IMPORTANT: READ ABOUT OUR COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS
Episode 9

A Mother-Daughter Story

September 25th, 2020

Announcer: Welcome to Addiction and the Family, “Episode 9: A Mother-Daughter Story.”

Casey Arrillaga: How has addiction affected your family?

Female Speaker: It robbed me of my father.

Female Speaker: Addiction's affected my family in absolutely every way.

Male Speaker: It has caused a lot of turmoil.

Female Speaker: It goes back to what I understand is at least three generations.

Female Speaker: It robbed my daughter of her mother. It robbed my mother of her daughter.

Female Speaker: Addiction has made our family quite challenging.

Male Speaker: Addiction has affected my family tremendously.

Male Speaker: It's affected my relationship with my sister where I wouldn't – I'd go for months without talking to her. It's a very difficult thing for everybody involved. It doesn't just affect the one individual. It's a disease that affects the whole family.

Male Speaker: Addiction is spread not only genetically through some of my relatives and I assume ancestors.

Female Speaker: It's generational.

Female Speaker: I think of him every day.

Casey Arrillaga: Welcome to Addiction and the Family, a podcast by and for family members of anyone with an addiction. My name is Casey Arrillaga, and I'm a social worker and addiction counselor at both Windmill Wellness Ranch and InMindOut Emotional Wellness Centers in Texas. I've led hundreds of family workshops, but I've also lived the experience of being family to addiction as both a child and adult. My wife, Kira, and I were in our addictions together for over a decade and now have been in recovery together for almost 20 years. Join us as we offer experience, strength, and realistic hope about how you and your family can find recovery together.

Kira Arrillaga: Hi, this is Kira. This episode is part of our Spotlight on Recovery series. In it a mother hears her daughter’s story for the first time, which helps pave the way for healing. It features Jules, a mother who went through decades of addiction before finding recovery, and her daughter Izzy, who shares her own perspective on what it’s been like for her. We often hear the stories of people with addiction at addiction recovery meetings like AA, NA, Smart, Celebrate Recovery, and so many others, and we often hear the stories of their loved ones in family recovery fellowships like Al-Anon, Families Anonymous, and Adult Children of Alcoholics, but we rarely hear those stories put together. We’ll listen to that interview right after a word from one of our sponsors.

[Commercial]

Welcome back. One thing I notice listening to this interview is that both Jules and Izzy are so willing and so honest. They want to share their story, but they also really want to grow and keep getting better. It’s also wonderful to hear how much Jules and Izzy love each other and support each other even after everything they’ve been through as a result of Jules’s addiction. I work with Jules. You can probably tell by listening to her in the interview that Jules is energetic, but what you don’t hear is what a recovery powerhouse she is. When a client at our facility makes a sudden decision to leave before completing treatment, Jules is the first person I want to call. She has this amazing way of talking to people that’s very no nonsense but totally loving and maternal. I find myself thinking if anyone can convince this client to stay, it’s Jules.

The one time I’ve had the chance to sit and chat with Izzy, she came across as a smart, fun, athletic young woman with a good heart and a bright future ahead of her. Very few people are as high energy as Jules, but Izzy has her own wonderful energy, and she is sweet and compassionate. I found it interesting that even though I can remember hiding pain like hers as a teenager, I still didn’t see the pain she was carrying. Let’s hear what these strong women have to say.

Casey Arrillaga: Why don’t we start with each of you just introduce yourself with your name?

Izzy: I’m Izzy.

Jules: I’m Jules.

Casey Arrillaga: What brings you guys on a show called Addiction and the Family?

Izzy: we’re here to talk about what our experience was with my mom being an addict and now she’s in recovery. She’s recovering.

Jules: I’ve told my story multiple times at speaker events, and I told my story for the first time in front of my mother and Izzy probably about six months ago or so. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done to tell her all the ugly, but I thought it would also help her understand why I did the things I did and also to see how far I’ve come. I wanted her to see the strength.

Casey Arrillaga: Izzy, what was it like to hear your mom’s story?

Izzy: It was very confusing because I’d never seen that side of her, whatever, but it was nice to hear what she went through. It’s definitely something that I thought that I needed to know because I’ve seen that she’s grown very strong, and I know that she wouldn’t go back to that place because one of the things that she mentioned was because of me, because I’m her daughter and she saw me, so she paid attention to that.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, if I can ask, how long have you been sober now?

