If My Dad Had Known

If My Dad Had Known

By: TJ Pass – EB Intervention Team

Simple Steps for Parents and Educators that Can Save Lives 

If my dad had known, what might have been different?  To begin, let me share that my father loved me and was there for me until the day he died.  After my mother passed away when I was just 7 years old, my dad made me his top priority.  He went without so I could have.  He never tried drugs and I saw him drunk twice, although there was usually beer in the fridge.  My first arrest came at the age of 15 and my dad cried, he pointed out how I didn’t belong in that group, I wasn’t like the other kids in juvenile court.  Dad was the opposite of a helicopter parent and I believe he always thought I would just make good choices.  My dad passed away in the year 2000 when I was only 23. My brother and my uncle stepped in and assumed the role of caregiver and protector, in an effort to save me. After many months, they finally realized they could not save me from my addictions; they didn’t have the tools or know where to begin.  

A system must be in place to support addiction.  My system stopped working, when no one would cosign my behavior or my lack of responsibility, and that is when I accepted professional help.  I have been free of narcotics and alcohol since January 2006.  I have obtained a college degree, become a certified family interventionist and master recovery coach. I have assisted over 1,000 families to date.  My intent in writing this blog is to contribute to the pre-intervention of teens and young adults.  Teens who abuse drugs have a greater risk of developing an addiction when they are adults.  It is important to know the difference between drug abuse and drug addiction. Many teens experiment with drugs but are not addicted.  Not all teens that use drugs become addicts but most all addicts began using drugs in their teenage years.

Recognition and prevention of teenage experimentation can stop an emerging misuse before it begins. Setting good examples and being open to conversations about drug use are strong tools.  It is vital to create a safe environment for open communication and set clear expectations along with clear consequences.   With my dad, it was always “next time” I won’t help you get out of trouble or “next time” I won’t pay bills you are responsible for.  “Next time” never came.  With my dad’s lack of knowledge and my mastery in manipulation, I never had any real consequences.  Dad always helped me with a plan to start over so I could stop.  The truth is,I didn’t have a real problem, there was always someone there who would cosign my victim mentality and entitlement.

When I was in the experimentation phase, trying everything that was available, I believed  I just liked to party. It was during that phase, I stopped growing emotionally.  This is a fact for all teenagers that begin using drugs and alcohol.  Somewhere I crossed the line of choice. Drugs and alcohol are not a problem, but a solution to my problems.  I began trying to stop on my own and my dad always believed in me as well as  the same lie I believed, I could quit on my own.  Dad never knew the struggle or understood the progression of addition.  He had the “yeah but” syndrome just like me.  If someone reported I was using drugs, or he caught me, he would say, “yeah but” he is a good kid; it’s just a phase; his grades are passing; everyone likes him; he was always quick to make excuses for my behavior.  After continuing to deny using drugs, a home drug test was easy to pass and it gave my dad one more “yeah but” he can pass a drug test.  Even though he offered me professional help, he cosigned my plan, believed in me, and never educated himself about addiction.  Many signs were there, he didn’t want to believe it could happen to his son and I always had an excuse.  Bloodshot eyes, I was swimming, or I was tired   because I didn’t sleep well.  Sleeping under a fan made my nose runny.  I quit or lost interest in activities and sports because I didn’t like them, or I was going to do something different.  Smell of cigarette smoke on my clothes, my friends were smoking. Smell of cigarette smoke on my hands, I held a cigarette for my friend.  Missed curfew, it was never my fault.  Deny, deny, deny until he bought it.  Could my dad have prevented my first inhale of a cigarette, marijuana, my first drink of alcohol, first line of cocaine or LSD trip (all done before age 17)?  Could he have stopped it?  I will never know. What I do know, my dad could have been more proactive in my affairs.  

Proactive Steps Parents, Teachers, and/or Mentors Can Take:

  1. Initiate Conversations. Talk BEFORE you suspect drug use and keep the conversation nonjudgmental, honest and understanding. Straightforward questions with the right tone can lead to open communication. Simply asking, “Have you been using drugs or alcohol?” or “Has anyone offered you drugs recently?” can be enough to get the conversation started. (Conversation Starters)
  2. Responding to Admittance or Denial. Don’t overreact if they are honest about using drugs. Overreacting or lashing out can prevent them from being open about their experience.  Do not shame them.
  3. Educate Yourself. There is a strong possibility teens will lie about their drug use, I did for over a decade. Even though my dad assured me he was concerned and wanted to help, he never held me accountable or educated himself about addiction.  Know today’s lingo.  (Learn More)
  4. Understanding the Why. Understanding why some teens are tempted to experiment is also important to know.  Curiosity, peer pressure, stress, emotional struggles, and a desire to escape are some common reasons teens may take the first cigarette or drug.  For me, it was to fit in and be accepted by those I thought were cool. (Learn More)

….To continue to read the full post, If My Dad Had Known, please click here.

