In this episode, host KL Wells, a mother with firsthand experience, and guest Tucker Stine, a CMO and recovery advocate, discuss the complexities of rebuilding family relationships post-addiction. Tucker shares his personal journey of recovery, emphasizing the importance of patience, grace, and vulnerability.

They explore the concept of "living amends," highlighting actions over words in rebuilding trust. The conversation underscores the need for self-care, communication, and ongoing education for both the individual in recovery and their loved ones. The episode offers hope, emphasizing that with commitment and compassion, families can emerge stronger.

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KL Wells (00:00:00)   How in the world do you rebuild relationships with those you love? When I'm sorry means absolutely nothing anymore. Have you ever wondered how you're going to summon the courage, the patience and compassion to rebuild strong family connections based on trust again? Welcome to an illuminating conversation featuring CMO and brand architect, executive coach and TEDx adviser and Global Storyteller Award winner Tucker Stine. Alcohol was Tucker's drug of choice when crushing anxiety became unbearable for him. Now in his eighth year of recovery, he shares with us the journey of continually living amends as he regained the trust of his wife and family. His journey of recovery and reconnection is a testament to his intention, his vulnerability and honestly, just grit. If you're open and eager to come out of the shadows of shame, stigma and guilt, we've built a membership just for you. Stop navigating this journey alone. Join us at www.VoicesInCourage.com/thrive. Welcome to Thrive While Loving an Addict. And I'm joined today by Tucker Stine. We both have different sides of the aisle that we've walked on.

KL Wells (00:01:25)   Tucker dealing with his own substance use disorder and rebuilding a family relationship. And what we want to really hit on today is the notion that, you know, I'm sorry, doesn't hold any water anymore. And so how do you actually, step by step, piece by piece, rebuild family relationships when your family is willing to walk that walk with you? And I know from my side of the aisle is as somebody who loves my son very deeply and loved his dad also was being open first to be willing to walk the walk and take the small steps and allow for humanity for each side, because we're not perfect human beings. And when we have fallen down and gotten up on both sides so many times, it takes a lot of grace and a lot of forgiveness and an honest willingness to be vulnerable and continue to get back up and take the next steps. So we really wanted to kind of talk a little bit about what that actually looks like, sounds like, and feels like. For those of you who are open to rebuilding the relationships with the person that you love and how do you do that?

Tucker Stine (00:02:49)   Very well said.

Tucker Stine (00:02:49)   And thank you, KL, I this this topic is very near and dear to me specifically. you know, about ten years into this sober life. and again, every every day is a new journey. But one of the things that, you know, we're taught as we're growing up, you know, communication is everything. Use your words, you know, use your words, that sort of thing. and we understand as we get older that especially in relationships that, you know, strong communication, healthy communication is very much a key to success. The problem with substance use disorder is it is a complete breakdown in communication on all fronts. And most importantly, it starts with ourselves. And when we can't even communicate with ourselves, there's no way you can communicate with others.

KL Wells (00:03:35)   What I was going to say was, I think it's important to remember that when you are actually in addiction mode or substance use disorder mode, you are not the person that we know and love. No. and I think it's really important for those of us who love people to remember that because we're dealing with somebody whose brain has been hijacked.

KL Wells (00:03:55)   And so to expect them to show up differently than that, hijacking is a little crazy, honestly. And so what we're really doing is when they come out the other side and they are in recovery mode, and we're slowly but surely getting our loved one back. It's the patience on our part to allow the time for people's brains to heal, and to allow the grace for quite a while, you know, on both sides. So that's why I wanted to be kind.

Tucker Stine (00:04:30)   You bring up a very good point, KL, because, you know, and they say it takes nine months, even a year for the brain to rewire itself when you're coming out of this kind of lifestyle. And I wholeheartedly agree with that. And that was, you know, nine months to the day for me is when it really kind of clicked. But what's really, you know, a lot of humility and finding grace and forgiveness. It's kind of like learning how to walk all over again. it's not necessarily like hopping on a bike and everything comes back and it's like, oh, yeah, I know how to ride a bike.

Tucker Stine (00:05:04)   Going back and relearning almost all your basic motor skills because your, the way of which you communicated has been lost, but also the trust in the communication has been completely broken. So when we think about and I always joke, you know, when the kids were growing up, use your words, use your words. This is one of those moments where communication was no longer words. It was actions. And that is really the definition for me. What Olivia means becomes because you can walk up to a loved one and say, I'm so sorry for what I did. I'm sorry, for the things that I've done where I've hurt you and, and you, you know, you kind of create an inventory to be able to accept responsibility and take accountability. But again, it's. Yes, that's the motion of, a step right to talk about the 12 step process. It's a step. But the problem is the very notion of a step means it doesn't end. It's something that has to keep going and going and going.

