Stop! Don’t confuse forgiveness with something it’s not…

Look, I know all the happy crap that’s supposed to happen in my life by forgiving everyone for everything … if I do it suddenly my life is one big happy Budweiser commercial… just like the ones during the Super Bowl!

Sorry, I’m still working on it. Run over my dog in the driveway and in time I’m going to forgive you. Sleep with my best friend, our tennis instructor or that blonde upstairs, while you’re living me… forget it. Go straight to hell and take them with you! No one ever accidently touched a penis… there’s a big difference here!

The problem with forgiveness is no one knows what it is …
I read an article by Dr. Andrea Brandt recently that sums up forgiveness pretty well…

Whether it’s a spouse who was unfaithful, a parent who let you down as a child, or a friend who shared something told in confidence, we all must face the question of whether and how to forgive.

After you are wronged, and the initial wave of emotion has passed, you’re presented with a new challenge: Do you forgive the person? By forgiving, you let go of your grievances and judgments and allow yourself to heal. While this may sound good in theory, in practice forgiveness can sometimes feel impossible.

To learn how to forgive, you must first learn what forgiveness is not. Most of us hold at least some misconceptions about forgiveness. Here are some things that forgiving someone doesn’t mean:

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you are pardoning or excusing the other person’s actions.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you need to tell the person that he or she is forgiven.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have any more feelings about the situation.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean there is nothing further to work out in the relationship or that everything is okay now.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you should forget the incident ever happened.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue to include the person in your life.
… and forgiveness isn’t something you do for the other person.

By forgiving, you are accepting the reality of what happened and found a way to live in a state of resolution with it. This can be a gradual process… and it doesn’t necessarily have to include the person you are forgiving.

Forgiveness isn’t something you do for the person who wronged you; it’s something you do for you. So if forgiveness is something you do for yourself and if it can help you heal, why is it so hard?

There are several reasons: You’re filled with thoughts of retribution or revenge; you enjoy feeling superior; you don’t know how to resolve the situation; you’re addicted to the adrenaline that anger provides; you self-identify as a “victim”; or you’re afraid that by forgiving you have to re-connect—or lose your connection—with the other person. These reasons not to forgive can be resolved by becoming more familiar with yourself, with your thoughts and feelings, and with your boundaries and needs.

Now that you know what forgiveness is not and why it’s so hard to ask yourself: Do I want to forgive?

Forgiveness requires feeling willing to forgive. Sometimes you won’t because the hurt went too deep, or because the person was too abusive, or expressed no regret. Do not attempt to forgive someone before you have identified, fully felt, expressed, and released your anger and pain.

If you decide you are willing to forgive, find a good place and time to be alone with your thoughts. Then, try following these four steps to forgive even when it feels impossible:

Think about the incident that angered you. Accept that it happened. Accept how you felt about it and how it made you react. To forgive, you need to acknowledge the reality of what occurred and how you were affected.

Acknowledge the growth you experienced as a result of what happened. What did it make you learn about yourself, or about your needs and boundaries? Not only did you survive the incident, perhaps you grew from it.

Now think about the other person. He or she is flawed because all human beings are flawed. He or she acted from limited beliefs and a skewed frame of reference because sometimes we all act from our limited beliefs and skewed frames of reference. When you were hurt, the other person was trying to have a need met. What do you think this need was and why did the person go about it in such a hurtful way?

Finally, decide whether or not you want to tell the other person that you have forgiven him or her. If you decide not to express forgiveness directly, then do it on your own. Say the words, “I forgive you,” aloud and then add as much explanation as you feel is merited.

Forgiveness puts the final seal on what happened that hurt you. You will still remember what happened, but you will no longer be bound by it. Having worked through the feelings and learned what you need to do to strengthen your boundaries or get your needs met, you are better able to take care of yourself in the future. Forgiving the other person is a wonderful way to honor yourself. It affirms to the universe that you deserve to be happy.

