Unapologetically BOLD: I'm not sorry for....
Speaking Boldly about Addiction with Michelle Weidenbenner
May 14, 2021
Do you have a loved one with Addiction? Has it been hard to communicate and help them? In this episode, we speak with Michelle, a Mom on a mission to help other mothers care for their addicted loved one while also caring for themself.
Do you have a loved one with Addiction?

Has it been hard to communicate and help them?

In this episode, we speak with Michelle, a Mom on a mission to help other mothers care for their addicted loved one while also caring for themself. 

About the guest: Michelle is an author and speaker about addiction. She is on a mission to unite and educate moms who are committed to understanding addiction and changing the way they respond to their addicted loved one’s choices.

Her goal is for all moms of ALO’s to speak boldly about the addiction crisis. The world needs to change their attitude about addiction, and it starts with moms.

[00:00:02] spk_1: this is This show is brought to you by Safety FM. Welcome to unapologetically bold. I'm not sorry for If you are a person that is tired of apologizing for being you, you know the human part of you that sometimes feels like it has to be different at home versus work versus play. The human side that just wants to be hot, humble, open and transparent about your wants, desires and uniqueness. If you answered yes, this is for you. Join me, Emily Elrod as I dive into conversations with Amazing Guest. About what? That you're not sorry for and creative and loving ways. Let's get started. I am so excited today to have my guests with me. Michelle. Welcome, Michelle.

[00:00:56] spk_0: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. It's my pleasure.

[00:01:00] spk_1: This is going to be an amazing conversation today about something that may be a little deep for some people to hear. But it's something that we both feel in. The discussion is needed now more than ever, especially in the season that we are in, especially with some of the mental struggles a lot of people are having. And as me and my team have talked the other day that we have this fear that there is going to be more mental tragedies from Kobe than there will be physical tragedies from Cove it. And so this is just something I'm blessed for you to Come on, Michelle. So again, thank you for being here.

[00:01:39] spk_0: My pleasure. I hope you're wrong about that. I hope you're wrong. I

[00:01:42] spk_1: knew to I want to be so wrong with it. Trust me, Dio. Um but let's just go ahead for people that don't know who you are and hop on into the show. Just just tell us a little bit about

[00:01:53] spk_0: yourself. Oh, wow. That's pretty open, right? Well, I am the mom oven addicted loved one. And that's kind of where I'm coming. That space I'm coming to you today from because I have learned how to speak boldly about addiction. And so I ministered to moms of addicted loved ones because oftentimes we live in shame and feel like we did something wrong that it's ah, it's a parenting flaw that we didn't pair in our child. Well, so my husband and I were retired like, five years ago, and all of a sudden, our lives were turned upside down. We knew our son and daughter in law were having difficulty with mental health issues and addiction, but we thought things were better and got a call. We we were retired and living in Florida. Golfing and pickle balling inhabit a ball and, um, got a call that our our son was in jail. And, um, it was just devastating because they had two little girls. And we knew that if he was struggling that his wife probably was, too. And, you know, how were those girls doing? So, um, we ended up taking guardianship of the girls and getting our son and daughter in law into recovery. Um, or at least we tried. For a while. We've had a lot of ups and downs. They've gone from opioids to heroin to meth. Um, now they are 24 months, almost 20 form almost two years into recovery. So we are really blessed, and I try to tell my story, you know, from a mom's point of view, because the attic always lives in shame already like they don't want to be an addict. It's not the name that God gave them. It's not the name that I gave my son. Um, it gets to the point where the brain is so diseased that they become this person you hardly recognize. And so I have just learned that people misunderstand so much about addiction, and it's it's my role. God is counting on me. Thio. Explain it differently. Explain it with truth. And so that's kind of where where I sit. I make my mess a message, and I try to help moms recover from the guilt, shame and chaos bond

[00:04:30] spk_1: that's so powerful. Yes, as as you are not sorry for speaking boldly about that. And I am so grateful for that because I do come from a family that has addiction in it. Um, I have a loved one that I saw. I felt like it was my fault that this person started because I about died and they didn't know how to deal with me about dying in my medical needs that they knew that they had a surgery a few months prior dental surgery, and they're like, Okay, they remember that made them feel good. And so what if I do more like What if What if I just do a little bit more because I can't deal with my loved one passing and how much shame I help I had with it. Yeah, and the burden of it. Right, So overwhelming. And then the only Imagine that this is your son. Yeah. This is your loved one. This is your daughter. This It's not easy. And I love and and that's the one thing I really want to dive into, because the mental side of it, this is a disease. No, I do not know one addict that wants to be an addict. I don't know any of them. No. And they're bringing us so messed up. To be truthful, it has so many chemical reactions that's happened that now it needs dopamine is really what the one of the largest things is, which is reward. But here's the thing is that we see other people with these struggles, but we struggle with a lot of dopamine releases as well, but maybe not to that degree. So we want to feel rewarded. We want that we like the likes. We like when people are praised us. We like these things.

