Many of you know that I have spent the last couple of years studying to be both an addiction counselor and also a BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach. Counseling gives me the opportunity to work with others who are struggling to maintain recovery as well as learning to live life on life’s terms in early recovery.
Be A Loving Mirror (BALM®) is a program that teaches families how to be their loved one’s best chance at recovery and how to avoid being their loved one’s best chance at relapse. I would like to tell you a bit more about BALM®, how I came to be a family member and how that has brought me full circle to studying to be a certified Family Recovery Life Coach.
I first came to the BALM® program as the partner of a loved one struggling to get and maintain recovery. I was beside myself. I could not get and stay calm. When I wasn’t with my loved one, my every thought was on what he was doing and where he was…. Was he sober? Was he safe? Where was he? Was he alive? If I spoke to him and he was sober, I was calm …. for a few minutes. Then I would start to panic all over again. If I spoke to him and he was not sober, I would try to rationalize with him (I am sure you have tried to have a rational discussion with someone under the influence and you know how well that goes.) I would plead with him to stop and get help. I would beg. I would yell and threaten. Not only did this fix nothing, but it left me in a useless puddle of emotion.
I spent so much time trying to protect him from himself and control his actions that I completely stopped taking care of myself. I ate garbage or didn’t eat at all. I forgot to shower or didn’t want to be away from my phone for that long in case he called. stopped making doctor and dentist appointments. I stopped going anywhere with family and friends. drove around neighborhoods looking for him. I poured out bottles of booze and threw away bottles of pills. I took his picture to the liquor store and pleaded with them to not serve him. I found him in hotel rooms and sent police to make welfare calls to be certain he was still alive. All the while, I was working long hours in a significant job, traveling across the country and internationally, constantly interrupting my work to check on him. Does any of this sound familiar?
When I was first introduced to the BALM®, I thought that this was some kind of Al-Anon program….and in some instances it is. But it is much more. I jokingly refer to it as Al-Anon on steroids but it is different from that as well. The BALM® program doesn’t just follow the Al-Anon 4 C’s saying I didn’t cause this…I can’t control it….I can’t cure it and I can’t contribute to it. It goes much farther than that. BALM® doesn’t tell its practitioners to simply detach with love. Rather, it tells us that there are MORE C’s…. It tells us that we can contribute to their recovery…we are connected to our Loved ones at a level that transcends the addiction, and we can learn to communicate with them effectively. Finally, the BALM® program reminds us that we always have choice.
This is a very basic introduction to the BALM®, but what does it tell us? First, it tells us that we are not limited to either enabling our loved ones or turning our backs. We learn to advocate for them and help them to navigate early recovery. We also learn tools to keep the lines of communication open and how to communicate in a calm and loving way. And last but not least, we learn the importance of taking care of ourselves…physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Because if we cannot be the peace we want to see in the world, how can we bring that peace to our relationship with our loved ones?
There are many ways to connect with the BALM® program. Many people do begin this journey as a member of the BALM® — listening to and participating in lessons, interviews with experts and those living in recovery as well as family members who have been living as BALMers for a period of time. After listening to live sessions as well as accessing hundreds of recorded sessions, many start to participate in transformational sessions where they learn to implement the tools they are learning. Working with a buddy to practice these skills is the best way to become proficient and becoming proficient is the way to get a level of calm in your life.
Beyond the process of learning to be our own loved one’s best chance at recovery, many of us have found in this process a calling where we want to help other families find this peaceful and calming method of communicating with their loved ones. The BALM® Institute For BALM® Family Recovery Life Coach Training prepares coaches for certification as Life Coaches, Recovery Life Coaches and BALM® Family Recovery Life Coaches. This program does require commitment as the training program is intense over a relatively short period of time. But those of us who have learned the tools to be effective coaches are able to see the transformation in our clients’ relationships with their loved ones.
September is Recovery Month for all of us. If you want any more information about The BALM® Comprehensive program or coaching through the Family Recovery Academy, please check out the links below and feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-626-7801:
BALM Comprehensive link
BALM Coaching link