Freedom from Codependency

Family dysfunction led Becca to take a major step forward

Q: At which facility did you receive treatment?

A: I attended the Plymouth Family Program three and a half weeks after my son was admitted for treatment.

Q: What is your 'freedom from codependency' date?

A: I am not sure that this would be the technical date of 'freedom from codependency' because I am still working on this, and probably will be for a while. But December 9 was the date I realized that I could no longer handle my son's behavior, emotionally, and neither could the family. On this date, we faced the fact that he needed help. We needed support. When we made the decision to book a flight for the following day, I knew this was a major step toward facing the dysfunction of our family and his addiction.

Q: Please tell us what it was like, what happened and what it's like now.

A: A close friend told me about Hazelden when my son was going through challenges. Her son had successfully completed the recovery program 12 years earlier. She shared how helpful Hazelden's program and staff—as well as the St. Paul community—had been for her son. When our son was near a crisis point, we reached out to Hazelden, and they were very quick to respond to help us. One day later, he was on a flight to St. Paul, where he was met by a staff member. My friend's son was a support to me a few times when I had questions or felt confused about whether or not I was enabling. He made himself available twice on very short notice for guidance. He lives on the other side of the country, and we talk by phone.

It was scary to make the decision to send my son to an addiction recovery program; we knew he needed professional intervention, but we had never before faced his challenges as addiction. By sending him to Hazelden, I accepted his illness and understood that I could neither help him nor continue to try to manage his behavior. His family needed space from the pain and hurt. The Family Program taught me to set boundaries, to take care of myself, and to support him in his sobriety. I have relied on the work and education in the Family Program to maintain my boundaries and to communicate with him in ways that are more effective for all of us. I have also learned to hold the line and to realize that this is an illness he will need to manage throughout his life. It was hard not to hear from him, and I miss him very much, but I know he needs to figure out his path—his recovery—himself. For a while, I kept up with another mother, and I think of her and the other parents in the program. We were all a support to one another.

Q: When did you realize you needed help? Was there something specific that led you to treatment?

A: I had been trying so hard to support him. I thought I could solve the problems he was having, but instead they seemed to get worse. Looking back, the problems were recurring, and it was exhausting, consuming and stressful on the whole family. I went out to the program because I needed clarity, support, a place to talk about the challenges, exhaustion, fear, and sadness, and to learn how to change my enabling behavior.

Q: What was the toughest aspect of quitting your codependent behavior?

A: Allowing him to fall, and potentially get into a more difficult and/or dangerous situation.

Q: What is the best thing about your life today?

A: I have clearer boundaries. I feel confident in how to best support him and when I cannot support him. I feel much less fear and worry—there is a 'weight off the shoulders'. I also feel at peace with the day-to-day unknowns. I am proud of how he is working to get better.

Q: Do you have a favorite program 'catch phrase' that you value?

A: "Open mind, open heart." We have a loving relationship despite all that has gone on. I am grateful for how far he has come while realistic that Recovery is a day-by-day journey.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice that has served you well to someone still suffering, what would it be?

A: To seek help and maintain support structures in your life.

Q: What else would you like to share?

A: My third son joined me for the second half of the Family Program. He heard several of the speakers and clients share their stories. One of the speakers signed a book for him that he had written about his addiction. The experience was powerful for him, and it was especially supportive to have him there, for me and for his older brother. One of the counselors focused on being grateful, acknowledging what you are thankful for as a daily practice. When I do think of Hazelden, I do feel so much gratitude—or providing valuable information, support, and direction, for providing strength. I also think of my friend's son, his help, inspiration, and what seems like a destiny connection, along a path that has helped my son be where he is today.

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