Elizabeth Hambleton was ready for change! She planned for it and welcomed it. The wedding was over and a few days later unexpected change came knocking on her door disrupting her life as she learned of the death of her father. In this episode, she shares her story of a wedding and a funeral that is vastly different from the film with a similar name.
Elizabeth Hambleton shares how her life as a newlywed was challenged right from the start. She shares her story of a wedding and a funeral (it's not all doom and gloom). She actually has had quite a few challenges at an early age, yet, these experiences gifted her with a wisdom and maturity that have helped her cope with other life-altering events later on. Unlike our last episode where our storyteller was still in the early part of having to cope with a radical change, Elizabeth’s story is told a little more than 10 years after these events occurred.
In the latter part of the episode Jennifer Canu, a trauma-focused licensed marriage and family therapist who works with children and teenagers shares how others can support young people who live with a caretaker or parent that is dealing with substance abuse.
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A Mindful Soul Center Podcast
Amy Adams, Christine Boyd Miller, Elizabeth Hambleton, Jen Canu
Welcome to you here. Now, a mindful soul center podcast. We share real stories that remind us that change happens and we’re not alone. Today’s episode a wedding. And if you’re I’m Amy Adams
And I’m Christine Boyd Miller,
And we’re really glad you decided to join us today. Hi, Christina, how are you today,
Amy? How are you?
I’m pretty good. I’m really glad that we’re doing this podcast.
When are we going to talk about today?
Today we’re going to share Elizabeth Hambleton’s story of a wedding and a funeral last episode, and black, who you interviewed. She shared her story of loss and she is still in the early part of having to cope with a radical change. Now, on the other hand, Elizabeth story is told a little more than 10 years after these events occurred. So we’ll just get started and let Elizabeth tell her story intuition
Into decisions you made when you were younger or in the past or whatever. And you’re like, what in the sand Hill was I thinking I actually met my husband online. I think it’s one. This is before I was really, I was an entrepreneur, but I wasn’t into the world of entrepreneurship. So I hadn’t heard about some of these ideas around manifesting or intuition as much as I have heard about them now, but I think it was my first real brush with like listening to my intuition. I was dating this guy relatively seriously. He wanted to get married. And I was like, Oh, I don’t know about that. And I literally woke up on Valentine’s day in the middle of this crazy snow storm in Texas, which doesn’t happen that often in Texas. And I just woke up and just out of the clear blue, I was like, I have to break up with that guy today.
And it was like, literally Valentine’s weekend. And I was like, huts mean like, I should probably wait a while, like, who does that? Right. And was like, in my soul, it was like, no it’s today. And I don’t know, I just went with it because I was just so clear. It was just like, you’re breaking up with him and it’s today. And so I like ended up texting, like calling him or texting. I don’t remember exactly. I was like, I am not gonna see you anyway. Cause it’s like, the roads are covered in snow, but I’m just really not sure. I see this going where you see it going, you know, maybe we should go our own ways and he was upset understandably. And it probably wasn’t the best timing, but like karmic Lee in the universe, literally that weekend, my now husband had moved from where he was to where he was going to be when I met him.
And that same weekend, he joined an online dating profile and set his parameters to the city that I was in. And we met two weeks later, like online, like, you know, found each other’s profile type thing. And he messaged me and we had our first date, probably not about another two weeks later. And then four months after that we were engaged and we had like no mutual friends. You know, I worked in an art museum, he was a mechanical engineer. We just didn’t cross paths sort of socially meeting online was probably the only way it was going to have a good, I say, I hit the sweet spot of online dating because now it’s gotten so look spaced with this whole like swipe left business. But I was like, just before that, like swiping hadn’t been invented and I was after it was like been around long enough that enough people were doing it. It wasn’t weird, but it hadn’t gotten to swiping. So you actually had to have a clever profile and really communicate it. Wasn’t just all based on looks. So I was lucky I hit the sweet spot. I think
It was like just sort of his mind, I guess, first was what I was attracted to. And then I think, cause you know, the physical obvious isn’t important, but like it does change over a lifetime. So I think it’s really, you know, the mind is what you are aging with, you’re growing with over time. So it has to be that kind of for me anyway, it has to be that like mental, emotional connection, how many was clever smart company. So he, it’s funny too because he’s an engineer and I honestly had some, I didn’t know him that well, I guess, you know, I didn’t know how completely uncharacteristic he was for him to make a giant decision in four months. Like it is radically uncharacteristic of him. Now we can’t pick a dining table and four months. But that’s very much my nature. So we very, we kind of balance each other.