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Is your friend drunk or dying from acute alcohol poisoning?

0e852f9dd7a246103d395011d436cb8fDo you know the difference between “tore up from the floor up” drunk and about to die? Sadly, most people don’t …. maybe you should learn.

Unfortunately, 88,000 people have died this year from alcohol-related poisoning. The University of Texas has provided information on how to spot and help someone inebriated beyond just “floor huggin’ drunk”. I wanted to share some information that might save a life.

So many college students die after they have been dropped off safely. So many college students have had too much to drink and fallen asleep only to never wake up again. If you love your friends, you’ve got to make sure they are sober enough to go to sleep.

Sounds crazy? It could be the difference between life and death. A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) continues to rise even while he/she is passed out. Alcohol that is in the stomach and intestines will continue to enter the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. That makes it very dangerous for someone you think “might” be ok, to just sleep it off.

So your friend has been slamming them for hours. You know he/she is most likely in bad shape. There is only one thing that will change this condition — alcohol-FREE time. Nothing will sober up a drunk person but time. Caffeine, cold shower, sleeping it off, walking it off, eating greasy food, drinking a bunch of water and taking Tylenol are only going to give you a hyper, wet, less tired, sore-legged drunk with an upset stomach that may not have a headache and needs to pee … NOTHING will work but time. Alcohol-free time.

So your friend is drunk, you know nothing is going to reverse this situation but time — what is the worst that can happen?

Well, several things. Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions such as breathing and the gag reflex (which prevents choking). A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually stop these functions. It is common for someone who drank excessive alcohol to vomit since alcohol is an irritant to the stomach. There is then the danger of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a person who is not conscious because of intoxication.

The only solution that makes any sense at all is to call 911 if you are in the least bit of doubt. When rapid binge drinking occurs, usually as a result of a drinking game or a bet/dare, it is particularly dangerous — as the person can ingest a fatal dose of alcohol before unconsciousness or sleep even occurs. It’s particularly important to keep an eye on these folks.

The basic signs of Alcohol Poisoning include, but are not limited to:
· Irregular breathing or breathing that is slow/shallow. If you notice anything unusual about a person’s breathing, get help immediately.
· Person’s skin may become pale or bluish in tent. They may feel cold or clammy. Eyes may appear to be sunken or have dark circles under them.
· The person may exhibit confusion or appear to be in a stupor.
· If vomiting starts — you can take that as a sign that the body has reached the point of overload. This can be a sign of serious danger.
· Be aware that if a person passes out they could die.
· If you discover ANY of the above symptoms, stay with the person and call 911 immediately.

Let’s Walk Through the Steps

Your friend is hammered… he most important thing to do is stay calm. It’s best to have a sober person make the decisions. Often decision-making while under the influence of alcohol can result in underestimating the situation. If at any time the person becomes unconscious or has respiratory problems immediately call 911.

· Keep the person still and comfortable
· Don’t leave a person alone who is vomiting.
· If the intoxicated person lies down, make sure they are on their side NOT on the back or stomach.
· Monitor the person’s breathing and heart beat
· If you have ANY doubts, call 911. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Things you shouldn’t do:

Don’t try any “sober up” methods. TIME is the only thing that will sober a person up. ONLY TIME!

Don’t anger the person by making fun of them or trying to counsel them about their drinking. This could provoke extreme emotions and cause the person to either try and leave or injure themselves or others.

Never wait just a little longer to call 911 if you think the person could be in serious danger. Chances are the person’s condition will worsen over the next few hours, not improve. If you have the slightest doubt, CALL 911.

This information may seem alarming. It may put a dark cloud over the possibility of a really fun time. Hopefully, it won’t become an issue… unfortunately, it often does. Know that it’s better to be prepared than to have your head in the sand or believe that this will never happen to you or someone you know.

Don’t ever hesitate to call 911 if you are unsure of a person’s condition. Alcohol overdose/poisoning is one of the leading causes of death among college students. Don’t let yourself be a part of something tragic!

