Meet Janet, an elite fitness coach who happens to be the mother of an addict.
Her story is an inspiration of strength, self-discipline, and resilience. Janet speaks of her experience with her daughter’s battle with addiction since she was seventeen.
In her story, we hear about some of her heartbreaking moments, including seeing her daughter experience homelessness.
In this episode, you will get three takeaways: never be afraid to show them that you’re human, live your life authentically, and put yourself first to live your healthiest life.
This is an episode for anyone needing to take back control of their life to live up to their full potential.
You don’t want to miss this episode!
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
A Mother’s Thriving Mindset In the Midst of Her Daughter’s Addiction
Thank you so much for being here. We have one of my favorite people that I get to see almost every day. She is a fitness coach and trainer. I am proud to say she’s my coach now. I would love to welcome Janet B. to our group. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for having me.
It’s truly a delight. The reason why I’m so excited is I’ve gotten to know you over the years. Has it been years now since I’ve known you? I walked by and worked out a little bit. I trained with you when I was an intern, but it wasn’t until when we both said, “Me too.” We have started to peel the onion back a little bit. Before we do that, I want to get to know a little bit about who you are. Who would you say is Janet if someone were to ask you on the street? What are you all about?
I’m a mom, a grandma, and a wife. I have 4 kids and 2 grandkids. I’ve been married for many years. I’m a personal trainer. I’ve been a personal trainer for almost twenty years. I’ve worked at the same place this whole time. I also run boot camps for women. I do a lot of programs for women. That’s my little niche. I love helping people get stronger, more confident, and healthier.
When people first meet you, it’s intimidating in a very positive way because when you walk by Janet, she is so physically strong. When you walk by her, you take such tremendous care in terms of health and wellness. What many may not know because they may not have the opportunity to know is the interior core of how well you take care of yourself. In our conversations, I’ve found out a little bit about some of your daily practices. What are some of the things that you do to take care of yourself from the moment you wake up until the moment your head hits the pillow?
I start my day with exercise. I do that pretty early in the morning. I have quiet time before that where I don’t have my phone or anything. I either read or pray. I spend about ten minutes doing that so that I can quiet my mind before the chaos of the day starts. I drink a little coffee. I call it my cleansing drink. It’s ginger, different peppers, and weird stuff. I drink that. It cleanses my system. I drink my coffee, work out, get ready, come to work, and train.
To stay on top, I feel like you need the foundation of both nutrition and physical fitness. I’m making sure I’m eating correctly. I like the 80/20 rule. I adhere to that 100%. I exercise about 5 to 6 days a week, both strength and cardio. I stay pretty strict with that schedule. I try to get eight hours of sleep as well. I go to sleep fairly early. My sister-in-law wanted me to see a music artist at 8:00 at night. I said, “I can’t do that. I’m in bed. Have fun.” I’m disciplined. Discipline is the number one thing for me.
The self-discipline that you show every day as well as your commitment to not only yourself but to your clients is tremendous. That’s one of the things that set you apart from other people. The reason why I bring up the way that you go about the world on a daily basis is you and I started to have a conversation. We got to know a little bit about our background and our family. The reason we have you here is you have a loved one who is suffering from addiction. I was wondering if you could share your story on that.
I have two kids that suffer from addiction. One I was going to talk about with you is my daughter. She’s my younger daughter. It has been over a ten-year struggle now with her both in and out of rehab. It’s a long and slow process of tough love. When she started showing signs of this was the tail end of 7th grade or 8th grade. I can tell the people she was hanging around with were not good. I can see her spiraling a little bit. High school was rough and hard. She struggled tremendously. I didn’t know what to do. I never had a loved one who had an addiction. I had a cousin that was in and out of that but not somebody that close to me.
It was this slow and long process. In the beginning, you’re scrambling. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re trying to control everything, getting a little bit of help myself, and learning that I had to let go of her and she has to be the one who figures it out. She has to want that help. It took me a long time to get to where I am now where I understand the codependency part. That has been the biggest help in my life. It’s being able to make that separation between helping her and enabling her. There’s a way I can help her get better and healthier but not enable her.
