Mom to Mom: The Land of Tears

Tending Dandelions, The Land of Tears

I’ve lived for years in the land of tears—and there’s no escape from the sadness.

By day, I retreat, pushing other people away, and I roam the dark house every night. I cry, I pull myself together, and I crawl back into bed. I get up, I fall down, and I try not to drown. I can’t eat. I eat too much. I eat away at the fears and worries that are eating away at me. I slap on a smile, I force out a laugh, even on days when I don’t make my bed and don’t take a bath. I build up a wall, I knock it back down. My love and loyalty get kicked all around. I pretend to be strong. I pretend not to hurt. I try to believe things are going to get better, but too often I don’t believe they will. I suffer in silence; I feel so alone.

I’ve lived for years in the land of tears—and there’s no escape from the sadness.

“It is such a secret place, the land of tears.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

Today’s thought from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is from the book:

Tending Dandelions
by Sandra Swenson

Tending Dandelions

Dandelion Shop for Moms with Addicted Children, Sandy SwensonThe Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

Facebook, Sandy Swenson

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Mother’s Day–Sending Hugs and Dandelion Wishes

 

Mother's Day, moms with addicted children

Mother’s Day: Together We Are Stronger

As moms living in the place where love and addiction meet, our hearts are always confused and hurting—but as Mother’s Day nears, our tender hearts seem to become even more so. As moms with addicted children, this day doesn’t feel or look the way it’s supposed to.

But, we can find strength and comfort in each other—and in the enduring blessing that is motherhood.

And we can celebrate that.

FB Live Video:

Mother's Day: Together We Are Stronger

We can find strength and comfort in each other—and in the enduring blessing that is motherhood. And we can celebrate that.

Posted by Sandy Swenson on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

 

”Sandy Swenson is the Obi Wan Kenobi of healing. Treat yourself to this brief video if you need comfort, company along the road of a child’s addiction, or if you just plain want to nourish your soul.” ~ Parent Pathway

 

The Joey Song, Mother's DayTending Dandelions, Mother's Day

Dandelion Shop for Moms with Addicted Children, Sandy SwensonThe Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

Facebook, Sandy Swenson

Mother’s Day: Together We Are Stronger

Moms with addicted children, dandelions, Mother's Day

Finding Strength as a Mother of an Addicted Child

From One Mom to Another

If you have a child struggling with addiction – whether or not they’re in recovery – you undoubtedly understand the pain that accompanies it. Through the stress, worrying, and helplessness that come with this role, it can be easy to forget about your own well-being. We’re here to remind you that you’re not alone, and you are stronger than you think.

Hear firsthand from another mother in this position, author Sandra Swenson, as she reflects in a touching video on the emotional turmoil she’s experienced as the mother of a child suffering with an addiction. You can learn more about her journey and lessons she’s learned along the way in her blog post on parenting an addicted child.

Sandra’s latest book, Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children, offers honest, daily meditations for mothers of addicted children. Her first book, The Joey Song, offers an inside look into her story with her son’s addiction.

Find support for Mother’s Day at an upcoming Facebook Live event

On Tuesday, May 8th at 8:00 p.m. CDT, join Sandra online for “Mother’s Day: Together We Are Stronger,” a Facebook Live event during which she will offer thoughtful support and meditations based on her own experiences loving a son struggling with addiction. To join the event, follow Sandy at facebook.com/sandyannswenson now, then sign on to Facebook at the event time to tune into the live broadcast.

 

 

 

Tending Dandelions
by Sandra Swenson

Tending Dandelions

Dandelion Shop for Moms with Addicted Children, Sandy SwensonThe Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

Facebook, Sandy Swenson

Mom to Mom: Self-Respect

Self-Respect

 

When my kids used to say, “Mom yelled at me,” what they meant was that I had told them to clean their rooms, or to say “please” and “thank you,” or to obey some other parental directive they didn’t like. To them, this was yelling because we just weren’t a yelly household. So I don’t know how my child became comfortable with yelling and swearing at me once he became an addict, but he did.

And I let him.

I used to be strong. I had self-respect. I would never have let anyone walk all over me. But with my addicted son, I pretty much rolled out the red carpet. He sneered at me and called me names; he was rude, insulting, and mean. He manipulated me, used me, and abused my love and trust. When he said he hated me, didn’t call back, or didn’t show up, I pretended it didn’t hurt. Instead, I groveled. I was desperate, determined to hang on to the last imaginary thread of our relationship–even if it was abusive.

