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Old 11-07-2008, 05:10 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Need some help with impact letter

Ok, so I had a not so good talk with Matthew and the counselor today. Matthew called to say Hi, a three way with the counselor, I haven't talked to him in three weeks. Asked how it was going? It got kind of heated as the counselor was putting Matthew on the spot and saying how he hasn't done anything. Not participating, not doing treatment work...he ended up getting frustrated and left the room. So after a long emotional talk with the counselor, she said he needs an impact letter from me. She feels hearing something strong from me will make a difference. So........I'm looking for some ideas...from those who have had to write one as well as those who have recieved them. I know I should write about how his addiction has wreaked havoc in my life. I have read online not to get accusing and put him down, but kinda write it that I separate that I do love him, but hate the addiction...am I thinking correct?
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Impact letters/ statements are sometimes used during interventions. It sounds like this is turning into an "in rehab intervention", given his lack of engagement. The counselor is looking for leverage.

My daughter went through a similar period. She asked for my help but was not open to making effort towards her own recovery.

I had snagged her ID/******** when she was admitted and that became the leverage. She had no ID, no money or access to money and was 3000 miles from home. At the two month mark, she finally surrendered to the process.

Looking back, on that not too distant experience, my daughter's time in rehab probably saved my life. She was in a safe place while I found this forum and began to learn ( with tremendous insight from this forum) to control the only thing I could, my own reaction to her addiction. I remain a work in progress.

I digress. As I see it, the objective of an impact letter is to convey to the addict the impact his addiction has had on others. It also includes consequences if the addict does not agree to enter rehab or in your case, engage in the program.

Ultimately, you have to give him the dignity to accept or reject the opportunity and if necessary follow through on the consequences.
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Old 11-07-2008, 06:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the response. I will work on the letter. The counselor knows that he and I are close, and that's why she feels that he needs to hear it from me. I also know this.

Any other input will be more than welcome! It's so hard when they don't seem to "get it". I'd like to smack him upside the head.
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Old 11-08-2008, 09:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Here's what I've got so far.


