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As I close season three of The Embrace Family Recovery Podcast, I look forward to some fun this summer for us all, and the podcast will return after Labor Day with some fantastic guests and topics.
Language matters so much, how we speak to ourselves and speak with each other. This family disease of addiction is brutal and often gets away with far too much, mainly when we blame ourselves and each other rather than the disease.
I wish you a summer of caring for yourself with the love, kindness, and support you deserve that lets life be gentler and less crisis or survival based.

If you are looking for more support this summer, I am available for coaching sessions and will be holding my EFR Coaching Group two Wednesdays a month; learn more here:

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Embrace Family Recovery Family Program

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See full Transcript below.


You’re listening to the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast, a place for real conversations with people who love someone with the disease of addiction. Now, here is your host, Margaret Swift Thompson.

Margaret  00:28

Welcome back, so once again, another season is down. For The Embrace Family Recovery Podcast, hard to believe that this is the conclusion of season three.


The Embrace Family Recovery Podcast.

Margaret  00:58

Season three started in September of 22. And we have done 39 episodes, which is hard to believe. And once again, this will be the last of the episodes with a summer break. Moving into season four, starting at Labor Day. I am so amazed at the content, the people, the willingness, the courage and their desire to help others in every single episode and every person who’s chosen to share their story on this podcast. 

We really did cover the gamut. We had people come on, who talked about food addiction, talked about loss, and grief. We had incredible talent with the producer and director of The Creative High. We had a pro football player, we had an author of a children’s book, we had a recovering woman who’s now a coach in her own right. We even touched on gambling, and people serving the veterans with their pain, addictions, and mental health. 

It is remarkable how this disease touches every one of us in some capacity. And in my solo tonight, I wanted to just touch on a few words that I find vital to our ongoing healing in this journey of recovery.

The first one is grace, which is one of my favorite words. It’s come to mean so much to me and I heard recently, Ann Lamont shared the quote, “grace is spiritual WD 40.” I thought that was amazing. I love the physical image of me being gracious, offering grace to myself and the people I love being a spiritual lubricant. Being there to help me navigate life on life’s terms. 

What I have come to believe in my own journey and the work that I do with so many people around this family illness is, the disease of addiction and the monkey perpetually beat us up and each other. And it is really hard to make change. When it comes to the familiar patterns this disease creates in our families that work, and challenges of change require a lot of grace, fortitude, repetition, practice. It is not an easy journey. But the solution is quite simple. 

I know in my own journey of recovery; I overcomplicated it a great deal. And the things that have helped me simplify my recovery, have helped me gain the most traction. And that has come from hearing other people’s story. 

The Power of storytelling is so monumental in recovery journeys, but I think in general life journeys and healing. I believe sitting in a room with other people who walk a similar path to me, there will be nuances that are different. There will be parts that are so unfamiliar to my story. But what they always offer me if I stay open, is there will be people who represent mirrors into myself when I hear them share, which is why community is so invaluable and important to the healing part of recovering around the disease of addiction. 

Another word that I love that I use, and that I believe to my toes only came about as a result of my personal recovery journey is integrity. I have integrity today, which I did not have when I was living as a fraud. I was working in the helping profession, and I was helping other people find their wellness while still suffering in my illness. That’s a very painful place to be. 

And it was interesting, I was reading an excerpt from an interview with Dr. Jorja Jamison who’s  has captured her story in a new manuscript entitled “Wounded Healing: The Art and Soul of Surthriving.”. And she talks about the stigma of people who are in the helping profession getting help for their own mental health, substance use disorders, addictions. There’s a different level of stigma, if we the helpers, need help, that I hope we can really work hard to overcome. And look at it as the helpers also need help. Just like the people who we help, need and deserve help, so do we. 

When I was in early recovery, someone explained integrity to me as when you’re going down a rural road late at night, and it’s dark, and no one’s around and you come to a four way stop. You stop, even if nobody’s watching, and then you drive through. That’s integrity. There’s another quote that I love about integrity. And that was by Spencer Johnson. “Integrity is telling myself the truth, and honesty is telling the truth to other people.” That quote raised a lot for me to reflect on in my own story. When I was in love with someone with this disease, I absolutely was enraged by their level of dishonesty, and their lack of integrity. So much so that I never had to look at where did I fit in my own personal relationship with honesty, and my integrity. It fell way down the pole of priorities, because I felt there’s was so much more glaringly offensive, disrespectful, and out of control. I have come to believe that, yes, their dishonesty in their illness was theirs to manage, to own, to clean up.

 What I had to also recognize was, I had some cleaning up to do I needed to get one of those containers, one 800 garbage that you see advertised where you can just bring it in, and they’ll take it away for you. Well, it’s not quite that easy, but I had to do some serious soul searching on how to clean my own house, my own heart, my own head, my own body, my own thinking. 

The good news is the recovery solution offered through 12 step recovery and Al-Anon, CODA, Nar Anon, Gam non, any of the Anon programs that are out there. Really afford us an opportunity to do exactly that, to get truthful with ourselves, to clean our house out, and then to make amends and restitution for the harms done, that I absolutely needed to do. 

The other thing that I have coined in this journey of recovery is healthy manipulation, which is a term a lot of people react to and yes, it catches attention. But the way that I look at it is I have spent a lot of time trying to get someone else to change to no avail. Because the reality is I have no power to do that. I have repeated myself, till I’m sure I sound like the peanuts character, you know, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah wah in those shows. I have been frustrated. I have been at my wit’s end; I have been terrified. And I have tried so hard to get someone else to see the light of the journey that I can see before them that they deserve, and that they can have and just tried to do any trick to get them to embrace their own recovery.


This podcast is made possible by listeners like you.