This is not love–not of the self. Not of anyone.

 

“Unconditional love doesn’t mean you have to unconditionally accept bad behaviors.” ~Anonymous

 

Today’s thought from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is from the book:

Tending Dandelions
by Sandra Swenson

Tending Dandelions

Dandelion Shop for Moms with Addicted Children, Sandy SwensonThe Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

Facebook, Sandy Swenson

Mom to Mom: Before My Child Was an Addict

 

Before my son was an addict, he was a child. My child. But he could have been anyone’s child. Before my son was an addict, he liked to joke around, give big hugs, and work hard and play harder. Sometimes, he also lied, or said things that were mean, sulked, or was crabby. In other words, my child was perfectly normal.

Even though he has done some bad things while being an addict, my son is not a bad person. He’s a sick person. When addiction scooped up my child, it did so indiscriminately; my son, at his core, is one of the least “bad” people I know. Before my son was an addict, I used to judge the dusty addict on the corner very harshly. Now I know that being an addict isn’t something anyone would choose.

I wish I hadn’t waited for the worst to happen before I opened my eyes and heart. Before I looked beyond the addict’s dust to the person he was meant to be. To the person my child could easily become . . . and did.

Addiction can happen to anyone.

“Don’t judge, just love.” ~Anonymous

 

Today’s thought from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is from the book:

Tending Dandelions
by Sandra Swenson

The Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

MinnPost Interview with Author Sandra Swenson

“When I started to speak up about addiction I realized that I’m telling the addiction, ‘I’m fighting you for the sake of my son,’ ” Swenson said. Speaking up is noisy, she said, but that’s part of the deal. “We can’t fight addiction, we can’t break down stereotypes, if we’re quiet. The world is not going to believe addiction is a disease if we moms treat it like it is a disgrace.” ~Sandra Swenson

MinnPost

After fighting her sonʼs addiction for years, one mother learned to let go

By Andy Steiner 3/7/18

Sandra Swenson

As she watched her son Joey slip into addiction, Sandra Swenson became obsessed with his every movement.

“I literally was stalking him,” Swenson said, explaining that during Joey’s teenage years, her obsessive observation felt like good parenting: “I would go find him if he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. I had his passwords from early on in high school when he was doing college applications, so I’d check his emails, his Facebook posts, everything I could get my hands on.”

But when Joey’s struggles continued into adulthood, Swenson said her stalking grew out of control. She was trying to save her son’s life, she explained — but it got to the point that she had no life of her own.

“My husband would stand at the door of the den, literally blocking the way to the computer,” she recalled. “He’d say, ‘You shouldn’t be doing this. It is so unhealthy.’ ”

Despite her family’s tireless efforts to help Joey achieve sobriety, he bounced in and out of treatment programs (including Hazelden), dropped out of college, ran into trouble with the law, overdosed and attempted suicide. Swenson couldn’t help but feel like a failure. Filled with guilt and shame, she retreated into a sad sort of seclusion.

This kind of behavior isn’t unusual for mothers of addicted children, Swenson said.

“I think many mothers in the same situation hide from the world because we are so ashamed of what is happening to our children. We feel lonely and scared. We just flounder around in our fear. And that fear can cause us to act irrationally or obsessively.

Swenson’s obsessive focus on her oldest son’s every movement eventually had to stop. Joey was enrolled in yet another sobriety program when she realized that staff needed to know some of the things she’d covertly uncovered about her son’s addictive behaviors.

“I knew that if I told them I would have to explain how I learned that information,” she said. “There was a lot of shame in that, and a lot of fear about Joey’s potential reaction, but I told the truth. The gig was up. I was forced into doing something I should’ve done a long time ago.”

The realization that no matter how desperately she wanted to save her son, Swenson had to back off and let him live his own life was the inspiration for her first book, “The Joey Song” (Central Recovery Press, 2014), a memoir designed for parents of addicted children.

The book, Swenson said, “is about me trying to fix my son for years and finally realizing that that I couldn’t do that for him. I tried and tried and tried before I eventually realized that I had to do my part in this journey, which is separate from his part. It was incredibly difficult, but now that’s what I focus on now.”

