What is a Functioning Addict or Alcoholic?

What is a Functioning Addict or Alcoholic?

We’re going to talk about functioning addicts or alcoholics. What is it? What is the impact and what are you going to do about it now? If you’re new here, I want to take a minute and say welcome home. I’m really glad you’re here. We’re dedicated to co-dependence. Understanding it. Making sense of it. It’s just a way to function in dysfunction. We talk about all things, toxic relationship recovery and dysfunction. Welcome. I’m so glad that you found me. This is a tough topic. This is such a difficult thing to understand, this functioning addiction. What the heck is that and is there even such a thing as a functioning addict?


My first experience with a functioning addict was my own relationship with my father, who was an alcoholic.  To me, what functioning meant was he went to work every day. He got up at the same time. He was a coal miner and then he worked his way up in the coal mine. You saw him progressing through work. He got up every morning at the crack of dawn, five o’clock in the morning and he worked his butt off. Hardworking man. He’d come home, soon as he got home, he’d have dinner. He cracked a beer and drink, drink, drink, and just not stop drinking until he went to bed and he drank a lot. He’d be at that point where he’s getting drunk.


You can see the writing on the wall, but he wasn’t belligerent and he wasn’t mean.  He wasn’t horrible or any of those things.  He just drank himself until he was ready to go to bed. He’d go to bed and he’d wake up the next morning at five o’clock in the morning. Seems pretty functioning and go back to work and start all over again. On the weekends, he would drink more. So that looked pretty functioning and for a while, it stayed that way. In fact, as I got older, he would still go to work every day. He was still functioning, but the drinking got worse. To the point where it was causing issues when friends would come over. It would be embarrassing or I would be mortified and not want him to be around when my friends are over, out of left field.  Not knowing what the heck he was going to say or what he was going to do.


He would fall down and hurt himself more often. He would be belligerent sometimes. He would be inappropriate other times or make inappropriate jokes and things like that. But he still got up at five o’clock in the morning and he still went to work every day. Then we’d have Christmas, he would fall into the Christmas tree or find a way to ruin Thanksgiving or embarrass me at the Mexican restaurant or embarrass the family in other ways. But he still got up at five o’clock in the morning and went to work every day.  For his whole entire life, we called him a functioning addict, a functioning alcoholic.


My second interaction with a functioning alcoholic was me.  I was the type of drinker where I was a binge drinker. I would march into the corporate office and make millions of dollars for that company. I would go home at the end of the night and whatever city I’d flown into and drink or take some Adovin to relax and drink so much that I would just checkout and forget everything. But I woke up on time and put my heels on and my suit and marched into that company and made millions of dollars and did that over and over and over again. Now mind you, it was impacting other areas of my life. I was lonely, I didn’t have any relationships, but when we think about functioning addicts or alcoholics, the last place we look for pain is in money.


We judge functioning by money. As long as somebody is working and providing for themselves or their family. We think they’re a functioning addict or alcoholic. It’s not like they’re the guy on the corner, homeless, drinking all day from sun up to sun down with nothing to his name. This is a person who’s successful. They’re functioning. That is probably the biggest crack of shit ever known to man because while it’s not showing up in our pocketbooks and that keeps us functioning.  The dysfunction shows up in areas of relationships. I know from my dad as a young kid, I would look at my father and I would think, it’s harder for a kid to make sense of a functioning addicted parent than it is for a totally checked out drunk parent that has nothing.


The degenerate parent, a total absent parent. It’s harder for a kid to make sense of a functioning alcoholic or functioning addict because they look and they say, how can my dad get it together for work but he can’t get it together for me? How can my dad make work function and put on the face around his boss and act like he’s fine, but he’s falling down and embarrassing me in front of my friends? Does he just value work more than me? Does he just save his drinking for me? That’s what you start to wonder. If you’re in a family with a functioning addict and dad’s going to work every day and he’s paying your bills and he’s taking care of your family, I’m going to tell you, your kids are still up in their room, crying, wondering why dad saves his drinking for them. That’s what they’re wondering.


Kids are affected and impacted whether the bills are paid or not. The marriage is impacted whether the rings come and the hair can get done or not. Money, shouldn’t be the last place we look to check around and see, is this an issue? Lots of addicts and alcoholics have lots and lots of money. It’s such a lie that we tell ourselves that if you’re an addict or an alcoholic, you have to be homeless and not have any teeth and you have to be able not to provide for yourself. Do you know how many addicts and alcoholics, are rich, loaded, highly successful? There’s those quotes again, highly successful. Why is it that in our country and in everywhere else and a lot of places too, we measure success on our financial ability to provide and not on the relationships and the wake of damage and destruction that we’re causing to our children, our spouses and generations to come?


In my own relationship, I was making a lot of money. Traveling around the country and being a business consultant and acting like I had it all together and behind closed doors, I was falling apart. I was drinking. I was doing things full of shame.  Not even remembering what I was doing.  In the meantime, I was creating havoc in my relationships. Making the people that loved me, worried about me, concerned about me.  My argument was, well, I’m fine. Look, I just bought a house. I just bought a car. I’m fine. Relationships that I was in, intimate relationships. Boyfriends that I was with, making them Google search is my girlfriend an alcoholic. She just binge drinks, like what’s that?


We make binge drinking okay. We think, well, as long as you don’t drink every day, you’re a functioning addict. If you can go days in between, you’re fine. I was an overachieving binge drinker. I would drink to the point of not knowing where the heck I was and I’d wake up the next day and drink a green smoothie, go to the gym and feel like I’m good now. Then a couple of days would go in between I’d binge drink, fall down, forget my own name, wake up, drink a green smoothie and go to the gym. I’m not an alcoholic, see. Can we just get rid of addict, alcoholic, functioning, not functioning, substance use disorder. Get rid of all the titles and ask yourself. Hey, can we look around and ask ourselves, what’s the fallout? Who am I impacting? Whether I want to put a label on myself or not a label. I’m not for that anyway, because I think at the end of the day, that’s what gets us in trouble.


I could argue I’m not an alcoholic because I don’t need it. I can go without it. I can take it or leave it. Meanwhile, my relationships are falling apart. That should be your barometer for whether you’re functioning or not. That’s the discussion I want to have today. What makes you a functioning person? Are you surrounded by dysfunction? If there is dysfunction in your relationships with people in any way, shape or form. Dysfunction, you are not a functioning addict or an alcoholic and I don’t care how much money you make. That’s a good barometer from now on. As a relationship person and knowing the impact of addiction on our own lives, the own self abuse we inflect, but just the abuse we inflict on other people too, with our drinking. That’s the barometer to whether you’re functioning or not.


My dad brought home a paycheck, but I’m going tell you what.  The lasting impact that he left with his drinking, from growing up in that environment, whether he brought home that money or not has taken a lifetime to undo. You got to become aware of the impact. It doesn’t matter how often or how much your relationships are impacted. People are wondering why you’re picking alcohol over them? Why you can stop, but you start again? Why you binge and black out, but then you’re going to the gym? It’s very confusing for the people that love you to understand and you’re still arguing with them, you’re not an alcoholic. Why are they fucking unhappy? Are you hurting people? I know that’s harsh.


I know my language can be really to the point, but I want you to understand, we’ve got to stop this delusion that we’re fucking functioning. Where there is dysfunction, there is no functioning. Let that be the barometer and ask yourself.  If it’s you and you say, okay, I see, all right, yep. If we’re talking relationships, then no, I am not functioning. Some people are still delusional thinking I don’t drink that much and so they’re not really that impacted that much. You don’t need to fall down fifteen times. You can fall down one and have somebody to be scared shitless once and have it be enough. You can make a jerk out of yourself at a party one time and not ten times and have that one time, leave a mark.


We don’t need to be repeatedly hurting people. Hurting people once is enough. If your drinking is causing an impact or the drinking of somebody else is causing an impact, we all need to get well. We all need to take a look around and say, okay, what can we do? So this is a plea to you to help you understand that functioning alcoholism isn’t real. Functioning addiction isn’t real. The proof is in the dysfunctional family. The proof is in the dysfunctional relationship. Show this to somebody you love. I’ll take the heat, throw me under the bus, or if it’s you and I’m making you hot, then good. That’s a good first step. Awareness is the first step. I just want to encourage you to keep taking the next step.


Over at lovecoachheidi.com we have a ton of resources for you. If you want help in your family and you need answers specifically, and you want one-on-one type of support, or you want a group setting type of support, go over to lovecoachheidi.com and check out some of our courses and programs that we have to offer. If you’re new here, welcome, this is the start of something wonderful between us. I’m really glad you’re here. If you’ve been here for a while, let’s deepen our relationship. Why don’t you all think about allowing me to come alongside of you and hear what you have to say and work with you in a deeper way? All right. I love you. Take excellent care of yourself.





Should you stay in this relationship for the kids? If you’re new here, you should know that what I do is I help people that are in highly dysfunctional situations. Not your run of the mill type of relationship stuff. I deal in the deeper issues of shit shows. What I mean by that is you’re in a relationship with an addict or an alcoholic or a narcissist or somebody equally toxic or dysfunctional. That relationship is a constant provider of confusion. Should I stay or should I go. Resentment, he should be doing, or she should be doing something other than they’re doing.


Confusion, resentment, anxiety, waiting if things are gonna get better or waiting for the other shoe to drop constantly. Never knowing if things are gonna get better or not. You’re waiting, holding your breath. Or pain, you’re sad, you’re frustrated. I know that dealing with a person like this runs the gamut of emotions much more than the ones I’ve just described. Some of you are numb. You get to that point where you are so checked out. You’re like, ugh, you know. That point of numbness is like, okay, I know that I don’t want to be in this, but I also know that I don’t want to mess up my kids.


When you’re asking that question, should I stay in this relationship for the kids? What you’re really asking is, is it going to cause more damage to leave the relationship for your kids than it causes them to stay in?  Do they deserve this? Suck it up, see it through this stable environment. Can you pretend your way through this relationship long enough so that the kids are going to come out all right and then when they reach a certain age, you can just make better decisions for yourself? You’re in the right place if that’s a question you’ve been asking yourself for a while. I definitely intend to give you some very concrete answers. Not around yes definitively, you should get out for the kids or no, you should stay in it for the kids.