[00:06:07] spk_0: We like our brain. Certain brain waves. Dopamine is lit up

[00:06:12] spk_1: bond, and we like that there was that a far greater level. So I love for you to go into more about as from a mom's perspective.

[00:06:21] spk_0: But just one of the things are kind of a side notice. What you said is, when are addicted? Loved ones know that we're struggling and we are feeling guilty or full of shame. It makes them even feel worse. Eso It's counterproductive and it isn't helpful it all but the the brain s a lot of people. When this first happened us, my husband was like It's a choice. He's choosing this and I wasn't sure where I waas, you know? And there's this huge debate. So we just plunged into, like, reading everything we could and understanding it. And I was, like, so enthralled with it all that I was like, I think I'm gonna go get my PhD in neuroscience. My husband's like, Oh, really? Well, I think you need to get your master's first right, But But it's just because it's so fascinating in that you think one thing, but once you re really read the science, when they first use, it's a choice, right? So if they're in high school or like like dental surgery. My son hurt his back and he got on opioids and it was like, Wow, I could do so much mawr I feel so much better using this And so, but there comes a point and we, you know, I can't say specifically when that the brain becomes so in need of that dopamine that it it's kind of it's it's 10 times worse or more than coffee, nicotine, any of those things, like it's something that you and I, who aren't addicts cannot relate to because the cravings the power of that brain is so, um, so powerful. And what happens when it gets to that disease state is one side of the brain cannot communicate with the other side, so there's no reason going on. Um, so a lot of times you'll hear my friends used to say, Well, Michelle, I think he just needs to hit rock bottom. And I used to think, Well, what is that death like? How? How? What do you mean? We're gonna wait till he hits rock bottom. And so part of part of what I help moms learn how to do is love their child and hate the disease. But oftentimes, you know we have to detach because we can't stand to see them so sick. But there is another way, and that's coming up beside them. That's accepting them for where they are in their journey, but loving them and praying with them and encouraging them, um, to get well and and so I always say like this. So if you had diabetes or heart disease, you get a whole team approach to managing your health. There's the diet, there's medicine. There is a community. You can join a community. There's prayer. There's Ah lot of community, and it's a team effort. When an addict is ill, nobody asks moms, Hey, how is your son? How is your daughter? How are they doing in their treatment, or how are they with their disease? Like, you know, it's like that. We can't talk about it because it's just so awkward, right? But I think if we have the mindset that no, this is like heart disease, diabetes, they need a team approach. And in my research, I discovered that only 10% of people are getting medical assisted treatment for this disease, 10% It's horrible. It's horrific. Can you imagine only 10% of diabetics or heart patients getting treatment? And I get it. Some people are so in denial. They're like, I don't need I don't need anything. I'm not an addict. And part of that is just the stigma. Because, um, who wants to admit something that is so full of shame? Right? Like nobody's gonna want to admit that. And most people just like you and I, we think, Oh, we could manage our health. Okay? I just need toe will it off. I just need to quit eating. Where's my wheel power? But once they get in that disease state with the brain, well, that's that's a myth you cannot. You cannot change it with willpower

[00:10:47] spk_1: on. And that's how many parents, how many people will pray that you could be able to do that. And and that's the thing that I think was so powerful. And I went through a season of shame, and it about killed me. It was whenever I had my child out of wedlock, and it was I was so depressed. I was so my my whole body was reacting against me, and I was so down and it it Well, it almost killed me. My kid, Um, which led to the story I told earlier. But all that to say is I researched on the shame aspect and how much shame literally shuts off your brains. It increase inflammation. It does so much damage to you. It literally does. And then we're gonna add addiction on top of it. And so my thing is like, whenever I do, these, uh, always say I sign it with love and whoever the guest is, and I think that's important to party. Talk about the love aspect of it, make my definition of love. And it's not easy. It is not easy, if not kind, honest understanding and not boasting of ill will. It is also based off the aspect of it's unconditional. And that that's the hard part, is your mission. They did something that you didn't agree with. And now here we are. Yes, it was a choice. So talk about that in the power of coming by, beside with love and understanding, it is not easy.

