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It’s Like a Cosmic Flaw Awaiting

Negative Feelings, Guilt

Allies member 228 published a comment that explores his and his family’s experience with his son’s addiction and rehab. Guilt, and remorse about what he could or should have done differently, continue to plague his thinking…

© JohnHain via pixabay

My son went into detox/rehab back on May 7 of this year. The path to that day is another story. The first indication of a problem was 8 years earlier and the last indicator of the worst case scenario that he was truly addicted and out of control was about a year before. We took him to a AA and detox yet there was no rehab and we had not done any of the work to find rehabs ahead of time so this was all very clumsy and doomed to fail. His mom and I began going to Al Anon (Me and my mother had been going off and on to Al Anon for 33 years because of my sister’s addiction yet for a son I realized the tools need to be very different since I moved away from home and my sister and this was something closer to home being a parent and all).

A year later then, on May 7, we finally got him into a detox that then transitioned into 30 day rehab. I visited him each weekend in rehab yet he refuses to talk to his mom and oldest sister because they have been very angry at him and pretty much telling him he is going to hell and threatening him. It’s another story altogether about all of that. I was acting in ways consistent with CRAFT and MI before I ran into this treatment concept simply by trial and error yet thankfully finding CRAFT has put me way beyond where I was. I have to forgive myself as I learn because I really think I could have spared our son much of the things he will now have to deal with the rest of his life because my approach wasn’t working. Honestly, the rest of the family was making it very hard on me because their learning was more deficient than mine although clearly we all were deficient.

In this ordeal I only wanted change, namely recovery, yet didn’t have the plan for treatment ahead of time completely worked out with different mitigations to address things like waiting lists and all. I did write down the address, and put it all over in his backpack and other places, of a rehab that would take him at any hour of any day by planning ahead for that one yet it was 5 hours away and in the end he didn’t like it because of certain details of that particular rehab. Read full text of comment here.

Again, thank you for sharing with us and for lightening your load by writing in. We also provide a private journal for those who find writing helpful. You can write confidentially and copy and paste what you’d like onto the discussion blog. Also, we’ve written before about the (proven) healing power of writing, see this link.

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LEAVE A COMMENT / ASK A QUESTION

In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. I drug tested my loved one yesterday; Positive for Opiates and Oxycontin. So 9 months since rehab and 1 month since his story to me about why he left his sober living house. I checked with them the day after he asked me if he could move back in with me and they suspected he was using since he didn’t pay rent and he wouldn’t take a test. Of course he told me that it was because his job laid him off since they were remodeling the store and he sober living house was hassling him about late rent and so on. So what I have learned so far will be put to the test.

    I am disappointed yet it is a process. I must keep my morale and focus. I have to figure out a lot of things. 1st I haven’t learned to “know” when he is using. The only thing I know to look for is pinpoint pupils. He avoids eye contact. He also picks up on it when I am staring at his eyes trying to get a better look. Here’s the deal. We’ve been discussing our relationship. The fact that we both are trying to be good for one another. He trusts me. He was disappointed when the test results came back yet I think mainly that the days of me assuming he was clean were over. I like my son. He is very polite and he has a very unassuming personality. He has been been cooperating with me this past month. I own my own businesses so I have been working him into my business and he has been making sales and chasing down leads and developing business. We have a business proposal to a new client that I believe they are going to accept and my son is the one that approached them with the “p
    itch”. I want to keep that part going and yet…I can’t practice “chill” when I never know when he is using because its so difficult for me to detect and know when. I need help.