When you talk about the beginning stages of where it’s all new to you because there’s no roadmap, many people might describe it as spinning or part of a storm. When you were experiencing that beginning phase, how were you able to navigate the world? Did you listen to your gut? Did you seek resources? What was your go-to at the beginning when you had no idea where you were going or how you were going to navigate this new part of your life?
It was interesting. When this first happened, she went to her first rehab. She was under eighteen. At that time, she was seventeen when that happened. We got under the radar and had her go. We forced her to go because we could. They had counselors there. That was my first interaction with a counselor or someone who could help guide me a little bit. It was a back-and-forth thing where she was in and out of rehab.
At some point, I and my husband were having a marriage counseling session. The counselor said, “There’s this group down in La Jolla. It’s called Mamas and Papas. It’s for people who have adult children who are at it.” I went to that, and it changed my life. I couldn’t even talk in the first couple of meetings. I sat in the back and cried. I was still lost. I was swimming to the surface. I was able to talk, and I felt like I wasn’t alone anymore.
Before that time, I felt like I was the most diseased human. No one could understand my story. I was completely alone. I had coworkers, clients, and friends who had perfect lives with these perfect little kids. Everybody was happy. They do the Christmas card with everybody happy on the front. I was like, “My life is nothing like that. My family is destroyed. It’s in tatters.” Once I got into Mamas and Papas, that was my people.
That’s so huge that you found a group that was your support group because that is life-changing. When you’re in that group, all of a sudden, you feel like you’re a part of something. In that beginning stage, when you’re starting to realize, “I’m not alone,” was there a period, a moment, or an experience where you couldn’t put one foot in front of the other?
The reason why I bring that up is I see you every day moving about in the world as a strong and positive presence, but I can imagine there were times when it was hard to get out of bed or put a foot in front of the other. The reason why I ask is I know a lot of our members are at that moment. It’s hard to get out of bed. It’s hard to go to a job. It’s hard to put on a positive face. Is there a time when you had a moment, and you’re like, “I can’t do it,” and then you found a way to do that? Was there ever a time for you?
Absolutely, especially when my daughter was homeless. There were a couple of times when horrible things were happening to her. She lived in another city when that was happening. I would go and visit her and then would leave. I would have to leave her. She would either be at a friend’s house or a park. This is a young and vulnerable woman. She was probably around 19 or 20 at this time. It was unbearable to be alive. Every moment was hellish and horrible.
It was about an hour and a half away. As I’m driving back, I was crying my eyes out, praying, listening to spiritual music or Christian music, trying to get in touch with God, and being like, “Please save my daughter. Tell me what to do.” I prayed for her to have the Holy Spirit come upon her and press her so much that she would beg me to go to rehab. I prayed for her to be uncomfortable to the point where she was surrendering and wanted to go. It was her decision. It happened.
That is such an important part that you’re staying there because, in many of our experiences, they have to get uncomfortable and make the choice for the change to happen to a healthier way of living. That’s something that not all of us get in the beginning part or the beginning stages of it because we want to help so much. It’s our loved one, whether it’s a child, a spouse, or whatever it is. You’re talking as a parent. There’s this unconditional love that you’re talking about.
That makes you in the way you go about the world because as a mother myself, our kids can almost do no wrong until they do wrong. They’re like, “Wait a minute.” What makes you amazing as the loving strong parent that you are is you have to navigate it sometimes a little differently. You have a child who is in pain, and you talked about getting them uncomfortable. Besides prayer, what are some of the steps that you took that were on your part in addition to the praying that you might have done?
Compartmentalizing. I continued to work. That was a place I could escape. When I went to work, I left all that out the door. It takes me about 30 minutes to drive to work. When I was driving there, I would be getting myself ready to see clients, be with clients, focus on them, and separate myself from my real life. By the time I got to work and walk in the door, I am a trainer. I’m Janet. This is what I’m doing. I focus on my clients. They became my sole focus. Honestly, it was a complete escape. I wanted to know about their lives, them, and their progress with what we’re doing together. I wanted to have them have the best hour of their entire life. I would do that all day long.