Tucker Stine (00:06:07)   So, you know, I remember specifically connecting with both well, primarily my own immediate family. My wife, two kids, my parents, and then my in laws. And being able to sit them down and say, listen, I know my words have literally become empty, broken promises. I totally get that. I accept responsibility, what I'm asking for specifically, and this is one of the hard things, you know, you want to fix it. Everyone wants to fix it. Okay. You're sober, everything's fixed. No, the new journey begins. And the grace and the time that it takes to literally show how actions become the best form of communication. It just takes time. But for me, relearning how to communicate, relearning how to manage my emotions, relearning how to manage my own anxiety that went undiagnosed for decades, and learning how to going back to our own five acts of courage. What is that self care talk that allows myself to be able to communicate accordingly? For me, because my communication was to not communicate at all.

Tucker Stine (00:07:11)   It was to escape. It was to numb whatever that, whatever that is. So that's why this idea and this concept of living amends has become so incredibly, I would say, the single greatest building block for us to start new and build trust back. Because that's the number one thing, honestly, with family members that goes is trust.

KL Wells (00:07:31)   Right? And what I would say too is it's not just for the person who's dealing with the disease. It's also for the family, too, because we have to learn how to communicate clearly, also, like what's our experience and to do it in a healthy way. And I mean, I do believe that depending on what your story is and what you have experienced is how do you really, truly love someone and allow them the gift of reconnection? And that is also true for you too, as a loved one, is to allow yourself the gift of reconnection with this new person that you probably have really, truly never seen before because they were dealing with the trauma of whatever they were dealing with, and they were self medicating in order to deal with it.

KL Wells (00:08:23)   So they're not even necessarily clear for quite a while as to who they really are on the other side of their recovery, because they've never experienced it before.

Tucker Stine (00:08:33)   Yeah, no, it is. And I think one of the the analogies that when we started doing family therapy was you have to learn a new dance and with dance comes technique, you know, physical movement, mental movement, predicting the next step, communication, all of those kinds of things. You really do have to learn a new dance all over again. And you're right. It's this is work. You know, it's a communication is a two way street. I can't tell you how many times we'll have a conversation. I'm talking with my wife or whatever it is, and there's this kind of awkward pause and I kind of look and go, what? And she goes, I'm expecting you to react a certain way, but you're not doing that anymore, right.

KL Wells (00:09:12)   Right, right.

Tucker Stine (00:09:13)   And it's kind of we sit there and there's literally an awkward pause and then you realize, oh.

Tucker Stine (00:09:20)   And the rewire of the relationship is starting and the trust is being built back and it's like, oh yeah, that was that was an old me, right? And I start to see, oh yeah, I would have reacted this way. But now, I have the healthy tools and the knowledge and the reconnection of myself to know how to manage and regulate my emotions in a way that creates intentional action. That is, as we're taught, contrary to what we've actually conditioned ourselves during active substance use disorder. Yeah, it is pretty funny. I'm like, you're and I could I could almost sense the pause. Kale. I'm like, she's expecting me to do this. Watch this. And in my mind I'm going. There's going to be an awkward pause. And here it comes. And sure enough, here comes the awkward pause. And there's sometimes the chuckle and sometimes there's frustration. Yeah, you're expecting to react a certain way, but this is the sign. These are the signs that communication and trust are being rebuilt.

Tucker Stine (00:10:17)   And it is done through action and not words.

KL Wells (00:10:20)   Well, and on the left side, the loved one side of the equation is, you know, we have our own patterns that we've been running for a long time. And so, you know, it's rewiring our patterns and being intentional about our patterns and making sure that we're choosing our words more intentionally. We're choosing our actions more intentionally on the other side of the dance. And it takes practice. And that's, I think, one of the crazy things about this is, I think for a lot of loved ones, you think, oh, they're going to go to rehab and then we're going to get them back and everything's going to be fine. And that is not how it rolls.

Tucker Stine (00:11:02)   Well, and the other thing I want to touch on this goes back to rebuilding and communication, is that first 9 to 12 months is critical that an addict or someone who is in a recovery phase follows a very structured program, because you have to build back in behaviors and routines that become behaviors and routines.