    He says he “won’t go back to detox” so I decided right then to not push him hard into that position. I said let’s give it time for an answer that is “over our heads” at the moment. So I said he can stay here while we explore our options. I say I am only aware of what under my hat and God needs to show me the way so I am waiting for the epiphany. I am going to write a letter to “Allies in Recovery” and talk to all my smart peeps. Thank God my mom is an Al Anon and also we talk about CRAFT. The rest of our family are out of control over this so I can’t share this relapse info with them because they start the panicked OMG you’ve got to do this and that mania that only makes things worse. The main issue is he’s been offered a work for 25 hours a week and yet that is far away about 35 min drive both ways and he would need to drive this car I have been letting him use. I am going to be disciplined and not get upset with him yet I couldn’t watch a movie on TV with him l
    ast night and walked around the block and he was in bed when I got back. I hugged him and told him I love him and then went to bed. I couldn’t stand to look at him enjoying the movie and the chips as if nothing was wrong and my head was spinning.

    The things “over my head” at the moment are: how to deal with the new job he “has”(lying has started again so we all know that nothing can be trusted while an addict is using), and how to know moments he is “high” so to work CRAFT. I also would like to get my hands on a least a portion of his “paycheck” if he is indeed going to be put on their salary(he’s been working a day a week before now…again…how much of that is true…again I don’t know yet)

    So bizarro days once again…I am grateful I know to not make things worse yet the discipline to urgently have another option when I am tempted is the choice. Patient in the process yet urgent to get options along the line of my message in regards to car, work, detection, and other things I am not aware of or need to know that I am oblivious to at the moment. I have learned something from Mark Twain, “If your job is to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning; if its to eat 2 frogs eat the bigger one first.” I think I need to make it safe for him after sunset in my home. He has been honoring my boundary that no one comes and goes after sunset. No one talks business, addiction, problems in general after sunset. We discuss the stressful things first thing in the morning. I think this is good and the reason he trusts. Also, as I’ve learned from you Dominique, it will be hard if he is using here at home or if I kick him out and he is using away from home and I don’t know where. I am thinking if I can stomach my disgust and be loving then him living here is better. I think I need to go buy NARCAN so that is on my TO DO list. So. Morale. hmmm its really being put to the test yet…I’ve got it because I believe in the power of it during tough times. I love this person so if it kills me or not I’m all in.

      1. Wow, that is terrific news! You’ve done such a great job of maintaining your stance with love and awareness. It is so gratifying to see this paying off. We are so happy to hear of this positive step in your son’s path to recovery.

        This will hopefully be less relevant now, but in regards to what you mentioned in an earlier comment, wanting to get better at knowing when your son is high, have you read Dominique’s post: https://alliesinrecovery.net/discussion_blog-we-dont-know-when-my-brother-is-high ? Even if some of it is “review” for you, some of it may be helpful and worth reading or re-reading. There are a few important factors it mentions that are helpful to consider. It also includes “signs & symptoms” link in our Resource Supplement: https://alliesinrecovery.net/resource_supplement-signs-symptoms-of-drug-use

        Thanks again for this encouraging update. Way to go!

        1. Emily:

          Thanks. I wonder if adding Dominiques “tells” to the “Signs and symptoms of drug use” page wouldn’t be extremely helpful to others especially when everyone needs a specific place to point in critical moments for these tips.

          Here is what Dominique wrote that is very helpful and different than what is posted there as of now:

          “ways of telling the signs of opioid use: when high the eyes are glazed and the person has an itchy nose and face. This can make the face appear different, the nose is a bit red, the skin on the face a bit more pale. It looks like they have a cold. Your LO will scratch some. They will be sedated if very high, the eyes will droop or close, OR they will become active if the dose relieved just their withdrawals and got them back to normal. The mood is easier, less anxious, tight, irritable. The signs are subtle. You have to remember to ask yourself when looking at your LO, could what I see be a result of opioids? When your LO has been off drugs for a while, it is easier to forget that a strange moment or some sign is possibly due to drug use.”