Jules: I got my three-year chip a couple months ago.

Casey Arrillaga: Congratulations.

Jules: Thank you.

Casey Arrillaga: That’s fantastic.

Jules: Thank you.

Casey Arrillaga: Izzy, how old are you?

Izzy: I’m 13.

Casey Arrillaga: You’ve lived some part of that story. Your mom has her story, but you also have yours, and that’s part of what we want to hear today is what your story is. I want to check on something because I know sometimes – like Jules you were saying it could be important for Izzy to hear your story, but I think it could also be important for your mom to hear and for other people to benefit from hearing your story, Izzy. One thing that I’ve run into sometimes in talking with people with this sort of thing is especially the kids of people with addiction sometimes are afraid if they tell too much of their story what it was like for them that it might hurt their parent or it might be painful. I want to check and see if there’s any doubt in your mind about that.

Izzy: Yeah, there’s always going to be that thought of hurting my mom by saying stuff, but I think she needs to know, too, how I felt and everything.

Casey Arrillaga: Have you guys talked about that before?

Izzy: No, not really.

Casey Arrillaga: Okay. Are you open to that today?

Izzy: Yeah.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, how about you? Are you open to it?

Jules: Absolutely.

Casey Arrillaga: Is there anything that you would want to say to your daughter about her fears if she tells her truth?

Jules: Just that I stuffed things for so long and didn’t share the way I felt or what I was going through ever since I was a little girl that it kept me sick, so I think it’s important for you to share how things were for you and how it made you feel, things that you thought. That way you’re not stuffing that inside, and you can let go of it.

Casey Arrillaga: That’s really powerful, and I’m also going to say really courageous. A lot of parents might not be up for that. I want to thank you both for your courage for coming out and doing this today. What I might want to do is so we have some context to give just an overview of what your story is.

Jules: I’ll be 44 this year, and growing up, I felt out of place. I didn’t feel comfortable with who I was. I had a sister who was not very nice, and our relationship has completely changed, but it was very hard growing up. I always thought that I was ugly, fat, stupid. I didn’t do well in school. I found crystal meth in high school, and I didn’t feel like that anymore.

Casey Arrillaga: How old were you at the time?

Jules: I was 14.

Casey Arrillaga: Right around Izzy’s age.

Jules: Mm-hm. I started doing meth and doing good in school, making friends. I had my parents telling me gosh, you’re doing so great. In my mind, it validated that I should keep doing it until I wasn’t doing great anymore, and it didn’t take very long. I was stealing large amounts of money from Grandma to keep paying for my drugs. I then moved to Las Vegas, and the best way to describe it is I lost my soul in Vegas. It got hard. It got fast. I wasn’t a very nice person. I’ve hurt a lot of people, ended up in jail, caused a lot of damage, and was also terrified because of the people who I was around, very scary people. I got my life together a little bit, went to California. My mother helped me fill out an application at Saks Fifth Avenue. I got the job, was doing great, felt like I had a purpose. Then I found crystal meth again when my son, who’s now 19, was two years old to the point of ending up in the hospital where he found me.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, what’s happening for you emotionally when you’re saying this?

Jules: I put my kid through things. My little boy had to find me like that. I ended up in ICU for days. They didn’t think I was going to make it, but that wasn’t enough. I did good for just a short amount of time. Went to Iowa with Sterling, had drugs shipped to me, got arrested by the feds at the post office with Sterling in the car, with somebody ripping him out of my hands and putting me in cuffs. Finally got my life together, did very well. I became a store managers for Couture Clothing, downtown LA, but then I struggled with pain and sickness and fatigue all the time thinking that I had fibromyalgia. Come to find out after I had you, I had systemic lupus, so when the pain started, they put me on prescription pain killers, and it just got worse and worse, ended up with renal failure in the hospital from the lupus. After that it really validated – it’s prescribed. I need to have it.

Casey Arrillaga: How old was Izzy at that point?

Jules: Izzy was six months old. When she was about 18 months, I went to treatment for it, came back, did well for a little bit, but it hurt. I was in a lot of pain, so I started taking again, and then when the days that I wasn’t in pain, I still took it, and I thought that this was going to be my life, and this just went on for years.

