Not Tough Love, just Love

We are so  honored to be with you each day sharing hope. Our outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. We are averaging over 100 new subscribers a day. We just past 101,335 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

We are starting a new promotion. The person who is our 105,000 will wins some nice prizes. It goes very fast so don’t miss out. 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing  a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more details about the new book. Look for updates here.

+ Update! The book has been sent to my editor this week. Now I wait and see how many red marks she will have in it. 🙂 

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Welcome back Linda Clare. Her posts have us crying. They want us to reach out to help. They are inspiring.

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Not Tough Love—Just Love

That Sunday in church, tears slid down my face. I was so close to hopelessness, I didn’t care if my mascara ran. The night before, two of my grown sons, fueled by alcohol and drugs, had argued and nearly come to blows. Again.

The son who was supposed to be getting sober had relapsed. His brother was tweaking on meth. Around three AM, old grudges and rivalry reignited as their shouts woke my husband and me. We’d managed to break up the late-night fracas, but nothing was resolved. I felt trapped in a cycle: hope’s birth, followed by hope’s death, hope’s rebirth and back to death again. Now, even as Deacon Ron (not his real name) read aloud the Gospel, I wondered if I had strength enough to ever hope again.

My heart was heavy. Any hope of escaping the cycle seemed impossible. I was not only discouraged and sad, I was angry. Angry at my sons for their behavior and their choices. Angry at myself for my failure to enforce Tough Love. Angry at. . .well, just mad.

Bad enough that I felt hopeless. Recently, someone had remarked that I also appeared helpless. Tough Love sounded like a logical solution to a thorny problem, but I couldn’t make it work. That made me seem like a toothless T. Rex, my mini-arms clawing nothing but air.  Why couldn’t I do what so many friends, relatives, counselors and clergy had suggested over the years? Why couldn’t I detach myself from the alcoholics and addicts in my life? After services, I avoided eye contact as I slouched along in the handshake line.

The problem for me, lay in the popular meaning of the term Tough Love. Whenever people advise me to use Tough Love, they usually mean, “kick out your addicted loved ones.” In twenty-plus years of dealing with their substance abuse, I’ve ordered my loved ones into treatment, set rules and drawn up code of conduct contracts. I’ve called police, obtained restraining orders and separated from my alcoholic husband for a time. But what I could never do was kick them out—especially if it meant, “Don’t come back until you’ve licked this problem.”

After services, instead of slinking off, I knelt at the prayer bench where Deacon Ron waits to pray for those who ask him. Ron’s also a Jail Chaplain, and has led a prison ministry for at least twenty years. He knows my family’s situation well. “Please pray for me.” I hung my head but he placed his hands on my shoulders. I glanced up and confessed. “I’m a terrible failure at Tough Love.”

What he said next made my jaw drop. “I don’t believe in Tough Love.”

I’d never heard anyone say that.  I thought Tough Love was the only way I’d ever convince my sons to go into recovery. The reason they were still using their drugs of choice was that I sucked at Tough Love. Unwittingly, I’d chained them to a life of self-destructive misery by not “kicking them out.”

I own a battered copy of the 1982 book, ToughLove, by family therapists and drug and alcohol counselors Phyllis and David York. After the tumultuous sixties and seventies, more and more teens were using tobacco and alcohol, and the crack cocaine epidemic was hitting youth hard. TOUGHLOVE was touted as the solution to restore parents’ control over their wayward youths. The book was a bestseller and changed many lives.

Somewhere along the way, though, TOUGHLOVE became Tough Love. While counseling professionals may still use the phrase to reference the Yorks’ program to establish control over wayward teens, most people today tend to think of Tough Love as, “kicking him/her out,” cutting off contact and withholding resources.

The idea works some of the time. I know several parents whose adult and teenage sons recovered after a Tough Love ultimatum. One friend’s son, in his forties, was a meth addict who recovered after his family said he wasn’t welcome at the family Christmas gathering. My own husband of forty years gave up drinking after we separated, and I’m thankful.

But not every family’s so lucky.  Sadly, addiction and mental illness are often tangled together. Too unstable to hold a job, find housing or pay for treatment, those with both mental conditions and substance abuse problems often self-medicate. Some are like my middle son, whose drug use and mental illness give him an emotional and social age of about ten years old.

Many alcoholics and addicts either cannot or will not get the help they need. Sometimes addicts are stubborn, but more often they’re destitute, physically sick, mentally ill or all three.  After the closure of most mental hospitals in the eighties, individuals once committed to institutions are now forced to live in the streets.  And what’s left for these people is more tough than loving.