While waiting for help:
1. Raise the arm that is closest to you above their head. Prepare to roll them towards you.
2. Gently roll them toward you, guarding their head from hitting the floor. The head should rest in front of the arm, not on it.
3. Tilt the head up to maintain an airway. Tuck their nearest hand under the cheek to help maintain head tilt and raise the face off the floor.

Know the symptoms of alcohol poisoning and how to save a life.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

I’m so unhappy… but I’m afraid to leave!

f91048a53184c44be394b9614c18a8a1I stayed in a miserable relationship for years with someone who I never loved or quite honestly ever liked. I stayed for the kids… I stayed for the security… I stayed because things were going to get better… I stayed out of fear of the unknown. I hated my life and was paralyzed to change any of it.

People who are unhappy with themselves and afraid of being alone are alone even if they are married. Due to their fear of being alone they make poor decisions and most of the time decisions are made from a feeling of desperation. Childhood abuse or chaotic family situations can cause a child grief and self-loathing. This does not go away. They choose a partner that represents how they feel about themselves. Part of the reason parenting is so important is because you are giving your child not only a loving environment to grow up in, but also, you are helping form their relationships as an adult for years to come.

Love is such a powerfully painful emotion, never more so than when one partner has fallen out of love but is afraid to leave because they don’t want to be alone. Due to their fear and lost connection with their spouse they reach for another person to comfort them. This threesome usually leads to the demise of the couple’s marriage, and the children involved carry that legacy on. People who tell me they no longer love their spouse but have found a friend or perfect partner in someone else are people who don’t love themselves.

In truth, the person who is married but seeking another for comfort and connection doesn’t love anyone. They are correct when they say they no longer love their spouse; they may never have loved their spouse. You cannot love someone when you don’t like yourself because you attract someone who loves you at the level you are at. What is difficult for them to see is when you are unhappy and attract a new friend or lover, when you are at perhaps your lowest level of self-esteem. This is not a good time to be choosing partners and very rarely do you make a wise choice. When you love someone, you want to protect them, and therefore, you would never put them in the middle of a triangle that you constructed. The only person protected in the triangle is you, and that will only be a short time because the chances are high that both your spouse and lover will leave you once they find out what happened.

I know from personal experience and years of counseling that if you’re staying with someone because you’re afraid of being alone… stop. You already are, which is why you are seeking comfort with another person who does not have your best interest at heart. The reason I can say this with confidence is because it is clear that you don’t know or love yourself. You are making unwise decisions due to your fear of being alone and facing your pain. You most likely will not have a healthy marriage or relationship until you become clear of what you are running from. What frightens you so much about being alone? Relationships never work for you… isn’t it time to realize the problem might not be with your partner. You keep bringing your suitcase filled with dirty laundry to the next “perfect person”… they don’t want it and they can’t wash it for you.

If your spouse is abusive, then you must leave. That includes emotional, sexual or physical abuse. If they are not abusive, then you should go to them, and tell them you are unhappy with your life. Tell them you need to work on you, and the stronger you become the more the marriage will change. Ask them how they feel about this. Ask them if they are happy. Ask them if they want a more connected, loving relationship. You need to begin talking to your partner. Don’t blame them for your unhappiness, but let them know you are tired of being unhappy and want to change.

You need to take responsibility for your situation because it is your fear that is keeping you there. You have the power to change that if you take ownership of it. Part of taking ownership is going to the doctor if you are depressed and being assessed so they can give you the proper treatment. Many people in triangles are also depressed.

Fear and love rule the world and relationships. When your fear of being alone, and facing your demons keeps you locked in an unhealthy relationship, it is time to face your demons and work through the pain. Happiness is waiting for you, but it’s inside you. No person can make us happy if we are afraid of being alone. That isn’t love; that’s fear.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Getting sober won’t fix everything…

cf9c3dc234035e12d15e7aea993827bcThere are people who absolutely hate me… and with just reasons.

