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Family Interview with Mary Ellen K.

Family Interview with Mary Ellen K.

What crisis brought you to recovery?

When the puzzle pieces of mental health, lost jobs, changes in behavior, housing instability and anger started to fit together for our son (and us) we searched for help.  Like most parents new to the reality of addiction, we didn’t know where to turn.  What facility options were there?  How did they address addiction?  What was covered by our insurance?  After a psychologist friend told us, “I’ve heard great things about Turning Point of Tampa,” we were on the phone beginning a relationship with TPOT.  We are forever grateful for how TPOT worked with us financially so that our son could get the care he needed.

Had you ever heard of a Family Recovery Programs like Al-anon or Nar-anon before this crisis? 

We knew they existed but knew very little about them.

What have you learned about the importance of family member recovery?

As this journey began our focus was on our son’s “problems” and how we could help him fix them. We had yet to discover that although we didn’t cause our son’s addictions we could never cure/fix it.  Through the help of Turning Point’s excellent family support group, we began to see ways that we had contributed to his challenges.

I remember one of the first times the idea of enabling was discussed.  We had the opportunity to check off enabling behaviors we saw in ourselves.  I don’t think I felt like I had so many to check off.  (I’m sure the group leader was smiling!) But, as time went by, as our emotions settled, as we received counsel and grew in wisdom, we began to see ways that we had contributed to his challenges through enabling.  It was a journey.  Today we are several years down the road – a road with peaks and many valleys – and we are still changing.  When we catch ourselves stepping into enabling, we can now adjust more quickly.  Family members have to change if they want their loved ones to get off the merry-go round cycle of addiction.

Does the recovery program that you are a member of have online meetings to accommodate during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

Yes.

Did you have any reluctance in accepting your need for your personal recovery?

Well, at first, we just felt overwhelmed.  Praying not only for survival for our son…but for ourselves.  We were emotional messes.  Because we kept hearing in the family support meeting at Turning Point the same message about the importance of us also doing the work, we finally stepped into various group meetings.  Some fit.  Some didn’t.  We found comfort, wisdom and community in attending a variety of groups over the years.  I was recently reading a Bible verse about the importance of renewing our minds.  It dawned on me that through addiction support groups, reading and TPoT family sessions, the same thing happens to our addictive thinking.  As our minds are renewed, our actions are changing —that is the best help we can give our son.

What would you tell family members who are considering their own recovery?

I’d first tell them to pause, sleep and rest in the comfort that your loved one is safely at Turning Point for a few days.  We needed a bit of time to have energy to look inward.  Then, start with the Turning Point family group.  Get phone numbers of other members.  Ask questions from those who are further down the road.  Then find a group that fits for you – one that addresses your station of life and listen and share. I believe hearing others claim their own challenges helped us to see our own struggles and begin to talk about them.

And to be honest, we didn’t like the time it cost to attend meetings.  Our lives were pretty busy without adding something else.  But we went.  We learned. We wanted to do what we could to change ourselves so we could be a part of the solution.  It was worth the effort and the time. Currently, we are only attending family sessions at Turning Point, but we know right where to plug into if we start slipping.

Have you experienced any stigma surrounding addiction and recovery? 

No.  Maybe that is because Turning Point helped us to realize it is a disease.  When I worked the floors as a nurse, I wouldn’t accuse a child with Cystic Fibrosis of choosing to have CF.  Nor a Lupus patient of having an autoimmune disease.  Not only did looking at addiction as a disease take away any stigma for us, it also helped us to realize it is long-term and if adjustments are made, life, with God’s help, can still be lived to the fullest and we can find joy in everyday life.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Thank you Turning Point of Tampa for being there and doing your work with excellence.

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