As we begin 2018, many of us seek to engage in new and healthy behaviors. We plan to eat better and sleep better. We plan to give up cigarettes or video games. We also say we want to repair our relationships with our family members who are suffering from substance use disorders (SUDs).
We know how to eat better and sleep better – we give up foods that are unhealthy and we drink lots of water. We stop drinking caffeine in the evening and turn off our electronics at least an hour before bedtime. We have tools for giving up cigarettes, unhealthy eating and video games, including medications and 12 step programs.
Similarly, there are tools to aid and support us as we try to develop a healthy program for living with our loved ones. That program involves tools and programs to both help our loved ones and repair ourselves.
When I first started my journey in trying to help my loved one, I didn’t know how to help him or myself. I spent most of my time enabling him and letting myself go to hell. I did absolutely everything wrong. I tried to control his actions and cajole him into recovery. I felt like I could cure him if I tried hard enough and I let myself go physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, all the while pouring all my energy into trying to fix him. I didn’t realize I was also an addict and that my drug of choice was my loved one.
Then someone suggested I attend an Al-anon meeting or two or six. I wasn’t too sure what they could do to help me but I went and I listened. I learned the 3 C’s of Al-anon: As it applies to my loved one, they say that I didn’t cause him to be an alcoholic, I can’t control his alcoholism, and I can’t cure his alcoholism.
For some time I was able to manage using just that slogan to take care of myself better, but I didn’t want to give up on him and I kept trying to figure out a way for us to have a relationship while he was trying on and off to find recovery. Most of the people in Al-anon advised that I would have separate myself from him or live a parallel life side by side but not interacting. I was being told that I didn’t have to contribute to his alcoholism but that wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to just co-exist. I wanted a relationship and Al-anon wasn’t telling me how to do that.
And then I found the BALM®. It stands for Be A Loving Mirror and it is a program that expands upon Al-anon. I like to call it Al-anon on steroids. The program is extensive. It provides those who participate with education, transformation and support. As an example of what the BALM® can offer, I would like to introduce you to the 7 C’s which build from the 3 C’s of Al-anon. They are as follows:
The Seven C’s of Be A Loving Mirror (BALM®)
- You did not cause your loved one’s addiction.
- You cannot control your loved one’s addiction.
- You cannot cure your loved one’s addiction.
- You CAN contribute to their recovery.
- You are connected to your loved one on a level that transcends their addiction.
- You CAN learn to communicate more effectively with your loved one.
- You are ALWAYS at choice!
What I have found, after spending a year in the BALM® Comprehensive program, is that it offers family members the best chance to help their loved ones find recovery and find recovery for themselves as well. The 7 C’s are but a beginning of the learning that is available through this program.
Over the holidays the BALM® Family Recovery Academy offered an eight part series of video sessions, presenting each of the 7 C’s in greater detail, along with an individual in each session who describes how he or she has used that particular C in their lives and with their loved ones. The school has graciously allowed me to make this series available to those reading this blog. You can watch any one or all of them and take in all that is offered.
Attached is the link to access that series. Consider this my New Year’s gift to all of you. I hope that we all have a really wonderful year, working on ourselves, repairing our relationships with others and becoming the peace we want to see in the world.