My knees hurt as I knelt before Deacon Ron, but my mind raced. Why didn’t he believe in Tough Love? I remembered our own attempts to use Tough Love—we really did try. When our meth addict was not even sixteen, we “kicked him out.” Surely our son would feel the cold and wet from an Oregon winter night and beg to go to rehab. I packed my son’s belongings into a black trash bag, sobbing as I placed it outside the front door. We stood firm as he tried to talk his way back inside. We locked all the doors, only to find him asleep in his bed the next morning. This went on for days.

We finally gave up trying to kick him out, fearing he’d die if he had to live on the street.

Deacon Ron’s gaze drilled through me as I knelt. “Did you know that I lost a son to drugs?”

My eyes must have widened. Ron may have sensed I needed to know he wasn’t just opinionated—he’d already made the ultimate sacrifice. “No,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry for your loss.” I took a breath. “See, that’s why I fail at Tough Love— if I turn my back on them, I’m scared my sons will die.”

Ron smiled a little. “What does Jesus command us to do?”

“Ah. Love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

“That’s right.” Ron bowed his head and asked God to give me wisdom, courage, to help me love not only my sons, but to forgive those who judge me if I can’t do what they suggest. My soggy heart felt lighter as I began to I understand that talking about difficult problems like substance abuse and mental illness makes people uncomfortable. People naturally want to do something—anything—to make the pain stop. Tough Love sounds easy—just remove the addict from your midst and the problem is solved. In our culture, hard problems like addiction, sickness and death aren’t discussed much, let alone embraced.

I’m as squeamish as the next person—I still can’t watch the part of the movie where the Romans flog Jesus. But God has provided me with the grace and enough hope to keep encouraging and yes, often nudging my sons to get clean.

As Ron prayed, I also felt more compassion for those who can’t tolerate the idea of suffering, those whose story must turn away from the Passion and always be tuned to the glory of Easter. I forgave myself for being so sucky at Tough Love. Slowly, anger was replaced by love.

That day, I arrived home to the sound of our lawn mower. One son had transformed our yard from a mess after the harsh winter storms to an emerald-jeweled landscape. Besides mowing, he’d hauled fallen branches, edged the planters, raked leaves and swept the driveway. He’d even mowed the neighbor’s yard. He beamed as I thanked him for his efforts. Inside, his brother had cooked a Sunday dinner fit for royalty, and the house had been tidied too. A bouquet of fresh daffodils sat on the dining table. Both my sons demonstrated their love by doing, without being asked, chores that for me are difficult. I hugged each of them, hard, whispering that I loved them to the moon and back.

By the end of the day, I had sore knees, a singing heart and a stronger hope than ever. I’ll keep pushing them (and myself) to lay down demons and hold them accountable if they fight those demons with T. Rex arms. More than anything, I will keep on loving without conditions. That’s the toughest kind of love there is.

Linda Clare

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken. 

You are never unloved.

And above all….never ever give up!

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Are We in a Rut Ignoring the Hurting?

We tried to give away a prize a few weeks ago, but the winner never returned our email telling them they had won. They had won because they were the 70,000 subscriber. What we will now do is give those same prizes to the person who is the 71,000 subscriber. We now have 70,590, so we have a little ways to go. We hope to keep growing every day, so if you haven’t already subscribed please do now. You just click on the icon right after the title to do that. _________________________________________________________________
Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many soldiers and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides ever day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. He just got back from a writer’s conference and had some very positive meetings with some agents who are interested in taking him on as a client for his new book. He will up date you as he finds out more.
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Are you tired of the daily routine? Does it all seem like a blur? You get up in the morning. Go to work. Come home and eat dinner, and go to bed.
So many of us are in a rut. We accept the status quo and trudge through life unaware of what is happening around us.
I have been there myself. No thoughts of wanting to seek adventure. No feelings about anything outside of my world.
In church today I was awakened to something that struck me right between my eyes. We were told by our Pastor that we get so busy being church people, we forget that there are people on the outside the church who are crying for help.
We feel so comfortable with all the other church people around us that we don’t even think about what is going on the other side of the walls.
There are the homeless. There are those who are out of work. People have broken relationships, and broken lives. Some are addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Who is there to help them? Who cares enough to stop and hand a homeless man a dollar?
We all need to think about those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. They need our attention. They deserve our attention.
It could be you that is needing that help. It could be you lying in the gutter, drunk out of your mind and crying for someone to help you.
I have adjusted my thinking to look farther passed my normal horizons. I need to turn my head and look at them when I pass a homeless person needing help. I need to bend down when a person can’t get up.
It doesn’t take much from each of us to reach out to the less fortunate.  It changes lives.
Remember:
You are never alone.
You are never forsaken.
You are never unloved.
And above all…never, ever, give up!
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Lost to Alcohol!