I’m much more that’s taken the leap person and he’s lore the it. And so when we can work towards sort of a middle ground, then we can kind of use each, each person’s strengths and then also mitigate each person, maybe weaknesses. I knew I wanted to be married. I didn’t, I was not one of those girls with tons of specifics. I didn’t, you know, come with like, Oh, I want these colors. And I want, you know, whatever this venue, I didn’t wasn’t that type so much. We actually joked that the only thing I came to the marriage with was a girl’s name that I was really attached to. Like if we had a girl, this was going to be the name, we’re not negotiating. And he came with a wedding song, he wasn’t going to negotiate on. I was like, sounds good. I have no opinions on a wedding songs.
So as long as it’s not rap or something, it’s whatever you want, man. But obviously I, I, that was a goal for sure in my life to get married, have a family and kind of make that a big part of who I was. So I did dream of it in that way. And obviously you have some expectations about sort of the general feel of it. It’s like every other major life event. It’s always a little different in your reality, the way you picture it’s going to be pulling apart a year later we were getting married and I think it was, it was just literally like the universal call of like something better is coming into your world and you have to let go to receive. And I just went with it and my parents were horrified that I was marrying someone off the internet after four months.
But I don’t know. I just knew that like this was it and I didn’t feel any fear about it. I just was like on the fourth day as like, I’m going to marry this guy. And then by the time he proposed at four months, I was like, yeah, of course we’re getting married. But like I already decided that a couple of months ago. And people did think we were crazy, but we’re going on 10 years now. So it’s worked out, we have two children, our son is a seven and our daughter is four, a wedding and a surprise. Yes. So we had, we did have a lovely big wedding. Kind of if my, what the States, the kind of a Southern big formal wedding, the church ceremony and then the big reception, the whole thing. And it was nice. I did choose not to invite my father who was an alcoholic because he just was not in a very healthy spot.
And since it was a relatively short courtship overall my husband had actually never even met my father when we got married because we had tried a couple of times, but it just didn’t quite come off. Or my dad would tend to cancel at the last minute because he knew he didn’t look good. He knew he wasn’t sober. I think he was essentially embarrassed. And you know, I didn’t push it because I thought it sounded stressful to get everyone together. And I don’t know, just kind of what would really happen. But then, so we were married on a Saturday, like a lot of people. And then that Wednesday morning early, maybe four or 5:00 AM, my phone starts ringing. And usually when your phone rings at 4:00 AM, it’s not good news. So I picked it up and I was like, Hey. And it was my mom.
My parents were divorced at the time, but it was my mom calling. And she said, your father was found dead this morning. He drowned while taking a shower. It appeared to have been like a heart attack, kind of brought on by all the drinking and different things. And he’d been in bad health. But if anyone has lived with like a chronically ill or kind of long-term terminally ill relative or friend, it’s, it’s weird because you sort of expect the end, but at the same time, it’s a shock because they’ve made it so long in such bad health that you start to feel like they’re going to stay that way forever. Then you kind of go through these cycles where you like expect the end and then they outlast your expectation of it. And then you cycle back to like, maybe they do have a long time.
And I don’t know. So it’s like a weird mix of expected or not surprising perhaps, but then also really surprising when it happened. And I had actually quit my job that week since I had, we were kind of moving to a different area. And so I didn’t really know what to do. I got dressed kind of, and I went into my office where I only had two days left, cause this was Wednesday. And I was leaving that Friday. And I was like, yeah, my dad was found dead this morning. And I don’t really know what to say when someone’s like, why are you here? And I was like, I don’t know, am I allowed to not be here? It was just very surreal. You just don’t know how to process that much change at one time. And my poor husband and we’ve only been married for days and he didn’t really know how to support that.