Casey Arrillaga: Did you go to treatment again during that time?

Jules: I went to treatment when she was 10 for 90 days. I always thought with other autoimmune disorders that I have that there’s no way I could be off pain killers. It terrified me. We came out here for vacation. I knew that Shannon would know that there’s a problem.

Casey Arrillaga: Who’s Shannon in this story?

Jules: Shannon’s my sister. Nobody knew where I lived that I had a problem. They were shocked. They had no idea, but at that time, I had no self-worth. I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. Even though they sat me down and had an intervention, because my ego, I had to fight it. No, there’s nothing wrong with me, but the moment I went into the room to start packing up my things, I had such a sense of relief, and she was with me, and Izzy had to see everything leading up those two weeks before I went to treatment, and it put her through a lot.

Casey Arrillaga: Izzy, what’s happening for you when you’re listening to your mom?

Izzy: It’s sad. It almost makes me think like maybe she wasn’t fully there the whole time. She was there but not mentally there. I just remember getting sent to my cousin’s grandma and grandpa’s which I called them Nona and Papa, so they’re still my grandparents. I went over there because they lived near Pappy’s house is where the interventionist was with my mom, and I got back, and I just saw everyone sitting in the room, and my mom was crying. She’s like I have to go and basically felt like my heart was just getting ripped out, like she was just leaving.

Casey Arrillaga: What did you tell yourself about that?

Izzy: I just beat myself down pretty hard. Maybe it’s my fault or maybe if we hadn’t gone on this trip, maybe if I didn’t want to see my cousins, maybe this wouldn’t have happened.

Casey Arrillaga: It’s really common especially for kids around addiction to tell themselves that maybe if I was different, maybe if I had done something different, but in a way, this is also something that you had been through before. Even though you might not remember it at 18 months, it can be very powerful for a child to feel like they’re separated from their mom, so there might have been some sense of repeating history.

Izzy: I had no idea that she went to treatment before then when she just left. I know it’s not like – I say just left, but I know it’s not like she’s just leaving. She’s trying to get better. It’s just – it was really hard because I felt like I did something wrong, so she was leaving me.

Casey Arrillaga: Do you still carry any messages in your heart around how you need to be so that your mom can be okay?

Izzy: I see that she’s stronger, so those have kind of gone away, but every once in a while, I’ll be like maybe – why is everyone acting like everything is normal when it wasn’t at that time? Everyone acting like it’s fine, but I still felt it. I still feel it.

Casey Arrillaga: When you say you still feel it, can you talk about that a little bit?

Izzy: Yeah, it’s like I still have those feelings where I’m like oh, what if she has to go again, or what if she just accidentally goes for it again and I never see her again?

Casey Arrillaga: Have you talked to your mom about those fears?

Izzy: No, I don’t like to talk to her about it because I don’t want to put her down.

Casey Arrillaga: Let me check. Jules, when you hear that, do you feel like you’re being put down?

Jules: No.

Casey Arrillaga: What do you hear?

Jules: My heart hurts for her.

Casey Arrillaga: Is there anything that you’d want to tell her about those messages that she’s giving herself?

Jules: That it had nothing to do with you, honey. If anything, you have been like a beacon of light for me to shoot for.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, what do you mean by that?

Jules: That I don’t want her to think that anything I did or any destruction that I did had anything to do with her. If I didn’t have her or my son, I don’t know if I’d be here. You guys give me more strength than you know.

Casey Arrillaga: I wonder, Jules, do you need Izzy to act any certain way for you to be okay?

Jules: No. I want to do everything I can to help raise her to be a strong, independent woman, but nothing she’s going to do will take me back out again ever.

Casey Arrillaga: What’s it like for you to hear your mom saying that?

Izzy: It definitely takes stress off me. It’s hard because those feelings I don’t think will go away for a long time, but it’s good to hear that I have some reassurance.

Casey Arrillaga: Izzy, are you aware of some of the things that you might have done in your efforts to either be the right way or keep your mom from relapsing or anything like that?

Izzy: As soon as I found out she got back from treatment, I was finding meetings and groups and everything, trying to figure out how can I help her. I went to every meeting with her. I gave her all her chips. I was trying to keep her in check.