          My humble opinion only is that when the critical piece of CRAFT is detecting usage by seeing “tells”, becoming an expert at detection is priority one in CRAFT. I imagine we should spend much time and effort to really, really, really learn and be confident that we are as expert at this as possible. I think drama pointing at THIS critical skill we endeavor to master can’t be the bad kind of drama, so let me continue. Perhaps, pictures, clinics, videos…anything and everything…perhaps I am an oddball on this point yet I consider being an expert at detecting these “tells” is MY KEY SKILL once I’ve passed the 8 modules. Since OPIOID epidemic is too widespread and real and perhaps more difficult to detect than alcohol (no offense if I’m wrong or if saying that offends anyone), we might devote some more resources to its DETECTION. This seems a little selfish yet I encourage everyone here to speak up for YOUR needs to love your loved ones…you’re worth it!

        2. Dear 228,

          It’s a great point you make. We are now working on this and will be adding more to the signs & symptoms page… will let you know when this is finished. Thanks for sharing your ideas about this. It is definitely helpful and I encourage others to share about this as well. What have others noticed – physically or otherwise – when their Loved Ones are actively using that may be helpful to share with this community of family members? Or even about their own “blind spots” in noticing use? The more awareness we cultivate around this, the better. It’s certainly not always easy to tell… So let’s keep supporting each other around this. What is the process like for others reading this?

          It’s true that the ability to distinguish use from non-use is essential to practicing CRAFT. Along with tuning into the various physical signs that indicate your Loved One may be actively using, it’s worth considering that we also are observing and responding to the story that goes along with their use. We’re observing the overall field in which they are operating… How do their communications and behaviors change, how does the way they relate to us shift when they are actively using, or not using? Like with physical signs, this may not be fail-proof. There can be missed signals and mistaken interpretations. We can expect that we’ll get it wrong from time to time. Not a huge deal. But with practice and awareness, we can merge our observations of those physical signs with our observations of the general situation around our Loved Ones. This awareness of the bigger picture allows us to become better at determining when they are using or not. And as we all know, then we step in or step back from there.

          Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this – I hope others are finding it helpful as well.

        3. Emily,

          I especially liked, “…observing the overall field in which they are operating…”

          I might need to explore why I need so much certainty about their use in order to be circumspect about their overall field in which they’re operating. Perhaps it’s an old useless belief that I would be wasting time exploring general behavior if I couldn’t tie it back to certainty of the cause. Kind of like having new tires and brakes on a car with a loose steering wheel.

          I think the point is to not stiffen up in fear and yet buckle down and get good at detecting signs of use and non-use. Honestly, even today my level of uncertainty isn’t good enough for me. I think I avoid uncertainty more than is prevalent in this culture. There’s not much support for this around me other than here and so I want to thank everyone for taking my quest for certainty seriously. It means a lot.

          I enjoy looking at his face for signs that look like a cold and for itching and scratching rather than thinking I can only spot “pinpoint eyes” which is next to impossible since we mainly interact at night and we keep the lights off or low in our house at night. Also, he never walks up to me with his eyes wide open and invites me to scrutinize. It might be an indicator of our relationship. One day soon maybe he will. It might be a symptom of the disease(shame) that loved ones have trouble looking people in their eyes even. I am hopeful and confident the day is coming when there is much more uncertainty avoided.

        1. I am happy with myself through all of this. I think I am the father my son needs, wants and loves. Clearly the best case scenario is happening and so much quicker than I imagined, yet whether it happened like this or not I was taking the choice I have as to who I am around my loved one and people in general very seriously. I am real clear in regards to who I am towards our children. Things I’ve learned here, from discussions, CRAFT modules, AIR etc. I am also real clear and consistent in regards to the SUD. This hasn’t always been the case. I accept this is a process for both recovery of my loved one and also for me in order that I give my best and get better at giving my best and learn to make things I’ve done wrong right. I am learning to totally accept my loved ones as they are and yet not accepting that I am helpless nor lack the ability to influence. I hold fast to the value that trusts in the reality of influence.

          I think because most of all I did my best to express clear love, understanding (relapse is a part of the process for some), of this my loved one wants to be good for me. The other thing through this I did was to make it clear to my loved one that I had thoughts and ways of dealing with this and yet that G0d’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine. I communicated to my loved one that I would be deferring to G0d to show us the way and that I didn’t know those thoughts and ways yet I am open to receive higher thoughts and ways of dealing as we go forward together.

