Shame can get in the way of true healing. Parents might feel shame due to the stereotype and stigma surrounding teens with co-occurring disorders of addiction and mental health issues. We might think that other people judge us or believe that we are bad parents.
Our child’s issues are not our fault. Families of all walks of life can have a child with co-occurring disorders. The presence of addiction or mental health issues is not a sign that parents have done something wrong. However, when parents are surrounded by others who do not have addiction or mental health issues in their families, they might feel singled out or alone.
Learning to Let Go
Letting go of shame is essential for getting help and the recovery process. Feelings of shame can block us from doing the work needed to get our children through treatment and beyond. When we let go of shame, we have to be willing to experience vulnerability.
Many people try to avoid uncomfortable, self-disclosing feelings. They keep things to themselves and never truly open up about what is really going on in their lives. When we hold onto our emotions and never allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we cannot help our families grow. Treating the issues with one family member can involve the entire family for a successful recovery.
Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center of Estes Park, Colorado, believes in the importance of bringing families into the recovery process. When families are involved in the treatment process, they can connect to other parents who have experienced similar issues and feelings of shame. Family coaching, workshops, and parenting weekends can help families grow and heal. When parents know that they are not alone in their challenges, they can begin to let go of shame and let the family healing process begin.
You Are Not Alone: Recovery Together
When individuals in recovery connect during support groups, they begin to let go of shame and heal. Similarly, families and parents of kids with co-occurring disorders can let go by connecting. By offering mutual support, many families can lessen the burden, learn tips, and feel better about their situation. Sometimes, we just need to know that we are not alone.
While speaking with Fire Mountain’s Aaron Huey, family worker Robin Pinard shared that many family members feel that support can help families find hope and feel better about their situation. Parents and families can share the collective wisdom of their experiences. The experience is not limited to just helping the afflicted family member with their current issues. Support groups and family workshops offer families and parents an opportunity to share their emotional, inner lives with others.
The Power of Shared Emotions
When our emotional experiences and our inner struggles do not feel validated, we might feel shame, guilt, or believe we are so unique that we cannot get help. These feelings can make us feel alienated, alone, different, and hopeless. Without validation of our emotions, we struggle to connect with others. Parents and families need validation for their pain. They need to share their struggles and feelings of watching a loved one deal with an addiction or a mental health issue.
We can open up about our lives when we feel validated and genuinely heard. While other friends can support us, when we meet someone with similar struggles, we know that they have felt the same things. We know that they understand what we have been going through in our homes and how our child’s co-occurring disorder has impacted our lives. When families hear that someone else has had their child steal money or been arrested or other problems, they can start to feel normal and like they belong.
A Sense of Belonging
A sense of belonging can help us grow and change for the best. When we are surrounded by others, who do not share our experiences or cannot relate, we do not fulfill our need to belong. By surrounding ourselves in a supportive environment of other families, we can identify with our new “peers.”
We judge ourselves within the context of our surroundings. We compare our families to other people. When we are the only ones experiencing addiction and mental health issues, we can feel “different.” We might hold back from revealing what we are going through due to shame. Change the context of your surroundings, and you can change your self-perception. You can start to feel like you belong when supportive, like-minded people remind you that:
- You are not alone
- Other people understand what you are going through
- We are here for you
Letting go of shame can be challenging. We might feel completely alone when our child deals with problematic issues, like a co-occurring disorder of addiction and mental health issues. When other parents and families appear to have it all together, we can feel unique and different. We might fear judgment and never reveal what we are going through. We might be reluctant to share our innermost emotional experiences. Shame can get in the way of healing. When we feel shame, we are unwilling to open up and risk being vulnerable around others. By finding family support, we can connect with others from a similar background. We can share our experiences knowing that others can understand our pain and our feelings. If you have a child struggling with a co-occurring disorder, you are not alone. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for kids and families. Call us today at (303) 443-3343. We’re here to help your family’s fire burn brightest.