Blog

 

Mindfulness...it's quite the buzzword lately, with it being talked about as a way of dealing with everything from trying to lose weight to addiction recovery. The subject of mindfulness has come up in a lot of addiction Twitter chats I've been a part of lately and I will admit that I've struggled with the concept. What exactly does mindfulness mean?

 

I did a Google search and the definition that caught my eye was: “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.” - Google search engine

 

As someone who likes to plan ahead as much as possible, the idea of focusing on the present moment does not always sit well with me; I don't always appreciate the moment I'm in because I am trying to stay at least one step ahead. While I don't necessarily think this is always a bad thing in general, it is a problem when it comes to my recovery.

 

I've written before about going back to Al-Anon after 14 years, and I am proud to say that I now have 2 months in the program. Al-Anon has taught me a lot about myself in these two short months and one of the things I've learned is that I am a bit of a control freak. I think this goes back to the fact that I had to take care of everything while my husband was in active addiction, so I never really had time to enjoy the moment. I was busy working to make sure that our daughter was taken care of and that her life and routine was as normal as possible so the absence of her father wouldn't be as glaring, but I also think that I didn't want to be in the moment, because at the time the moment was very difficult for me.

 

Fast forward to today and I'm being told that mindfulness or “living in the moment” is very important when it comes to recovery. In my mind I'm thinking “why, I've been doing just fine up to this point so I don't need to change now.” Classic addiction thinking right? Just because I'm not an addict, I am the spouse and sibling of addicts and it is very easy to pick up some of their ways of thinking.

 

I had to get honest and ask myself if I was really fine, why was I going to Al-Anon? Obviously something was off or I wouldn't feel the need to attend meetings and it was at that point that I started to really pay attention to the concept of mindfulness. As if to drive the point home even further, mindfulness was the topic of one of our recent meetings; okay Higher Power, I get it :)

 

Although I am still finding my way in terms of fully grasping and practicing mindfulness, I am starting to understand why it's so important when it comes to recovery. Thinking about how things were rather than how they are now, is robbing myself of the joy of how good things are at the moment. The past is done and over with, and dwelling on it will not change anything; all it will do is bring up bad memories and hard feelings and I don't want to do that to myself or my husband.

 

It was a very hard, very long journey to get to where we are now, and where we are now is happy! My husband and I are in a healthy, strong, loving relationship; our daughter is closer than she's ever been to her father, happy and doing well. My husband has 14 years of sobriety, went back to school and got his degree and recently celebrated a year of working in the field as a drug & alcohol counselor. I am finally able to address my need of dealing with the issues of his addiction by attending Al-Anon meetings and I can honestly say that it is one of the best things I have ever done for myself.

 

Right now the moment is pretty darn good and I intend to be mindful and cherish every minute!


Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

Connect with me on LinkedInGoogle+TwitterPinterest, or my website

 

 

A funny thing happens with time. When you start to accumulate too much of it: whether it be in a job, a relationship or in recovery, you start to get comfortable. Your routine starts to slip and you start taking things for granted. It's only natural, and it's happened to all of us at some point; as a matter of fact this happened recently between me and my husband, which led to a very interesting conversation the other day.

 

Whenever you've been in any situation for a long time, in this case a relationship, you start to take things for granted and just assume that everything is fine. My husband and I have known each other for 27 years; we met at a very young age and basically grew up together. Though we weren't together that entire time (he spent 11 years in active addiction) we've been together as a family and he has been clean and sober for the last 14 years.

 

When you've been with someone that long, you tend to develop a shorthand when it comes to communication because you know each other so well. You can just look at each other and know exactly what the other person is thinking. It's a wonderful feeling to be so connected to someone that you don't even need words, but there's a danger in that as well.

 

Communication is needed in all aspects of life; and when it comes to relationships, it is vital. When you're in a relationship with a person in recovery, it's essential! So that brings me to the conversation I had with my husband the other day…

 

My husband went back to school, got his degree and recently celebrated his first year of working in the field as a drug & alcohol counselor. It is a very demanding, stressful job that doesn't pay a lot and he absolutely loves it. It is his way of paying back the gift of recovery and honestly, it's what he was meant to do. If you can't tell, I am very proud of him!

 

Because his job is so demanding and emotionally draining at times, there are occasions when he will come home and just need some time to decompress and then he will be fine. Lately, the amount of time that he needs to decompress has been getting longer and frankly I was starting to feel a bit ignored.

 

Usually I would talk to him about this, but I've been in my feelings a bit lately (my issues, not his) and instead of saying something, I've been quiet and letting the resentment build. Finally it came to a head and I sent him a text while he was at work which basically said 'I don't know what your problem is, but you need to get it together!'

When he got home, he told me that when he got the text, he wanted to respond but couldn't and that he thought everything was fine and didn't know what the text was about. In his mind he's thinking 'what did I do now?' and was thinking I should be thankful that we have such a great relationship after all we've been through, so what exactly was my problem.