I walked into their lives like a nuclear explosion destroying everything they held dear. I wrecked their lives, reputations, credit, sanity and above all wasted years of their lives. There is no fixing what I’ve done to them… and there is no reason to contact them in an effort to right my wrongs…
I can hear the conversation now, “Hi, this is Rob… I just wanted you to know that I have stopped trying to kill myself on a daily basis with drugs and alcohol and I’m sorry if I inconvenienced you in the past… I’m sober now! Hurray for me!”

Please… why insult someone with your “I found Jesus moment” while they are still getting over the devastation you brought into their world? Have some class… stay away forever and let these people heal.

When you made the decision to get sober, drinking and drugging were probably causing major problems in your life. You knew that you couldn’t go on doing what you were doing indefinitely. On some level, you knew you were causing deep pain to the people you love, but for a while alcohol and/or drugs were the most important things in your life.

By making the choice to get sober, you are definitely on the right track to a better future. But even though there is hope that things in your life will get better as you get better, it’s also possible that there are some things that can’t be repaired even though you are sober now.

Relationships are often badly damaged by addiction. While you were using drugs or alcohol, your loved ones were repeatedly disappointed. You may have caused irreparable financial problems. You may have said or done things under the influence of substances that your loved ones are unable to forgive. You may find that your loved ones simply don’t trust you anymore. You may feel uncomfortable in sobriety because family or friends continually bring up mistakes you made in the past. Some may tell you that they aren’t going to be able to forgive you or trust you to stay sober.

In the end you can’t choose to get sober for anyone else. You can’t recover just to save a marriage, for example. In spite of your best efforts, a loved one may choose to end the relationship. Although this may be extremely painful to you, it’s important that you not go back to drinking and drugging. It’s also important that you not try to hang onto relationships that have been damaged beyond repair.

You may have gotten into some serious legal trouble because of your addiction. You may have participated in reckless or violent behavior and suffered the consequences. You may have stolen money or possessions from loved ones or from strangers. You may have lost your driver’s license, or you may have a criminal record.

If the bad choices you made while under the influence led to arrest or other legal problems, these problems may not go away just because you are sober. The bottom line is you have to face the consequences of your actions and do your best not to repeat the behavior.

Alcoholism and drug addiction can lead to major health problems. Heavy drinking can lead to problems with your liver, throat or digestive system. Smoking chemicals can lead to long-term lung disease. If you used intravenous drugs and shared needles, you may have contracted a virus that won’t go away just because you are sober. My brother died from liver failure years after a heroin addiction complicated by alcoholism.

Many health problems will improve dramatically once you make the decision to stop abusing your body, but there are some that will not. If you are suffering from a long-term illness caused by your addiction, remember that going back to drinking and drugging will definitely not make your prognosis any better. Remaining committed to sobriety is the best way to give yourself a chance for at least some improvement of your health problems or at least slowing down any progression of long-term illness.

It’s painful to go through the turmoil of difficult losses, particularly when you know they might not have happened if you hadn’t had a problem with alcoholism or addiction. There’s nothing to be gained from looking over your shoulder or dwelling on regrets for things that can’t be changed. You can’t undo the past. You can only strive to make a better future.

The way to healing is to live in today and to approach your life one day at a time. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, and the mistakes you made in the past have helped to make you who you are. Although there may be things that can’t be fixed, sobriety offers you an opportunity for a brand new beginning and a brand new life. Life will never be perfect, but it’s a much better life than you would have had if you hadn’t gotten sober.

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

Why do I feel so empty?

Something is missing in your life, isn’t it?

You’re working hard, trying to get ahead, doing everything you possibly can to make life just a little bit better. You’re trying to keep it all balanced, though. You won’t be one of those people who commits every waking second to work and the pursuit of a career. Not you. You’ve got it figured out. You even make time to exercise, eat right, meditate, or maybe spend time with friends and family.