But to tell you the impact that you’re having on the kids so that you can make an informed decision. I have to tell you when I worked inside of a drug and alcohol treatment center, before I really took my business primarily online. I used to do it inside of a building every day. I’d see thousands of addicts and alcoholics in that environment and worked with hundreds of their families. There’d always be one guy sitting in the auditorium where I teach hundreds of people at one time. He would say, well, you know, my drinking doesn’t really affect my kids too much. They don’t even know, you know, I do that when they go to bed and I’m thinking to myself, you gotta be crazy. Of course, I’m not going to say that, but I’m thinking your kids can tell. They know, they’re like a walking radar. They know way more than you think they do.


I’m going to start there and let you know that if there’s any delusion around your kids, knowing what’s going on, I’m going to let you know right now, your children know what is going on. The problem is they don’t know exactly what’s going on. When they’re raised in an environment where there’s secrets or drinking around or hush, hush. You just think that you’re dealing with your issues with your husband or wife, and they’re not really privy to it. They don’t know exactly what’s going on. It’s not like they’re going to go, oh yeah, mom and dad are fighting because dad’s a narcissist and he blames her for everything and gaslights her. That’s why she stays in this relationship.


They fight because he always has to be right all the time. Or, oh, I, know they’re really upset and they’re going upstairs to talk because mom thinks dad’s using again and he’s using because he’s addicted and it’s not really a choice and has nothing to do with us. They don’t have the rationale. They know what’s going on. They know either dad’s drinking or mom and dad are fighting. What they don’t know is, it has nothing to do with them. The impact that you’re having on your kids in an environment that is toxic or dysfunctional is a guarantee that they’re going to exit this dynamic, thinking something was wrong with them, period. It manifests in a lot of different ways.


When you have dysfunction or toxicity in the house, all kids are kind of self-obsessed. They think the world revolves around them. They think that everything that’s going on in the household is a reflection of them. So they adjust. They’re born into a world, free to believe that all their needs are going to be met. Their family is going to get along great. But when they look around and go, ohoh, this isn’t what I thought it was going to be. They hurry and scurry to take on a personality in order to survive the toxicity and dysfunction. One child in that dynamic will become the hero. So my guy in the audience, he was like, my kids don’t even know. I said, okay, well, how many kids do you have?


He said I have four kids and all of them are fine, except for one. I said, well, tell me about your kids. And he said, all right, well, Johnny is the football star. He is absolutely amazing. He makes straight A’s and in fact, he takes care of the stuff around the house. He’s mowing the lawn. I don’t even have to ask him. He takes care of everything and he’s great with his little brothers and sister. He just, you know, he takes care of the whole family. I mean, he is a real stand-up kid and I’m so super proud of him. He is absolutely amazing. And I said, wow, he sounds like a really great kid. Yeah. He’d never been in trouble, not once. Now, if my drinking was so bad, don’t you think that he would be mad at me or something?


I said, well, he’s not mad at you. And he said, well, no. I mean, I don’t think so. I mean, he doesn’t really want me to come to his games or anything. Cause I think I distract him a little bit and I’ll make him nervous. I said, oh, well, why do you think you make him nervous at your football games. Whoa. I mean, at one time I embarrassed him or whatever, but he just, it didn’t affect his game. He still won. And I’m thinking, okay. Please know that this is not an attempt to make fun of the addict or alcoholic or think it’s a laughing matter. What I’m trying to help you understand is this is a very common run of the mill every day thought process for an addict and alcoholic.


I could be saying it this way. I could be saying, well, no, it doesn’t affect my kids at all. Julia is in law school and Julia has never had an issue at all. I’ve never had to ask her to do a thing. She takes complete and total care of the house. In fact, she’s a big help around everything. She has lots of friends. She’s very popular and it doesn’t affect her at all. If anything she’s more successful than one would think. I could be an addict or an alcoholic and talking both ways, either I’m a high high-class alcoholic or the other. High functioning or low functioning. Either way, I’m still making up excuses for my drinking because one kid in the household, no matter what is going to take up all of the dysfunction and say, not on my watch. I’m going to be perfect. I’m going to achieve. I’m going to excel. I’m going to make up for all the crap in my family by being a high achiever and being a success story.


And what happens is the addict or alcoholic puts all of their worth and their proof that they’re not that bad on that one kid in the family that’s achieving to go look, I’m not that bad. Julia is in law school. Okay. Chad’s the football star. Can’t be that bad. Well, they’re achieving not just in spite of you, but also because of you a little bit. They’re picking up the slack for the lack of achievement, the lack of success in the family. All the success gets puts on to them and that’s an immense amount of pressure. That kid grows up to be a kid who measures all their results in life on their achievements. As long as they’re performing and succeeding, they become great but if they’re not, they don’t know who they are without their success.


In my attachment personality patterns, my latest book on codependence and how it develops, that would be called the performer or the pretender. Where they put on a mask and they act like they’re fine all the time and they power through and they climb the ladder of success, but they’re empty inside and they can’t figure out why they’re not happy. That’s that kid as an adult. That is the lasting impact of that kid when they become an adult. They don’t know how to be intimate. They don’t know how to let their hair down. They don’t know how to not be perfect. They don’t know how to share themselves fully. There’s a pretending everything’s fine. I’m successful and they don’t let you see what’s going on behind the scenes with them, ever.


They attempt to fix other people. They become fixers and helpers, but they never focus on their own stuff. They never are afraid to get vulnerable. That’s the impact. If you stay in this dynamic that you’re having on a kid like that, even if it looks like they have all their stuff together, eventually that’s the road they’re gonna take. I said, tell me about your other kids. Well my other kid is not really affected because she doesn’t even see it because she stays in her room all day long. She’s up in her room. She likes her book. She likes to play video games. She doesn’t even come downstairs really. So she can’t be that affected because she don’t even see anything. She don’t want to interact with anybody. She’s quiet. She’s shy.


I wonder how much of that is nature versus nurture? There’s one kid in the household called the lost kid that just wants to get the hell away. They don’t want to come down. They don’t want to be involved. They don’t want to have anything to do with it because they figured it’s a lost cause. Why even focus on it? They don’t want to talk about the addiction or dysfunction. They don’t want anything to do with it. They just want to disappear. The addict or alcoholic might say, well that person’s not at all. Again, I could be the other woman. I could say, just like that other high functioning addict or alcoholic. I said, well, Julia is not really affected because she’s just studying class.She’s just up in her room and she likes to read her books and she’s just very to herself. She likes to do her little art. She just has a little world up in the room that she’s created for herself. It’s really quite endearing.


No, that kids trying to escape the hell. It’s just a prettier cage. You’re living in a nicer house. That’s all that is but it’s still the same prison. That kid is not alone or that kid wants to escape and get the hell out of Dodge. That’s the kid that grows up, but doesn’t know how to open up. Doesn’t know how to relate. Doesn’t know how to be intimate. Has social anxiety and all other kinds of things or an addiction of their own because they’re escaping all the time into other realms or worlds in an attempt to disappear from it. I said, okay, well, tell me about your other kid.


Well my other kid is hilarious. I mean, he’s definitely not affected because all he does all the time constantly is crack jokes. I mean, he’s so funny. He just sits around and makes us all crack up all the time. He’s so funny. He’s not affected at all. He thinks it’s funny. He thinks my drinking is funny. He just, he’s entertaining as hell. I mean, I just sit around and drink and watch him all day with his jokes. He’s just entertaining, or oh, well I have one child that I definitely know is not impacted because they’re just, you know, they’re in their own little world. They make up these little plays. They’re, constantly entertaining everybody. and it’s really nice because it’s a little distraction from the family problems if you will. They’re over here, just really making everybody laugh and taking their minds off everything all the time.


What a blessing that child is. Well, that child is called the clown in the family and they provide the comic relief. They laugh, if they’re not laughing, they’re crying. They’ll make fun of it, often at the addict or alcoholic’s expense. They’ll create humor. It can be really cunning or sharp. If that kid grows up, they don’t know how to not make a joke of everything. They don’t know how to be serious all the time because they had to make everybody else in their family laugh. The siblings laugh to lighten the load because it was so toxic and dysfunctional. They provided that comedy relief to rescue people. A lot of people in this position become comedians, depressed comedians.


They’re making light of stuff until they walk off the stage, they’re like, damn. They only feel alive when they’re making fun of it. Otherwise they don’t know how to just be present in the moment with all their thoughts and feelings. They don’t know how to let other people have their thoughts without trying to laugh them out of it and change their state or whatever. So I said well okay, tell me about your other kid. Well, this one is the one that’s a problem. I actually probably wouldn’t drink so much if it weren’t for this kid, because all he does is get out and get in trouble all the time. He smokes weed. He’s disruptive. He gets kicked out of school all the time. He’s a handful. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with him.


We give him everything and he just, you know, doesn’t know how to behave. He’s just out fighting all the time. Oh, he makes me want to drink. Well, I have one child who is difficult. Doesn’t really know how to get along in school. I think there might even be something, you know. I haven’t had him formally diagnosed, but definitely just hyper and just rebellious and doesn’t know how to follow the rules and doesn’t know how to listen. And really, it’s exhausting you know. If it really weren’t for that child, I probably wouldn’t need to take so much Adavin. Let’s be real. That kids called a scapegoat. That’s the kid that gets all of the blame placed on them.


The alcoholic will blame the scapegoat and oftentimes the enabler will blame the scapegoat too and say, well, they drink because we have this child who is causing so much trouble all the time and I get it that he needs to escape and smoke weed because this child’s a problem child. It’s not a problem child. It’s the kid that’s most sensitive in the household and they’re acting out all the trauma while the one kid is hiding in their bedroom, playing video games. This other kid’s getting kicked out of school because they’re so full of angst. They’re so full of anxiety. They’re so full of resentment and rage and anger that they don’t know how to process it. That’s how they do it. They act out, Hey, I’m over here.