Tucker Stine (00:11:25)   And one of the hard things for us as a family was, you know, that first 9 to 12 months can very much come across to a family member as selfish, because it's like the old oxygen mask on the airplane. If you can't put your mask on first, there's no way you're helping somebody else. and that's one thing I had to communicate over and over again. If I said, I need to do this for me, the hard part is, in order for me to be the best for you, I have to be the best for me first. And that was a really big challenge, was understanding the grace and the care that the person that's in recovery needs in order to be able to create a living amends, they have to amend themselves.

Tucker Stine (00:12:10)   Think the hard thing. Yeah.

KL Wells (00:12:11)   And I would say the same thing is true for the loved one, is we need to learn how to take care of ourselves, too. Yeah. and because we're generally focused on fixing you, and we let ourselves go and we go down the dark rabbit hole.

KL Wells (00:12:25)   And so, you know, for Voices InCourage, it is shifting. The paradigm is that we need to take care of ourselves, too, first and foremost, so that we can be there in a healthy, thriving way if and when our loved one kind of pops out the other side and into recovery and then goes through the process of recovery. You talk about nine to 12 months. I mean, with Sam, you know, I think about 18 to 24 months because he was just hijacked for so long. And I don't know, honestly, because he's having to rebuild who he is, not back to who he was because we're talking about childhood stuff here. He's having to rebuild himself into a new, new man. And that just doesn't happen overnight. Are you feeling hijacked by the chaos of your loved ones' addiction? Are you experiencing sleepless nights of endless worry? It's actually time for you to break free and find the calm in your storm. There is no need to be stuck in the heartbreak, the isolation, the judgment, the shame, the desperation of your loved ones.

KL Wells (00:13:42)   Addiction. If you don't get anything else from this podcast, I want you to understand that. In fact, you can go from that place and you can thrive no matter what choices your loved ones make. I've been where you are and I understand exactly how you feel. That's why I want to extend a personal invitation to you to join the Voices InCourage community. We created this safe space to give you the support and resources you need in order to be able to rise above your circumstances, get out of the hole of desperation, and actually learn to thrive in the midst of the chaos. Join the Voices InCourage community now and. Let's walk this path together so you can find true healing. With our resources and compassionate members, you'll find the strength and understanding you need to thrive. Stop navigating this journey alone. Visit www.VoicesInCourage.com/thrive to join today.

Tucker Stine (00:14:47)   You bring up a good point too. It's the rebuilding part is very much rooted in things that have happened in the past. So it's not a quick fix approach. And I have seen so many where relapse can often occur if the family's expectation doesn't match the biological reality of what the loved one is, is going through or what. Right.

Tucker Stine (00:15:14)   And it's not to critique the loved ones at all because there is this expectation of oh my gosh sober. Oh here we go. And the reality is the brain. Is hijacked and we don't recover that fast, right? Right. And for a lot of us, the reason why we went down that path was the brain wasn't functioning properly, so the brain wasn't functioning properly. There has to be a way to rewire in a way. And that's, I would say, one of the biggest frustrations we had and a lot of arguments happened, was why isn't this changing? And it's like, well, change like this is not going to happen overnight. And the level of frustration and anger and confusion and hopelessness that came out of that first six, nine, 12 months is palpable.

Tucker Stine (00:16:04)   I mean, it's rough. I mean, to the point where, you know, there were moments where it's like, okay, you need to live over here for a while, and you need to live over here for a while, and you need to be over here like there was. Literally everyone went to their own quarters to figure out, okay, what how is this? How is this affecting me? How am I going to rebuild me in this sense?

KL Wells (00:16:27)   Yeah. And that's why I say it's super important for everybody to figure out how to take care of themselves.

Tucker Stine (00:16:33)   Well, and that was a big, a big moment for us. A reality check was the moment that someone who's going through it gets into recovery is typically they're starting to go like this or yeah, like this. And then the loved one starts to go like this. and the family members start to crash because they've been on fight and flight for so long that their bodies are trying to, like, literally come down off the hamster wheel of addiction.

Tucker Stine (00:16:58)   And it's like, I don't I don't even know how to respond. So it's often, you know, the loved one that ends up suffering just as much in a different way. When the person gets sober. It's like, nobody tells you that either. It's like you have to go into therapy or something and learn about it. And that's one of the things that, as Voices InCourage we're trying to create is, those resources and, you know, the stories, the ones that we're sharing right now so that there is this awareness and you don't have to suffer through trial and error.