Casey Arrillaga: It sounds like you switched roles and you became the parent.

Izzy: Yeah, I tried as much as I could to be that role and try to help as much as I can.

Casey Arrillaga: I’m going to actually rewind the story a little bit, before your mom got in recovery, before she went into treatment when you were 10, what did you notice?

Izzy: Her feelings weren’t really there. I could tell that she loved me. That was – totally. I could totally tell that, but I never really saw her at a low point because when she was taking the stuff, she didn’t really have a low point where I saw, so I really just saw her being the happy person, and when she got mad, she just shut down. Sometimes I’d walk in a room, she’d be crying, and I didn’t understand why. I didn’t know because I was getting older, and I was realizing oh, maybe something’s wrong.

Casey Arrillaga: What messages did you give yourself about that?

Izzy: I was like maybe I did something wrong, or maybe she’s just having a bad day. I tried to push it away because I didn’t really understand what was going on.

Casey Arrillaga: Even at that age, you were taking some responsibility.

Izzy: Yeah, I was trying to be the best I could be, totally making sure it wasn’t my fault. I was really trying to get through stuff in school, even though I had a really hard time, and I didn’t want my mom to help me with homework because I felt like she was stressed, so I just struggled a lot, but I’m one of the smartest kids in my class now, so I got through it. We both definitely got stronger.

Casey Arrillaga: A lot of times we can take the things that have happened, we can spin a lot of strength and skill out of them, but if we’re not able to let go of the underlying hurt, then we never get to enjoy the rewards. You’re never going to forget how to study hard, how to apply yourself, but you could drive yourself crazy trying to do everything perfectly and in the name of being the best you can be never allow yourself to relax. I don’t know how you do with that.

Izzy: I mostly like to go out at nighttime when it’s like the sun is setting, and I like to talk to my friends or sit out there and play basketball or play with my dog because I’m just like – I need some sort of release. I go for a walk.

Kira Arrillaga: We’ll be right back with more of Casey’s interview with Jules and Izzy after a quick break.

[Commercial]

Casey Arrillaga: What was it like for you when your mom was in treatment?

Izzy: I couldn’t go home yet, so I was staying at my aunt Shannon’s. I guess I didn’t understand why everyone was acting like it was fine because I didn’t understand, and my brother had already left to go home, so it was just me. At this time, me and my cousins have gotten better, but they were really mean to me. They locked me outside and stuff, and I just felt I have to get through it because I needed to make sure that everyone was going to be okay. I wasn’t focusing on myself, and then I went home, and my dad was there. I think he really tried to make everything up to me. We went camping like every weekend just trying to – he tried to get my mind off of it as much as he could.

Casey Arrillaga: Did it work?

Izzy: It did for a little bit. Then when she came home, it gave me a reality check, and I was like when is she going to leave again or whatever? I guess I was scared. Most days I didn’t want to go to school because – I always said that my stomach hurt, but really, I just felt like she was going to leave again.

Casey Arrillaga: Take a moment and just breathe with that. It’ll help. Take a deep breath. I really want to thank you for allowing those emotions to come up, but I hear that constant fear that your mom was going to leave again.

Izzy: Yeah.

Casey Arrillaga: That it was your job to make sure everyone was okay so that that didn’t happen. I wonder, did you ever find yourself trying to manage other people so that they wouldn’t upset your mom?

Izzy: Yeah. Sometimes I’d be like maybe we should calm down. When my parents were fighting, I’d be like – I’d start crying or I’d go tell my brother. I’d talk to him and be like maybe if they don’t yell at each other, maybe everything will be okay.

Casey Arrillaga: That’s a lot of people to manage.

Izzy: I was friends with the kids of people that weren’t very great in her life, and I was just like maybe I should just stop hanging out with them because I don’t want to cause anything with my mom or anything. I don’t want to give her any extra stress.

Casey Arrillaga: I hear this kid walking around with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Izzy: Yeah, it feels like that. Every day I wake up, and I try to be happy, but I know that I really just want to lay in bed all day. I don’t have motivation to do things.

Casey Arrillaga: If I can ask, Izzy, where do you get support around this?