That’s a kid that grows up and doesn’t know how to get positive attention. The only time that parents pay attention to him is when he’s getting expelled or getting in trouble or getting whatever. They don’t know how to get positive attention. That’s often the kid that’s going to become the addict or alcoholic and repeat the pattern over and over again. They started as a scapegoat and they learned the only way to identify with the addict or alcoholic is to be getting in trouble so they get some kind of attention paid to them. They don’t know how to have positive attention. Here’s what you need to know. One of the core issues of every single child who grew up or you continue to have in this environment is trust issues.


They don’t know how to trust other people, trust authority, trust themselves, trust the process. Intimacy issues. They don’t know how to be vulnerable or relate.  They overshare or they’re over clinging. They’re, pretending how they really feel, or emotional regulation. They don’t know how to share their feelings. They don’t know how to talk about or, communication problems as well. They don’t know how to speak their truth. They hide things. Are secretive or they overshare. It’s like over or under. It’s very black and white when you grow up in a family like this. They have issues with self-esteem and that’s the number one way it shows up is that a kid thinks what’s wrong with them.


They adjust and try to make sense of it all. They take on this personality and they just try to cope and survive in that dynamic. Oftentimes they don’t want to make any waves and they don’t want to call it out. The hero will. The hero will often be the kid that tells you things like, why don’t you leave him? Why don’t you get out? Why don’t you exit? I don’t know why you put up with that. That’s the kid that’ll just be like, what’s the matter with you? Why are you staying? They’ll make it mean there’s something wrong with you. That you’re the problem. Not you’ll become the problem, not the alcoholic or addict or not the dysfunctional person. It’d be like, what’s wrong with you that you stay?


That kid in the family that’s pursuing his own success, can’t understand why you’re not pursuing your own success and eventually that finger’s going to turn on you and they are going to go you’re the problem. Everybody in the family is going to adjust and figure out who they need to be in order to cope and survive and then later on in life, they’re going to try to figure it out. These are the main issues. Self-esteem issues, trust issues, intimacy issues, emotional regulation issues. Codependence is the number one thing that encompasses all of those things. That’s how codependency starts. It happens in dysfunction.


These kids are born into families that are not firing on all cylinders, are not healthy. Please do not tell me that all families are unhealthy and sick and codependent. That’s what we say to justify and rationalize being unhealthy and codependent. It’s not. Be a cycle breaker. That’s not how all families operate. I promise you. I used to think the same thing when I see a normal family, like that’s not real. Something weird is going on behind the scenes there. No, they were just healthy, but I couldn’t fathom it at the time. All these kids are going to have these codependency issues. They’re born to a family that’s dysfunctional and they learn how to function in the dysfunction.


Ask yourself this question, two questions. A, if I see the impact that I’m having on these kids, and I know that staying is actually, this is what happens. I don’t know what’s going to happen when they leave. I don’t know what kind of stable environment you’re gonna provide for them if you choose to get out of this relationship. But I know if you stay in it with an unhealthy person that never gets well, this is the impact long-term that you’re having on your kids, whatever path they line up with. If you want to download that free book on personality patterns that I created the apps, go ahead over and download that free book. It will tell you which personality pattern the kids might be developing as a result of being in this dynamic.


You can get that book for totally free over at lovecoachheidi.com, just download it. That’s what I want you to consider. I want you to consider well, if this is the issue and this is how they’re going to be affected. Am I willing to subject them to this, knowing that that’s possibly going to be the outcome. The other thing that I want you to consider is asking yourself this question, if kids weren’t involved, would you stay in it? If you didn’t have kids, would you choose this person? If the answer is, no, I wouldn’t choose this person if I didn’t have kids, I’m only staying in it for the kids. Then the question I have for you is this, why would you be unwilling to subject yourself to it as a single person, but you’re willing to subject your children to it.


That’s a skewed way to look at things. Isn’t it? Why I wouldn’t take it if I was alone, but I’ll put my kids through it. That doesn’t make any sense. If you say, well, yes, I would subject myself to it if I was alone. I am considering getting out for the kids. Then I think that that’s a healthier perspective to have. Just because you can function in dysfunction and you’re a pro at it, and you can make sense of their behavior and you can know their addiction is not all about them does not mean that your children are able to have that same ability until they go through therapy or coaching and get a handle on what happened. That’s what I do all day long as I deal with people who grew up in that environment.  Who are finally seeing how it affected them, cause at the time in their childhood, they just think we’ll just survive.


They’re in survival mode. Oh, thank God. We’re surviving day to day. They can’t make sense of it until they get out and they get into relationships and they go, oh my God, I don’t know how to be intimate. I have trust issues. I have communication problems. I have self-esteem issues with my career and pulling the trigger where I’m successful here, but I can’t be successful here. Or I keep sabotaging myself and I don’t know why.  Why do I self-sabotage all the time? Or why do I blow things up? They don’t understand the impact that the growing up in that shit has until they get out. They’re like, why am I doing this? Suddenly they go, man, what’s wrong with me? What happened? Then I go back in and I go, here’s what happened.


I make sense of it for them. So you can interrupt that process by either, if you’re going to stay in it getting them therapy and support. Get them an Alateen or some kind of program where they can make sense of that behavior while they are in it, or you get them out and they can heal from it. But either way to think that you’re staying in it so the kids will be okay, is a ridiculous notion. I’ve actually had people comment and tell me, well, thank God, the addict or alcoholic. Oh, for the kids. I’m glad she stayed. Well, I’m glad you got sober and recovered, but if she would have stayed in it for the kids, when you were an alcoholic, that wouldn’t have been a benefit to them. That would have been a hindrance to that.


They would have to figure their lives out afterwards. A lot of that resentment is going to be aimed at you as well for continuing to stay in it while you see their suffering.  Their story is going to be; you pick him over them. That’s what they’re thinking. Why is my mom…? Why is my dad pick…? Especially the hero, they’re like, man, I guess she just loves him more than me. That’s what your kids are thinking. They don’t know. They are making stuff up all day long. Your behavior and their behavior means something all day long and nine times out of ten, they’re making it mean something about themselves.  Their deficiency, their inadequacy is why we’re still here.


You need to know this. I know sometimes when I speak the truth, and this is the truth, because this is research-based truth. This isn’t just my truth. This is not just what I’ve read in books and been educated in my schooling. This is my firsthand experience with the children that I’ve helped in the family program. We actually have a family program that’s online with a support group component that the whole family can go through together. Once one person goes purchases the program, the whole family can have access to it. You can come into the support group that we have for it. Go over to revolutionaryfamilyprogram.com and get that program. It is nominally priced so everybody can have it.


I’ll get an email that you signed up and then I’ll send you an email about how to join the support group. Let’s get everybody healing in the right direction. I’ve had kids as young as seven years old inside of my family program. I’ll never forget it. This little kid, we were inside of a group processing on Sunday. I used to do this live weekend instead of online. They were debating if they want him to come to the family program. I said, well, he’s affected somehow. He knows. So let’s have a minute and then we’ll decipher what’s appropriate and inappropriate when he’s in there. During the group, it had been shown to me that he knew a lot more than the parents thought he did.  He said, you know, when I found my dad passed out, it really scared me. I thought he was dead and he had overdosed.


This is what the seven-year-old said. This is the language he used. My dad had overdosed and I was so scared, but I didn’t understand why my mom kept letting him stay there. That’s what the seven-year-old is thinking. They’re not thinking, oh he’s got a problem. Yeah. She’s attached to him. She doesn’t want to leave cause she’s scared she can’t take care of us. His thing is, why is she allowing me to be waking up to this? That was his perspective. Some of you I know are reading this and tears are coming down and I feel your tears right now. Whoever’s doing that. I feel it.  I understand and I’ll tell you what that is. That is a loving correction. That is a loving, you’re being convicted because you know that you’re being called to look deeper at what’s happening here and it’s okay.


Those tears, I know sometimes some of us have had correction that was not loving. We’ve heard things about ourselves that were hard to hear and you’re here. If you made it this far. Here’s what I know for sure. You’re ready to hear this. If you were not ready to hear this, you would not still be here. So let’s say what’s next. Now being convicted. Now I feel it. I feel what Heidi is saying. I know my children have asked me that question before. Why are you staying? What are you doing? We see, what is this? What the fuck is this? Now, what are we going to do? I want you to go to revolutionaryfamilyprogram.com and I want you to get your hands on that program that explains addiction.  Explains enabling.  Explains all these family roles.  Explains how to help them. What’s helping? What’s hurting? What to do with their relapse? If they don’t relapse, how to get them into programs?


Everything you ever need to know is in this program. It’s broken down into modules.  Bite-sized pieces of information. So get it. It’s going to benefit you and the whole family. Even if it’s a high class alcoholic, which there is no such thing. A high class addict, there is just cocaine. You guys have plenty of money and everybody’s buying all sort of… To think that your children do not see mom passed out with Xanax or think dad is not like hyperactive and acting weird and speeding around even though there’s money and there’s food on the table and everybody has stuff. That’s a kid that still feels like, well, they gave me the financial stuff and they supported me.


But emotionally and psychologically, they abandoned me and weren’t there because they were high. That’s going to be their story. You gave him the stuff, but you weren’t home. The parent gave the stuff, but they weren’t home. They were checked out. They were focused on other things. They were always fighting and we didn’t matter. The other kids going to say we weren’t provided for emotionally, financially, physically. All ways. What’s better? It’s all trauma drama waiting to be unfolded in the office of a therapist or a coach down the road. Let’s break that cycle. Let’s find a way to do the work that’s needed to do. Even if you’re going to stay, that you could sit with your children and at least in a nighttime conversation go, I know I’ve heard.