You’ve got it all figured out… except for that one stupid thing that keeps tugging at your heart. You don’t really know what it is, but it is there, and it is driving you a little crazy. Yeah, I know. I get that feeling sometimes too. It is often mistaken as unhappiness, fatigue, depression, or being stuck in a rut. Many people will go off and do wild vacations or try things they would never try in a million years just to see if those activities settle the strange, inexplicable emptiness they feel inside.

When they return to the real world, though, the problem is still there, still nagging at them. Maybe they think they didn’t go “extreme” enough, and will push themselves harder. Or maybe they take it in a totally different direction and put more time into meditation, or even trying to manifest happiness in their lives.

Does any of this sound familiar? Or do you have it under control? I’m guessing since you’re still reading, you don’t. It’s okay. Neither do I. In fact, neither do most people.

So, what is this mysterious thing that is pulling at you, leaving you feeling empty and unfulfilled in a life that would, from the outside, seem all but amazing? It’s the pursuit of happiness. Before you click away from the page, thinking that this is another article about how when you stop pursuing things, that is when they come to you, don’t.

It’s not about that at all.

We are constantly presented with things that we believe will make us happy. New cars, flashier televisions, prettier women or men, houses, furniture, more money, exotic vacations, and a myriad of things that go along with that stuff. We are pounded by books, blogs, and billboards about how we can get everything we want in life, and live happier, better, and wealthier.

The simple truth is, we are so focused on getting what we want that we forget about everyone else in the world around us. And therein lies the key to that empty feeling inside. Right now, there are people who are hungry. And not just in Africa or India. They might be within a square mile of you. There are kids who don’t have a decent place to sleep. There is only one thing that truly fills the emptiness. Love. There is only one cause of inner emptiness: a lack of love.

But it is not a lack of someone else’s love that causes your emptiness. Inner emptiness is caused by self-abandonment … by not loving yourself.

Inner emptiness comes from a lack of connection with your spiritual source of love… from not opening to the love-that-is-God and bringing that love to yourself through true thought and loving action in your own behalf.

When you abandon yourself by judging yourself, ignoring your feelings by staying in your head, numbing your feelings through substance and process addictions and making others responsible for your feelings and for loving you, you will feel empty. You are causing your own emptiness by your self-abandonment.

Your ego-wounded self is filled with false beliefs regarding who you are. Your wounded self may see you as inadequate, unlovable, not good enough, not important, selfish, bad, wrong. Your wounded self operates from core shame… that you are intrinsically flawed.

These are programmed beliefs that have no basis in truth, but they may be running your life. When you believe that you are not good enough, then you turn to others and to addictions to try to feel okay… to fill the emptiness that you are causing with your self-judgment/self-abandonment.

The truth of who you are comes only from your personal source of spiritual guidance… whatever that is for you. When you open to learning with a source of higher guidance about the truth of who you are, and about what is loving action toward yourself and others, you open to the love-that-is-God coming into your heart and filling your inner emptiness.

If you believe God is keeping score or is punishing you… fire him and get a new God. To me, God is goodness and light … an energy source that wants me to live the best life I can while I’m dancing on earth. By finding the God of your understanding you’ll find what’s needed to fill life’s emptiness.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Anita… thank you for being a friend!

I have no idea how friendships are made or why some relationships last a lifetime. People come and go and make promises about how they will always stay close… but they don’t… life happens, and people change. Sad isn’t it?

If you’re lucky enough to find someone that accepts your bumps and bruises and imperfections… you have found a true friend! I want to tell you about mine… her name is Anita.

Once upon a time in a life long ago, I met Anita… a person who stood next to me as I destroyed everything I’d built over the last 20 years. This is how the story goes…

At the time, my marriage was ending… friends had chosen sides, and the divorce battles were about to begin… it was also a time when I couldn’t draw a sober breath… I was in and out of hospitals with near fatal overdoses… I looked like what I was… a drunken addict two feet from the big crash… and believe me it came!