Dear Matthew:
I’ve been asked to write an impact letter to you. Being as we had a not so wonderful talk on the phone today, I think I’ll start it tonight.
I have to start it by telling you that I love you so very much. If you don’t know that by now, you’re crazy. That being said, I will be totally honest with my feelings at this point. Even though I love you, I hate your addiction.
When you said today “Maybe, I don’t want to get better”, my stomach flipped. While you have been in treatment, I have been in my own. When I look back at the past few years, and come into the present, I realize that maybe I don’t know you as well as I thought.
You might have thought I was oblivious to what you were doing…..but I wasn’t always. For awhile I was. Then it became more and more obvious. I would think about it constantly. I began to dread the car rides to and from work, because it left me to much time to think, and I’ve shed more tears in that car, than I care to count. How many times, I would turn down invites to go out with Anna, or Aunt Mary, because I was so afraid of something happening to you while I was gone. Even when you first went to Florida…. And the touch and go for the first few weeks with you..there were times I just sat on the other end of the phone physically shaking in my skin…. The mornings when I would wake up and find you stumbling around the kitchen or out on the deck..and knew that your were high, and it was gonna be a rough day. I was scared to leave the house. The time that Space was knocking on your door, and I thought that you had let him in, only to come into the hall 15 minutes later only to find him still outside your door, and I froze, thinking you had OD’d in your room.
Before you left, there were times your brother would call me and be crying that I thought something terrible had happened and he was telling me that he was so upset about you. About your using, and he was crying like a baby that he couldn’t talk. That boy loves you to death, But one day he said to me that he couldn’t let your addiction run his life. And I shouldn’t let it run mine. So wise for someone half my age, huh?
Then today, there was anger. I was angry. Why isn’t he participating in his treatment? I can’t answer that. I can tell you, that I have a great support group, and although I am quiet, like you, and don’t like to open up, like you, I do there. As you should. These people know what I am going through. They have been there, and no one judges me. And your peers in Sunlight, also have been where you are, and know what you are feeling, and only they can understand. I have not walked in your shoes, and I cannot be in your head to know what your thinking. Only you can say them, or write them, to get them out.
My feelings are my feelings, and there’s no right or wrong. I know you love me, and whether you meant it or not, you used me, because I am easy and soft hearted. My weakness, but it hurts to realize this.
Your addiction has made me question everything I’ve ever done as a mother. And that hurts me, because in my heart, I know I’ve tried my damndest to be a good mom, but my mind is telling me I did so much wrong. Just as you are hearing things you’ve done wrong, and you know what they are…..I am hearing them too. From my peers in group, from your counselor…and even though it hurts like hell to hear, I’m listening…because I know we’ve both screwed up or you wouldn’t be where you are today. But we are here…I’ve tried my best throughout the past 23 years to do what I can for you. I’ve learned that I have screwed up, but I also know the goodness I have taught you. The hardest job I’ve ever had is to be a mother. Noone teaches you that, I learned as I went along, hoping you picked up the lessons along the way. It hurts deeply for me to find out, that all I thought I was doing right, I was doing too much, and denied you the opportunities to learn your own lessons. Denied you the opportunity to at 23, stand on your own two feet. Denied you the opportunity to feel pride in something you accomplished by yourself. I will always be your mother, and you my son…but I need to take responsibility now for yourself. I told you when you went to detox, although I don’t know if you remember, to do this for me. I know that you can do this for no one but yourself. But in essence, to see you do this for yourself, is as rewarding for me, as it will be for you. It will tell me that I have done something right, that you are strong. I never asked for perfection from you, but all I ever asked is that you do the best you can do. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask, and yet you make me feel that I’m asking to much.
I’ve always tiptoed around your feelings Matthew, because I didn’t want to hurt you, or upset you. And because of that you are not able to deal with your feelings. I cannot tiptoe now, because your life is on the line. I’ve been told by more people in the past 6 weeks that if things don’t change, you will die. That 300 lb. monkey that is on your back will get the best of you.
You said in your letter that I got today that everyone seems to make you feel like a “F*** U*” and an *******. You know your not. Yeah, you ****** up, you said it to me in your letter. You ****** up, now are you going to change it? Or are you going to let this define you? It’s not about blaming you. It’s about you taking responsibility for your recovery. You have been given a chance at getting your life together. And yet, your not doing it. Why am I stressing over it when your not? I would think you would realize how hard this whole experience has been on me, maybe I hope that now that you know, you will care. Maybe not. But I know that until you get it, I cannot go back to the insanity.
I also know that you are almost 23, and I cannot force you to stay at ******. If you are willing to work the program, and I do mean work the program, and complete the program, I will support you there, and help in anyway I can. But if choose to give up and leave, I cannot support that. I deserve more than that. At this point, I could not live with myself if I contributed to your killing yourself.
A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is going on inside me," he said to the boy.

"It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego." He continued, "The other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Last edited by greeteachday; 11-09-2008 at 05:29 PM. Reason: filter language
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Old 11-08-2008, 09:39 AM   #5 (permalink)
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My daughter has heard the same wolf story a couple of times and it made an impact on her.

I love your letter.
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Old 11-08-2008, 11:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Do impact letters really do any good? I will be curious as to what happens after he reads the letter.

The reason I ask is because my 13 yr old daughter wrote an impact letter to my ex and I havent given it to him because I really dont think it will do any good. I may be wrong but I just dont feel at this time it is right to give them a letter when they are in active addiction.

Everyday that he lets pass without contacting the kids just confirms to me that he isnt in the frame of mind to let a letter impact him. The way I look at it is outta site outta mind. I read her letter to him and cried. I could feel her pain in her words but he has blocked that his pain so well that I dont even think he could feel her pain.

I know in interventions the families usually write impact letters but if you watch the show it isnt the letters that breaks them to go for help its being cut off. The enablers tell them that they arent going to do this or that for them any longer.

I think you should write the letter for you. I think that it helps to get it off of your chest but I am not sure what if any effect it will have on an active addict. Maybe someone on here has done the same and has a different take on it.
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Old 11-08-2008, 04:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I know in interventions the families usually write impact letters but if you watch the show it isnt the letters that breaks them to go for help its being cut off. The enablers tell them that they arent going to do this or that for them any longer.

I think you should write the letter for you. I think that it helps to get it off of your chest but I am not sure what if any effect it will have on an active addict. Maybe someone on here has done the same and has a different take on it.
Intervention letters are far more common on TV interventions than in real life.
Convincing the friends/family to stop enabling is often far more of a challenge to an intervention, than the addict.