You might be thinking this. Is this true? Are you wondering why I stay? Can I communicate with you what I’ve learned? Can I tell you that you don’t always have to be achieving and succeeding to be loved? Can I tell you, you don’t have to take care of your siblings, that’s my job? Can I tell you, I see you up in your room hiding?  Can I sit with you while you play your video games? I love you. Let’s give a good first step. Go ahead and get that program over at revolutionaryfamilyprogram.com. It’s a standalone program. If you want to upgrade to come into that group, that’s also affordable monthly membership. We can be within a support system month after month asking your questions. Every Wednesday night at 7:00 PM Eastern time. I have a group that runs that you come in and we hash it out. I love you. Take excellent care of yourself. And I will see you inside my group.


How to Set Boundaries With a Toxic Mother

How to Set Boundaries With a Toxic Mother

If you have a relationship with a toxic mom, you know exactly how painful that is. Especially when we have society telling us how we are supposed to deal with our mom. Oh, well, that’s your mom. Oh my God. You’re not talking to your mom. Well, you’re thinking about not talking to your mother. You only have one mother. Oh my gosh, that must be so hurtful to her. You get the opinions of other people around you and how we are portrayed as mothers. Mothers are portrayed in this society that; how dare you actually think about taking a stand. What’s wrong with you? Maybe you’re the problem? Maybe you’re the toxic one. Maybe you’re the narcissist.


In fact, your mom might have even said that to you in a moment where she was feeling like you were taking control of your life and it was all about you and not about her anymore, that she projected that image onto you. I can’t tell you how many students and clients I have, walk into my programs and tell me and wonder, am I the fucked up one? Am I toxic? Am I a narcissist? Very rarely does a narcissist come into a coaching program and wonder if they’re the narcissist. They’re not coming into coaching programs, number one and they’re certainly not asking that question, number two.


It can be really confusing. Is my mom toxic? Is this normal? Is this even dysfunctional? Do I have a right not to wanna talk to her anymore? How do I say this so everybody’s okay? How do I deal with my siblings’ opinions around this? Do I have a relationship still with my father if he’s still alive? How do I navigate the dynamics? If you’re here, I’m gonna guess that it’s gotten bad enough where you wanna know how to put down some boundaries around this situation so that you can have your peace back. It’s excruciating. I don’t think there’s a relationship that’s more painful when you don’t have the approval or love or feel like you have a close connection with your mom. The kind that you envision that you should have, especially if you have your own children.


You have a barometer of how that bond is supposed to be. It could be really painful when you’re looking at your relationship with your mom and thinking that’s far from what I have. You could have been in and out trying multiple times throughout the years to try to navigate this relationship and you just find over and over, you continually get hurt or rejected or any number of the ways that the flavor, the toxic flavor that your mom is doing with you in this dynamic. I want to clarify first, because if you are in a relationship with a toxic mom, you might be thinking to yourself, is this even really that bad? You’ve heard other stories where people have been abused by their mom or their moms have been really violent and maybe your mom’s not kind of like that.


You’re like, well, is it really toxic? I’m going to go through with you. You might be wondering, is this toxic?It’s not overly abusive. If it is overly abusive by all means you definitely need to be here too, to set a boundary. But some of the other things that are less, like she’s hitting you or swear, verbally annihilating you. Some of these other ways that you still know it’s toxic, I’m going to walk through. I think it’s good to have that confirmation. I know it makes you crazy wondering. It’s really good to have that level of validation. Does somebody come alongside of you and go no, that’s not okay?


Especially if you have a toxic mom where you verbalize to her, Hey, what you’re doing or how you’re behaving is not okay and she straight out gaslight you and said you’re crazy. This is how all families are. All mothers behave this way. Nobody treats me like you treat me. Why I bet you their daughters don’t act like you do. You’re the one with all the problems and you’re the reason she’s acting that way. Let me clarify a couple things. One of the first ways you know that your relationship with your mom is toxic is that you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells. You feel like you’re on a trip wire and you never know what’s going to set her off. A lot of toxic moms have a zero to sixty, just like this.


They have a rage thing they go into and you never know. One minute you’re having fun and then the next minute you said the wrong thing, or you did the wrong thing and you set her off. Now look, do we all have the potential to have a bad temper? Can we all get really angered? There’s a big difference between somebody who every now and again is having a bad day and erupts and then comes back immediately and says, I’m so sorry. But this type of person, when they’re toxic and they’re blowing up at you and they’re going from zero to sixty. They’ll look straight at you and say, it’s all your fault I’m behaving this way. If you didn’t do what you did, I wouldn’t have acted this way towards you and again, that’s gas lighting.


That’s taking their abusive behavior and blaming you for them acting the way that they’re acting and they’re trying to justify, rationalize their own behavior through you as the scapegoat. If you’re constantly walking on eggshells and you feel like you can’t be yourself, that’s an indicator that this is a toxic situation. That is a toxic mom. Mothers have an idea of how they want their daughters to be. When any child is born, they have an idea, oh, I have such hopes for her. I want her to be this way or wouldn’t it be great. There’s a big, big difference between that, a normal, healthy, prayer request that your kid’s gonna turn out okay and feeling like she’s a constant disappointment to you and vocalizing that to you. Oh, you’re constantly disappointing me.


You feel like you can never do anything right. That comes in with the kind of toxic mom that has a lot of judgment. It’s one thing to have discernment. Well, honey, this doesn’t sound as right for you as this. Cuz I’m listening to what you’re saying to me and this path doesn’t seem to align with what you really want. I’m making a judgment there, but I’m making a wise judgment based upon the discernment of all the moving pieces. Versus I can’t believe you did that. I would never do something like that. Why would you think that? Why would you behave that way? What’s the matter with you that you think that that’s okay? That’s the kind of judgment that I’m talking about that has this tone of condemnation, constant criticism over you.


You might be afraid to share things with your toxic mom.  You’re afraid to say anything to her because you know, it’s gonna be criticized. Well, you shouldn’t have done it that way. If you have a letdown with her and you’re afraid to… Now there’s a difference some moms would just say, Hey, I’ve been hurt. I have these women I’m dealing with. They’re judging me and they’re acting terrible and healthy mom might say, well, honey I could have told you those women weren’t, you know. Come on, come over here. What do you need to feel better? Versus, well you fall for it every time because you just don’t think. You just don’t use your brain. What’s the matter with you? I told you a long time ago. What did you do to make them not like you? You see the difference here.


I’m spending a lot of time going over this with you because it’s very helpful to hear from another living, breathing, human being. Oh yeah. That’s kind of fucked up. We don’t know. We lose our sense of what’s normal and what’s okay. Especially if you’ve been subjected to this kind of stuff your whole entire life. To any degree. You’re going to ask yourself, well, yeah, that doesn’t seem normal. That’s why I’m making that delineation. That distinction. This seems like this is kind of normal and this is above and beyond. Toxic land, dysfunction train ‘toot toot’. Another thing is control. Can people be controlling? Yeah. There are lots. I can be controlling. All right. Well, I, don’t want you to do this cuz you might hurt yourself and let me try to orchestrate this so it works out perfectly.


There’s a big difference between that and I’m not going to let you do anything. I’m going to control every single aspect of your life. Who you talk to. Where you go. We’ve all had situations if you grew up with a toxic mom. Likely you had a toxic man at some point in your life too, that was very controlling as well and it originated there. Just constantly trying to control every single situation. Want to know everything about your life. Want be involved in every single aspect of your life and not trusting your own judgment. Not allowing you to make your own decisions and then when you do make your own decisions, judging those decisions, very harshly.


Criticizing you and saying that was the wrong decision. You shouldn’t have made that decision. Even if there’s fallout from your decision and it wasn’t the best decision for you. A non-toxic person, a healthy person doesn’t say told you so dipshit. They don’t say, yeah, you shouldn’t have done that. No, a healthy person says, I’m so sorry it didn’t work out for you. They’re not gonna pour salt in the wound. That’s already there. Any kind of victim playing is extremely toxic. That’s the gaslighting where you can be hurt about something and they’ll say, well, you shouldn’t be hurt about that and I only said that or did that because you did that thing.


If you confront your mom and you say, you know, mom, I don’t like the way that you’re talking to me. I don’t like always walking on eggshells. I don’t like having to be constantly filtering everything I say, because I’m afraid it’s going to be judged or criticized. I just wanna be able to share with you. Now a healthy person’s going to be hurt by that probably. Nobody wants to hear anything about themselves. She might say, well, that’s hurtful, but I’m gonna take it in. I’m gonna take a look at it. People can do these things and still be healthy people. People can overreact and criticize and be judgmental, because we’re human beings. We can do that thing.


Here’s the difference. When I say that to a toxic person, I say, “hey, you’ve got this behavior. This is bothering me. This is hurtful to me. A toxic person, a toxic mom will then say something like, oh, that’s right. Oh I guess it must be so nice to have a perfect mother out there. I guess, you know, everybody’s dysfunctional in some way. I guess I can’t do anything right. You’re right. I’m a terrible mother. I’m the worst mother in the world. Oh, woe is me. There’s no responsibility there. That’s total victim mentality.  Blaming you for bringing something up. Well, oh, I’m so terrible. I know.


A grownup, a mature, healthy person is going to say, you know, I don’t like to hear that. I certainly don’t like to hear that. That’s hurtful. I don’t want to be that way. I don’t like that. I don’t even see that. I don’t even see that about me. But if you see it, I’m going to respect that and I’m going to work at it and I’m going to be aware of it. That’s a healthy response, not, oh, I can’t do anything right. And then you’re afraid to take your criticism or your opinions. You’re afraid to voice them because the reaction that’s going to come out of that is going to be this big blow up. Or if you criticize those anger, how dare you say something to me about the way that I am. Do you know what I went through for you? Do you know who the only person ever is there for you? I took care of you. You only remember the bad stuff. You never remember the good. How dare you have an opinion of me after everything I’ve been through for you.


People can have done a lot for you and you can still have an opinion that the way they treat you is not okay. They could be paying your bills. They could be buying. Hallelujah, I know somebody just said, amen. I said it to too. Amen. Somebody can actually be taking care of you and still be a dick. Somebody can actually be helping you and still be an asshole. They don’t have to be so bad that it’s like everything’s falling apart. This is where your guilt comes in. Where you feel guilty for even bringing anything up. In a healthy relationship, you don’t feel guilty for saying, yeah, you’re an amazing human and this doesn’t work for me. This is not okay with me.


