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After years of being a 'proper' wife and mother, Constance Curry watched her oldest daughter disintegrate into alcohol and drug addiction. At the time, she couldn't save her daughter, but by finding strength in herself she saved them both.
The Power of a Mother's Example
In healing herself, she healed her family
Santa Monica, CA. (September 2006) - It is a commonly held idea that a mother is an important role model to her children, but for Constance Curry, the significance of this belief became a driving force in her life.
Constance had a picture perfect life. The stay-at-home mom of four lived in a nice area north of San Francisco. Her kids were smart and athletic, she was part of a lively social group and had a nice home, but underneath it all she felt powerless. She felt she couldn't speak up for herself with her husband or others, she had no income of her own and relied solely on her husband. While her husband was a great breadwinner, he was an alcoholic which often made him moody and aggressive. She felt she had no identity of her own. It was in this state of powerlessness that she watched Kristina, her oldest daughter, descend into the world of addiction.
The role model that Constance provided her children was one of worthlessness and powerlessness. And as Kristina began dabbling into alcohol, which avalanched into a methamphetamine addiction, Constance felt even more powerless, more unconnected and had no means of stopping Kristina's fall.
At a crisis point, Constance searched for and found her inner strength. She began by joining Al-Anon and other support groups. She also confronted her husband about his drinking and got a part time job. She got tough on Kristina, barring her from the house when she was high and finally barring her from her home until she agreed to treatment. It was a horrible choice for Constance to make and she knew that it could be the death of Kristina, but, as it was, Kristina was well on her way to killing herself through her addiction. Something had to change.
Constance learned a lot about dealing with an addict through her support groups and she knew that every time she let Kristina back into her life - into the lives of her family - she was helping Kristina to not confront her own problems. By allowing Kristina to come home anytime she wanted, was only aiding her addiction. It didn't require her to take any responsibility for herself. Tough love was required.
Kristina, when first confronted with her mother's new found power and determination, was decidedly angry. She remembers thinking at the time "Who is she to stand up to me?" But as Constance moved from being a victim to a place of power, Kristina could not help but see how much improved the life of her mother was. When Kristina finally entered treatment, after 8 years of addiction, it was due in large part to the strength her mother showed her by taking charge of her own life. Kristina says, "Part of the reason I finally agreed to treatment and stayed in treatment was because the drugs could no longer offer me an escape. My mom showed me that change was possible. My mom had made this safe, comfortable life for herself. I urgently wanted that kind of safety and self-control."
Constance says of that time, "I didn't know that I was setting such an example for Kristina to follow. I was just doing my best to live normally. I had learned through all those horrible years of watching Kristina hurt herself that I couldn't help her heal unless I was whole myself. Really, I was just trying to be a good person and a responsible mom."
Kristina, now fully recovered, a methamphetamine intervention specialist and international speaker, often has occasion to refer to her own story. She knows, intimately, that recovery has to be the decision of the addict, but she also knows that with a family's support, it is easier for an addict to see recovery as an option. Kristina never fails to credit her mother's tough decisions and tough love as the touchstone she needed during the hard months and years of rehabilitation and recovery. "The beauty of recovery is that it gives you the chance to make the right choices, to choose to be a productive member of society. It doesn't just happen to you, you get to make the choice to make it happen. My mom showed me that I could make a choice for recovery, just like she made a choice to be strong. Without her I believe I never could have made it."
Constance never realized how much influence she had on Kristina before her years of addiction and since her recovery until she actually sat down with Kristina to write their story, The Lost Years: Surviving a Mother and Daughter's Worst Nightmare. Connie continues to be a source of strength for Kristina and the rest of her family. About Kristina, Constance now says "She's a source of strength for me!"
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About the Authors:
Kristina Wandzilak has worked in the chemical dependency field since 1994. She created Full Circle Intervention (www.fullcirclei.com) and, with her team, she creates an individualized treatment plan for each client and their family. She is an international speaker, a well-known expert on drug addiction, and a leading systemic interventionist. She lives in the San Francisco bay area with her husband and two children. Constance Curry is a businesswoman and an educational speaker on the subject of addiction and family recovery. She lives in Marin County, California close to her children and grandchildren.
About the Book:
The Lost Years: Surviving a Mother and Daughter's Worst Nightmare is being published in trade paperback in October 2006 by Jeffers Press (ISBN 0-9777618-1-9, $15.95).
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