          I communicated that we both would need to imagine options and yet allow G0d to give us thoughts and ways that we couldn’t imagine at the moment. I am not sure exactly yet I think this “space” is where he felt autonomy to “talk” to G0d and find a treatment option on his own. The great thing is the “buy in” is built in since he did it himself. I also think he is learning to take accountability for his recovery. I think not pressuring myself nor him by relying on our own understanding, thinking or ways of doing things yet leaning on G0d somehow opened him up and inspired him to be creative and seek treatment options.

          I just wanted to share the details of my side of this so it might help someone. I still don’t know how to spot his use without staring into his eyes and catching them being pinpoint while using or extremely dilated when withdrawing. I do think more can be talked about perhaps in that regard and it definitely should. The link to the signs for opiates I believe is lacking still. More might be discussed as to utilizing practical means to detect use without too much confrontation. Hope this helps someone.

        2. We’ve followed your process through your writing and we thank you. Much to think about with too little time when there’s a crisis. I hope this site helps families work through the patterns, the signs, and the actions a family can take. Your writings have helped families think think think. Thank you for this tremendous effort.

          We are so heartened that your child went quickly into treatment when he relapsed.

          Okay, so ways of telling the signs of opioid use: when high the eyes are glazed and the person has an itchy nose and face. This can make the face appear different, the nose is a bit red, the skin on the face a bit more pale. It looks like they have a cold. Your LO will scratch some. They will be sedated if very high, the eyes will droop or close, OR they will become active if the dose relieved just their withdrawals and got them back to normal. The mood is easier, less anxious, tight, irritable. The signs are subtle. You have to remember to ask yourself when looking at your LO, could what I see be a result of opioids? When your LO has been off drugs for a while, it is easier to forget that a strange moment or some sign is possibly due to drug use.

          Can others share the signs they see with their LO?

        3. Wow…Thanks Dominique…I came here today because I didn’t notice anything helpful to me to be able to detect opioid usage beyond an intrusive optical exam that would be invasive and difficult on the relationship. Thank you for some tips I’ve never seen before and surely should be posted boldly on the site where the other usage tips were posted.

          I also encourage all others to share their tips if they have any different ones. I will share some if I notice. I think I noticed him being clumsy and awkward yet euphoric once when I know he was using. Yet again that isn’t as useful as the “tells” of glazing of eyes(non-intrusive “tell”), itchy nose and nose a bit red. I think the practicality of detecting in a non-intrusive manner cannot be more important to learn in order that we don’t harm the relationship in the process of determining whether they’re using or not.

          Also, this round of detox/rehab is “outpatient”. He is on a Suboxone prescription at the moment and then on scheduled individual and group counseling visits and follow up protocols.

          I am not sure if this is exactly important and yet I am curious as to the non-intrusive “tells” of Suboxone usage. From your post, Dominique, I would initially assume this would be “they will become active…(since)…the dose relieved just their withdrawals and got them back to normal.”

          I hope you know how grateful I am for your thorough response and don’t let my ongoing questions distract from appreciating the importance of your previous answer to me. Thank you!

        4. Thank you for reminding me to “totally accept my loved ones as they are and yet not accepting that I am helpless nor lack the ability to influence.” I am feeling quite confused as to how I communicate that to my LO, while also communicating that I don’t accept his substance use and all that comes with it. While I have tried communicating this, he twists what I say and says this is who HE is. Your story gives me hope that I will one day be able to have the same kind of dialogue with my son. As it is now, he seems not to care about how his behavior and choices impact the rest of us. I continue to trust in the process and will be patient, patient, patient. Thank you.