A healthy person’s going to say, okay, I don’t like that, but I’ll work on it. A toxic person is gonna say, how dare you? How dare you have an opinion of me, that something’s fucked up. You see the difference there. There’s a big, big difference there. There’s so much more, another thing that toxic people do is when you’re not giving them what they want, they withhold or they reject or abandon. We can all be guilty in this. Especially women, in our relationships, when our needs aren’t met. We naturally do not want to be in one way. Intimacy is a way this shows up.


We all have that potential to pull back a little intimately when we’re not getting our needs met emotionally. We feel like, okay, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about when you make a mistake or do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing and they totally say you’re dead to me. I reject you. I abandon you. You’re outta here. I don’t want anything to do with you. You’re no daughter of mine. You’re no son of mine. No son of mine would behave that way. How dare you behave that way? I wish I had a different son. That’s toxic and not okay. But if you’re guilty about that, because they did take care of you or they did do some good in your life. You’ll be thinking, man, am I a dick for acting this way? Should I be a better son? What is a good son? Being good sons and good daughters is what signs us up for perpetual abuse in these toxic mother, daughter, mother, son dynamics.


There comes a point where you get to say I’m not okay. The first thing, the first step in setting a boundary with a toxic mom is deciding what it is that you want. What kind of life do you want moving forward? Many of my students and clients, when their mother calls and they pick up the phone before they even pick it up, their anxiety starts. They start to like, oh, they get a pit in their stomach. Oh God, it’s her again. Fuck, what are we gonna talk about? What are we gonna say? She’s gonna judge. What can I tell her? What can I not tell her? The anxiety already starts for them.


A healthy relationship, when your mom calls, you might be annoyed. You might be in the middle of something. You might be like, God, I just talked to you like five minutes ago, but you love your mom. You’re like, hi mom.  Hey, I’m busy right now. Can I call you back? Anxiety and trauma response doesn’t come up in a healthy dynamic. That level of anxiety is like, oh shit, you shouldn’t feel that way when your mom calls. If you do feel that way, then that’s a big red flag to you. Decide what is it that you want? What kind of a relationship do you want? Many of you are going to say that is my mom. I want some kind of a relationship with her, but I don’t want the other stuff with it.


That’s like kind of saying, I want McDonald’s without the calories. It is what it is. I don’t know how much you’re going to be able to suss it out. I know with my alcoholic father, I wanted him around, but not when he was drunk. So obviously that was kind of hard to do.  He was drunk a lot because he was an alcoholic. But I would get sober moments and then when he would start to drink, I would leave. So that was how I set the boundary with him. The boundary went like, hey dad, I love you. I wanna spend time with you. I wanna be around you. But when you drink, it makes me really anxious and uncomfortable and it makes me upset. So when you start to drink. Not, so if you drink, I’m not. No. So when you drink, I am going to leave. I love you. I just wanna have a sober connection with you and then guess what? When he would start to drink, I would leave and then I wouldn’t get upset that he chose drinking over me because alcoholics don’t choose drinking over you. They choose to drink cause that’s the drink. They need to drink.


You can do that with a toxic parent. You just have to expect it. It’s gonna rain and McDonald’s is McDonald’s. What I’m saying is you could say, I’ll be around my toxic mom but as soon as she’s toxic, I’m gonna go. You’re gonna be going a lot. I wanna talk to my mom until she is toxic and then when she’s toxic, I’m gonna hang up the phone. You’re gonna be hanging up a lot. All right. Hey mom, I’m loving to talk to you, but you know what? Right now I feel like I’m criticized and I feel like I don’t wanna. I’m feeling criticized and feeling judgment may or may not be your intention. However, that’s the way I’m feeling. She doesn’t need to agree with you. Well, I’m not doing that. You think that I’m judging you and criticizing you. I’m not doing that. Mom, I get that’s not your intention. I’m feeling that way. So when I feel that way, that’s my cue to go on and take care of myself. So if I continue to feel this way, I’m gonna go ahead and hang up the phone and we can talk again another day.


You’re totally owning it. She’s gonna continue on. How many times are you gonna have to do that? Hey mom. Right now I’m feeling like the way you’re speaking to me is not okay with me because it’s triggering me up. I’m feeling anxious. I’m feeling hurt. And I don’t wanna feel that way. I wanna feel peace. And so if you continue to speak to me that way I’m gonna hang up. She continues to do it. What are you talking about? This is so, oh God, what are you like a psychoanalyst? What did you listen to Oprah? You’re watching Dr. Phil. You’re gonna start to do her thing and you’re gonna go, exactly, I’m gonna go ahead and hang up now. I love you. Goodbye. How many times are you gonna have to do that? 500,000,222. A lot of times.


If you decide to have her in your life, you have to understand. You’re signing up. You’re going in now as a willing participant. This looks scary. Eyes wide open. You’re going in eyes wide open. You don’t get to go in and complain when she does her toxic thing. You don’t get to say, how is she so toxic? Oh my God. Why does a dog bark? Fuck. Why does a hotdog taste like a hotdog? It’s a toxic person cause it’s a toxic person. So now you have going eyes wide open. You go, ah, a toxic person to be expected. She’s acting toxic. What do I need to do now? Ding, ding, ding leave. And you leave. Guess what happens, as soon as you start to say stuff like this, hey mom you’re acting, you know, the way you’re talking to me is not okay with me. It’s hurtful. I feel judged. I’m going to remove myself from this conversation.


What do you think’s gonna happen? Oh my God. Wow. How smart of you? You’re really healthy. You’ve really grown a lot. Teach me your ways Yoda. You’re gonna get, who the fuck do you think you are? What is this? What is that? They’re not gonna agree. You cannot set a boundary with a toxic mom and expect her to go. I like that. That is good for you, honey. You’re in your power. She doesn’t want you in your power. She wants to snuff it out. She doesn’t wanna ignite your self-esteem. She wants to kill it. Maybe she doesn’t want to kill it, but she does. I don’t care if there’s intent or not. I know there’s a difference between manslaughter and murder intent. Doesn’t matter. We still dead. We still dead.


Toxic moms are death by a thousand cuts. It’s like, Ooh, ouch, fuck here. Oh, should do it again. Oh God. How many cuts do you wanna get? I don’t know. It’s up to you. The first thing you have to do is really decide what it is you want. Then you gotta get the language around it to be able to articulate to her as kind of role playing that out a little bit with you. And then by God, you gotta pull that trigger 552,000 trillion billion times and keep doing it until the dance is done. Until we part ways. If you decide, I’ve set the boundary. And you know what, a little toxic is too much. It’s just like a little cyanide. I don’t have a taste for it anymore. It’s just not in my wheelhouse. The flavors. Okay. I’ve outgrown the tastes for cyanide. I do not want contact. You better talk to your mom. You don’t know how long she has left. And that’s when you have to detach from other people’s opinions about what you’re supposed to do.


Moms do this with their kids all day long too. Children that are killing themselves with addiction and don’t know how to help them anymore and their kids are really dangerous and they have to put them out of the house, help the other children be okay. There are tough decisions that we make all the time in our families to have to go no contact for whatever reason. Because it’s not safe. In your case, if you’re not feeling safe from your mom, from this toxic dynamic and you make the decision to go away and stay away, then it’s about maintenance. It’s about maintaining no contact when it’s tough. You can miss somebody and love somebody and still not wanna be with them at the same time.


We call that complex grief in the therapy world. Complex grief is whenever you have these multifaceted feelings around this. You love her and you’re angry at her at the same time. You wish you had a mom. You’re resentful you didn’t have it and you’re working through that kind of resentment and hurt and you feel longing and a missing at the same time. You feel a gratitude for the love that she gave you at certain times. You remember this time when she hugged you and man, you felt that and she told you she loved you or she did whatever and you’re feeling so good about it. You feel so nostalgic and then you remember when she banged your head into the wall. You’re like, ah, you’re like a game of ping pong in your head and that’s why you need support.


This is a complex situation, but I’m gonna tell you something. This is where I say support. This is where I say to you, you are picking up when I’m laying down. You are smelling when I’m stepping in. We are sisters on a path. Let me come alongside you and support you as somebody who’s walked through it all the ways. All the ways that I just talked about, all the ways. Let me try to do this. Let me set the boundary. Lemme go into a contact. All the ways and healing, continually healing. I’m teaching from the scars and not open wounds. Two years ago, flesh wound, gaping flesh wound, blood spurting out. Would never talk about this. To this degree, with this amount of certainty. Now here we are, scars it would have helped. It would be a Sherpa, guiding you through the valley.


I wanna come alongside you. That’s what my programs do. That’s what life school is. Life school is the place where you come learn everything you need to know, but nobody ever taught you about dealing in shit shows. Dealing in people. Dealing in codependence. Dealing in people’s stuff and how to set your boundaries. How to root down in your power and find your truth. Be you and do all the things that you set out to do but didn’t feel allowed to. Didn’t have the permission to. Didn’t have the fanning of your flame. Let me come fan your flames for a while and figure out who you really are and root down in yourself.


Life school is where we do that. If you want to learn more about it, go to lovecoachheidi.com and learn more there. Send me a private message. But this is what we do. We make a decision, how we want to be in this dynamic and then we find the way to do it. I’ll give you the steps. We practice the role play. You learn real time. What she says, here’s what to say back. You send me the text. I know exactly how to… We process it in group with other women going through the same thing and then once you make this move, here’s the magic that happens. You know how you’re confident in most things, but you don’t have self-esteem in other areas. Your relationship suck, but your work is good or your relationship’s good, but you’re not making enough money.