 

I will admit when he said that line about being thankful, I looked at him like he had two heads, but in actuality he was right. We have been through the depths of hell together with his addiction and we have been able to come out the other side stronger than ever, with a real respect for what the other has been through to get to where we are today. So what exactly was my problem??

 

My problem was rather than communicating my feelings about being ignored, I let them build up to the point where I started to feel resentful. I expected my husband to read my mind and fix the situation when he didn't even know there was a problem! For his part, he just assumed everything was okay even when he knew I was being quieter than usual and instead of asking if I was okay, he just let it go.

 

The bottom line is we both made assumptions that we shouldn't have because we are so comfortable with each other and didn't communicate. All it took was a 20 minute conversation to smooth things over and see where we were both wrong and come up with a simple solution, which we have and things are much better.

 

This isn't the first, nor will it be the last incident like this because I can be stubborn (smile) but I've learned that communicating my feelings and/or problems with my husband will go a long way to ensuring that any future incidents are few and far between!

 

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

Connect with me on LinkedInGoogle+TwitterPinterest, or my website

Enabling: Helping or Hurting?

 

“I'll give it to you, but this is the last time I mean it!”

 

“What? Where are you? Alright, stay right there I'll come get you, but don't call me again!”

 

“Did you take my (fill in the blank)? If you touch any of my stuff again, I'm going to (fill in the blank)!”

 

“That's it, I'm done!”

 

Sound familiar? If you're the family member of an addict/alcoholic it will…

 

I can't tell you how many times either myself, my parents, or my sisters have said any of the above and more to my sister, who is a former addict with 10 years of recovery or my brother, who was an alcoholic and died from the disease. Each time we said it, we meant it and each time without fail, we backed down... why?

 

I'm going to speak for all of us and say that whatever we did or didn't do, it was always done from a place of love.

 

My sister suffered from her addiction for many years, and would steal from whoever and wherever she could to feed her habit. Not only had she been arrested many times for shoplifting, but in some cases she would put herself in great danger by stealing from the wrong person. I can't tell you how many times my sister would come to my parents, especially my father, crying saying that she needed money for food or to pay a bill, and in order to make sure she was okay, my parents would give her money. My parents knew exactly what she was going to do with that money but they still gave it to her.

 

My brother was actually a high functioning alcoholic, but there were times when he would have to borrow to pay his rent or bills. He would rarely take money from my parents, but he did borrow from me and my sisters on occasion, and while he usually paid us back, sometimes he didn't and we never pressed the issue.

 

We saw our sister, brother, child in need and did what we could to help them; what we didn't know at the time was that we were actually 'enabling' them to continue in their addiction. Knowing what I know now about addiction and enabling behavior, I can look back and see very clearly what we were doing wrong, but at the time, we were just trying to deal with the situation the best way we knew how.

 

Nobody ever told us that our desire to help was actually driven by our own anxiety, guilt and shame to save my brother and sister from their predicament and spare them from the immediate consequences of their actions. Truth be told, I think we were trying to meet a need of our own, rather than what they needed, and we didn't even realize it at the time.

Without the knowledge, understanding and tools needed back then to handle the situation, we made so many mistakes that not only hurt them, but ourselves as well. You see by constantly coming 'to the rescue', we didn't allow my brother and sister to learn how to correct their own mistakes. They knew one of us would always be there to save them, so there was never a need for them to learn how to save themselves. There was no pressure for them to get it together and as a result, their addiction got worse. Our enabling behavior became so ingrained that we were always on alert waiting for that phone call either asking for help or telling us they were dead; still we swore we would never help them again. The addiction had taken hold of us as well and we felt compelled to help.

 

The result of all this enabling behavior had devastating results. I can't speak for my sisters or my parents, but for me it destroyed the extremely close relationship I had with my siblings, and led to a lot of resentment and mistrust that has only recently begun to get better with my sister. My brother moved out of state and I didn't talk to him much because each time I did, he was drunk and as a result, I found out too late that he was in the ICU and died before any of us had a chance to see him. I will never forgive myself for not being there to say goodbye; he was my only brother and the oldest and I miss him every day.

 

For family members who have a loved one suffering from addiction or alcoholism, I beg you to find out everything you can about the disease and the issue of enabling. Not only will it give you a greater understanding and the tools you need to deal with the addicted love one, it will help you as well,  because addiction is a family disease and we would all benefit from the ability of knowing how to deal with it.

 

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

Connect with me here on LinkedInGoogle+TwitterPinterest, or my website

 

 

In 2001 I went to my first Al-Anon meeting and didn’t go back until May 23, 2015. What happened? Why the long break? Let me explain…

 

14 years ago, my husband had just finished an intensive 6 month inpatient stay in rehab to battle an alcohol and drug addiction that kept him away from our family for years. He finally realized that he was ready to change, stop drinking and using, and get help.