All families are dysfunctional. Maturity is all about leaving the baggage behind and taking responsibility for our own choices and outcomes.
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Old 11-08-2008, 08:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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When my daughter was in rehab we didn't write impact letters per se but everyone did a joint exercise together, that very much resembled an impact letter. The main difference is that it came from both sides. It was an opportunity to open up dialogue and foster understanding between loved ones if it was lacking.

Not one person reacted negatively and all found it very cathartic.
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Old 05-03-2012, 05:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I have two sons who are addicts and I think an impact letter is a great idea, especially from a mother to a son. I find that discussions with an addict aren't always helpful depending on the state they're in and a letter can be read and re-read over and over again. This forum was suggested to me as I am in the process of writing an impact letter. After 12 years of living with addicts, and two rehabs, its time for tough love so I can get MY life back. The choice has to be made BY the addict FOR the addict to change and keep on the straight and narrow, or throw everything away and perhaps die (too awful to think about)
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Old 05-03-2012, 06:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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12 years of living with addicts is a long, long time.

Tough love means getting tough with ourselves- creating boundaries to protect ourselves and enforcing them.

An example of a boundary is "I will not live with anyone in active addiction."
A boundary does not seek to control the behaviors of other people because they are free to live their lives as they see fit.

If you want to write an impact letter, do so for yourself and reread it as often as necessary, to maintain your own boundaries.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:30 AM   #11 (permalink)
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As another Mom of an A, I think your impact letter is honest, thoughtful and hopefully your son will realize the length/depth of your situation. I am sending good thoughts and support for you during this difficult time. Mine is 22, he is finally standing on his own two feet (though I may think wobbly He is happy and sober and that is all that matters to me.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:59 AM   #12 (permalink)
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The consequences of not falling in line dont seem to be laid out crystal clear. He might think you not supporting him means youl let him live with you but wont give him cash. I dont know your son but hel probably have proverbial ear muffs on while he reads how much hes hurt you because addicts dont want to hear it. What stands out is what it means to him and his addiction and if you really are going to cut him off, I think you should specify what that means.

But i also see cynical one's point. He's learned that he can go to treatment, slack off, not DO anything, and instead of facing his consequences, he gets a letter and another shot. How many letters before its decided that more warnings arent going to do anything?

Not saying dont send it or listen to the counselor, just throwing it out there.

Hugs.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:16 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Also, I thnk its way too long! Its great to put all your feelings in writing for YOU but not for him. He will shut down, turn you out as quickly as he can.

IMO, it needs to be short and to the point. He needs to know exactly what you will and not allow any longer. More like what cynical had suggested.

P.S. The short and direct replies to my posts - get my attention far more than the lengthy, wordy, let me share every feeling reply. I appreciate both but I can retain the shorter and blunt ones better.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:23 AM   #14 (permalink)
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This thread is 3.5 years old. The OP of this thread has not posted for 2 years, when the subject of the impact letter was put in jail. The OP's own recovery from codependency was showing at that time.

If impact letters and/or our love could cure addiction, none of us would be here.
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:29 AM   #15 (permalink)
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impact letter

Outtolunch you're so right. I decided to write an impact letter which I gave to my son. I got a hug and a 'sorry' and "i won't do it again" but it lasted all of one week. He's used again and is sleeping it off again and I know I have to be tough about boundaries but how do you kick your son out of your house as a mother knowing its freezing cold out there and he has no money, no car, no place to stay. I'm really struggling with this, but I'm also really at my wits end with living with this.
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:53 AM   #16 (permalink)
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If you want to write an impact letter, do so for yourself and reread it as often as necessary, to maintain your own boundaries.
Good idea. Even if the letter never makes it to the counselor, it may be a tool to help you through. At least in my own experience, there's a "grieving process" when letting go of the child we once knew.

I am sorry for your pain and hope you find some peace.
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:53 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I didn't notice that this thread was from almost 4 years ago, but I have to say the letter touched my heart and I think it was a lovely letter...a letter that allowed the OP to express her feelings and how addiction had brought her to recovery, and I think it also validated her "letting go". It was not unkind or shaming, it was honest and loving and I think that makes all the difference.

My prayers go out today for that mama and her son, wherever they are, however they are.

Hugs
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