Filter Your Thoughts Before You Speak

By: Donna M.

Words are not neutral, they either tear down or build up a relationship. They are either harmful or helpful and they can be forgiven not forgotten.

As parents we often crave interaction with our teen or adult children. Communication skills either pave the way for meaningful conversations or they dismantle the relationship, 
Despite its importance, our ability to communicate calmly, effectively and loving are the first skills we often lose when we learn that we have a child in active addiction.

When parent are new to the world of addiction/alcoholism they don't often have an understanding of how addiction will affect their child, themselves and their relationship When a parent is new to their child's world of S.U.D, they don't often have a filter when they are expressing their fear, their worry and their anxiety.

If we don’t know how to properly communicate with one another, our conversations can quickly turn to anger, avoidance, depression or indifference.

It’s hard for our children to verbalize their feelings when they are in active addiction because the drug/alcohols can smother their emotions along with their promises.

We must filter our thoughts so that we can filter our words.

Before you say something to your child, ask yourself:

* Is it true? Truth trumps all. If it’s not true, don’t say it.
* Is it hurtful? The answer is yes, don't say it.
* Is it mean? If you find yourself going for the juggler, don't 
do it.

* Disarm yourself by removing yourself from the situation.

* Rephrase your words by saying them in a positive way

* Ask open ended questions and listen to your child's answer 
without thinking about what you are going to say next.

* Listen without judgement

Donna MarstonComment
Shame is a Powerful Emotion

By Donna M.

Shame a painful and powerful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.  Shame is a powerful, painful and potentially dangerous emotion that often plays an important role in substance use and a host of other personal and social problems.

Shame seems to attach to parents who have a child in active addiction and their child; because shame is a condition of disgrace or dishonor.  Shame is caused by a pubic arrest notice, where the public can scrutinize and criticize a person; it’s when a person or a situation draws attention to something someone has done.

Shame is attached to drug or alcohol abuse and families realize quickly that even though they may have support, they are up against the stigma of a disease that is highly criticized and misunderstood.

When you have feelings of shame that surface, replace them with compassion, empathy and acceptance for yourself and your child. Acknowledge the negative feelings, but remind yourself that you can get through them by attending Parents Sharing Without Shame’s Support group meeting private counseling, praying, journaling and taking care of yourself.

This new perspective will help you to heal. The positive shift in your thinking will move you forward so that you feel better and are able to release any and all feelings associated with shame. 

                                               Shame doesn’t serve you, let it go!

“Shame is the most disturbing experience individuals ever have about themselves; no other emotion feels more deeply disturbing because in the moment of shame the self feels wounded from within. ~ Gershan Kaufman

Donna MarstonComment
The Attachment of Codependency

The Attachment of Codependency
By: Donna M.

One of the most common mistakes that parents make when they have a child in active addiction/alcoholism is that they don’t take care of themselves. They are often so busy being hyper focused on what their child is doing, rescuing and enabling that they lose themselves in the bowels of their child’s substance use disorder and unknowingly their mind, body and soul is getting sick because self-care never even enters their mind.

Two of the most important things a parent can do is show that they respect themselves, set and follow through with healthy boundaries. As uncomfortable as it may feel, practice creates perfection.

I have been taught that codependency is unhealthy love; it is when a parent puts their adult child’s wants and needs before their own. It’s running yourself ragged to make your adult child happy by paying their rent, paying their bills to give yourself piece of mind.

Fear is the number one component to codependency. Fear is what keeps parents engaged in their child’s active addiction/alcoholism. Parents often convince themselves that if they don’t step in, their adult child will fail because they don’t know how to take care of themselves. When parents have an inaccurate belief system and that their adult child is not able to take care of themselves, they don’t allow their adult child the opportunity to learn how to take care of their own problems and sort out their own lives on their own.

When parents jump in to the rescue inevitably the following things can happen:

• The adult child will grow increasingly dependent upon the parent.

• The adult child will not believe in their own resiliency or ability to deal with challenges on their own

• The adult child’s problems/substance use disorder will probably escalate into never-ending problems that will get bigger and bigger over time.

• The parent(s) will become emotionally, spiritually and financially bankrupt. 
• The parent(s) will become physically ill and emotionally resentful

Neglecting yourself displays negative role modeling because it set’s a parent up to be disrupted, verbally and emotionally abused. My sponsor taught me years ago that we teach our children how to treat us. If you have allowed bad behavior and our children to disrespect us, you will need patience because it will take time for your child to learn his/her new way of talking to you and respecting you and your boundaries.
There is a saying that states a parent is as happy as their happiest child and what I have learned that it wasn’t my son’s job to make me happy by how he lives his life, I learned that only I could make myself happy and that took doing a lot of self-care, self-help and working my own recovery program for codependency and enabling.

You should not allow yourself to get to the point that you feel like your drowning while you work harder at your child’s recovery than your son or daughter does.

Once we take back our power and start taking care of ourselves, we can get past any codependent dynamics that are still present in our relationship

Donna MarstonComment
Living in Gratitude

by:  Donna M.


When my son was active in his addiction/alcoholism I felt helpless and hopeless.  I was a lost soul, just like he was.  I didn’t know where to turn or who to turn to because I knew the stigma back in the 90’s could ruin our businesses and our reputations.  For the first six months of knowing what I thought at the time was everything about my son’s addiction was too much for me to bear, my bed was my safe place, and my crazy place.  I would lie in the fetal positon crying, my heart was so broken that there were days that I thought I should admit myself to the 5th floor at Concord Hospital and there were days that I truly thought that I would die from my broken heart. 

It took many years of allowing me to be in a helpless and hopeless state of mind that I felt emotionally dead; I didn’t have any fight left in me, I hit my enough.  When I hit my enough, it slowly dawned on me, that I had to start taking care of myself, I knew I needed to change me and start looking at the positives in my life’s rather than all of the negatives.  I started with a gratitude journal.  Every morning when I woke up, before I made myself get out of bed, I made myself write one thing that I was grateful for.  I was pretty pathetic in the beginning but in time, I was writing paragraphs about the blessings in my life.

When I changed, the family dynamics changed, when I changed and stopped trying to control my son’s addiction and the outcome of it, he would seek me out to talk and to spend time with me.

Today, my son’s life is better than I thought it could ever be when he was in active addiction and I was active in enabling and being codependent. When we are lost in the bowels of our children’s active addition, it’s paralyzing, it’s heartbreaking and it’s difficult to find anything to be grateful for.

Gratitude was not my natural disposition; it took some time and effort. It was a discipline to remind myself of the many reasons I have to be grateful for.  It was an exercise well worth the discomfort. Learning to live in gratitude changes a person’s attitude, it’s easy to do, yet hard to master.

If you are wondering what some of the things that I’m grateful for, I am honored to share them with you:

I am grateful for my loving family and beautiful grandson
I am thankful for my health.
I am grateful for my eyes , ears and all my working limbs
I am grateful that I can have a warm, cozy home to live in
I am grateful to be able to do support work for other parents who are sick and suffering.
I am grateful for the journey of my son’s addiction, if I didn’t go through it; I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I am grateful for being able to turn part of my brain off, stop the negative chitter/chatter and still be inspired.
I am thankful for Grace — for love that cannot be explained
I am grateful for my purpose and my hope that there is more to the story and it will unfold as I move forward living in gratitude.

I challenge you to set a time every day to write in your gratitude journal

Donna MarstonComment