  2. 228, Thank you for your incredibly insightful post. My husband and I are fellow travelers on this road and continue to work on our traumatized selves even as our LO is now a year in recovery. I especially like your perspective on ambivalence and choice. I’m learning to be more comfortable in uncertainty, allowing my LO to make choices to live his life on his terms and trusting that he will learn and grow as he goes. So many useful nuggets here I will use again and again:

    “ So I must ask the LO “Am I helpful? Is this helpful?” If they say no then it isn’t. This to me is a test of the wellness of my recovery.”

    “Fear of relapse is fear of death and the only remedy is to choose to live fully by accepting that we have limited time to enjoy one another and so to live!”

    I will be practicing giving equal time to FANTASY thinking as I do to CATASTROPHE thinking and sharing this technique with my support and recovery community.

    There are a lot of us who have spent so much energy trying to help our LO’s that we have only barely begun to help ourselves recover. I believe the best thing I can do for my LO at this stage is to help myself. It is an added burden to my LOs recovery if he has to consider how well I can or can’t handle his choices. Some parents feel that the LO owes them this as part of the amends process. I feel I need to own my own emotions and wellness, and my ability to enjoy living in the moment gets skewed when my thinking veers into feeling that life or anyone “owes me.” I continue to work on caring for myself and hope I can be an example to my LO and others.

    Again thanks for sharing your thoughts. May your journey continue to be one of openness and love as it so obviously has been thus far.

    1. Thank you Momdog! All the best to you and the LO’s dad as well. I especially resonated with your comment:

      “I believe the best thing I can do for my LO at this stage is to help myself. It is an added burden to my LOs recovery if he has to consider how well I can or can’t handle his choices.”

      Today I became conscious that my behavior tends to mirror my concept of my Higher Power and my HP doesn’t control me yet gives me advice when I reach a wish/dip and ask in prayer or meditation (Al Anon step 11). Because of CRAFT my concept of G0d is different. I thank Dominique for her recovery and great value in this world today carrying this message to all of us. Awesome!

      I believe we have a team spirit here and we must preserve it by sharing our best tools based on evidence, building upon them, having light shone on them to create practical knowledge and then creating an upward spiral for all of us, our LOs, our families, communities and leave the world a better place.

      This acknowledgement of yours is a perfect example. Thank you.

      228

  3. 228, you write so beautifully! I think it helps when we can put feelings, notions, nuances, happenings and observations into words. At least it helps me. I so relate to every word you have written!I have been quite the catastrophic thinker myself at times, most especially in the days following the worst of my son’s roller-coaster opiate addiction. Once he found recovery, everything miserable within me seemed to rise up. It was discouraging, I had expected to feel relief and happiness instead of turmoil. We have both walked a path of healing since he went into recovery six years ago, but initially I didn’t realize that I also needed to recover as the affected family member (crazed, traumatized mom!).

    For a time I struggled in the calm AFTER the storm, so to speak. That for me was when I hit my rock bottom. I don’t know that my son ever did, but I truly felt as though the earth opened up and I couldn’t stop falling through it, pulling my entire life down into a bottomless pit along with me. It definitely took time to stabilize. My doctor discussed C-PTSD with me and I began aggressively dealing with those recurring thoughts and the misery that at times surged within. I became aggressive with my own recovery, though it wasn’t from substances. There was so much damage – those of us on the sidelines of a chemical addiction go through terror, crisis, confusion, toxic shame, shock…hell. I knew I needed to mend and turn the ship of my health around, as much as my recovering son did.

    For some months I worked to learn how to use and apply CRAFT. I also found that the Sanctuary page along with the modules were great ways to spend my time. These were not only educational, but also soothing tools that I found so helpful in the process of healing my soul. I was led through Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) which I cannot advocate ENOUGH for. I took regular walks, bike rides, hikes, wrote for hours, spoke my fears, worries, and miseries out loud as often as I was able – just to GET THEM OUT. I couldn’t let them remain with me, those things were too heavy. The toxic thoughts would strangle me if I allowed them to. I also tried to meditate daily and when I wasn’t able to do it, I played meditation videos that could do it for me. I read relevant books, articles and blogs. And went to many supportive meetings, sometimes 4-5 times a week at first. It was a process I would say was very similar to the journey of weight loss.