I took care of myself in addition to that. I would also escape into my workouts. My workout is for about an hour and a half a day. I would get the most motivational music on. I would completely shut out. I would not allow that part of my life to take control of those other parts of my life. I would not let my workout get poisoned by that. It was very sacred to me. You could not take that away from me. With me and my husband, I would be like, “I have to have that hour and a half to myself. I don’t want to be bothered and interrupted. This is my time.” I put full energy into that.
There’s your self-discipline and your commitment. You’re prioritizing yourself with self-care. The self-care piece is another aspect that many of us miss because it’s very good and easy to be distracted by a problem or a challenge knocking on your shoulder. Keeping that hour, the motivational music, and all of that is such a critical piece to this because the moment you let that one workout go, that hour, or whatever it is that you do to center yourself, then it goes the next day. It becomes a pattern. You’ve created a pattern for yourself for daily self-care. I wonder if there are ever any moments because you’re so committed when someone comes up to you and says, “How are you?” Is there ever a moment where you want to scream and say, “I’m not okay?”
My daughter had a baby in 2016. Before that happened, she was homeless. She hasn’t been homeless since but she has relapsed since. When she was homeless, to be honest, that was one of the hardest times because her vulnerability and what was happening to her were so awful. There were a couple of times when some coworkers had come up to me.
I remember specifically one time I was about to teach in a boot camp. My boss had come up to me and asked me how I was doing. Thank goodness I was in the break room because I broke down and lost it. I was holding it together. There’s something about the way he caught my eye and asked me. I lost it. He was there for me. He hugged me and encouraged me.
He’s like, “Teach the best boot camp class you’ve ever taught in your life.” He pumped me up, “Don’t be afraid to show them that you’re human. Go out there, tell them, and say, ‘I’m struggling. I need you as much as you need me. I need you. Be there for me.'” I did. They all rallied around me. We had a wonderful class. There were a lot of emotions. Another lady was struggling with something. This weird thing opened up and happened because I was willing to be vulnerable.
No one talks about addiction or alcoholism as often as you might talk about cancer or something awful in and of itself. We don’t go about talking about this. You did something brave a while back. You had to take care of your daughter. You sent an email to your team, letting them know where you were. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do that. What made you decide to be vulnerable and let everybody see what’s going on with Janet? What were the after-effects if you could tell everybody what happened after the moment that you were vulnerable to a team of people?
It has taken me a long time to get here, first of all, but I don’t think I could have done that years ago at the very beginning. In the beginning, I didn’t hide it. I was trying so hard to be strong in the beginning and survive. I didn’t have the understanding that I do now. I was going on one cylinder at that moment. Back then, I was trying to get through the day and survive. I had other kids at home. I was up with my grandson. I was taking care of him while my daughter was in rehab.
I was up there for about almost three months. I had to stop my life. I lived up there. I lived in her apartment. Here I am being a mommy to my grandson. It’s a lot of work at my age. It’s hard. My energy is not as good. I came back and worked for a little while. I was at work. I was thinking about it. I came home. I was sitting there, and something came over me where I’m like, “This is me. This is who I am. I’m not just a fitness trainer that has whatever people see on Instagram or Facebook. There’s more to me.”
I don’t like the fact that a lot of addiction is hidden, especially in Hollywood, music, and celebrity culture. Somebody will OD, and they don’t even talk about it. That’s terrible and a crime. It’s not like we have to flaunt it, but I’m saying, “This is me. This is my life.” I felt like I wanted to open it up and say, “This is another part of my life. This is another layer of who I am. If that’s weird to you and you don’t like it, that’s on you, but this is as important to me as all the other layers of my life.”
Honestly, there are people that I work with and people that I know who have small kids. There is no way all of those kids are going to come out unscathed. That’s a pretty rare percentage if that happens. I hate to say this, but somebody is going to have a bump in the road. They may think about me, and I can come and help them. I’m willing to do that and expose myself so that there isn’t someone like me years ago floundering around and suffering. I can help them. Maybe they will donate to the rehab that my daughter is at, or maybe they will pray for my daughter. Instead of making it a secret, I’m going to expose it because I can’t do that. I can’t live a secret life.
That’s something that not many people can do. That’s one of the reasons why I felt like our audiences needed to meet you. I’m wondering how your life changed because you took the power and said, “This is me.” Was it acceptance? Was it peace? What was it for you when you had that moment? Everybody started to learn a little bit more about Janet. Did your life start to change? Did you start to walk about the world differently?