Our thanks to all of you who have been subscribing to our site. It has been tremendous. We just passed 69,913 subscribers. We look forward to many more of you joining us in the future. Our goal is to reach 70,000 by the end of the year. Why is this happening? We provide daily words of encouragement and hope. Many of you come here to find help with anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, self-doubt, hopelessness and the many other usual suspects. Help us to keep growing by subscribing yourself if you haven’t already. You can do this by clicking on the icon right after the title to do that.
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 We are coming up with some promotion for when we reach 70,000! It will be a give-a-way. So start subscribing like crazy. The 70,000th subscriber will be receiving a prize! We are down to our last 86 people before we reach that goal. We will have a winner in the next couple of days. Are you the one?
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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of “Life.” It will be reaching out the many soldiers and veterans who may be battling anxiety, Fear, depression, addictions,rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides ever day. That is almost one every hour. I want to help stop those statistics.

It is in the final stages and I will be meeting with the different publishers on August 10th, to discuss publication.

I will keep you posted. In the mean time, you can read an actual chapter from the new book by going to My author page at: http://www.dougbolton.com.

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I have known someone who was overcome with alcohol. He kept saying he was going to stop. He was in the hospital with different stomach problems, but still kept drinking. Then one day they found him dead of his couch. Alone.

This is not a story that is easy to tell. You may have been there some time in your life. You may have had a loved one who was addicted to drug or alcohol. It breaks your heart when you can see the empty looks in their eyes. It breaks your heart when they refuse any help you try to get for them. They wander around in a stupor and think they will be OK.

The sad thing is you may find them laying on their coach, alone dead.

I feel the pain of this kind of world. You feel helpless. You feel that you should have done more, but couldn’t.

Here is the bottom line:

  • IT IS NOT YOU FAULT! This was the burden many of us had right our friend died. (If only I could have done more.) You did what you could, but the person has to allow you to help them change. If they refuse then it is out of your hands. You still hurt. You still hope he/she will come around and go into recovery. Many don’t. Many go to recovery often and still fail again.

Life is tough at best. You don’t need to take on other people’s burdens, and let them pull you down like a huge magnate.

There will be grief. There will be sadness, but try to move on and do what you need to do to take care of yourself, and those around you.  God loves you the way you are. He knows the pain you may be going through. He is saddened by those who become addicted. But He gave people choices, and they made their choices.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…..never, ever, give up!

 

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Domestic Violence in the Military

Our thanks to all of you who have been subscribing to our site. It has been tremendous. We just passed 68,750 subscribers. We look forward to many more of you joining us in the future. Our goal is to reach 70,000 by the end of the year.

Why is this happening? We provide daily words of encouragement and hope. Many of you come here to find help with anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, self-doubt, hopelessness and the many other usual suspects.

Help us to keep growing by subscribing yourself if you haven’t already. You can do this by clicking on the icon right after the title to do that.

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One of the hardest parts for me to write about is domestic violence in the military. I have seen and heard of it, and I think we need to talk about it. It is not widespread, but there shouldn’t be any violence. It is hard enough for the families to have a normal life in the military, because of the constant moving, separations, and duties the soldier in the family has to do.

We need to think of what damage happens to a family that is caught in the web of domestic violence. The spouse being treated badly lives in fear everyday. They hover in their homes dreading when their spouse is coming home. They do what they can to try to have everything perfect for their spouse, and yet it seems there is nothing that can be done. Verbal abuse and violence still rises its ugly head.

Let’s think of the family as a whole.  If there children, they observe all the abuse and violence. They look up to their parents, and want to be like them. So, if you abuse your spouse, you children very likely will do the same when they marry. It is like a “monkey, see; monkey do,” trap. They copy what they see their parents are doing.

If you have problems with drugs and alcohol, your children may also have trouble with drugs and alcohol. “Monkey see; monkey do.” If you don’t spend quality time with your children, they may not become good parents themselves, “Monkey see; monkey do.”

You, as soldiers, need to leave the rigorous, tough, and no nonsense type attitudes at work. Don’t bring it into the home. Your family should be precious to you. You should be very thankful you have a supporting spouse waiting for you every day. You should be  more than thankful you have little children who love you at home waiting for you.

Take an inventory of your daily life. Is it going in such a way that your family can’t wait for you to come, because they love you so much, or are they afraid of the terror, and disruption you are bringing home?

Let God come into your life, and show you true love. With Him guiding you, there could be a totally different life your family endures.

Remember:

You are never alone.

You are never forsaken.

You are never unloved.

And above all…never, ever, give up!

 

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