Life after separation

After Swenson vowed to let go and let her son live his own life, the two developed an uneasy sort of truce.

Joey lives in Florida, and Swenson, who grew up in Minnesota, lives in Texas, so they see each other usually once a year. As far as she knows, Joey is still addicted, but Swenson resists the urge to ask him about it.

“There was a time when I would know exactly how he was doing in his addiction journey,” she said. “Now we don’t talk about it. We spend the time that we do have together making new pleasant memories so that we have something healthy left over when hopefully he does find recovery.”

Swenson believes that this truce is better than the alternative — which is her son cutting off all contact with his family — but it never feels like an easy solution.

“It’s not what any mother would dream of,” she said, “but it is way better than it could have been. I’m grateful for that.” 

Swenson’s second book, “Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers With AddictedChildren,” (Hazelden Meditations, 2017), grew out of that realization. It’s a support book for mothers struggling to maintain relationships with their addicted children, but it’s more than that: It’s also an acknowledgement of the innate power of mothers — even in situations that make them feel powerless.

It wasn’t an easy book to write, Swenson said.

“The first book was about Joey’s struggles, about my coming to terms with and even understanding that he had struggles at all. This book is focused on my part of the journey. As a mother, it’s hard to shift the attention back to yourself, but it’s what I had to do to maintain my sanity.”

Stronger together

Remember that isolation that so many mothers of addicted children retreat into? Swenson hopes that her books help them find a community of support that will help them navigate the torturous twists and turns of loving a child who struggles with substance use.

That’s where the title “Tending Dandelions” comes from.

“I feel like we moms are those deceptively delicate dandelions,” Swenson said. “We feel fragile, but together we’re strong and we’re many. We’re a movement now. We are starting to stand up and talk about this disease. Things have changed: I feel no shame about this disease whatsoever anymore.”

It helped Swenson to attend support groups like Al-Anon — and to meet people who had read her books. Finding a community helped her feel stronger and less ashamed. She wants the same thing for her readers.

“When I started to speak up about addiction I realized that I’m telling the addiction, ‘I’m fighting you for the sake of my son,’ ” Swenson said. Speaking up is noisy, she said, but that’s part of the deal. “We can’t fight addiction, we can’t break down stereotypes, if we’re quiet. The world is not going to believe addiction is a disease if we moms treat it like it is a disgrace.”

This summer, Swenson will be in Minnesota June 22-24 to lead a two-day workshop called “Mom to Mom: Where Love and Addiction Meet” at Hazelden’s Dan Anderson Renewal Center.

At the workshop, Swenson said, attendees will discuss “the struggle and the horrors of this thing called addiction, and how as mothers we can come to terms with the fact that we cannot do this for our children.”

Swenson said that she wants to show that letting go is not a sign of weakness.

“We have a lot of power as moms to overpower the destruction that the disease of addiction spreads. At the workshop, we will work on finding that power within ourselves by shedding the shame and the guilt and turning it into something that can actually do good. We want to change the way our community perceives addiction and make it an easier journey for our children.”

This will be the first workshop that Swenson has led. She can’t wait to get big group of mothers together in the same room — the energy they create has the potential to be unstoppable.

“I’m very excited,” Swenson said. “It’s going to be a wonderful weekend. I feel so connected to moms who are on the same journey as I am, moms who are trying to understand that sometimes help enables and hope hurts: We feel so helpless in the face of this disease, but together we are strong.”

 

Registration for “Mom to Mom: Where Love and Addiction Meet” is available online.

 

“There was a time when I would know exactly how he was doing in his addiction journey,” she said. “Now we don’t talk about it. We spend the time that we do have together making new pleasant memories so that we have something healthy left over when hopefully he does find recovery.” ~Sandra Swenson

 

Mom to Mom: Where Love and Addiction Meet

A Mom to Mom Retreat—Please Join Me!

June 22-24, 2018

Center City, Minnesota

 

We have the power to overpower the destruction that addiction spreads.

 

Moms vs Addiction

We may often feel fragile, but we are strong. And we are many. As parents, we have the power to overpower the destruction that addiction spreads. The power to trade shame and blame for strength. Sandy Swenson offers help and hope for parents living in the place where love and addiction meet—a place where help enables and hope hurts. For parents trying to figure out the difference between helping their child to live and helping their child to die. For parents grieving the loss of a child who is still alive. For parents needing to find a recovery of their own.