[00:12:22] spk_0: No, And and actually, you know, I run these support meetings where we talk about it and we partner up, we try to pretend like, you know, we're talking to are addicted, loved one. And even if I help moms like with the dialogue like here's, here's what you can say And you know, first is what you see. So oh, I see that, um, you go out when you're out with your friends. You like to drink because you said that it helps you come alive and you can break out of your shell and you're not so shy. So that's just kind of like acknowledging what you see. And then maybe, um, it's an empathy statement where you empathize with Yeah, I'm sure it feels so much better to feel like you belong than to not belong and and then it's coming alongside them and accepting them. So, um, but I noticed that, you know, it was hard for you to get up Saturday morning after or I noticed that you lost your job or I e No, you lost your job. But I guess you know, going out with your friends was worth it. So it's not laced with sarcasm. It's just kind of helping them to see. Okay, there's there's a gain and there's a loss, and but it must have been worth it to you. It's kind of pointing that out, right? So how how are you with your life? Is this what you always wanted for your life, and what do you think it's? It's asking questions. It's thinking about like a stranger or a friend. How would you talk to them? You you wouldn't shame them or try to control them? Or should them? Um, it's just accepted. You know, God accepted everybody unconditionally, but I know there was a time as a mother. I couldn't even talk to my son and my daughter in law. I had to ask my husband to take it over because I was so full of empathy. Like if I was around them, I felt so stressed that I had to guard myself help, and that's something different. So I always tell moms, you know where your boundaries and to start with, list all your values, like what do you really value what is really important to you? And then you you set your boundaries, and here's what I will accept from my child. Here's what I won't, but you can. You can do that with a friend. Hey, you know, if you're with a friend and they're bad mouthing somebody else and you're not comfortable with that, you're gonna You're gonna show that boundary in some way with them, too. So it's not saying that you don't love them. It's just saying, Here's where I'm at and, um But I believe in you unconfident that you're going to figure this out because you're bright, you know, It s so like in in my group for the month of November, I'm asking moms every single day to find a characteristic or a trait of their addicted loved one that they love. And it's it's focusing on, you know, the addiction is not who they are. It's the behavior of the disease that we hate, but not the person so hard.

[00:15:41] spk_1: And I think that's so important because I have had deep discussions with people that have far addiction. They base it into their identity. They feel it. So it's who they are. It's their badge of Chaim. It's that scarlet letter that they have written on their forehead. You know, hand, nobody wants that. Nobody. I don't think anybody who grew up in this life and saying, I want to have this badge of shame. I wanted to grow up and I wanted to be everything that people told me about, and I'm not meeting those standards. And I think the thing, too, is helping as a loved one, to not make them feel compared to what would be because I found at times this one for some thinking, literally the smartest human being. I know so smart beyond smart and he knows it. And so many people have mentioned it without saying it directly, that he's wasted his life. Do you know? I think he already knows that my thinking, our struggles with that. So why in the world would you wanna bring that up and then also not only bringing it up, then starting to have fights and discussions, especially if they are

[00:17:05] spk_0: high? That's like there's no logic there because when when they're high, there's, uh, there's absolutely it's upside down logic. It doesn't even make sense. So I try to tell my moms, you don't react, you respond, and there's a difference. So if we react, it's probably with anger. It's with isolation, abandonment or whatever, but we just respond And that is a place where you come home. You're I used to say to my son, I'm going to choose Thio, not be not Have a discussion with you right now because it's it's just a way. And I didn't say waste, but, you know, I'm just going to choose and we'll table us and come back. Used to hate that. But I fight in that moment because you can't win their illogical, irrational. But you know, Emily, I think you could relate to shame better than a lot of people on dso you get it? But it s so many people like where, like right on their forehead like who they are if they were. You know whether that word is addict, whether it is I've always been a complaint or I always thought, Oh gosh, everybody complaint like we all have that and and then we have our riel name. And so it's finding and I'm sure your mother was good at that. Is you know, moms moms are really good at seeing your gifts, your giftedness and who you really are and not not the addict. So when I say I'm the mom oven addicted, loved one. I always have to add addicted. Loved one, right? But I hate the word addict because it's like saying you're your criminal, you know, it's just so it's just the word itself. But it's if you ask an addict recovering addict, they'll say, No, that's okay, that's the name. But as a mother, it just doesn't sound very endearing.

[00:19:06] spk_1: No. And I think another topic or another point I want to go into is speaking boldly about addiction is in that aspect. You have to care for yourself. You talked about boundaries that is powerful. It is extremely powerful, too. Own yourself so others can't own you. And that I want to tell you your family knows those daggers that air hidden and those special spots to turn that hurt more than probably anyone. That's reason they're your loved ones because you've tor down those walls and you've exposed yourself. You've been vulnerable. But being careful with understanding that when they say things, are they saying it out? Anger? Are they high in that moment? How are they going about it? Is it something that they actually mean? Because if they are high at that moment for me, what I found there's about a 99.99% chance they didn't mean it. And if they will take it back, they would take everything in the world to get just to the back to the level where they could just love you and have a conversation without them getting stressed without them getting overwhelmed without them fighting that need for that dopamine. I call it the cheerleader of the body. It is that it's a teenage cheerleaders, actually, what we call because it's just that quick. Like Aurora. Okay. Hi. I could do this. I could make it cheer me on. Just continue, you know? But that's what they need. They need that feel and then imagine you don't need one cheerleader. You need Ah, whole freaking stadium of cheerleaders just for you to walk down the road just for you to talk to a loved one. And so I think it's so important for the boundaries. And I love the work that you're doing by by creating an essence of boundary for mothers toe learn, but also an outlet. So I do want you to tell a little bit about what you do. Your group and if anybody's interested in getting connected or wanting to learn Mawr.