 

When he left rehab, he had all the tools he needed to deal with his new found sobriety and I had none. He was staying with his mom, working, going to every meeting he could, had a sponsor and was working his program. I didn’t know how to deal with this new man and make no mistake he was a new man: he was alcohol and drug free for the first time since I had met him at the age of 17, and I had absolutely no idea what to do!

 

So it was suggested, I forget by who, that I check out Al-Anon and see about attending some meetings. I ordered the One Day At A Time and How Al-Anon Works books and started reading. After getting a quarter of the way through the books I decided I was ready to attend my first meeting, so I found one nearby and went.

 

Now I will admit that I was very apprehensive and nervous about attending my first Al-Anon meeting. By nature I am a private person and am known in my family as the ‘strong one’, so going to a meeting where I would have to talk about an extremely difficult and personal matter and admit that I needed help dealing with it was incredibly hard for me. Maybe that colored my experience, maybe not, but that first meeting was a complete and total disaster.

 

When I got to the meeting place, in this case a senior living facility, I couldn’t find where the meeting room was so I was wandering around the building a bit. Then when I get in the room, there were only a few of us there, so I was asked to help set up the refreshments. Okay...I don’t know anybody here, I haven’t had a chance to introduce myself or have others introduce themselves to me and I’m being asked to make coffee, which by the way I don’t know how to do because I don’t drink it. Go with the flow Nay, I tell myself…

So now refreshments are set up, people grab their coffee and take a seat so the meeting can start. They say the Serenity Prayer, we go around the room and introduce ourselves and they go right into the topic; I guess it was a topic meeting, I really have no idea because nothing was explained. Again I tell myself, go with the flow…

 

The meeting is going and it’s just one sad story after another. People are saying how miserable they are and how horrible their lives are because of the alcoholic in their lives. It is all I can do to not shout out “shut up and stop feeling so sorry for yourselves, suck it up and just deal with it, I did”! Honestly back then I was just so angry and resentful, I didn’t want to hear what sounded to me like a bunch of people whining about their problems. At the break, I didn’t say anything to anyone; I left and vowed to never go back and I didn’t for 14 years.

 

Fast forward to May, 2015. Our family has been back together and thriving after a VERY rough start. My husband now has 14 years of sobriety, has gone back to school and gotten his degree, and now works in the field as a drug and alcohol counselor to pay back the gift of sobriety. You would think all is well right? Yes, but…

Recently things have started bubbling up under the surface for me, and I didn’t even realize it until my husband and I had several discussions and I finally said I think I need to go back to Al-Anon and he agreed. It was finally my time to work on me after all those years of worrying and dealing with his addiction and taking care of our daughter on my own. It was now MY turn!

 

I went online and found an Al-Anon meeting in my area and went. The first meeting was okay...it was a large meeting and everyone seemed nice enough. I listened as they went over the structure of the meeting and the steps, which I appreciated since they didn’t do that before and I had a much better understanding of how the meeting was supposed to work. During the break no one came up and introduced themselves to me, but then again I didn’t introduce myself to anyone either. I stayed for the whole meeting and after, the GR (group representative) came and introduced herself to me, asked if I was new, talked to me for a bit and gave me some literature. I decided this was way better than my first meeting and told myself I would come back next week.

 

The next week came and I didn’t feel comfortable from the moment I came in and sat down. I sat in almost the exact same spot next to the same person from the first meeting, and for some reason I just felt extremely uncomfortable. At the break, the people sitting on either side of me turned to the people sitting next to them and started talking; no one said anything to me: not hello, NOTHING. I felt extremely uncomfortable and I just did not want to be there. I knew I wouldn’t last the whole meeting and sure enough I ended up getting up and walking out before the meeting was over and again vowed to never come back.

 

I talked to my husband about it and he told me not to give up and to try another meeting. I went online, found another one and I am so happy that I listened to him because I have found my home. I’ve attended two meetings at the new location now and from the moment I walked in, I felt so at ease and welcome that I shared at both meetings! It feels so comfortable here and the people are so open and engaging that it feels like I’ve known them for years. I feel very safe opening up in these rooms and for someone like me, sharing information like this, that is not an easy thing. Funny thing is, some people from the meeting that I left are in this meeting as well, so maybe I’m just not ready for a large meeting right now. This meeting is everything I could want and need in an Al-Anon meeting; I am so thankful that they have accepted me with open arms and I definitely plan to keep coming back!

 

For anyone that may be on the fence about Al-Anon or may have had a bad experience, I urge you to give it another chance like I did. It is so important to focus on YOUR recovery and self-care and Al-Anon can help, you just have to find the right meeting because it works if you work it; so keep coming back!

 

Nadine Herring is the owner of Virtually Nadine, a virtual assistant company that provides online administrative support to addiction specialists and social service organizations. I specialize in working with this undervalued and overworked field to help them deal with the time consuming process of running an organization.

Connect with me here on LinkedInGoogle+TwitterPinterest, or my website

SelfRefind Logo

Corporate Address

461 S. 4th St.
Danville, KY 40422

Contact Us

866.755.4258