Tough Love/It’s a Process

There is so much about Recovery that is a Process. At no time can we the parents/loved one or our addict (or our addicts for that matter) claim “We have Arrived”. That we (or they) have come to the place of walking perfectly in our Recovery. Not on this side of Heaven will we ever find perfection.

I was reminded of this last night as the topic of conversation turned to “Tough Love”. It’s time we realized it’s named that for a reason. It’s TOUGH.
Just look at some of the synonyms for the word Tough: rough, hard, harsh, dangerous, hard-hitting, strong, sturdy.

Just looking at that list you would think that “Tough Love” has to be an oxymoron. (a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect) Tough and Love completely contradict each other. Especially in our nurturing minds (ok hearts), it’s supposed to be soft, tender, caring, giving.

The question was asked “how do I change the way I love? I don’t know how to do it all at once”.

Oh how I wish we could… it would have saved this mother of an addict thousands of dollars, numerous items, precious time and sleep. I wish there was a switch somewhere in my heart that I could just flip and ‘wha-la’ Tough Love is produced.

But the truth is, there is no switch.

There is no easy way to put it into practice. In order to Love tough, we need to stop thinking that love is just a “feeling”. It is so much more than that. Love is an action word, it requires something from us. It will mean that we will have to stop thinking about our feelings or our addict’s feelings and love in such a way that it will bring our addict to the place of seeing Recovery as the only option. That will never happen if we keep supplying all their needs and wants and paying their bills.

When they were toddlers, and were beginning to learn to walk, we walked behind them holding on to their hands.

But the day had to come when we set their back against the sofa and took a number of steps away from them and held our hands out… and waited. At first they would plop down and crawl over to you all smiles and giggles. And we’d pick them back up and place their back against the sofa again… and we’d wait.

Before long they would take that first step and then another and before you knew it they were running up and down the hall. This is one of the simplest of explanations of Tough love. Had we continued to hold their hands… walking alone may have never happened. It took our putting our feelings aside that they would fall and maybe hit their head and put their back against the sofa and wait.

Learning to walk is a process, as is Tough love. We parents who have admitted to enabling have held their hands far too long and letting them stand there with their backs against the sofa (so to speak) and begin the process of walking on their own will take our letting go of our feelings, stepping back and waiting.

When Attitude Is Everything

Since July 5th my son has been in “The Plymouth House of Correction”. He (and I) both thought it would be for a very short period of time. Like 2 or 3 days… waiting for a bed to become available in a 6 month Drug Rehab program to which he has been accepted (preliminary acceptance)

It’s now been 18 days.

For 9 days I did not hear from him at all as he waited thinking it will be any moment… (later he told me he saw no need to call as he thought for sure he would see me soon when he was released so I could transport him to Stepping Stones.) Little did he know that getting him into that program would be much like trying to get an elephant into your living room.

Not completely impossible, it would just take some maneuvering, and possibly some widening of doors.

Trying to maneuver through the “System” here in Massachusetts takes a PhD in patience and a Master’s in understanding.

I hold neither.

But I am finding myself well on the way to earning both. I have found myself speaking with Senators, Representatives, Directors, Probation Officers and ASD Duggard (I understand he’s like a Major in rank at the Plymouth House of Correction). All of which have been hugely helpful, each only being able to do their small part to push the effort forward.

Now for the record… I am NOT doing the work to get my son into a Rehab in place of his doing so. I ended up having to do this because a certain person in the list above dropped the ball he and my son got rolling and it would have left my son sitting in jail for 60 days. I was told by that person in the list above I would have to pick up the ball and run with it myself… I had to check my attitude at the door and put it in gear to get the job done… all the while my son who was sitting in jail was thinking everything was already a done deal.

Since his discovery of the difficulty that was transpiring around his getting to Stepping Stones I have been completely amazed at his positive, and unlikely happy attitude. Knowing him as I do, I was sure things would not be well once he heard about what was happening. I pretty much figured they’d be putting him in Solitary Confinement for an attitude adjustment.

But no…

Each time I hear from him; he asks what I know about the process on my side of the barbed wire fence and he tells me what’s happening on his. We laugh, we encourage each other and each time I hang up the phone and ask myself…”who was that”. Right before my very ears my son is changing (clean now 45 days). I hear something different in him, I hear hope and I hear promise, not promises, but the idea of promise… one of a future without drugs.

As a side note; he told me he read a 362 page book. You could have picked me up off the floor. That boy of mine has never read anything other than a caption under a picture in a motorcycle or car magazine (No lie). Never in my whole life would I think I would say this…

I am perfectly ok with his being in jail. Really.

Stuck Between the Crossroads and Stepping Stones


That’s how I would explain the place my son is at right now. But somehow he is perfectly fine with being stuck. A few weeks ago he was standing at a crossroads. Needing to choose which way he would go. He made a choice, and it was the choice I have been praying he would make; to go into a Long Term Recovery Program.

Since making that choice he has been met with obstacle after obstacle. The door that I believe God has opened for him, man keeps trying to close. (Which has me convinced this is what God wants!) With each difficulty that seemed to stand in his way, I thought for sure it would breakdown his resolve to move forward with his recovery. And I am thrilled to report it hasn’t. Just getting to the place where he chose Long Term Recovery has been a long and arduous road. I will continue to pray that God would give him the strength to hold onto this resolve.

The System that is in place for Recovery options and how one gets there, is frustrating to say the least and takes absolute commitment to navigate down its path. When I Sectioned my son, it was my understanding that the caseworkers within the facility would be working toward getting my son into the next step. That never took place. Here my son is ready to commit to the long haul and no one is there to get the ball rolling.

After many calls and meetings on my part (as my son was unable to get any help on the inside, his probation officer forgot to put some verbiage in his file and left him without the means to gain help) and a bed was secured for him in a program (Stepping Stones) that nearly 2 years ago I had called when first finding my son was addicted to heroin.

Back then I had no clue how this “faulty” system worked, how one gets from active addiction to real help. (this will be the subject for another post). As for now, he sits waiting in Plymouth County House of Correction in Massachusetts, a jail, where he is being held until a bed opens up. Waiting expectantly, gratefully and as he said to me last night… I’m good mom, I’m just looking forward to the next step.

Stuck between the Crossroads and Stepping Stones.