Margaret  09:22

I’m excited to announce that I will be once again presenting at the National Rural Institute on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictions, from June 25 to June 29 2023. At the UW Stout campus. 

I think any of you who’ve been listening to my podcast for a while know how passionate I am about getting the message out for the intense need for more support, education, and resources for the families impacted by the disease of addiction. 

So, I’m thrilled one It’s good to be going there, and sharing, and teaching around engagement with families whose loved one has the disease of addiction. The lineup of speakers is incredible. Any coach, counselor, educator who’d want further education in a variety of subjects, please check out the link attached to this bumper in my show notes. And you’ll have a full access to this wonderful retreat that I thoroughly enjoyed last year and look forward to being a part of again, in June of this year.


You’re listening to the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast? Can you relate to what you’re hearing, never miss a show by hitting the subscribe button. Now back to the show.

Margaret  10:48

It’s humbling to realize that I don’t have that capacity as a mom, as a partner, as a sibling, as a daughter, as any relative. Nor do I have that power as a counselor, or a coach. What I have is a knowledge base and skills and tools that I can share with people. I can offer, but I can’t make anyone do. And why I call it healthy manipulation is the rebellious nature of this disease is so crucial to living in the disease. It’s not conscious, but it’s a reality. 

In my active addiction, I could out talk out whit, out maneuver, out hide, out manipulate anybody to get what I believed I needed to survive, which was enough food to make me numb. So, if you told me a suggestion, that was a very sound suggestion, my diseased mentality was, you’re wrong. 

And so family members often present to me when they work with me as very frustrated, very agitated, dismissed, and rejected. Because the person they love is continuing to deteriorate in the disease or struggling to engage in recovery and won’t listen to their advice. 

So, we talk about changing it to being healthy manipulation. Role model your recovery out loud as family members, live it out loud, practice the steps, attend the meetings, read the literature, do the daily meditations, use the tools of recovery, in your family recovery that you want your loved one to use, in their recovery from their addiction. 

That is the most powerful way to evoke change, and to provide hope to the family system at large. Nick Vujicic, I could have said that wrong, so I’m going to spell it VUJ I C I C. wrote, “If you want to influence others, the most important thing you can do is to be a living example of the principles, ideas, and faith that you advocate. 

So, live out loud your recovery. Be humble, be willing to be teachable, stay out of the fray of this disease. Because when we get in there, any one of us who loves somebody with this disease, when we get in there, and we try to help maneuver them, and suggest things, and give them ideas. The disease gets to blame us when it doesn’t go right. And use that against the person we love. 

Whereas if we step out of the way, and we role model our recovery, and we allow our person to make the decisions that they choose to make for their recovery, when and how they make them. If they go well, they get to feel that amazing sense of accomplishment. If they don’t go well, they have to look at the fact that the disease is influencing them and hurting them and that their journey is their responsibility. 

Yes, this feels counterintuitive. When you love someone, you see them suffering you want to jump in, I get it. There’s no mal intent. The problem with this illness that’s so different than any other illness is when we jump in, and we cushion the consequences. And we maneuver the person out of or into or away from or towards. They don’t get to get that sense of accomplishment. They don’t get to learn the skills and strategies that will work for them and their recovery. 

They don’t get to gain a sense of integrity, that they’re taking care of their business, they’re taking care of their well-being. And they get to show up with you with honesty, and integrity for the first time. 

I’ll leave with one last thought this episode. Doing these things, trying new techniques, using new tools of recovery takes a lot of effort, and love for the people in your life. 

First and foremost, love yourself, and know that you did the best you knew how with the skills and tools you had. And that as you learn new tools and skills, the path forward can become more doable, more easily accomplished, the outcome is in the air. We don’t have the planned outcome for our life or anyone’s life, none of us do. 

Unless we’re given a death sentence or a prognosis that we know the outcome is coming. None of us know what the future looks like for us. But in this illness model, the monkey gets us obsessed with the worst-case scenario because it’s a real possibility. 

So, my hope for you is that you will take these tools and implement them one day at a time. The reason being today’s all we got, today is all we’ve got. So, make the most of it, do what gives you some grace, some peace, bring some joy back into your life. 

And as we close out season three, my hope is you will engage this summer in some play, some fun, some silliness. I plan to, I’ll be working hard to, but I plan to enjoy my summer as well. Visiting family, having people and friends visit us. And doing some retreats that I’m super excited about in the fall. This year has been a year of growth for me personally and professionally. It’s also been a year of rewards, witnessing people take this step to trust me and work with me individually, to invite me to do retreats and witness the aha moments that come. And working with really remarkable people on this journey, people who helped me in my business personally. People who are entrepreneurs that I get to work with and connect with. If you’d asked me at 40 What I would have been doing at 55, I can assure you it wouldn’t have been hosting a podcast and launching a business. However, if you’d asked me at 23 what I was going to be doing it 35, my picture would have been very different than the truth of my journey. I’m really grateful for all of you having been on this journey with me. And I’m grateful for your listening ship, and your support of the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast. 

Please listen to episodes you might have missed go back. The whole library is available to you. share this podcast with a friend, if you find it valuable. And consider writing a review on the Apple podcast page to help this go out and reach more people out there, who are living in this family disease of addiction or engaging in their recovery. 

In the fall, we’ve got some great lineups already done some amazing interviews, couple of couples will be in, talking about the journey. And also, the one and only Karen Casey will be part of the podcast, along with other wonderful human beings who I have interviewed and ones who are yet to be interviewed. So, take care of you. Enjoy your summer and we’ll be back after Labor Day. 

Please find resources on my website: 

This is Margaret swift Thompson. 

Until next time, please take care of you!