I felt a little bit more like I got my power back. That’s incredible. That’s what I felt like I did. I threw all that darkness, shame, and embarrassment out the window. I was like, “We’re going to get better. The only way to get better is to face this thing in the face, expose it for what it is, be honest about who I am, and live my life authentically and without shame.”The only way to get better is to face the problem in the face, expose it for what it is, be honest about who I am, and live my life authentically and without shame. Click To Tweet
It was interesting. My boss read my email. He wanted me to get on his podcast. I can’t tell you how many people have reached out to me who thanked me and said they are in the same situation, or maybe they’re not. They said that inspired them. One guy said, “I’m in awe of you. I don’t even know what to say because you’re so brave. It helps me do the things I need to do.” He doesn’t even have kids. It’s interesting how you affect people when you become brave.
When I listened to your interview with Todd, there was one moment when you had me breaking down crying. It was a conversation with God. I’m going to let you tell the story, but I hope you know the one I’m referring to when you’re questioning, “Why me?” and you felt like he responded to you. You could share that story because that is powerful.
I was taking care of my grandson. It was a long way away from where I lived. It’s a plane ride away. It’s a whole day of driving away. My husband had to continue to work down where we live. He would come and visit me. One time, he came and visited me. I was able to go out and run because my grandson is little. He’s only five. I couldn’t leave him alone. I went out running. Something about the song I was listening to hit me. I was also thinking about all these other people who have these perfect lives with some of my friends.
I looked at Instagram. They’re like, “We have this perfect little family. Everybody is happy. We’re posing for Christmas pictures.” I was like, “Why can’t I have that?” One of my lifelong dreams is to have a little Christmas card picture with all my family in coordinating outfits. Everybody is happy. I would love to have that. I remember running and thinking, “Why can’t I have that? Why do I have to have this life?” I was talking to God. I was a little bit mad. I was like, “Why did you give me this? Why do I have to have this?”
A very interesting thing came over me where I was like, “There’s a reason I have this life. He wants me to suffer because it will bring greater understanding to more people. If I can use this situation to help other people, then my life is not lost.” This is my journey. My journey is not to have the perfect little Christmas card family situation. It’s to have this. It’s to be talking to people like you, all those people that reach out to me, and people that are here that you are not alone. You can get through this. Your family can get better. You can get better. You can survive this.
I remember I was saying, “Why do I have to carry this?” He said, “You have to carry this, Janet. It’s not going to go away anytime soon. I don’t know if it’s going to get better. It may be back and forth for the rest of your life. I’m sorry it’s not fun, but it’s yours to carry.” That was the conversation. I came back from my run. I started writing about it. That was that conversation.
This brings chills. It’s because you’re so strong. You can do this because you’re so internally strong, physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you talk about the Christmas card, I can guarantee you that most of us in this group feel the same way. It’s nice to have someone say the words, “I wanted that Christmas card. My family doesn’t look like that.” It’s not until one of us speaks up. What you’re doing is so powerful, meaningful, and helpful, especially around the holidays when you get those cards and see summer vacations or something. It’s on those days when you’re by yourself. You’re alone. You’re thinking, “Why me?”
The other piece about you that I love that I was hoping that you could talk about is I don’t hear you when I see you on a daily basis ever looking at yourself as a victim. You had that moment of, “Why me?” Who doesn’t? We’re all human. You said, “I can carry this. I can do this.” How do you not slip into the victim role? When you get hit by one thing after another, whether it’s having anything to do with the disease that’s knocking on your door and asking for some attention or life in general? This is a lifelong disease, and it’s not going away. How do you maintain the mindset of not being a victim?
It’s part of my DNA because I am not a victim in any part of my life. I do not like at all being hurt chronically or sick. There are people that legitimately suffer from that. I don’t want to discount that but there are also people who use that way too often to hide from their potential. There’s a book called You Are a Badass. She talks about going to your fullest potential and not using these excuses. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I like viewing myself almost like a Navy SEAL. In another life, I would have been a Navy SEAL.
You could do that tomorrow. You could walk on in.