KL Wells (00:17:32)   Well, and although we're talking about living amends, I think it's important for people to understand that, like I, created, you know, thriving and healthy and so on and so forth. While my son was in full blown addiction, I was solid and healthy and whole when he went into recovery. And I've learned enough about the disease and the brain and so on and so forth, to give him the time to breathe and to recreate himself anew with as little expectations really, truly as possible, other than I can see the heart of the man of who he is.

KL Wells (00:18:13)   And slowly but surely that heart is getting stronger and stronger and stronger. And I'm still healthy and whole and living a life that I love while he's getting stronger.

Tucker Stine (00:18:25)   Yeah, well. And it is for us. And it goes back to one of my favorite Ted talks of all time. Johan, does this idea of everything you think about addiction is wrong, and the expectation is that sobriety is the solution. And the answer is it's not. And in his talk, he specifically says, you know, the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it's connection. And at the end of the day, that connection is the lifeline and the foundation of what a living amends means is reconnection. And you can only do that if you have actions that follow the words, because that's where trust comes in.

KL Wells (00:19:02)   Yeah. Well, and let's just think about on both sides of the equation how scary intimate vulnerable connection really is for most people.

Tucker Stine (00:19:11)   Yeah, absolutely. And I will say, before I forget, you know, one of the very close members of my family, it wasn't until two years ago, somewhere around a year eight of sobriety, that I found out he was still upset that I had not made amends to him and his wife.

Tucker Stine (00:19:38)   And I thought about it, and it was one of those things where they didn't understand the concept of a living amends. So the moment I said, I told him, I said, well, my fear was my apology was not enough. What we've been taught to rebuild relationships with family members is what we call a living amends. So I've spent the last eight years focusing on my actions to speak louder than words. That would be my amends to you. Tears. Oh my gosh, I wish I understood that more. And clearly it wasn't communicated. But all of a sudden that moment of oh my gosh, it wasn't the words that were missing. it was the action of being able to say, by the way, the last. Eight years of me rebuilding me and rebuilding with you. That in itself is what an apology and amends looks like. And those are the things, again, that aren't taught to family, right? I mean, it's just kind of like.

Tucker Stine (00:20:41)   You know, sobriety, everything. Well, everything's going to be wonderful. And no, it's just it's just not that way.

KL Wells (00:20:47)   And that's why we're having this conversation is to help people better understand what does a living amend look like, sound like and feel like and understand? It requires tremendous patience on both sides and lots of grace. And you and we all know that this journey is fraught with potential relapse. You know, like in Sam's case, you know, we went in and out of rehab like 12 times. But I can see the progress each time because I'm willing to see it. I'm willing to entertain the notion that every time there was progress, even though to some people, looking at it from the outside.

Tucker Stine (00:21:28)   At the end of the day, the living amends concept saved our family. Because it really embodies communication, healing, recovery, words, actions, therapy, behavioral changes, emotional regulation changes. All of those things have to fall into some sort of, structured program.

Tucker Stine (00:21:51)   And that isn't sobriety, right? The mere act of the mere definition of sobriety is to abstain from a particular action that is not causing good. So in that sense, abstinence from using isn't enough. So that's why we think sobriety is like sobriety is not what you think it is. Recovery and the living amends. And again, the living of men saved our family. And again, it's just not taught. And it's not a, if we knew more of that going into it, I think, I think things would have been a little bit different. Even if you go through a 12 step program, even if you're doing all the things right, the education and communication about what's happening in the biology of the brain and the power of having to find literally learning a new dance and learning how to walk again and talk again. Yeah, it's very much unexpected.

KL Wells (00:22:49)   Yeah. And that's why, for the loved ones, they need family services. They need to get educated about it. This isn't just about going to rehab.

KL Wells (00:23:00)   This is about the dance, the new dance, the recreation on the other side and how long it's going to take. And by the way, you need to also learn how to take care of yourself. You also need to learn how to communicate in a different way with somebody on the other side of recovery. and so both partners are learning stuff that they probably have never learned before.

Tucker Stine (00:23:30)   And you realize the absence of a drink does not build trust. Just because you've sworn it off. Does not mean things are hunky dory. And that was the number one thing especially my immediate and my wife and kids said is you know you have to rebuild trust. And trust doesn't come from I'm sorry and it doesn't come from abstaining from a drink. Show me.

KL Wells (00:23:55)   Well because the truth is, you can be somebody who doesn't drink and still be a jerk.

Tucker Stine (00:24:02)   Oh, and that is a whole other topic. And you know, the idea of dry drunk is no joke.

