When we embrace and ‘own’ our uniqueness – NOT based on what we don’t have compared to others!    
Too often insecurity – the shame of our own histories has us ‘comparing OUT’ – when we meet that person in public that we think  has it ‘all together’ who has the ‘great’ body, cool car, big house, 4 Star athlete kid, the kid going to an “Ivy” school, lives in the ‘better’ neighborhood – goes on ‘fancy’ vacations – we go to that ‘dark’ place –of feeling horrific about our own lives.  Even worse we take ‘ownership’ of OTHER people’s choices!  (addict kids)  We take on THEIR ‘crap’ as if its US!   We get caught in thinking that I ‘should’ feel BAD – my life is a train wreck!  That makes sense!    
I’m going to encourage each of you to fill out the spaces above – then have each of your loved ones do the same.   You can even share it when you have your family gatherings.  How ‘cool’ would it be if everyone walked away hearing the POSITIVE feedback that would result?     I want to start with ‘MOM’ because –too many of you have lost your way in all this.   You have become ‘your kid’s addiction’ – and forgot what you know – do – achieved- are skilled at – that gets you through your ‘bad’ days.    Then I want you to MEMORIZE the answers so when you strike up that conversation with that next person – or they do with you – and you’re feeling that sick feeling once again – thinking: “I don’t want them to know my truth” – KNOW that even if it’s NOT brought up – there are these things that you bring to ‘the world. . . 
 STOP beating yourself up or trying to be like THEM – JUST BE YOU!!      That is what it means to be ‘true to yourself’ –‘authentic’ or ‘congruent’.
 Then I also want each of you to ‘check it at the door’ – when you’re trying to get your kids or spouses to BE LIKE YOU – or someone you think they should be like . . . As parents afraid of seeing their children distressed – failing – struggling – and not living up to ‘potential’ ‘standards’ or ‘expectations’ – and enforcing them to ‘get 4.0’ ‘PERFECT’ scores on SAT’s, sports games, competitions, or Beauty pageants – if it’s about YOU needing or wanting that score and NOT them – then you are shifting them AWAY from their truth!!     I see this with kids who are sensitive and ‘shy’ – as if shyness is ‘bad’ when it’s not –‘introversion’ –the ‘quiet’ among us – are the observers – the sponges – the listeners.   WE don’t like to be ‘bold’ or initiate –show off -  we DON’T like Halloween – getting scared – we don’t like to knock on people’s doors we hardly know – we don’t like asking for ‘stuff’.     WE would rather be home reading a book or watching a comedy. .  .  (I'm posting this the week of Halloween)
So moving forward – the BEST relationships are those who embrace – accept – and empower the other to BE themselves.    If when they don’t ‘get it’ or don’t understand the difference.   They are glad for that distinct difference – and LOVE it – rather than fear it!  
I add this photograph – taken at Locust Lake – it ‘speaks’ for this – let your UNIQUENESS BE.   Just like this leaf in the pile of others. . . 

Karen L. Kehler MA, MSHA
Private Counseling Services
212 S. Lehigh (RT 61) 
Frackville, PA 17931   570.874.0808

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