You have this self-sabotage button and you can’t figure out. Do you know this is where this comes from? Is this early relationship. I have to tell you something. Once you rectify this wounding and you really come to terms with this. I have processes to do it. I’ve invented processes to help you. It’s not just like, let it go, let it go. I am whole and healthy. I am love. I am. No, no, no, no. That’s not how that works. You’ve gotta do the work. Gotta get in there. Get some processes rolling so that you can be fully healed. I’m gonna tell you what happens when you do. Wow, you become unleashed. You become all of you and guess what? Nobody can tell you nothing unless it’s helpful. And we wanna be humble. We wanna take in feedback where it applies to us. Nobody can knock you off your axis again. Nobody can make you fall to pieces like she could where you’re feeling good and then the phone rings. Fuck.


I love you. I wanna help you walk through this. Go over to lovecoachheidi.com and send me a private message. Schedule a complimentary consultation and let’s get to work.


How Their Addiction Creates Trauma for You

How Their Addiction Creates Trauma for You

Today we’re going to talk about a topic that I think is so important. Probably one of the most important things that we can talk about.  Because it’s one of the things that nobody really understands or is even aware of and that is what is the impact of somebody else’s addiction on you? What’s the trauma left behind?  Make no mistake being in a relationship with somebody who is addicted is like being in a war without weapons.  What ends up happening even when the war ends and it’s over, they get treatment, they get better or something changes, you are still left with wounds.  Shrapnel that has gone into your body.  If we don’t understand the shrapnel, if we do not identify the impact of that addiction on our lives or the lives of our children, we are doomed to keep repeating those patterns for generations to come.

It’s our goal here to end those toxic dysfunctional cycles for good and help you get your power back so that you can live a life on your terms.  We want to heal the psychological impact, where you’re constantly ruminating and strategizing and overthinking everything. We want to heal the emotional impact, where you have trouble emoting period, or expressing yourself or communicating how you’re feeling.  We want to heal that so that again, you can live the life that you’re meant to live.  That we’re all here to live which is to be happy, whole, fulfilled human beings. So start the wheels turning in your mind. What do you think the impact has been on you? There’s so much help for addicts and alcoholics. 

I used to be one of those that just dedicated my life primarily to helping addicts and alcoholics and I loved it. I loved being able to make a difference in their lives and seeing them heal and it’s such important work to be able to do that. What I started to notice in the decade that I was just working with addicts and alcoholics was that their families were getting lost in the mix and here’s why it’s really important to heal. If somebody still left with all that anger or sadness or resentment or misunderstanding, and the addict or alcoholic gets better, and goes back into that family dynamic. It’s like putting a clean dish back in a dirty dishwasher. It has an impact. The family is like an immune system for a recovering alcoholic or addict.  Everybody needs to be well and healthy in order for that organism to function at its best. 

If you have children, this is especially important today, so that you can understand the impact.  There are many great books, Adult Children of Alcoholics.  The series by Janet Woititz and her work that was started in the ACOA. There is a website ACOA. NACoA is the founding establishment that talks about the impact of addiction. There are lots of great resources and I’m literally just scratching the surface of how addiction impacts us. It is much wider, broader, deeper. It’s my attempt to not oversimplify the impact, but present it to you in a way that makes it digestible for you so that you can start to build the awareness. Without awareness there’s no healing. We’re going to start with an easy acronym. A way to understand the common character traits that we all have. If you go to other websites like NACoA, or if you search on ACOA, what you’re going to find is a laundry list, it’s called of different ways we’re impacted. 

I’m not saying this to you so that you can be like, “Oh my God, I have all this stuff wrong with me. Great, great. Now I’m like permanently scarred and wounded.” I’m not telling you this so that you can feel disempowered. I’m telling you that so you can feel empowered because many of us are impacted and on an autopilot. This is showing up in our relationships with other people, in our work and our ability to make things happen and we don’t really always connect the dots. Oh my God. This is the shrapnel. This is the fallout of that experience. It’s not me. It’s something that I have to heal. It’s not just how I’m wired. It’s actually a part of my conditioning, being subjected to that behavior of somebody else over and over and over again.

I have a great little acronym that I use that you can follow along with me and make your own notes about how this may have impacted you in a specific way underneath of the blanket area that I’m going to write about. The acronym is CISTER and I called these the deep six. The CISTER, it’s a CISTER with a C because we have brother, cousins that are on this journey with us too. The CISTER acronym, the deep six are the six ways that we continually self-sabotage as a direct result of prolonged exposure to somebody else’s addiction. It’s a form of codependence and codependence is just a way to function in dysfunction. We pick on this way of being, these traits and then we move into how to function. Let’s dive into them. 

The first piece of shrapnel that’s left by an addict or an alcoholic is Control Issues.  This can show up many, many ways for us. It’s usually in black or white because we are black or white people. That’s one of the traits, we operate in extremes. It’s either all or nothing. As you can imagine, Control Issues run the gamut. They can run the spectrum all the way. You’re extremely rigid. You’re inflexible. You do not seek the input of other people. You are the only person that you know you can rely on. It’s your way or the highway. You allow for no other people to come in and offer their perspective or opinion because you know things could go wrong if you’re not in control. Or you are out of control, you’re addicted to chaos. You have no sense of stability in your life at all whatsoever. 

Do you see how wide of a spectrum this control issue can be?  The middle is the healthy person where we know what we can control.  We control that and we let go of everything else. But the person that’s over here on this spectrum addicted to chaos believes that they have no control over anything and this comes from a victim mentality. It can, but the person who’s addicted to chaos finds themselves seeking relationships with other addicts or alcoholics, even though they grew up with it, or they just got out of one.  They keep finding the same kind of relationships over and over again. The person over here that’s very controlling and rigid has a hard time even letting anybody in at all whatsoever. They don’t want to be vulnerable. They need to appear like they have it together at all times. Ask yourself, where could you be on that spectrum and how are control issues showing up for you?

The second way that this impacts us is in our identity. We think we just are who we are. Well, that’s just how I am. I’m just born that way. That’s just is what it is. In fact, I remember I was in a woman’s group one time, and this one girl said to me “You know I’d like to be more vulnerable. You know, I’d like to be able to like, let my guard down. I’d like, you know, but this is just the way I am. This is like, take it or leave it. I mean, I’m just, you cannot penetrate me. You cannot, you know,” and she was just like Sue. She was very sweet on the inside. You could tell, but she had this really super tough exterior. Like this is just the way I am and I’ll never forget it. I made a birth canal out of the chairs that were inside the women’s group and I literally got down on my hands and knees and pretended to climb through that birth canal and struggled my way through and acted like I was inside of there and then I came out, I was birthed. I looked around and I was like, “waah, mother fucking waah.” 

Is that how you came into the world? You think you were born with this tough exterior.  Everybody was laughing, of course, but the point is we’re born just open and trusting and free and really with no kind of personality. Just endless possibility.  We survey the land and look around at the people in our lives and figure out how to function. Even if you had a perfect relationship in your childhood, nobody did by the way. When you have prolonged exposure to an addict or an alcoholic, you adapt a personality in order to function in that environment. Whether it’s your hard core and nothing gets to you and nothing bothers you and you’re Alcatraz. Or you’re the pleaser running around, making sure that everybody is okay all the time and trying to protect everybody, or you’re the fixer.

I actually have eight different personalities that I’ve identified as a result of being with an addict or an alcoholic or another wise toxic person. You can download that free e-book over at lovecoachheidi.com and you’ll find the eight different personalities. That’s a great place to start. Not only can you identify your personality, you can identify the personalities of your children and see how this has maybe impacted them. How are they behaving? Awareness is the first step. The kid that you just think that’s how they are. They’re up in their room all the time and isolative.  They watch their video games and they don’t want anything to do with a family. That’s not a kid who necessarily was born that way. That’s a kid who learned my needs don’t matter. I’m going to be a withholder and I need to keep to myself and mind my business and not get involved.  Then that way I don’t get hurt because what I think doesn’t matter anyway. 

If you think that this kid is just naturally helpful and wants to help everybody all the time and save things and make sure everybody’s okay. Likely that’s a kid who was trained into that behavior and learned very early on when I’m the fixer and I’m the achiever or the performer. I’m the one who, as long as I’m doing well and I’m successful, then I can take some of the heat off of the addict or alcoholic, turn into who they need to turn into. Awareness is really important. You need to know who you’ve become in order to function in the dysfunction. So that you can learn who you’re not any more. Who you’re unwilling to be.  Excavate the real you that’s underneath of this coping mechanism behavior, the adaptive personality that you took on in order to function in the dysfunction.

Yes, hopefully this is making some sense. Let’s go to the S in our acronym of CISTER. This is Self-Esteem Issues. This is huge because we can think being I’m so confident. I know I’ve overcome a lot.  Likely you are a survivor. You are tough person, but what you find yourself asking is how can I be so smart yet so stupid in other areas? How can I have success over here, but be failing over here? How can I see right through people, except when it comes to my own life and I keep getting taken advantage of, or blindsided by other people that I care about? How do I allow myself to keep getting hurt? How can I have such bright ideas and start things, but not finish them and see them through? How come I don’t care about what most people think, except that one opinion that totally crushes my soul and knocks me off my axis?

It’s because when you’re in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic, or you grew up in that dynamic, it creates self-esteem issues. All of your focus and attention is on that person and believe it or not, whether you want to think this is true or not, there is a piece of you that equates you to the reason that they’re using or drinking. Whether you’re a child or a wife, you think on the inside, deep down, if you could just be a little better, or they just saw your value, that they would quit. That directly impacts you and lasts a lifetime as far as your belief that you are enough. Those self-esteem issues are apparent, and maybe how much money you allow yourself to make, or the jobs that you hold, or the amount of work that you take on when you feel like it’s never enough. Not enough shows up in many ways.

It’s not enough. I have to do more, more, more. There’s not enough. You have a lack mentality, somewhere, a scarcity mindset. You’re not enough. You are always scrutinizing everybody else and have perfectionistic kind of standard. Or I’m not enough and this is the worst thing where you find that no matter what you always feel at the end of the day, like you’re just waiting to be found out like imposter syndrome. There’s a fraud going on underneath. That’s impact. That’s shrapnel. That’s not just you. That’s the shrapnel and you have to sit with somebody who’s an expert at understanding how to excavate shrapnel. That’s what I do. Once you identify the shrapnel you have, it’s not enough. Awareness isn’t enough. You need to now actually extricate the shrapnel and sit with somebody who’s qualified like myself to help you do that.