Cause he’d never experienced. I mean, his parents are still alive today. He had experienced a lot of personal loss. Yeah. I mean, his grandparents had died, but you know, they’re older. You expect it. It’s not quite the same. So it was definitely tumultuous. And then we, that was on Wednesday, the wake was a Friday and then the funeral was Saturday. And then we left our honeymoon the next day, which was super weird because I just did not know. It was just so many conflicting emotions of like, am I happy? I’m on my honeymoon and I’m, am I sad? And then if you tell people, Oh, we’re on our honeymoon. They expect you to be very lacked. Oh, it’s so great. Best day of my life. You know, sort of Lottie dad, which, I mean, I get it. It’s like the honeymoon stereotype, but then, you know what I explained to every random, no over my dad was gone dead three days ago. And I haven’t really like, it was just very, it was just a lot to process both physically and mentally. Like I felt really sick to my stomach for like a week
Acceptance and letting go.
I actually think that I felt better about what happened because of the addiction. Only thing in that when I mean is all a large part of me had already said goodbye to him because he was not a person he had been in former years. I never saw him sober anymore. He was incoherent a lot of the times. He didn’t always recognize me. I think it might be similar. I’ve never experienced this personally so I could be incorrect. But to me, it’s how I picture letting go of someone who maybe has dementia or Alzheimer’s where it’s like the person’s there technically. But some part of you has already mourned losing the person they want to work. And for me that had definitely happened. I mean, it was still sad, but I don’t think luckily it was quite as traumatic as it would have been if you lost a beloved member in a car wreck and it was just completely unexpected and this person was a huge part of your life and you just didn’t know how you were going to function without them because I had been functioning without him for years at this point. So he wasn’t like a daily presence in my life. I almost was more surprised at how much it did affect me. I thought I, maybe I had made more separation than I actually had, but it wasn’t as bad as, I don’t know, losing someone who was really a huge part of your life. I think for me, just, I don’t know. I think it was different for my brothers, but for me,
Childhood memories, no judgment.
One of my earliest memories is being sat down around kindergarten, maybe early first grade and being told that daddy was going to go away for awhile. He wasn’t feeling good. He was going to go get better. And they said it would be like a week or two or that he was going to go to essentially it was treatment. He was going to treatment. I didn’t know how to tell us. So because I had an older brother and a younger brother, so my younger brother was only in pre-K. Right. So they’re trying to kind of water this down a bit, you know, daddy’s going to go away. He’ll be back. Well, that didn’t work. So he ended up being gone for a year and a half and he was gone through, I guess it would have been most of my, my first grade all the way through the end of second grade for me.
Cause I come from a big Catholic family and he was gone still for my first communion, which was a big thing we did in second grade. So that’s like the one marker I have in my mind for he was gone for that, for sure. I think that was towards the end. So we were pretty young when he left in the first time when he came back, he was better for awhile, but there was always this undercurrent of uncertainty around how was everyone wasn’t really good. And I think we sensed a lot of concern as kids that we didn’t know enough about to really looking back as an adult. You’re like, Oh, I think, you know, there was financial issues and different things that they weren’t telling us. And you just, as the kid, you just sensed the concern and like the unsettling of everything, but you didn’t know what was really happening.
So when he went to treatment, that was when my mom was introduced to Alanon and for anyone who’s not familiar, it’s the family version of AA, alcoholics anonymous. So if you’re in Alanon, you don’t necessarily have a personal struggle with substances, but it means you live with or are connected to love, work with someone who does struggle with drinking. So as some people are what they call double winners, you are an alcoholic yourself and you live with an under another alcoholic. So people come from both sides, but I was never a double winner myself. I just went to Alanon. She was introduced to it when he went to treatment. And then they actually some groups in, I guess, probably bigger cities have what’s called Ella kids. And they add some of those that Ella teens and Ella teens was always a little rough for me.