Hazelden
Dan Anderson Renewal Center
15251 Pleasant Valley Rd.
Center City, MN 55012

 

Fill out the perliminary registration form and we will contact you with final details.

 

 

Sandra Swenson is author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction and Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children. Sandra is a voice for parents, especially moms, living in the place where love and addiction meet.

View/Print the agenda.
Renewal Center Rates


HAZELDEN BETTY FORD FOUNDATION PHOTO POLICY: By attending this public event, I hereby grant the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation the right to use and publish photographs and videos of me, or in which I may be included, for editorial trade, advertising, and any other purpose and in any manner and medium and to alter the same without restriction. I hereby release the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and its legal representatives and assigns for all claims and liability relating to said photographs and videos.

 

Directions to the Dan Anderson Renewal Center

 

 

Mom to Mom: The Ghost


There was a ghost living in our house when my youngest child was just a kid, hovering over every bit of his life as he was growing up. The ghost was a character in my youngest son’s story; it was just as real as his addicted brother—causing its own form of chaos—and was present even when his brother was not.

Everything that happened in our home and our family made an impression on my youngest child—twice. First, there was the all-too-real drama (and trauma); then there were the hauntings. An arrest here, an overdose there. A drunken car accident, a brother nearly killed. Handcuffs and jail cells, detox and court. Scary phone calls and scary strangers. Scary, out-of-control brother and scary crying mother. Lies, betrayals, and the loss of trust. Love and hate and twisted fate. Everything that happened—both good and bad-had a part in making my youngest son who he is now that he’s all grown up.

The ghost living in our house is something my youngest child probably got used to—after all, it was part of the only family he ever knew. The ghost is probably hovering somewhere nearby him, still.

“The ghost of my addicted child’s mistakes hovered over everything his younger sibling did (and didn’t do) . . . and so did his dad and I, skittish and fearful and trying to learn from our own mistakes.” ~Sandy Swenson

Today’s thought from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is from the book:

Tending Dandelions
by Sandra Swenson

Tending Dandelions by Sandra Swenson

The Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

Mom to Mom: A Dandelion Movement

 

FLOWER POWER

I am the mom of a child suffering with the disease of addiction.

And I am part of a movement — a movement of moms shedding their shame and scattering seeds of truth.

You see, I see a wish, not a weed, in my child.

So I’m helping to change this place where love and addition meet.

I AM A DANDELION.

I am part of the dandelion movement.

When addiction first takes root in our child, we may be completely unaware, but once we’ve heaved ourselves over the monstrous hurdle of realization, the recovery journey begins.

We learn, we grow. We cry, we wilt.

We learn the value of nurturing ourselves.

We find strength, we bloom.

And finally, like fields of frazzled flowers, we scatter seeds of truth and goodness, changing the dynamic of this place where love and addiction meet. One by one, and one after another, we are carried aloft by the hope, the help, and the beating hearts of other mothers who love a child suffering with addiction.

We may often feel fragile, but we are strong.

And we are many.

We have the power to overpower the destruction that addiction spreads.

No more shame, no more silence.

 


“As tired and tattered as we may be, like the deceptively delicate dandelion, we moms are made to persevere.” ~Sandy Swenson


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

The Dandelion Shop is a curated gallery of Dandelion Designs created in partnership with an array of ETSY artists especially for moms with addicted children.

                                                                           

 

Mom to Mom Blog: My Child’s Addiction Feels Like War


In the contours of his man-face, I still see my own son. The jaw, the nose, the spacing of his eyes. But I know not to be fooled by the familiar façade: I already know there’s somebody else who’s living inside. I’ve been doing battle with this invisible stranger, trying to fight the beast that has wriggled itself underneath my son’s skin, but I am so very weary because it often feels like I’m battling against him. And sometimes when looking into the face of my child, I’m swayed into feeling like I’m on the wrong side.

I want my son to know whom I’m fighting for.

I want my son to know whom I’m fighting against.

And I want my son to know why.

I want my son to know that I want him to win. I want him to live. I want him to come on home. I want my son to know that even though I’m so very weary from this fight, I won’t give up. For him.

Today’s thought from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is from the book:

Tending Dandelions
by Sandra Swenson

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