To help you undo that programming, that subconscious programming that got put in there. The T in CISTER is trust issues. All by the way, self-esteem could go either spectrum. I’m the best in the world and nobody else is measuring up that perfectionism, that kind of standard, or I’m not enough. All these things run the gamut. Trust issues run that gambit too of all or nothing thinking. You over trust and you trust the wrong people. You trust everybody and you get blindsided. You overshare, you tell too much stuff or you trust no one and you lock her down. You don’t trust anybody, or you don’t trust yourself, your own intuition.  You’re blinded by emotion and you get sucked into these kinds of relationships that mirror your old baggage and you keep trying to heal it by tracking the same kind of relationship over and over again. 

Even when you see the results flags, you’re like, I should have known that. I should have known better. But you don’t have the self-esteem to follow that intuition. You’re always kind of second guessing yourself. That’s a symptom of the shrapnel. The E is emotions. Again, either totally buttoned up. You do not communicate your emotions. You keep them bottled into yourself and you are taking time off. You put them down and then you explode or you have dysregulation problems with emotions and you’re all over the place.  You’re always sharing your emotions. You’re always very emotional and you don’t know the middle way of how to regulate your emotions in a way that is healthy. A healthy way to express your emotions, to share your emotions. We can be that type of person that says I don’t have any emotions, nothing bothers me and affects me.

That’s just a coping mechanism.  Likely you are a very sensitive person, just like “my way, mother fucking way girl.” But you learn very early on that your sensitivity was used against you. You found that by the addict or alcoholic, when you showed your emotion, it was taken as a sign of weakness. It was used against you in some way and you were hurt. When you pleaded with them to stop, how much you love them, how much it was hurting the family, and they continue to use and drink. Now you need to learn how to regulate those emotions.  Express them appropriately and communicate them in a way where you’re rooted in your power and you are doing the dance of power and vulnerability together. That’s the middle way that we’re always trying to reach from this very black or white, or all or nothing mentality that being impacted by addiction creates.

We know why that is don’t we? Because it is very all or nothing. You’re either sober or high as hell. There is no in between. You’re either using or in recovery. That makes sense. We live our lives by that barometer. It’s either great, or it’s a shit show. It’s awesome, or it’s hell. The middle way is how life really runs, but not in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic. It’s very all or nothing. That behavior, that mentality is definitely etched and ingrained in your mind. The last way that affects us and probably the most poignant way, the biggest way that it affects us is actually in the area of our relationships. It manifests many, many ways. Our intimacy, the ability to reveal and share ourselves.  The oversharing and to be able to communicate with people and being able to trust and open up and allow friendships and allow relationships without that fear of being used or manipulated in relationships.

We don’t see red flags with people. We get into bad choices with people in business or people in our work environment. We have conflict and we don’t know how to resolve that conflict. These are things that we should have learned, but you don’t learn when you’re in a relationship with an addict or an alcoholic, because the thinking part of the brain that knows what to do is overridden by the reptilian part of the brain, which is just in survival mode. You have been in survival mode when you grew up with that addict or alcoholic. You were in survival mode when you were in a relationship with that addict or alcoholic. To your defense, you haven’t had a lot of time to think and be proactive. A lot of your life is reactive or proactive to try to avoid the problems. That’s being strategic and not in alignment with your true feelings.

You’re trying to play chess where the world’s playing checkers.  You always need to be five steps of everybody. That’s part of the thing, is overthinking and over analyzing and trying to prevent problems before they happen. That’s the control issue that we talked about. Do you see yourself? Where are you? How is this showing up for you in particular, in your life? I want you to leave a comment. Comments are the divine gift that you can give me, because it helps me help more people. That’s the goal with my addiction impact initiative. I want to raise awareness on this for the world to see, oh my gosh, I’ve been impacted by this and here’s exactly how so that we can heal. If we can heal one ache at a time, we break the cycle.  Heal the ache, break the cycle.

That’s what we want to do. I want you to leave a comment and tell me how it’s impacted you. Here’s where I can help. It’d be my pleasure to come alongside of you and if you’re not going to let me help you, let somebody help you. We want to break the cycle. It starts with you. If you’re aware of the trauma and the shrapnel, even though you didn’t create the trauma, even though you didn’t ask for the shrapnel, it’s still therethough you didn’t create it. It is your responsibility to heal it. I want you to be with me because I believe I’m qualified and equipped to do it. I’ve been doing it for the last decade, but if it’s not me, let it be somewhere. You owe it to yourself, into the generations to come to take some kind of action so that we can heal the planet.

That’s what we really want to do. One wounded adult at a time. Heal the children, the next generation. That’s the whole reason I wake up in the morning and how I am able to help you is I have a program called Life School.  Life School is a series of four semesters focusing on these different aspects.  It just so happens that coming up in October our fall session is addiction in the family where you learn how addiction has impacted your family. All the ins and outs of addiction. How it impacted you personally. What is the science behind addiction? So you can really understand it. What are the myths of addiction? What is the boundary? Can you prevent a relapse? What to do when somebody relapses. The exact verbiage to use when somebody is using. How to communicate with them. Everything you need to know that I taught for a decade inside this family program to hundreds and hundreds of families.

I’m encouraging you to come over to lovecoachheidi.com and check that out and enroll for the fall semester. Hopefully I’ve made an impact in your life today by increasing that awareness. I encourage you to take the next step with me and let’s get to work so we can heal generations to come and be cycle breakers.


Trying to control an addict’s behavior: what is enabling?

Trying to control an addict’s behavior: what is enabling?

You’re reading this because you are in a relationship of some kind with an addict or an alcoholic. And you’re wondering if all the work you’re doing, all the time you’re putting in to control this addiction, is actually helping or hurting.


I’m going to answer that question.


If you’re new here, I write about everything dysfunctional and toxic relationships. My goal is to help you overcome codependence and break toxic cycles of behavior for good.  


First of all, what is codependency?


Codependence is just a way to function in dysfunction.  And controlling is a form of codependence as a way to function in dysfunction.


Why are you controlling their behavior to? Let’s be real. There’s a lot on the line here. When you love somebody that’s addicted, it’s excruciating. I don’t have to tell you the feelings that go along with that. The anxiety is outrageous. It’ll keep you up at night, scratching your head, wondering when or how it’s going to end. When are you going to get the call? When are they not going to make it home? Or God forbid, if they’re out, are they coming home and what’s going to happen if they do?


It’s really maddening. It can make you feel like you’re in a battle without weapons. You just don’t know what to do. One minute you can do something that seems helpful and the next minute you can do it and it seems like the absolute wrong thing to do and I wish it were more black and white.


Some things are. Some things I can tell you in the decade of experience that I’ve had when I worked as a teacher and a coach inside one of the world’s leading drug and alcohol treatment centers when I worked with thousands of clients there and hundreds of families.


And I have to tell you, there are definitely some things that are cut and dry. But in the middle is this gray area where I want to help you try to figure out what it is that you believe in doing. Not what you think is going to keep somebody sober. But what it is that you believe in. So that you can sleep at night, knowing you’re doing everything you can because you want to get your loved one back.


It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde, isn’t it? Especially if you’ve experienced them sober. You’re thinking, “I know the person I love is in there”. You just want to shake them awake. You know they have so much potential to be the person that you know they can be.


But they’re hijacked by the addicted personality, which looks just like a narcissist.


Addiction and narcissism mirror each other. They look the same and so the effect on you is the same. You’re suffering the same as somebody in a narcissistically abusive relationship.


But we keep forgiving them because we say, “they’re addicted. I guess they can’t help themselves.”


That may or may not be true, but the bottom line is the same, you’re in pain and so you try and control them.


You need to get a handle on this because it’s not just killing you. It’s killing everybody around you too. Addiction affects the whole entire system, not just the person who’s using. 


It’s traumatic for everybody that’s experiencing it.


I’m going to discuss some of the things I’ve personally done in order to control somebody else’s addiction, as well as some of the things that my students and clients have told me over the years through our programs and courses.


If at any time you’re interested in deepening your dive with us in one of our courses, our programs, you can head over to  check out our offerings


When I was a little girl, my dad used to have hiding spots for his alcohol.  Sometimes they would be obvious places, but sometimes they wouldn’t be so obvious. One of the places that he liked to hide his alcohol was behind the toilet seat, thinking nobody’s going to go behind there, in the toilet tank. Well until the toilet breaks and you’re brave enough as a little girl to get back there and ask, “How does this thing work?”


Well, one day, I took the lid off, and lo and behold, I saw a bottle of vodka.


And I remember thinking, “Yuck! What the Hell?”  First of all, I was surprised, because I thought he just was drinking beer.


So one of the rules of thumb I use is alcoholism and addiction usage is like cockroaches. For every one you see there are hundreds more.


So if we’re finding one bottle of vodka, there are many, many, more.


But, sometimes we don’t want to believe it’s as bad as it is. I’m telling you, it is that bad and worse.


Anyway, I remember thinking to myself, “If my dad knew that I know that he’s hiding this, he would feel so ashamed.”


I thought I could shame him or embarrass him into quitting.


I got the bright idea to dump the liquor bottle out down the drain and put the empty bottle back. I’d checked back and sure enough, there was another full bottle. I thought, “Oh, well, maybe he just thought he drank it all and didn’t know it was me who dumped it. Let me try something else.”


So this time, dumped the bottle out, and then I threw the bottle away thinking, “Now surely he’ll know it was me that took that bottle out of there. He’ll be so embarrassed. And he’ll love me so much that he will feel ashamed of himself and he’ll quit.”

And you know what? As soon as I could bat an eyelash, there was another bottle of vodka. And as a kid, you’re not thinking, “Oh, I see, he must be an alcoholic and he can’t really control that. And there’s this compulsion to drink in spite of negative consequences.” No, I thought, “Well gosh, I guess my dad doesn’t love me enough because he must have known it was me and chose the vodka!”


