Thanks to our Board Member, Michelle Weidenbenner for this useful information.
Should I Block My Loved One?
Today, a mom asked me if she should block her son.
“His text messages are causing me anxiety,” she said. “He says it’s my fault that he’s homeless because I won’t cosign for an apartment for him. He hates me now. Did I do the right thing?”
I don’t tell mothers what to do, or not do, because everyone’s value systems are different. What works for one family might not work for another. Boundaries are personal.
Often, parents are labeled “enablers” if they help their addicted loved ones. They’re shamed by friends and family if they give too much or too little. Sometimes they’re not sure what to do so they abandon and detach from their loved ones.
What happens when you block a person?
If this mother blocks her son’s messages, she will no longer receive text messages from him. He might not realize that she’s blocked him, but he might wonder why his mother isn’t responding.
What if he texts her an apology, or an update that he’s in jail, or that he’s in rehab? If blocking her son might cause regret later, it might not be the right thing to do.
In his book, Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari said this: “The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It is human connection.”
If this is true, then how will this mother stay connected to her son if she blocks him?
Strategies to Respond Instead of React
If your loved one is in active addiction and spewing angry remarks or blaming you for the consequences of their actions, consider the following before you block your loved one:
1. Find a way to respond kindly instead of reacting with anger, frustration, or anxiety. If your child is in active addiction, they might not realize what they’re saying. Is it easy to ignore the hurt? No! It takes practice.
2. Do not take what they’re saying personally.
If your goal is to stay connected, to listen to understand instead of ‘fixing them,’ or to motivate your loved one to embrace change, you need to have a relationship with your person. Remember that it’s the substance talking and not your loved one.
3. Set a boundary. “I’m sorry you feel this way, but I’m going to quit texting if you’re going to insult me. Please reach out when you can be kinder.”
4. Create a list of kind responses instead of angry reactions so you’re prepared. Here are a few empathetic responses that might help:
Thank you for sharing that with me.
Would you like a suggestion?
If I was in your position, I'd be frustrated too.
What would be the best-case scenario for you.
How do you feel about X?
You might want to try X.
Thank you for remaining calm.
I appreciate your patience.
Tell me more.
I wish you didn't have to go through X.
You must feel so hopeless.
That must have hurt.
That would make me feel insecure.
Tell me what you see are your choices.
I think I understand. What you're saying is ______.
That sounds frightening.
No wonder why you're upset.
Let me try to summarize what you're saying.
You're in a tough spot here.
What I admire most about what you're telling me is X.
That sounds disgusting.
I wish you didn't have to go through this.
That hurts me to hear that.
That sounds terrible.
More than one million people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. In 2021, 106,699 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths increased by 14% from 2020 (28.3 per 100,000) to 2021 (32.4 per 100,000). (Link is HERE.)
Dead people don’t recover, so find solutions to stay connected if this relationship is important to you.
Read more about our friend, and LITE Board Member, Michelle, here - https://michelleweidenbenner.com/