[00:21:10] spk_0: Oh, I didn't have support. I really didn't. I couldn't talk to my friends. Nobody understood. And so I wrote the book Mom's Letting Go without giving up seven steps to self recovery. And it's kind of like this, um, journal. So moms can just kind of journal in it. And then, um, I invite them into our private Facebook group, which is Mom's letting go and, um, you know that over 1012 100 Mom's there, and it's it's great because we encourage, we pray. But we also hold each other accountable for changing for our recovery because nothing changes if moms don't change. And here's where I said so I believe that if moms who are passionate about this, um can recover and heal, then they can go out and make their messa message, and more and more people will understand the stigma and the addiction cycle. But what? The main thing that this is where my sweet spot is is I know that every single one of those moms has been hacked because they are not living in their purpose. They're so focused on their child that they forget their dreams for themselves. And so I encourage them. Thio Become Unhappy Kable I'm in Hackable, coach. I believe that if we have that focus on what we want to achieve and and we go for it, our Children will see our passion, our giftedness, our ability to doom or b'more. And they will want recovery. But when we're always focusing on them, it doesn't. It just keeps us in the same cycle. It doesn't stop that cycle, so I have a boon. Thio empower one million moms to recover by 2025

[00:23:10] spk_1: and you can e No, it's It's what I call it's crazy faith. It's those crazy faith goals that you say out loud. It's like, Oh, e But the thing is, is it's It's something that I think a lot of people can get behind and to deal with. And I wish there wasn't a million moms, but there are yeah, and I think that's the order. It thing that you said, Is there self recovery that's not talked about

[00:23:41] spk_0: choices. We can't make their choice. We can only choose for our own lives, so we have to make loving choices toward them. but also find our purpose and live in that.

[00:23:52] spk_1: I appreciate you so much for coming. You are such a blessing. And so my final question for you is people are apologizing for speaking boldly about addiction about their loved ones for their loved ones on and setting those boundaries doing those things that may be a little bit different that, you know, actually work. What would you say to them?

[00:24:17] spk_0: Yeah, I would say Thio break free. Because if you could break free from the guilt and shame that you have, it will stop the stigma and encourage others to get into recovery. And that's our ultimate dream. Is for everybody to find humane recovery options and get in. Stay in recovery. So

[00:24:44] spk_1: powerful. Thank you for today. Thank you for your gifts. Thank you for knowing your gift. Thank you for stopping your life just to continue to grow your gift. Like those are things that are so powerful that I love to have get strong like you that are doing a lot of the work that matter so much. And I know there's somebody listening to this and you're like, I know somebody that could use this or I could use this reach out, reach out. Just It will be one of the best gifts, because I've had to learn how to love an addicted one. Bond. It is not easy. And I did it a lot of it alone. A lot of people doing it alone.

[00:25:33] spk_0: You need a community, you need a team. And that's what that's what I'm trying to provide. Holding friendships and understanding hope, Hope. Yeah,

[00:25:44] spk_1: man. And the thing that actually comes with this, and I know we'll wrap it up in a second. But the cool thing is is we talk about opening dopamine, which is the what I call the cheerleader of the body. There's actually the one that really compensates for. Dopamine is. I call it the loving grandmother. It is oxytocin. It is actually what gives you that bond, that trust that can human connection. It's the belonging. It literally can help you save your life and get you on the road that you need to recovery. It is such a powerful chemical in the body. It's the love Chemical is what I call it, and it's It's your grandmother, its's. What gives you that connection and it is what is needed for you to be able to get over that hurdle because it helps with different. It actually helps with all other chemicals like serotonin, which is with anxiety and depression. I call the safety cop of the body s so it helps you be safe. It helps you combat your desire and your needs for those quick rewards. It also helps you deal with stress. It literally is a lifesaver. And I believe it was put in our body for a reason. And it's extremely important. So y'all go get connected, find your human connection. And if you can reach out to Michelle, I believe the work that she is doing is amazing. And thank you for all that. Listen and you'll have a blessed one. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of unapologetically Bold. I'm not sorry for if this touch shoot anyway, please, like and subscribe and share with your friends as we continue the message of being unapologetically bold, Bobby and hot humans who are humble, open and transparent. See you next time