I met a woman who’s training to be a Navy SEAL. I can’t say that anymore. I go into suffering and pain, and I’m like, “How bad can it get? Let’s do this. Let’s go to the end of what I can take.” I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I’ve got too much. Honestly, I have too many blessings. This was happening when I was living in her apartment and taking care of my grandson. She’s in rehab. It’s a complete relapse. My family is all upset about this. I was grateful.
I’m going to get a little bit emotional. My very good friend lost her son in a car accident. He was only 23 years old. His name was Kolton Malbrough. She wants me to say his name. It was Kolton. My friend doesn’t have her son. I have my kids and grandkids still. That would be wrong of me to feel sorry for myself when she gets up every day and doesn’t feel sorry for herself. She’s at a place in her life where she’s trying to help people, but now, she’s mourning the loss of her son. I don’t have the right to feel sorry for myself, so I won’t do that. I have my daughter and my life.
The other thing that struck me when I heard about your other interview is that we both use the same language. We were in a club that we didn’t want to belong to. That is an initial thought when you meet this disease. You took us along with a nice storyline. We’re a part of this club, but a lot of other people are in a lot tougher clubs to be in. That is why I have such respect for you.
You are able to acknowledge that and recognize that when there are still people out there who may not be there quite yet. That’s understandable. You are there. That’s why it’s so important for people to hear your story. You’re still able to find gratitude every single day with all of your experiences. That’s such a gift to our group. Thank you for that.
I have a couple of more questions for you. You’ve done such a phenomenal job of talking about your place and how you hold space in this world in a positive way. Can you talk a little bit about the family dynamics? Addiction doesn’t happen to the addict. It happens to all of us. For some people, that might be a husband and wife. There might be other children involved. You navigate the world very well. Do you have any suggestions for people who may be struggling with family dynamics?Addiction doesn't happen to the addict. It happens to all of us. Click To Tweet
I’ve got it pretty badly. I and my husband had to get marriage counseling because we have been on different ends of this. It affected us very negatively. I don’t think it affected him positively. This is sad. I think about this all the time. This is probably one of the biggest things on my heart. It’s the dissension of my kids and their relationships. My oldest son suffers from addiction. He has been clean for two years. That’s a whole other conversation about him.
My older daughter never had a problem with it. Lauren suffered. She’s the one we’re talking about. She’s my younger daughter. My youngest son has been affected by all of this because he has been affected by the older two siblings. It had taken him a long time to forgive my younger daughter and let her back into his life. This happened. There’s a lot going on there because, for one thing, he has a right to have boundaries. I can’t be like, “Forgive her. Love her.” What about his boundaries and feelings?
I kept completely out of the forgiveness that happened because my older daughter got married. My younger daughter came to the wedding. This was right before she relapsed. She was doing okay. I could tell there was some slippage, but she was doing pretty well. They started talking to each other. At one point during the reception, he told her he loved her. I have a picture of the three of us together. It’s the first picture in ten years of the three of us. It was like I had it, and then it goes. That sucks.
I can’t even tell you. I want my kids to love each other. I love my brother and sister. They’re part of my body. They’re my best friends. I don’t see that happening to my family. It’s something I need to let go of this image that I want it to be, accept it more for what it is, and do a complete change of direction. I need to get away from the session over that. I need to talk to someone. That’s your cue right there.
I feel bad, but I also want to respect my son’s space, his feelings about it, and his boundaries because he has been very negatively affected by this. They were the two youngest ones. They lived together the longest. He was affected by her many times. He has a right to draw that boundary. I have a friend who has a sister in a similar situation. He’s in his 50s. They have no relationship at all. That breaks my heart, but at the same time, he has to respect and have his life protected because she kept doing it.
That breaks my heart. I’m looking for a book or some podcast about the specific thing that can help me let go of that because how do you get together for Christmas gatherings? How do you do anything like that? Christmas is coming. I’m dreading it, to be honest. I’m very much dreading the holidays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas because she wants to come down here. I can’t exile her and say, “You can never come down again.” How do I do that? That’s a whole thing that I have to figure out.
These are the things of family members of addicts and alcoholics. You’re bringing up real things that we struggle with and are not necessarily in everyday conversations with people. It’s nice to validate people who go through that with their families. First of all, thank you for acknowledging therapy and not being ashamed of therapy because therapy is such an important tool, whether it’s marriage therapy, individual therapy, or family therapy.
