What We Are Afraid of Often Sets Us Free: Chelsey & Judith Cain

You have to really own your own bullshit to ever be free of it. This is something entirely apparent when hearing Chelsey Cain and her mother Judith discuss Chelsey’s long battle with drug addiction and imprisonment and now into an exciting recovery journey.

Chelsey’s parents, particularly her mother, had a tough time balancing support and boundaries in dealing with her addiction. In not bailing Chelsey out when she was arrested for selling guns, the line was finally set, and in many ways it was a key part of her recovery process.

“If you hadn’t done that, she’d be dead in two weeks,” the judge said during her case in regards to not bailing Chelsey out.

Coping mechanisms and enabling are two key elements of addiction. When I was in the throws of my drinking days, I would find ways to cope with dealing with myself and would also force my wife to cope with the realities of my addiction.

Enablement fuels addiction in many ways, as our family and friends don’t want to see us in pain, nor do they want to confront or create conflict. That was the case for me; people were worried, but afraid to stop me. Once I actually owned my own bullshit, I was able to stop seeking enablement and didn’t require a negative coping mechanism to face myself each day.

Chelsey was awesomely honest and is providing a service in sharing the details of her addiction, imprisonment, and recovery. Judith offered rare and valuable perspective in how difficult it is to set boundaries with a child amid addiction. Chelsey’s agenda of advocacy for those coming out of jail for non-violent drug charges is important, as we need to establish a realistic path or paths to mainstreaming this population and not allowing convictions after paying the debt to continue.

It’s always amazing to hear about the miracles we find in recovery, as Chelsey now loves to run and engage in fitness and is set to attend Temple’s Criminal Justice Graduate program this coming fall.

About the author

Jim McCormick

For the past decade, Jim McCormick has worked as an analyst covering the NFL and NBA for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. From 2009 to 2010, he served as a regular panelist for The Washington Post’s online NFL platform, The League. In addition to written content for The League, Jim conceived and produced the interview podcast series, “Behind the Helmet.” From 2011-2012, Jim was the lead high school football editor for ESPN.com. Jim also served as an editor and co-publisher of the nationally distributed BLITZ Magazine from 2006 to 2010 in what was a broad learning experience as a media entrepreneur. Contact Jim at tua60748@temple.edu.

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