    Breakthroughs began to come. I wouldn’t notice changes so much when I was in the midst of working for it. Or looking for it! But over time and as new (or old familiar) situations occurred, I felt different, responded different, thought different. I began to walk through things that I used to trip over. The thoughts and triggers that were once like elephants, became more like gnats.

    These efforts to care for ourselves work, if we will do them consistently. So many of us swallow the issues and keep going when life seems to calm and be okay for awhile. But that’s actually the best time to do the work for ourselves. I would say that span of healing time was the best gift I ever gave myself. I try to do many of those things still, especially if something throws me back into my madness.

    You have to find what formula works best for you. You have great awareness and you are in a great place – Allies in Recovery has been a loyal, comforting friend to me in times of stress and need, more than I could ever explain.

    I love the way you write, keep doing it!

    Peace, healing and joy to you,

    Annie

    1. Annie, I can feel the love and charity in your sharing. I also give you my sincere hope for all the best in your world and time in it. I love the way you write and share and on your podcast as well. I’ve listened to all of the Coming Up For Air episodes and await new ones (when?). I increasingly understand the true nature of addiction that is partly the LO and partly the family after hearing you talk as it becomes crystal clear. And, yes, immersion into all these things has allowed me to use available resources to find my personal path to success in helping my son and the rest of our children who may not be addicts yet still struggle in a world that shames indecision or clumsiness sometimes.

      Life is team spirit to me and my world was created over time by the work of a team of people with morale in my world. CRAFT and all these things we share might have something in common and that is to honor the morale in the world that must understand and encourage everyone (not throwing those who stumble under the bus) and the details on the important matters to do so. No team can be endlessly disintegrated by a terror stricken panic that many of us became.

      I was on the way to visit our son at his sober living house and I was conscious that I was becoming increasing frightened by catastrophizing over “what if he relapses”. I was getting closer to his place while listening to Coming Up For Air podcast and y’all shared that fear of relapse never goes away and the only thing that has the power to overwhelm it is to cherish every sane and sober moment with my LO. That made immediate difference and that particular visit was inspired and it lead to us getting to a place where our spirits could soar and we could simple enjoy being in each others presence.

      To me that is the CRAFT training in a nutshell. I think the fear of relapse is the fear of death and the only remedy is to choose to live fully by accepting that we have limited time to enjoy one another and so to live! The added benefit is that the science of CRAFT confirms this perspective. The detail is that this relationship with the LO is a sober one and the ship doesn’t pull its anchor if one of the sailors is in an unacceptable condition. Things I’ve learned through all of this:

      GRATITUDE (that life is a gift and freewill is reality),

      ACCEPTANCE (the paradox that when I accept myself, my emotions, others (and their emotions), places and things exactly and fully as they are THEN they can change and I might add value and influence in the here and now and the future)

      LATITUDE (this includes patience and forgiveness that allows people their gift of creative spirit of freewill and humanity to make mistakes along the way)

      AMBIVALENCE (a dimension of latitude of freewill and inspiration to explore meaning and options with autonomy and individual style and values where I must live with good and bad and nurture the gratitude for others to live in an ambivalent world and give them the time to explore the good and bad set before them in order to choose)

      CHOICE (the opposite of choice to me seems to be compulsion, addiction, obsession, impulsivity. My friend the jailor told me numerous accounts of the question he would ask of people brought in “why did you do it” and the answer is almost always “I didn’t have a choice” or “something came over me” “I didn’t think at all”)

      The thing I find most important in CRAFT is this notion of always praising ambivalence as the very soul of my LO. Never shame an ambivalent person because unacceptance immobilizes. Paradoxically, when I accept ambivalence then a choice can be made and change can emerge. To never shame them in my impatience to come to a quick conclusion that is merely me a panic stricken impatient full spouting my opinion of how to help them.