There’s no shame in going to therapy. I’m so glad that you mentioned that as we’re bringing our interview to a close. That’s an important piece that you bring up. With that, as we come to a close, are there any books that you can recommend for parents in particular if their child is an addict or an alcoholic that you have found to be spectacular in helping you?
I’m looking for those. For me, it was mainly the Mamas and Papas group. I need advice on the book. I should be more of a reader. I read a little bit. I’m trying to think of any books I had read ever. Nothing comes off the top of my head.
That’s okay because I know you have so many quotes that make me think. Is there a Bible quote, a passage, or a personal quote that you live by?
I did say one in the interview with my boss where we talked about how God is near the brokenhearted and helps the crushed in spirit. There was another one I read. I don’t know where it came from. It was saying, “I will be with you through this. You can make it through this.” The end said, “You will not be consumed in fire.” If anybody wants to google that, that was the last part of that passage. I’m going to send that to you but if anybody wants to google, “You will not be consumed by the flames,” that whole passage is 3 or 4 sentences or maybe even longer. It is amazing. I wish I would have seen that a long time ago. It’s a Bible passage. It’s a few verses. It’s good.You will not be consumed in fire. Click To Tweet
That’s great. I love that. I have one final question, and then I want to leave the audience with a special something I know about you that I want to share. The last question I have for you is this. If you had never met the disease of addiction in your family and if it had never been present in your life, how do you think your life would have turned out differently, if at all?
I’ll start with my grandma who died of alcoholism when I was very little. I was three years old. I would have had a grandma. That would have been awesome. She was lonely. She felt like she didn’t have anyone. I wish she would have held on because she could have met me, and I could have a grandma because I didn’t have a grandma. I can’t even imagine where my daughter would be. There are so many things. She probably would have been out in the world or even working at a hospital, and maybe even been an OB-GYN delivering babies. She’s smart. She loves helping people.
I had to put my life on hold while I did all this. That’s not happening anymore. I would be pursuing what I’m doing now. I am living my life to the fullest. I’m investing in myself. I am thriving in my career, opening up, and reaching out. I can’t even imagine it because it’s so foreign to me. It has been a part of our lives for so long now. I would be that little Christmas card family.
I understand that. To end that, you have that beautiful picture that we’re both talking about. I’ve mentioned it before. It’s like shaking the puzzle. We have to put together new puzzle pieces and a new picture. Sometimes that new picture, however, could be even more beautiful than the first that we had imagined. That’s a piece that I hold onto because I understand what you’re saying. Who knows? It is a part of our lives, and it will continue to be. The reason why we’re doing what we’re doing is it’s not going to go away. It is forever a part of our lives.
When we love someone with this disease, it is a lifelong disease. We have to work together and have these open conversations so we can build a better community to help not just the addict and the alcoholics that need help because they have the support, but we also need more support and a bigger community to help us navigate. The one funny thing that I want everybody to know about you is when you were living in your daughter’s apartment and taking care of your grandson, how did you work out specifically? What did you deadlift with?
I had very minimal equipment when I was up at my daughter’s apartment. I had given her some. I had a TRX and some very little weights. My brother loaned me tens. I was like, “I need to deadlift.” I deadlift a lot of weight. I was looking around her house. I’m like, “The only thing I can deadlift is her couch.” I was going to film myself doing it.
You have to go back up there next time you’re up there and have somebody film you.
I’m thinking, “Whatever gets it done, you can do it. Get it done.” It’s pretty effective. It worked. I was deadlifting her couch.
Whatever you can do to get it done. That is a great way to end. I want to thank you so much for being here with us. Ladies and gentlemen, she is a fantastic premier trainer and coach. I’m so blessed to know her almost each and every day when I go to the gym. When you see her, she’s the one with the buff arms. I hope you all learn that not only is she so phenomenal on the outside, but inside, she’s even stronger than what she presents on the outside because she has that heart, that character, that strength, and that commitment. We thank you so much for sharing that with us because you are one of a kind. Thank you, Janet. We appreciate you being here. Thank you, everybody, for joining us. We will see you next episode.