I was a pretty straight-laced kid, but I did go to Alec kids when I was younger. And we started, I started when I was about seven and it was helpful to have, I think it gave that sense of sort of normalcy to a situation that felt maybe not normal and that sense of community. And one of the big tenants of Alanon and works similarly to AA as like the 12 steps and all that. But one of the main tenants of Alanon is that you share your experience, strength and hope with people going through similar things. And that’s really where I learned to believe in sharing my story, my own experience, strength and hope because there are people out there who haven’t yet found that community who feel isolated, who feel alone, who think they’re the only ones struggling. And even if you’re not struggling with exact this exact situation, you might be struggling with similar feelings surrounding a different type of situation.
And that I think there is a lot of power in sharing your experience and the strength that you found in it. And it does give people hope. And also it’s just a complete, it’s the most nonjudgmental place you will find on the entire earth. Like you can walk into an Alanon meeting and say anything and people will not judge you for it. They have seen some crazy stuff before you there’s some crazy stuff that’s going to happen after you like it doesn’t have to. There’s like it really removes that shame or stigma, which I think is powerful and is a necessary part of giving people hope. I think that’s something that churches should be doing, but like they don’t have success in that area. As often I was raised in a church. I don’t think a lot of churches, you can share your experience, strength and hope without getting a lot of negative feedback.
But Elena is powerful because people are there to really help you. And I think that’s what makes AA so successful is that you could walk into an AA meeting that you have never been to before. And you do not know a single person. And you can say, I need someone to sit up with me all night and make sure I don’t take a drink. And someone there will do it. And they don’t have to know you. They don’t have to like, you know, have anything invested. They’re not going to get anything out of it, but someone did that for them. And now they’re willing to do it for you. And that is such a powerful environment. When you aren’t the alcoholic, it’s easier to hide it because it’s not, you’re not the one who’s like having trouble showing up at work or whatever, you know, it’s just, it’s easier to compartmentalize, but that doesn’t help you heal or fix all the places of you that are being affected and do need help and where you are suffering.
So I think my story is largely one that shows that if you get the right help, you can thrive no matter what. And you can really grow from a challenge instead of being broken by it. But you do have to be willing to be really honest and to be open and to seek out the help you need to get you through it because a lot of times doing it on your own is going to be hard. There are those people out there who will help you, but you have to like show up in the meeting, like that’s doing your part, kind of get them there. So, and I’ve taken people to meetings and you know, different years, if I’ve seen them struggling, like that’s one of the things I’ll offer is like, I will go to a meeting with you. If you don’t want to go alone. If that’s intimidating, I will clear my schedule and go to a meeting and I will help you take that first step because a lot of times it’s, you know, it’s that first step that we all need help with in whatever journey we’re on or looking to start, or that companionship at the beginning can be really empowering for people,
Shame and secrets.
Yeah. I, I mean, there were definitely was some of that. I mean, we weren’t really alive. We weren’t allowed to have people over. It was very, there was kind of a secretive sense about it because my father was a physician and my mom really wanted to preserve his ability to work again. If he kind of got this fixed up and you to like keep that Avenue of coming back to medicine open and, you know, understandably, she felt like a few people that ever knew about any of this easier that was going to be. And I mean, there’s probably some truth to that. You know, it’s hard people don’t always give other people a good second chance. And I understand you know, in medicine I understand the concerns on both sides. There, there was a sense of secretiveness and I, as an adult have chosen to really actively reject that type of lifestyle for myself.
I’m very open about my story. They sort of joke and Alanon that you’re only as sick as your secrets. And I think there is a lot of truth to that, that the more you’re trying to hide or quash or keep away from people that a lot of times, there’s not a lot of freedom or empowerment in that way of living where everything feels off limits or secrets where you’re, you’re waiting for people to notice if you slip up or mention something I don’t really want to live that way. I think that there was that in my family, I think my older brother, maybe being a little bit older and more aware at the time, I think felt more of a sense of shame than I did. Probably we have the benefit of youth in that we maybe didn’t know to be as embarrassed about it as we could have been.
If we were older, you know, a pre-K or wouldn’t know to be embarrassed unless people talked about it, but I’m not sure. I think that’s partly just a personality thing too, amongst my family members. And I I’m the most naturally extroverted. So maybe in some ways it didn’t bother me as much as the more introverted members. So I think there’s always that sense of what will people think, but in the end you have to find your people. And if they don’t like you for something that happened 25 years ago, like they weren’t your people to start with [inaudible]
Compassion, consequences and conflict.