And that is, that 9 to 12 month period that I was referring to. That's the dry drunk period. It's where literally your body is so dry that it is completely, null and void of anything helpful. It's like you literally need to feed yourself with all those nutrients that come back. But yeah, I was, I wasn't pretty.

Tucker Stine (00:24:35)   That first again that first nine months was like. You might as well go back and have a drink because you were way easier to deal with.

Tucker Stine (00:24:46)   You have to hit that, that different kind of chaos in that storm in order to come out on the other side.

KL Wells (00:24:52)   Well, I think that highlights Tucker, the importance of doing the work, the personal development work. And honestly, once you start down that path, hopefully you're always doing it because we keep, you know, if we stay alive, we're going to continue to change. We're going to continue to grow.

KL Wells (00:25:13)   We're going to continue to push the envelope of who we really are. Well, that takes vigilance in our own work. And so, you know, really what we're talking about here is when it actually shows up like it has for you and your family, it's a freaking miracle.

KL Wells (00:25:30)   Because everybody has to sign up to do the work.

KL Wells (00:25:35)   And yeah. So then you're at choice as to whether you want to do the work or not.

Tucker Stine (00:25:40)   And I think the, the, I call it Collateral Beauty out of all of this is and someone always said, you know, Tucker, if you ever did a Ted talk, what would it be? And in the back of my mind, it's always been how alcohol restored our family values. Which is really cool in the sense of the trauma that was the situation. Actually granted us permission to discover more emotional intelligence. Our kids are going to be more prepared than a lot of teens out there because they went through it, but they understand it and they're more prepared.

Tucker Stine (00:26:18)   If we can weather a marriage through something like this. It creates strength beyond what you can imagine. So the great news is, and I'm saying this to to all family members, there is a silver lining, and there is collateral beauty on the other side, because you are forced into a situation where you have to learn about yourself, how to communicate with others, how you take care of yourself in a way that you've never done it before. And at the end of the day, it's its own professional and personal growth development program that you've created for yourself. And sometimes you don't even realize it.

Tucker Stine (00:26:58)   Going through substance use disorder, but for those that have been put in that position and there's no control beyond it is right. Guess what? There is hope and there is an opportunity. But it probably isn't where you think it is. And it probably won't happen.

KL Wells (00:27:15)   I think it is. Yeah. It kind of goes back to that whole notion of what is this here to teach me? And if you can embrace it on both sides.

KL Wells (00:27:23)   Because inherent in walking this path, there's a lot of teaching, there's a lot of learning, there's a lot of stretching. There's a lot of growth for all parties concerned. So the notion that this is all here to teach us something is a powerful notion to live into.

Tucker Stine (00:27:44)   Yeah. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this topic. It's something that I'm thinking that was kind of overdue and to a certain degree, but it's coming up a little bit more often, which is why it's fresh for me. But, you know, I hope this conversation was, you know, for those that are in early family recovery, to know that it is a process and to know that there is this, concept of, oh, it'll fix itself now that the person is sober doesn't, but it is an invitation to explore and do work for yourself that you probably wouldn't have done before. But hopefully it gives a little bit of hope and an understanding and education around what can be and what it looks like.

Tucker Stine (00:28:28)   And that was my goal of today's session, was to shed some light on that. Yeah.

KL Wells (00:28:32)   Yeah. So I think this is a powerful reminder that it's a personal journey for everyone. So thanks for sharing.

Tucker Stine (00:28:41)   I always love our conversations. You never know what's going to pop up until life is laughing and, you know, things, things arise and you realize, wow, that's a really big theme and it needs to be shared. So I'm glad we did that today for our listeners.

KL Wells (00:28:57)   Me too. So keep thriving, people. Keep patience, grace, forgiveness forefront not just for the person that you love that has been dealing with substance use disorder, but for yourselves also.

Tucker Stine (00:29:10)   And as my wife will say, learn that new dance.

KL Wells (00:29:15)   Great. Thank you, thank you. I want to thank Tucker again for being a part of our podcast. What a remarkable man. What was illuminating about our conversation was his genuineness and sharing the complexities of rebuilding relationships, while also creating a new life of sobriety.

KL Wells (00:29:32)   Simultaneously, inherent in healing family relationships is the importance of commitment, compassion, patience, and forgiveness. In this process, it's not an easy task. And yet on the other side is a family that has been reborn. Thank you for joining us. If you're in a space and willing to come out of the shadows of shame, stigma, and guilt, we've built a membership just for you. Stop navigating this journey alone. Join us at www.VoicesInCourage.com/Thrive.