I think even adults as we think that too. We believe if they just loved us enough they would stop. But as you will come to understand, if you work with us in one of our courses, addiction is much more complex than that.


How about you? Have you dumped liquor bottles down the drain? Have you marked the liquor bottle with a marker? Have you filled liquor bottles up with water?


I thought my dad just needed to know how much he was drinking. In fact, when he would go to bed, I would take his beer cans out of the trash. I used to line the beer cans up at the bottom of the steps, like a beer tower.


I made a house of beer cans thinking, if he would just come me downstairs and be confronted with this problem in the morning when he’s sober again, I could shame him into quitting. 


Using shame is a form of control. Shaming somebody looks like pointing out how much they’re drinking and embarrassing them with stories of their drinking and trying to remind them of all the harm they’ve caused when they’re drunk or reliving the party or the corporate event and telling them how ashamed you are.


Shaming somebody into sobriety has never worked because Addiction has no shame.


That’s why somebody can keep doing the things they’re doing and hurting you the way they’re hurting you and destroying their lives and the lives of other people because addiction feels no shame.



The addiction doesn’t care. And when somebody is addicted, the addicted personality takes over the addicted person.


They lack empathy. They lack insight into their own behavior.



Ultimatums are another way we try to control somebody’s behavior. And an ultimatum is very different than a boundary. If you’re interested in how to set a boundary, go over to lovecoachheidi.com and take my free Masterclass How to Set a Boundary. It’ll give you the steps.


Unlike an ultimatum, a boundary has a consequence attached to it. It has an action attached to it. An ultimatum doesn’t. It’s like, “If you do that one more time, we’re leaving Disney.” and knowing damn well, you’re not leaving Disney, right? You’ve been waiting for a vacation the whole year.


An ultimatum is when you keep threatening to pull the trigger on something as a way to control the behavior, but you never follow through.  


An ultimatum is trying to change or manipulate somebody’s behavior by threatening that you’re going to do something that you’re never going to do. And a boundary is what others can expect from you to protect yourself when the behavior doesn’t change.


That’s two very different things.


Another thing that we can do to try and control the addict is to lecture them.


You leave books out. I’ve had clients and students that have left Bibles out, with verses highlighted or sober books. You can put these books out and hope that they’ll pick them up. But you’ll ultimately find at the end of the day, the motivation is just not there because again, they’re active in their addiction.


The logical thinking part of the brain isn’t there. Nor is the motivation outside of the substance providing the dopamine.


When you try to lecture an addict, sitting them down and talking to them about their behavior (especially when they’re drunk) it’s like talking to a toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum.


You’re not having any access to any part of them that is actually going to put some dots together in the morning. But we get this false sense that we’ve had this deep conversation when they’re under the influence and just, no. No, you haven’t. So lecturing is futile. It’s absolutely pointless.

Another way we try and control the addiction is through doling out drugs or alcohol. We put pills in a safe and give them every four hours or six hours, or just give them an Ativan when they’re really freaked out.


Or we keep beer in the house and not hard liquor. We try to find ways to minimize the amount that they’re using. And some of us have even gone as far as actually using substances with our loved ones to make sure nothing bad happens. Many of my students and clients have told me they suggest using one drug over another to minimize impact.


The truth is everything that you’ve been doing calls for some compassion on your part for yourself.  Because everything you’ve been doing, you’ve been doing out of a deep desire for everybody to be okay, including yourself.


To make everything and everyone ok, altruistic controllers try and manipulate others for the greater good.


We think we have more power than we actually have. And it’s really hard to get to the place where you realize you’ve done all of this work trying to control the outcome and the outcome is still the outcome. You’re not really impacting it. And that can be really hard to swallow.


The truth is, you don’t have control. Even though you think that you have a lock on it. You really don’t. You really don’t know how much one is using and how bad the addiction truly is and that truth is dangerous if you don’t believe it.


And I say that to you out of love so that you can get the help you need for yourself and everyone else.


You might have kids in your house and they’re having feelings about the addict or alcoholic, especially if it’s a parent or a sibling, but you’re trying to control how they feel about it or how they see it.


You are trying to control by telling others how to think, feel, or behave.


You could be telling them, “well, he’s a drunk, he’s an alcoholic. He’s no good. So, ignore him.”


Or you could be saying, “Moms fine; nothing’s going on.” gaslighting your own kids.


You’re telling your kids they shouldn’t feel the way they feel or they didn’t see what they see. You’re telling everybody how to feel, think, act, and behave. And that’s a form of controlling codependent that is extremely destructive for everybody in the family.


Everyone needs to have permission to express their own feelings. It affects everybody in a different way. We all need a safe outlet to be able to express how this affects us.

That’s exactly why we have our family program and our support group that meets every Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m.


I’ve dedicated my life to understanding codependence and dealing with addiction in the family. And I have extensive education. And through this experience, I’ve come up with eight different ways that we are codependent in these relationships. And a controlling codependent is just one.


You can download the free book, Attachment Personality Patterns, Identifying your Codependency Programming, and start to see other members of the family.


If you’re dealing with addiction in your family, this could be a long ride. You could be dealing with this for the rest of your life. Or you may decide to leave the relationship or go no contact.


It’s important that you get the support you need on the journey, especially if you have related to this article.


In the meantime, I wish you peace.


Coach Heidi



When to break up with an addict or alcoholic.

When to break up with an addict or alcoholic.

There’s no more frustrating relationship than the one with an addict and alcoholic because it’s like you’re with two people: the person you know that exists inside of the person you love and the person they’re showing up as today. 

Are you asking yourself “Should I stay or should I go? How do you know when is it time to leave the relationship?

LIkely, you have put what you want on the back burner in hopes of getting your loved one better. Most of the time you’re so busy figuring out what’s going to help them or get them sober or stop them from hurting themselves or others that all of your focus and energy is on them instead of on what you really want.


 Here, we are going to look at 5 key indicators that it’s time to consider leaving the relationship. That may also mean taking some time away to work on yourself because here’s what I know for sure~ you need to get better whether they get better or not.


Being in a relationship with an addict or alcoholic hurts you in ways you may not yet recognize. It impacts the entire family. Understanding this impact is the key to your healing.

That’s what we try to do at www.LoveCoachHeidi.Com. We want to equip, educate and empower you with the resources you need to live a sane, happy life. 

There, you will find our Helping Versus Hurting Checklist as well as a free Boundary Workshop.


In the meantime, here are the 5 signs it’s time to consider leaving an addict or alcoholic.


Number 1. You’re waiting for proof or evidence that it’s okay for you to go. 


You’re waiting around to justify your exit so no one can fault you for leaving.We can get very wrapped up in the opinions of others. The truth is, you don’t have to justify your own desire to have something better or  something different. Misery doesn’t have to be the barometer for change. You don’t have to wait until it’s BAD ENOUGH to justify leaving.


You are justified because it’s your desire. You need not prove that to anyone. 


Number 2. You’re waiting for them to change.


 Ask yourself this question: “If they were never to change and addiction was going to be a part of this person’s life for the rest of their life, do you want this person?”


That’s an important question to ask because addiction is a part of that person. You do not get to choose them without it. It’s a package deal.


You don’t get to say, “I only want you sober” if you’re not prepared to leave.


Odds are, this person will  be in and out of recovery and addiction is a part of the ride. Do you want to go on that ride?

You get to say no! But know that no means being with a NON addict or NON alcoholic. 


If you choose to be in this relationship, you are choosing to ride the roller coaster that is addiction. It can feel like being in a hurricane. But in a hurricane, you can protect yourself emotionally, financially, physically and the same is true in addiction. I can teach you these things in my programs. 


Number 3. You are strategizing, manipulating or controlling this person in an attempt to fix them or control their behavior.


Look, I know you are a powerful person. But you have absolutely no power here. You cannot work harder on one’s recovery than they do. 

It is up to them to work a sober lifestyle. You can spend an inordinate amount of time researching, solving and fixing problems. 

Your partner is not a problem you can solve. It is up to them to learn why they use and how to be sober. 

You cannot strategize another’s addiction into submission. 


The truth is, we can get a lot of our needs met in trying to fix and solve problems. We have a false sense of control and it makes us feel good about ourselves and better about the problem. 

In my latest video, I tell a story about this exact thing when I tried to get and keep my dad sober.  


Number 4. You are constantly making excuses and justifications and rationalizations for the addicts behavior.

Now while I attest there is nothing you can do to make someone get sober, there are things you can do that will help them stay sick. 

In my checklist, Helping or Hurting, I give you examples of this dangerous behavior. 

Maybe you cosign the use of drugs or you excuse the behavior. If you minimize, rationalize their use, you are part of the problem and essentially, making it easier for them to die quicker.


I know that’s harsh. Let me tell you how I know this…I’ve seen it first hand when I worked as a teacher inside of a drug and alcohol treatment center for almost a decade.


I helped thousands of clients day in and out and counseled hundreds of families in our family program. Making it easier for one to stay sick is enabling. And if that is you, it’s better to go than to stay.

Number 5. You don’t like who you are in this relationship.


When you envisioned a loving relationship, this is not what you pictured. You want to be the best version of you. Nit the version that is full of rage, resentment, anxiety and sadness.


You do not like this version of you. But you believe that if they change, it will all be made better. But the reality is, you need to heal.


Sometimes when I say you need to get better too, it’s met with resistance. I’ve heard people say, “Why should I work on myself? They are the ones with the problem!”


That’s true. But their problem has gotten all over you. 


Maybe you’re embarrassed and you don’t know where to go or who to talk to. That’s why we have the option of private or semi private coaching. You can either have the benefit of being helped one on one or in a small group where others understand what you’re going through.


In any case, whether it’s Al Anon or Coaching with me, you need support.


 I hope you have found this helpful. Please leave a comment, like or share if it has benefitted you so we can continue to reach more people.


With Love,

Coach Heidi