Izzy: My friends, really, because they have their things with their parents, and they can understand me. I usually talk to them at nighttime because that’s when feelings really come up at nighttime when you’re about to go to bed so you can talk to them about things and stuff like that, but I also have my dad. It’s hard to talk to him, though, because every time we go to visit him, he’s nice and he does stuff, but then I’m not so nice to him because I’m like I’m only going to be here for a week. It’s not like I’m going to be with him forever, so I just ignore him. It really sucks because I feel so bad for him, but it’s like I don’t want to connect with him because I’m just going to get taken away from him. I don’t like that.

Casey Arrillaga: I feel like I hear this recurring theme of fear of losing people.

Izzy: Yeah, he was on ships for most of my life when I was younger for two to three months at a time because he’s in the Coast Guard. I had that fear that I was going to lose everyone, so I just tried to hold onto the people I could, and if I couldn’t, I just didn’t try at all.

Casey Arrillaga: If I may ask, have you ever gotten any professional support?

Izzy: Therapists with me, I really don’t feel a connection. They were more talking and not listening, but I found a great therapist now, so I love talking to him because he listens to me and he – after I’m done talking, then he gives his answers and everything.

Casey Arrillaga: The idea that you’re getting support is really important. If I may ask, have you ever looked into any of the recovery fellowships especially for – like Alateen or something like that that’s set up for teenagers that have been through this sort of thing?

Izzy: That would be awesome, but I’ve never really looked into it.

Casey Arrillaga: Okay. Would you be open to that?

Izzy: I certainly would.

Casey Arrillaga: I’d be happy to point you toward some resources for that, and especially right now, I’m pretty sure it’s all online anyway.

Izzy: Yeah, definitely would.

Casey Arrillaga: Very cool. There’s also a Smart Recovery Family and Friends, which takes a little bit of a different approach, but same basic goal of being able to find relief for family members. Jules, what’s happening for you when you’re listening to Izzy tell her story?

Jules: I’m really proud of you. Of course, it hurts knowing that that’s what she was going through and that she really didn’t have very many people, and I know a lot of what she’s been through has shaped her a little bit. She’s always struggled with anxiety, and I’m sure that this has made her anxiety a lot higher to live in fear. I just feel really bad for her.

Casey Arrillaga: This might be an important moment. Jules, I want to check with you. It is painful to hear some of this stuff, and I hear, Izzy, that you’ve had a lot of fear of causing your mom pain, that you might lose her, she might spin out again or something like that. Jules, can you maybe clarify for your daughter whether or not you can survive the pain that you’re listening to?

Jules: Absolutely, because it sounds like she really needs to talk about it, and that’s what’s important to me.

Casey Arrillaga: Do you feel like anything she’s said has somehow brought you closer to relapse?

Jules: No. I’m happy because the place that I am in my life that I can really be here for her. I just didn’t know.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, let me check. Are you the only person who’s struggled with addiction in your family?

Jules: No. Shannon and I used to party together quite a bit. My younger sister died tragically when she was 23 due to alcohol, so it’s very much well and alive in our family.

Casey Arrillaga: I’m willing to bet that your generation did not invent it from scratch.

Jules: No, my grandmother may be a hard drinker, but my aunt, my mother’s sister, was a severe addict and still is.

Casey Arrillaga: One of the reasons that I point that out is partly it is about – a current estimate about 50% genetic, so there’s that, but there’s also the family culture that gets passed down, and for a long time, there was nothing anyone could really effectively do about addiction so most of what families did was hide it, and so one of the ideas that came up for a lot of family members was that we need to not talk about it because there’s no point. We just need to hide it from ourselves, hide it from the neighbors, hide it from each other. A lot of times people consciously or unconsciously pass that down through generations to not talk about things, to not express our feelings, but also, Izzy, some of the things that you’ve talked about so far in having that fear of I don’t want to upset the person with the addiction. What if we lose them? What if they get worse? What if they get angry and defensive because that’s been known to happen when we challenge somebody’s addiction and they’re not ready to hear it yet.

Between all those things, this sometimes becomes an unspoken rule or sometimes a blatantly spoken rule. It gets passed down. In a lot of ways, you guys are breaking that family pattern by talking about it today, and I encourage you to keep talking about it but also to recognize that there’s a chance to plant a flag here and change the trajectory of the family by being able to talk about it, by being able to stand up to those fears, but while I doubt anyone intended it, probably there’s been a lot of generational pressure for you not to talk about it, for you not to talk about it, for me not to talk about it. I grew up in a family around addiction, and I took it on myself for decades, really, so there’s an opportunity to do something different. If we take that opportunity, we can change future generations that we may never even meet. There’s something really beautiful about that.

Jules: I like the sound of that, Casey. I like the sound of that.

Casey Arrillaga: Yeah, we can’t do much about the genetics yet, and I don’t even know if it’s a good idea if we could, but we can do a lot about the other 50%, and this is part of it. I want to check. We’ve covered some stuff about the timeline and all that, but Izzy, I want to toss it to you again. What is something that you would want to tell your mom about all of this that maybe you haven’t had a chance to tell her before?

Izzy: Just it’s so difficult to get through [30:24] because I still have that fear of losing you. I have that fear of losing everyone, and it’s hard to sleep at night. I think maybe that’s part of the insomnia that I have because I don’t know if when I wake up somebody’s going to be gone. Your younger sister, Mary, she was like a sister to me, and when she passed away, I think I didn’t even have a fish die or anything. Nothing had ever passed away, and then one of the most important people to me was gone.

Casey Arrillaga: How old were you when that happened?

Jules: Three. She has clear memories.

Izzy: She’d read books to me, and she’d lay in bed with me, and she’d just sleep with me because I needed someone there. My mom had work, so she wasn’t always there. My dad, he worked late nights because he was on duty and everything. It was good to have her there like a second mom almost.

Casey Arrillaga: I wonder, having talked about some of the things we’ve talked about today and the family patterns and your feelings and some of that, if there’s anything that you could say to your aunt knowing what you know now, what would you say?

Izzy: Honestly, just great job because she got through nursing school and that I love her very much. We’re always going to be there for her even though she’s gone, and I hope that if she needs us, she knows where to find us. I hope that she’s watching over us right now and hearing this. I want to say thank you for all that she did for me.

Casey Arrillaga: I don’t know if you’ve ever done this before, but some people find it helpful when we’ve lost someone – and unfortunately, around addiction there can be a lot of loss – can find it helpful to write somebody a letter.

Izzy: I actually used to do that. On her birthday, we’d let off pink balloons in the sky, and I’d write a little letter, and I’d put it on there, and I’d let it go.

Casey Arrillaga: That’s beautiful.

Izzy: Yeah.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, is there anything you’d want to say to Izzy that you haven’t had a chance to say before?

Jules: Just I’m really proud of you for doing this today and I thank you for sharing with me what you felt and how you’ve been feeling. I try not to show my worry, but I know you’ve been struggling. I know you have. I know you’ve had a lot of anxiety, especially at night, and know that mom’s not blowing it off. I know what’s going on with you. I’m just trying to get you forward the best way I know how. I love you.

Izzy: I love you, too.

Casey Arrillaga: I hear a little bit of a dynamic that can form that’s very easy to do, especially at your age, quite honestly, where you’re still walking on eggshells a little bit and still hiding some of your feelings from your mom because you don’t want to upset her. I hear, Jules, that you’re also saying I try to hide my worry and that maybe there’s some feelings that you’re hiding from Izzy because you don’t want to upset her, and I want to check on that. Izzy, do you want your mom to be hiding her feelings from you?

Izzy: I don’t want her to hide her feelings. I just want her to talk to me. That’s all I want, and I will listen.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, do you want Izzy to be hiding her feelings from you?

Jules: No.

Casey Arrillaga: Maybe there’s a chance even through this conversation to start to shift that. Do you guys want to try that?

Jules: Mm-hm. Definitely.

Casey Arrillaga: Before we close up, I want to know, Izzy, is there anything that you would say to any other kids out there who might’ve gone through or are going through some of the things that you’ve been through or are going through?

Izzy: Just have faith and hope, and if you just try and don’t stop trying – it’s good to relieve stress, but you should always have something there that you can hold onto and be like you know what, I’m going to get her through this, or I’m going to go get him through this, or I’m going to get myself through this because –

Casey Arrillaga: Izzy, I’m going to jump in because I hear that going to that lace of if I try hard enough, if I run fast enough, if I’m good enough, then my parent will be okay, but we know that that’s not really true. You don’t have that kind of power. I wonder are you willing to let some of that weight go?

Izzy: I would like to.

Casey Arrillaga: Is there anything you’d want to say to any other kids that are maybe carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders around their parents struggling with addiction?

Izzy: You’ve got to believe in the people that you love. I know it’s going to be hard, but you just have to have hope that they’re going to get better.

Casey Arrillaga: Jules, is there anything you’d want to say to any parents out there that might be struggling in the ways that you have?

Jules: To be honest with your children, and now I’ve learned not purposely being selfish about what I’m going through or what my story is, sitting down with your children and talking to them about what their experiences were and what their feelings were because they need a chance to tell their story and speak about it.

Casey Arrillaga: Yeah. I’m a big fan of Mr. Rogers’s approach, which is that you can talk to kids about anything and be honest about anything and just talk in terms that they can understand, but we can tell any truth.

Jules: Mm-hm.

Casey Arrillaga: I like to think that any truth can be told with love and compassion. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of this here today. I really appreciate that from you guys.

Jules: We thank you, Casey.

Izzy: Thank you very much for this.

Casey Arrillaga: Thank you. It was a blessing.

Jules: It’s a gift.

Casey Arrillaga: You guys are giving a gift to a lot of people out there who will hopefully get a chance to hear this.

Kira Arrillaga: You know, I think this was your most powerful interview so far.

Casey Arrillaga: Thank you. I will say it is my – no offense to any of the others, but it is my favorite interview that I’ve done. These guys were so open and honest and so willing to explore areas that they hadn’t looked at before in their relationship, and I like to think that it was a testament to the power of openness and honesty in relationships, especially around addiction, which makes openness and honesty so difficult, and they took that opportunity and really showed how much a relationship can open up and grow as a result.

Kira Arrillaga: When a parent is addicted, it’s a terrible blow to the bond that they have with their children, and Izzy has obviously suffered because of her mom leaving her to go to rehab. I notice she doesn’t talk a lot about the day-to-day experience of living with a mother who’s struggling with addiction. It seems like the trauma of her mother’s leaving her to go to treatment felt bigger to her.

Casey Arrillaga: That sense of abandonment or losing people, I think that is one of the scariest things for human beings. We’re such a tribal and connecting animal, that the idea of losing people, whether it’s through distance, time – ultimately, of course, a big fear around addiction would be death. Any of those losses of relationship are often the scariest thing, and a lot of times kids around addiction will withstand almost anything to be able to hold onto their parent, and so seeing these guys being able to grow closer just over the course of this interview – and I’m really happy to report that since we’ve recorded the interview, I’ve been in touch with them, and they reported that their communication has gotten better and that this was actually really helpful for them, and I’m very grateful for that.

Kira Arrillaga: Again, I was really struck by their willingness, and I know that you were too. Communication is so very important. I know it’s been important for us. It was something that I feel is missing in a lot of relationships, good communication. Communication can be learned, and I think that Jules and her whole family have worked very hard on that.

Casey Arrillaga: It really seems that that’s true, and that’s to their credit. I can only hope for them and anyone out there listening that they continue to grow, and for all of our listeners, you continue to grow in your openness and honesty and communication as well.

Kira Arrillaga: Usually, we put a bit more dialogue in our episodes, but I don’t think – I feel like this interview speaks for itself.

Casey Arrillaga: Say goodnight, Kira.

Kira Arrillaga: Goodnight, Kira.

Casey Arrillaga: Thanks for being with us through another episode of Addiction and the Family. As they say in many recovery meetings, take what you liked and leave the rest. Go out and explore the possibilities for recovery in your life, and give your loved ones the space and dignity to make their own choices. If you liked this podcast, please subscribe. It means a lot to us. If you know anyone else who could use what we have to offer, please tell them about Addiction and the Family. If you have comments about this podcast, have a question you’d like answered on the show, or want to contribute your voice, or just want to say hi, you can write to us at addictionandthefamily@gmail.com. We're also happy to be your friend on Facebook, and we can be found tweeting on Twitter.

Kira Arrillaga: Addiction and the Family is produced, written, and engineered by Kira and Casey Arrillaga, with music by Casey.