My grandmother, my father’s mother was just very upset and my dad was her youngest. So she had, you know, sort of lost her baby and that some of that anger got misdirected toward me. And she express that, you know, if I had been nicer to him and invited him to the wedding and different things that like none of us would have happened, which of course is completely illogical and not really safe. But I think a lot of that was just, she was just so angry at life that she had to direct that to someone she ended up burying three or four signs and lived to a hundred. I would not want to bury three of my four children. And my dad was the first actually, but she went on to lose two more sons and then died in a COVID unit at the very beginning of COVID.
You know, I think at the time I did feel like it was very unfair and that adults should be more adult, but you know, with more distance, I can have compassion on how much she was suffering and that I’m sure she wishes she could have prevented it or changed it or, you know, done something about it. I would not. I have a son, I would not want to bury him. I would much rather go first. So at the time I was pretty upset. I think my poor husband was overwhelmed, but everything because he was there and we kinda got thrown out and I will say one of my uncles defended us and he left with us and we went and had dinner with him because he was like, this is crazy. I was this your fault. And I appreciate that. He did that since clearly.
None of the results of alcoholism are the result of the family members. It’s a disease and diseases have consequences. I think with so many things in life, you just have to try to have as much compassion as you can muster for the struggles that other person is going through and know that so many times people really, every time people’s reaction to you or to your behavior is more about them than you. And you just kind of have to detach from it as much as you can, because it was, it was said more about where she was and not moment that anything I had done. And that’s just kind of the reality of family couple months, I think for me to feel quote unquote, back to normal, whatever that was. I mean, it been a life change. So it was like the new normal, well, like we say, in COVID the new normal, it was a new normal, it, we didn’t really go back to the same thing just in one week.
I never went back to my old apartment. I didn’t go back to my old job. Like I lost a parent. I mean, there wasn’t really a sense of quote unquote, going back to normal. It was a creating of a new normal that felt good and healthy. And I would say it wasn’t until probably the early fall that I really felt a hundred percent back to kind of my old self. But I will say that the main way that this has changed me in the same way that I think a number of other similar tragedies have in my life is that I think it can often be the impetus to really dig into the next level of self work. And self-improvement because it’s easy to kind of do that work and really look at where you are and your limiting beliefs and your mindset and all those things that are so important.
And then you kind of, at least for me, I kind of maybe hit a plateau where I worked through something and then I kind of glide along for a while and it kind of gets deprioritized by life and I’m doing other stuff. And then something will come up that really challenges where I am mentally and emotionally. And I’ll dive back into some of that work of self-improvement self-examination meditating. It can be a chance to really level up, let go of some of the stuff of the past in one way too. I will say that I don’t know, this may sound bad, but death can bring a certain closure to things. He had been very unhealthy. He’d been in and out of the hospital. He’d had a lot of, there was a lot of logistical tumultuous questions about what do we do with him? Is he safe?
You know, all these things and then, and sort of conflict in the family around. Do we agree about what to do with them? Or do we agree about who’s going to pay for this, who’s going to do this, or who’s going to visit, who’s going to check on him who is responsible, yada yada, yada. We entered a new stage where there was less conflict between my brothers and I. One of the main sources of conflict had found a certain natural resolution. I don’t mean to say like, obviously, you know, it’s better people that died in the city, but it does, it can end a certain era. They had been painful and allow people a chance to heal. And so for us, it was a chance to kind of rework our own relationships amongst the family of who are we to each other post dad and look at who we really wanted to become.