      I think a cornerstone of CRAFT is that the definition of being helpful is completely determined by the LO. So I must ask the LO, “am I helpful?” “is this helpful?” if they say no then it isn’t. This to me is the test of wellness of my recovery. Sure this is life or death. Yet the only way for my LO to choose life affirming options is to first be ambivalent and weigh the “pros” and “cons” and if I shame them for beginning the process in their ambivalence I am sucking their very Soul from them that inspires them to be autonomous and live. How this is working is defined by the LO. If they tell me I’m not helping then I must accept this exactly and completely as defined by the LO. My LO is an expert on my LO–I am not and never will be an expert on my LO. I am merely an understander, encourager, tool pusher (yet pulling back if they say it doesn’t help) and role model (if I get well and models don’t make you wear their clothes they only wear them well) of accepting the world as it is (ambivalent) and expanding latitude in which I have room to make better life choices.

      I think I owe a smile to everyone that is acting properly and an expression of concern to all that are not. I think CRAFT says it clearly, “knowing how and when to talk with the LO, how to detect use, knowing how to understand stages of addiction and recovery, and being knowledgable of and ready with messages of hope and real time options of treatment to suggest to the LO at the moment of truth” Annie, you have so much value to add and a message to carry with you at all times and I think it is “we got this!” And I loved Dominique in one of the modules saying, “people recover all the time”. That message of hope I think is vital to carry in my concern expressed to others if I cannot smile completely.

      Love this and hope my writing helps others besides me as well. Thank you to the good in everyone that shares time to see the good in all of this.

  4. Thank you Dominique. I feel a bit of guilt and remorse and know that behind it is plenty of ambivalence on the things I didn’t do or did in portions that might have been too little or too much. I think within limits this is healthy to get me moving to learn needed lessons and add needed tools and sources of understanding, wisdom, kindness and strength to know the truth and to do the right things and not do the wrong things.
    Thank you for highlighting my new tool to balance the catastrophic thought with a fantastic thought adding another fact to the one I’m obsessing on:
    FACT => FACTS. Fear Activates Catastrophic Triggers =>Formalizing Ambivalence Can Trigger Serenity
    From now with fear in regards to the unknowns with him I make my AMBIVALENCE LIST of opposite extremes (e.g.):

    FACT: This morning our son didn’t return my texts this morning & I catastrophized until I reached my limit of 5 texts & two phone calls.

    CATASTROPHE: He is relapsed & is dead or in jail.

    FANTASY: our son has been whisked away from work this morning by his boss, the owner, who had talked with him earlier about a promotion. He is in meetings and cannot text nor call because he is simply busy. They are discussing that the owner is a recovering addict and knows his history so he can rest assured that his past won’t come back to haunt him and that they will understand and encourage his recovery through thick and thin

    REALITY: was in the middle. He answered my texts at 10:51 am so after thanking G0d I of course came up with another catastrophic thought

    CATASTROPHE: “He slept late because of relapse”

    FANTASY: “He slept late because he has a much needed day off and he is working hard and long hours and days and is taking care of himself and probably relaxed and watched a movie after going to a 12 step meeting and then turned his phone to “sleep mode” and put it away like a healthy person does because it is good for sleeping and recovering from all the days at work.”

    REALITY: It was in fact his day off and I didn’t ask him yet the fantasy does probably apply in this case. I am clearly in recovery as well.

    Note: this is actually working to keep me positive and mobilized with rational, energizing concern rather than immobilizing fright.
    Thank you. I need all of this.

    1. This is a wonderful discussion. I like the ambivalence list as it encourages us to think of a positive reason to balance out the negatives we obsess about. Thank you all for sharing.

      1. Grateful you acknowledge that gptraveler. We are all in this together and the essence of team spirit resonates through learning things that work for us and sharing them because as our “team” evolves we all benefit from an upward spiral of better tools, support, understanding and encouragement. My goal in my life…an immediate and direct path to an open bed and treatment for everyone that has a wish/dip for recovery. Not merely the beloved, rich or wise yet everyone that wants to change.