During those days, I rarely left my oceanfront condo except to buy alcohol or pick up prescriptions… My world revolved around a cyber-life I’d created and even that was crashing… I’m the only person alive sued for slander on Facebook, fined $10,000.00 and forced to pick up dog poop for 200 hours as “community service”… what a shitty job that was! My life had finally hit rock bottom… and there I sat!

Realizing everything that defined my “worth” was crumbling… I contacted a Realtor to list my home in town. We agreed to meet at a restaurant for lunch and discuss the property. During that initial conversation, I noticed the woman was direct to the point of being rude… she had no time for chit chat… I like that in people.

I chose a restaurant at the beach with outdoor tables, so I could wear sunglasses and sat so the ocean wind would blow the smell of alcohol away from her. I’d become an expert at hiding my life.. that day would be no different. I was drunk … not stupid!

Anita pulled up in one of those huge four door trucks you only see in the south.. the tailgate was covered in bumper stickers supporting George Bush, Mitt Romney and pro-gun slogans… we had nothing in common. I remember she was carrying a gigantic bag/briefcase /purse that she dropped onto the table and didn’t waste a lot of time with meaningless conversation.. she was there for a reason… and it wasn’t to get to know me.

At the table, I recommended a salad on the menu, and she responded, “Yeah, that’s real nice, but I’m a meat and potatoes kinda girl”… so, I got the salad, and she got pot roast… this was not the kind of woman you messed with… everything about her demanded attention, and she got it. This was a strong woman… there is nothing I respect more than a strong woman in control of a situation. I was afraid of her … but I liked her!

Anita is no delicate wall flower… she is a retired cop and has seen the seedier sides of life. As she told me about her former career in law enforcement, I was instantly drawn to her. She was a survivor… I could look into her eyes and see much more than her tough words revealed. Maybe wounded people find each other for a reason.

Over the next two years, Anita stood by me… when I had no food in my refrigerator… Anita was there. When I’d attempt sobriety… Anita was there… When I left Shmuli for Betty Ford …Anita was there. When I decided to stay in Southern California and rebuild my life… Anita was there. With every step of my journey to a new life… Anita has been there right beside me.

Life is not meant to be lived alone. We are very social beings and we need people to care about us, understand us, share the same mentality as us, and accept us for who were are and who we are not.
The word “friendship” is very special, and I think people throw it around to include people they know and do stuff with. A good friend, however, is someone we can rely on, someone who is faithful and who is not trying to change us, dictate to us and manipulate us. If you have a good friend, you know they know your warts, and you know theirs, but in the greater scheme, it doesn’t matter, because the essence of that person’s character is beautiful and that’s what counts.

Finding someone who will watch your back and stand up for you, and who is loyal is one of the hardest things in the universe. There is no real friendship if there is no loyalty. You know you have a true friend when the “stuff” hits the fan, and they are still standing by you.
In life, if you’re lucky…you’ll find a friend …if you’re blessed … you’ll find a true friend.

A friend will tell you what you want to hear.
A true friend will always tell the truth.
A friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.
A true friend seeks to help you with your problems.
A friend will be there for you all through school.
A true friend will be there till the day you die.
A friend will bail you out of prison.
A true friend will be sitting next to you saying
“Damn that was fun!”.
A friend hates it when you call after they’ve gone to bed.
A true friend asks you why you took so long to call.
A friend wonders about your romantic history.
A true friend could blackmail you with it.
A friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.
A true friend calls you after you had a fight.
A friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A true friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.
A friend has never seen you cry.
A true friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.
A friend doesn’t know your parents’ first names.
A true friend has their phone numbers in his address book.
A friend expects you to always be there for them.
A true friend expects to always be there for you.

If I live to be 100 or live 100 lifetimes… I will never find a friend as true as Anita…

I’m a lucky man…

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Your kid is an addict… did you cause it?