And, you know, it was like a very literal death of my old life, but also, you know, the start of a new one, there were new opportunities to be had. And I felt like I just had to lean into that. And that’s kind of been my way of operating my whole life, I think, is that when I had a setback, I really look for what’s the opportunity that I can lean into next that will move me forward and not stay stuck in the problem or what I thought I wanted or what didn’t work out. Just always looking for that, that next step, propel yourself forward. Instead of getting stuck in the past, I think it can be, if you can, instead of suppressing them like the grief or the pain, if you can kind of be open to it and work through it, it can make you better. You just can’t, you don’t want to let it kind of consume you. I think
An old soul in a little box,
I was eight going on 48 for quite a while there. And I mean, I think I developed that kind of like quote unquote old soul personality, and that has, it’s a double-edged sword, for sure. I think I have sometimes struggled with having fun in a normal way, just because I’m so cognizant of maybe the more serious side or whatever, but I never had that carefree vibe. I think of a lot of young teenagers or something. I was never reckless and carefree because I was never a carefree, but I also could encounter some things with more maturity maybe than people who hadn’t and then it just, it didn’t overwhelm me perhaps like it could have, if it was all brand new, I do think it helped. I was it kind of stages you up to stuff and you hear not everyone in, in Alanon or a movie like it has a happy ending. Some do some don’t, some people get better, some people don’t. So there’s some part of you that recognizes that this could go either way
(35:22):[Inaudible] in it to win it.
I think mainly it was just the, that I did not have to do it alone anymore, that there was someone there and they weren’t going to leave after, you know, the first challenge that he was in it to win it. And I had a team now and the team was going to be better than playing one-on-one. So it was just that, that sense of having someone there with you in a very, just quiet, steady way, he didn’t really necessarily know what to say, but he was there. I’m like the chatty one in our relationship anyway. So he was there to listen. [inaudible]
I am such a believer in the idea of seasons. It, life has seasons, the seasons come, whether you like it, or you don’t, you can’t control them. And then when you’re in a particular season, especially a bad one, it feels like it will never end, but seasons always end. They have a natural end. There will be something coming, it will change and there will be improvement. And then I think people lose hope when they get too sucked into their current season of like this grief or this time period, or, or like COVID like, it’s, you know, COVID will not last forever, you know, or things like that. Like, it is a weird season we’re in this like globally together, but it too will have an end and that you can maintain that hope for the future. When you realize that this feels in this moment, it feels impossible and overwhelming and endless, but nothing is truly impossible, overwhelming, and endless anything. There is no situation too bad to be bettered. And they see that in program in Alanon a program. And I really believe in that, like if today does feel overwhelming, just hold out, hope that tomorrow can be the start of something brighter because it’s easy to get sucked in by your today and lose sight of your tomorrow. And sometimes the tomorrow is further out than you want it to be, but it can still come the days do pass. Everything can get better.
We’ll be right back. I’m going to take a moment to tell you about a beautiful garden planner that is available through a mindful soul center. It is 220 pages of full color lists of flowers, journaling pages, calendars, and it walks you through a planning process. Now I’m not going to tell you that much more about it. Just head on over to the mindful soul center.com/a hyphen garden, hyphen planner. You’ll love it. It’ll help you to create the garden of your dreams. Now back to the podcast
I invited Jen Connie to talk with this about the impacts of having addicted parent growing up and how adult children of parents who are, or were challenged with substance use. Jennifer Kanu is a trauma focus, licensed marriage and family therapist who works with children and teenagers. With over 15 years of experience, she uses a variety of evidence-based practices for treating trauma, including EMDR, which is eye movement, desensitization, reprocessing, cognitive, behavioral therapy, and other trauma informed systems. She works with Santa Cruz County behavioral health in Northern California. So I have a question about kids specifically, who are living with their parents, addiction or substance abuse, abuse. What can involve adults in these children’s lives by involved adults? I mean, non-primary caregivers, family, and friends. What can they do to support these children and help them through their experience? I have a question about kids specifically, who are living with their parents, addiction or substance abuse.
What can have involved adults in these children’s lives by involved adults? I mean, non-primary caregivers, family, and friends. What can they do to support these youth and help them through their experience? First and foremost, it’s important that every child, regardless, whether they’re experiencing trauma or not, or have a substance abuse and parent or not has a safe, secure adult who they can talk to. That can be a family friend that can be a parent that can be an aunt or uncle other extended family member. It can be their spiritual leader, camp counselor. The critical thing is that it’s a safe adult. Who’s able to help them make meaning of their experiences and who can be present for them and their emotions for children whose parents abuse substances. This may be even more important. As Elizabeth mentioned and described in her past experiences, she grew up with some senses of secrecy and where adults didn’t talk about what was happening and there was, but there was some undercurrents and that can make it very, very difficult for children to know and learn that it is safe to talk about their feelings, talk about their experiences, talk about and work through those emotions.
And it can get very, very confusing for children when they don’t know how to do that. They just know that something feels yucky and wrong inside. How do these extended family members and involved adults, how do they know to get involved? That’s a really, really good question because sometimes it’s not obvious that somebody needs an adult involvement. They’re doing either very, very well, which is the perfect child, or they’re doing well enough to not generate any attention on themselves. So they get passing grades, good grades in school, but they’re not outstanding generate attention. They’re also not failing to get attention. They do. They do just enough. And they may be very, very quiet though. Those are the children that I see at the highest risk. So it’s very important that adults around a child try to notice if a child is, seems more withdrawn than other children, or if a child who was once more outgoing and get involved in activities or a straight a student, if their grades start declining somewhat, or if they just start losing interest in those activities.
It’s also noticed noticeable and noteworthy if, if the child limits in those things. So say that their grades were one straight A’s and they go down to F’s. So those significant changes are, are red flags. Yeah, those are definitely red flags that there that there’s something going on. And if that adult notices that it, it can be as simple. Check-In like, Hey, I see you. What is happening? You know, how are you feeling? Is everything okay? And even just offering a safe place for that child to go if they need it. So maybe getting a break at the aunt’s house, it’s a really, really safe, nurturing home where they can have some of those emotional needs met, can make all the difference in the world. It can make a tremendous difference. And it’s also a protective factor when a child has those resources that can protect them from experiencing their own substance abuse later on in life, because then they have those, those memories to draw off of and those positive experiences and those role models for healthy behaviors.
You know, these kids all grow into adults and a lot of them maybe especially the invisible or the perfect child, you know, maybe they grow up never having really dealt with the problems that hand. So what would you say to adults who survive parental substance abuse? What can they do now as adults? It’s very, it’s, it’s common for patterns that people grew up with to be learned. And we incorporate the beliefs that we’ve learned about ourselves or the things that other people have told us. Those becomes are those become our beliefs about ourselves and also our beliefs about the world around us. So if a child grows up in a family where there say the invisible child, they may develop or, or incorporate a belief such as unknown, okay. My feelings aren’t okay. It’s not okay to share my feelings. I think something else that adults grow up with is they often, oftentimes in families with substance abuse, there’s a strong correlation to mental health disorders.
And there can be a lot of maladaptive patterns and even some unhealthy boundaries. And that’s what the adult has grown up with is normal. So it can be very uncomfortable for them when they experience it, a healthy relationship with it has healthy boundaries that can feel very, very uncomfortable for them, for a person who’s grown up with something very different, right? Because it’s just out of the comfort zone and it’s not uncommon for people to sabotage those healthy relationships through unhealthy behaviors or unhealthy patterns, because that’s, again, it’s familiar, it’s comfortable as human beings, we want what’s comfortable and familiar, right. And even our bodies and really try to keep to what’s comfortable and familiar. And it can be hard to even recognize that those patterns are happening because they feel so normal. Again, it goes back to change being scary. And these protective parts know how to protect the individual and those parts aren’t able to recognize what’s safe or secure those parts of us don’t register at a safe and secure.
They register it as dangerous because it requires vulnerability to be healthy, able, safe relationship. That’s a very good point. Yeah. And then families with abuse and addiction, vulnerability is it can create some real risk for an individual. So John, what can these adult survivors of parental addiction and substance abuse do to heal from their experience? Something that I think is really, really critical. And Elizabeth spoke to this in her interview is finding a community of support. And first of all, recognizing the need for support and then seeking out the community of support, whether it’s through Alanon as Elizabeth did, or another support group for survivors, or even through ones, the spiritual community, or through ones family and friends who may have experienced similar things. It’s critical for people to realize that they’re not alone in these experiences. And though it can be a very experience that, that I really believe is one of the first steps and people heal in different ways.
Everybody has their own individual process and individual way of how they want to heal. And I don’t, and there isn’t necessarily one right. Or wrong way. And I also think it’s important to think about what is meant by healing. And what does that mean for an individual person? Does it mean forgiveness? Does it mean letting go of the past? Does it mean changing your current patterns of relationships or does it mean recovering from substance abuse yourself? So for an individual to recognize what healing means and honoring each person’s subjective, meaning of that word is very critical. So it was thinking of, of topics around forgiveness and around self compassion and compassion, and also around learning healthy boundaries and practicing healthy boundaries. And those are all very important things, but those are such loaded words. And again, they’re very, very subjective words. And again, to get to that point, to that place of setting those boundaries, setting healthy boundaries for oneself, or coming to a state of forgiveness for somebody who’s done wrongdoings one must be in a state of readiness for that and recognize that that’s a need that they have.
And, and they do it for themselves. One doesn’t set a boundary for somebody else. They set a boundary for themselves. One doesn’t forgive another for that person’s benefit. They forgive a person for themselves. Oftentimes they’re very, very correlated, right? There’s a strong correlation again, between safe boundaries, safe and healthy boundaries, forgiveness, compassion, self-compassion and healing, and also recognizing what the problems are to begin with or what the, what it is that needs to be healed to begin. And I think everybody has their own process and stages of, of experiencing healing. And it may be done at different life stages, just like many other things are done at life stages. And as, as one grows and matures and develops, they create new meaning about their past. And because as we gain more context as adults our, our meaning of a situation changes compared to when we were say teenagers or, or even when we become older adults.
Our meaning of, of our childhoods childhood experiences shifts and changes from when we were young adults and also our relationships with others change our relationships with our parents and siblings change. As we get older compared to when we were young adults compared to when you were teenagers, you’re compared to your children, what’s something you can say to these adults who are struggling and trying to figure out what to do, how to get help, where to go. Well, I think recognizing that one needs help and taking those first steps is one of the scariest things that somebody do. And it may take many attempts to just even take that first step you might stumble even in that first step. And that’s okay. I think it’s really critical that people know that they’re not alone in these experiences. There, there is somebody out there who has had not your exact experience, but a similar experience.
I couldn’t understand what you’re going exactly who can understand some of what you may have experienced or are going through now. And I would also say the change in growth and healing happens in your own time. It can’t happen for anybody else or in anybody else’s time, your own readiness. Sharon, thank you so much for coming onto the podcast today and talking with us and sharing your expertise. Thank you so much. It was an honor to be thanks so much for listening. If you liked this podcast, please leave us a review and let us know what you think love is for you sure to subscribe. So you can listen to our future podcasts.
You hear now is a mindful soul center production produced by Amy Adams. Theme music is falls every now and zen you’ll find a full list of the music and artists in the show notes. You’ll also find contact information for Jen and for Elizabeth. Thanks for listening. Visit the mindful soul center.com or go to you here now podcast.com
Jennifer Canu (Jen) is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working for Santa Cruz County Children’s Behavioral Health. She is a certified adoption-competent therapist with over 15 years experience of working with youth in foster care and who have a history of trauma. She is trained and experienced in a variety of evidence-based practices for treating trauma, including Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and in Trauma-Informed Systems. She incorporates nature, mindfulness, experiential and therapeutic play, expressive arts, and movement in her therapy practice. Jen is looking forward to opening her private mental health practice in August 2021.
Elizabeth Hambleton is a passionate and multi-faceted creative who runs her own business. She helps other female entrepreneurs bring style and beauty into their lives through branding services and personal styling. She shared her story with us in episode two of You Here Now.
Christine Boyd Miller, PhD is a writer, anthropologist, permaculturist, and mother. She received her doctorate degree in anthropology from American University. She is a regular contributor to Mindful Soul Center magazine and was a guest co-host of the first two episodes of the YOU HERE NOW podcast. An East Coast transplant, she lives in Northern California. When she's not writing or practicing yoga, she spends her time frolicking in the redwoods with her son, hula hooping, cooking, and helping her husband tend to their garden and bees.