Are you or someone you love impacted by addiction?  Do you need support?

Please Contact Us:

Info@EBIntervention.org 

https://ebintervention.org/

(615) 482-1831

 

 

I’d Love to Tell You I’m a Great Educator

I’d Love to Tell You I’m a Great Educator

By: Janna Sells

You know how they say timing is everything?  True story alert.  I’m not one who believes in coincidences. 

I was having a casual conversation during a professional partnership call.   A friend on the call said something so profound that it caused me to stop and really reflect on his words.  He said, “I’d love to tell you I’m a great husband, but that’s not my call.” .. Wait, what? .. He continued, “My greatness is decided upon by my wife.” 

[Mic Drop]  

What would those I serve say about my greatness? It’s not my call.

Flash back- two weeks.  Our team solicited feedback from our stakeholders to work on our own continuous improvement.  We all have room to grow.  Quoting my wise and late, Grandpa Wes, “Janny, when you’re done learning, it’s time to die.”

As we began reading some of the anecdotal feedback from our service community we were smitten by the positive affirmations.  What a bucket filler.  We were feeling pretty amazing!  Living our mission to REACH, EDUCATE, EQUIP, and MATTER.  Our hearts were full .. but the feedback was not all positive.

There it was, the criticism that specifically stopped me in my tracks.  Referencing a personal experience that I shared with a team of teachers, I knew immediately exactly who the feedback was referencing.

My immediate feeling was defeat.  I was the one.  I was one who in the midst of 100s of affirmations had the one negative (err .. 3 actually) comments. There were 3.  All referring to me.  I had let my team down.  The team that I help to lead. Gut punch.

The next feeling I felt was failure.  I failed this particular team.  I failed the school they serve.  Worse, I failed their students.  The very first action of our mission is REACH.  Failure.

The feelings following were a mix between, regrets (should haves) and hopes (next time).

I began reflecting and praying over the feedback because the reality is, while their words are not true to me, I allowed their words to be true to them.  It is so true that our perception is our prison.  Thank you to one of my inspirational coaches, Trent Shelton, for that piece of wisdom.  

I began to question the approach I used to lead the crucial conversation, my choice of words, the way I made someone else feel, and sadly my passion and purpose for serving children.  I asked colleagues to coach me up.  I referenced some tactical approaches from my own crucial conversation training.  I pulled some articles and texts from my educational leadership resources.  I was so hurt that I made someone else hurt.  So vain.  I know.

The more I mulled over my shoulda, coulda, wouldas, the more my God showed up for me.  I had prayed for the opportunity to redeem myself.  I had prayed that in the future, I more genuinely articulate the WHY behind my work.  I had prayed that the people who were hurt by my support would somehow know that at the end of the day, I will passionately and unapologetically try to give more than my best to serve and grow children.  I prayed for grace. 

Another core belief I hold is that teachers do the best they can, with what they know at the time they know it.  Once we know better, we do better.

Flash to the Present.  I recently bumped into one of my former 3rd grade students.  Shortly following our reunion I received a social media friend request.  ACCEPTED.

Within 24 hours I received the most uplifting message from this now beautiful rising senior.

Yall.  There are so many times in our life we question our purpose.  What is our roll in this big world?  I am so blessed to have found and live in my purpose, but it doesn’t mean that I do not occasionally feel the pressure to question it.  

I will always VALUE and APPRECIATE my stakeholder’s feedback to continually grow in my practice.  Even when it hurts, there is room for improvement.

This simple message from a former student reminded me that just because I need to work on some outward communication doesn’t mean that I should question my worth when I’m working in my purpose and driven by my compelling why.  She is part of my why.  To allow someone else permission to judge or evaluate MY why is not growth mindset nor is it part of any continuous improvement model.  My why is mine and no one no matter the feedback will take it from me.

Here is your simple two step challenge friends-

  1. STAY TRUE TO YOUR WHY.  No one has permission to rob your passion or purpose.  Remember the desire for personal or professional reflective, continuous improvement does not represent a weakness in your purpose.  It’s quite the opposite.  It represents humility and that you are so solidly grounded in your why, that you’re comfortable being uncomfortable growing in your practice.

     

  2. No matter your life or professional role, identify who it is that you serve and allow your consumer the opportunity to make your call of greatness.  The reality is, I’d love nothing more than to tell you that I am a great educator, but truth be told, it’s not my call.  Make your impact matter to those your serve.  Humbly and reflectively, GROW IN YOUR PRACTICE while maintaining your WHY.

I hope you leave these thoughts determined to be the best version of yourself and that those you serve no matter your practice know how great you are!

#neverquestionyourwhy but rather #improveyourpractice