It’s amazing to look at other people’s homes. The picture perfect family with the Martha Stewart mother has a raging drug addict for a daughter who is in and out of jail… while the family with the Dr. Hannibal Lecter father has kids who become success stories. How does that happen? Are parents responsible for raising alcoholic or drug addicted kids? Who is to blame?

Parents do not cause their children to become alcoholics or drug addicts. Alcoholism and addiction are not caused by environmental factors.  They are a physiological, genetic allergy involving brain chemistry.  Alcoholism is a disease.  Drug addiction, in the great majority of cases, is just a form of alcoholism.  Realize it is possible for someone who was not born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism to become psychologically addicted to drugs… in reaction to chronic physical pain for instance.

Someone does not become an alcoholic /addict because they were raised in a dysfunctional family.  Alcoholism is not caused by emotional wounds.  It also has nothing to do with will power or strength of character or morality.  It does not have anything to do with intelligence.

Many people drink heavily or experiment with drugs in their teens and early twenties.  The ones who have a genetic predisposition make alcohol and/or drugs their primary coping mechanism – the ones that do not find other ways of coping and going unconscious.  People who become alcoholics are not as a rule more wounded than people that do not – they just have a genetic vulnerability.

All of us adapted codependent defense systems to protect us from the toxic shame we felt in early childhood – to help us survive in the dysfunctional environments we grew up in.  The primary environment was of course our family of origin.  But we were also emotionally traumatized in the schools we attended, in churches, in social interactions with other wounded human beings. We were exposed to dysfunctional messages from society in general, through books and movies, television and music, etc.

We all learned ways to cope with the pain of being human in societies that taught us it was shameful to be human.  We all had to adapt defense systems that would help us disassociate – go unconscious to – the emotional pain we experienced growing up in emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environments. Spiritually hostile in my definition because civilization is founded upon belief in separation, shame about being human, and fear of differences instead of connection and love.

A parent does not cause a child to become alcoholic or drug addicted.  The emotional wounds provide reasons to drink and use, are the fuel that drives an alcoholic/addict’s behavior, but are not the cause of the disease.
We were all raised in dysfunctional families – because society / civilization is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.  We were all wounded in our childhood, because our parents were wounded in their childhood – and when we became parents we wounded our children.

You did not cause your child’s addiction.  Your behaviors did wound your child because you did not love your self in a healthy way and were not given the tools, knowledge, and role modeling to teach you how to be a healthy person – let alone a healthy parent.  You were wounded in your childhood, you were doing the best you knew how to do as a parent, it is not your fault that you were powerless to do it any differently.  You do have some responsibility in your child’s wounding, but you are not to blame.  To give power to the blaming guilt and shame of the disease will in fact, set you up to continue to be unhealthy in your relationship with your child.

For parents, trying to understand addiction is difficult and confusing. It just doesn’t make any sense that their child will continue to use drugs and/or alcohol in spite of devastating consequences. It is hurtful that your own child will lie and steal from the family. And, because of the stigma that surrounds addiction, it can be embarrassing and shameful to have an addict in the family. Many times, it is this shame that causes parents to continue enabling – in order to prevent further embarrassment to the family.
This is why it is so important for parents to understand addiction. The first step to helping your child is gaining knowledge. If you were told that your child had diabetes you would learn everything you could about the disease. You would arm yourself with knowledge in order to face that battle. Like diabetes, addiction is a disease. By learning as much about addiction as possible, families can help their loved ones to recovery.

In the process of learning about addiction, it is equally important for parents to focus on their own recovery (from enabling behavior). By attending family recovery meetings, such as Al-Anon, parents can learn to make healthy changes in their family dynamic. They can gain strength and knowledge, as well as the extra support needed to get through the rough times. You did not cause your child’s addiction and you cannot cure it.

Understanding the disease of addiction my save your child’s life… help is available.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell