Cathy Taughinbaugh Chats with Sandy Swenson about Just Dandy: Living with Heartache and Wishes 

by Cathy Taughinbaugh
December 21, 2020
Are you ready to feel less lonely  as you try and cope with your child’s addiction? I’m excited today to share my interview with Sandy Swenson! Sandy is an author and advocate who inspires moms of children struggling with drugs or alcohol.

However, as much as I wish my family could have avoided all the pain, trauma, and drama, the truth is Im a better person now than I was even aware I could be. I have had to dig deep, feel big, see the truth, and be real. Because of that, Ive discovered a deeper level of patience, acceptance, kindness, and understanding of what really matters. For that, Im grateful. ~ Sandy Swenson

Some of the takeaways from the interview are below, but first, watch my interview with Sandy (above).
  • It’s easy to feel like a failure as a mother when your child is struggling with substance use.
  • Addiction is a disease, not a disgrace.
  • Imperfect parenting is not what causes addiction. When we understand that, we can then shed the shame, blame, and guilt because most of that is about thinking it was our fault.
  • Recovery is possible within ourselves even if our child goes down a different path.
  • We have the power to live with this heartache and thrive.
  • We can acknowledge that we have heartache and live with the heartache by embracing our wishes, dreams, and good things in life, which inspires our hope. That is the mom power where we have the control.
  • Not only can our behaviors and actions change things so much, no matter what happens next. Our behaviors and actions are also a reflection outwards to our child and to other people—affecting the way they treat our child.
  • There is so much hope. Sometimes I’ve been at that place where hope hurts, when my hopes have been dashed. But that is a momentary feeling. Hope is broad. It is real. It is the thing that carries us through all of this. Hope can be pinned on ourselves and how we react to everything.

Imperfect parenting is not what causes addiction. We can shed the shame, blame, and guilt because most of that is about thinking that we caused it. ~Sandy Swenson

  • I became a better person through addiction and learned that my reactions could either make things better or worse.
  • What I learned from addiction, I can apply to everything that comes next in my life.
  • All of us moms, if we stop and take a look, have grown and learned and become better people in the way that we react to other major issues.
  • I want to be an example for my sons. I want to live my life in a way that I hope they will live: trying to do the right thing every day and in a positive manner.
  • I don’t want my son to ever think he destroyed our lives or our family. He does not have the power to do that unless I let him. I will not let the disease of addiction destroy our family or me out of honor for my son–the son that I know and love who is wonderful and beautiful.
  • I want to help moms make their way through all the tough stuff so there is something healthy remaining within themselves—and so they can honor their child and honor their purpose or legacy.
  • By speaking out, seeds are being planted, and it will help all our children along the way.
  • Self-care is looking in the mirror each morning and saying something nice to yourself. Start off saying something good and setting a goal for the day that will make you feel that you’ve accomplished something.
  • All these things are in my control.
  • I have the power to control myself, but not anyone around me.
  • There is nothing selfish about self-care.
  • My biggest powers are acceptance and unconditional love.
Three simple steps from Sandy to help you move forward in positive ways:
  1. Start each day with a kind word or two to yourself.
  2. Start each day with the goal of doing at least one thing to help yourself become your best self possible, whatever that may be, whatever you feel up to—big or small, personal or reaching out—on any given day.
  3. Every day, jot down the kind words you said to yourself and the thing you did to help become your best self possible, whatever that may be.
Sandra Swenson is the mother of two sons—one of whom struggles with addiction. Author of the books Just Dandy: Living with Heartache and Wishes, The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction, Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children and the Readings for Moms of Addicts app. Sandra lives in the place where love and addiction meet—a place where help enables and hope hurts. Sandra is a voice for parents of children suffering from the disease of addiction, putting their thoughts and feeling into words. Her latest project is MomPower.org, an easy-to-navigate hub connecting moms who have children with addictions to a world of help, hope, perspective, sanity, and empowerment. Sandra lives in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she isn’t writing or traveling to speak with other parents who are coping with the disease of addiction in their family, Sandra enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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