We sent my son to a drug treatment center and my daughter is harming herself… How did we end up here?

I did all the things, there was no abuse in our home, there was no molestation… Why is this happening? Where is the trauma? We worked hard to create a home that was loving and give the kids everything they need.  How can I help my children through their battle with mental illness and addiction when I don’t even know where all this started?

My guest today shares the raw, courageous story of raising her children through their mental health issues and how she broke open and reclaimed her life.

Meet Maureen Towns

Maureen Towns BScN, MA is a relationship mentor with over 25 years of nursing experience in both public and private health care across Canada. After experiencing mental illness and addiction with her own children, she founded Maureen Towns Consulting to help families struggling to care for their own loved ones.

Her work with parents inspires them to rediscover themselves within chaotic and challenging situations. Maureen hosts the Broken Open Podcast. Born in Ontario, Maureen currently resides in Calgary, Alberta.

Visit her website. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Subscribe to her YouTube channel and listen to the podcast.

Read Maureen’s book and book a free consult with her.

In This Podcast


  • Accept that you cannot control the outcome
  • Connect to the feeling
  • “What do you wish you could’ve known?”

Accept that you cannot control the outcome

Even though it is incredibly difficult to see someone in your family or one of your loved ones hurting, it is not possible for you to control every aspect of someone else’s life so that they cannot hurt themselves anymore. Because if they really wanted to, they would find a way and you would not be able to stop it.

If she’s needing to [self-harm] she’s going to do it and it is out of my control and I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I can’t manage this so I do need to accept that … but it doesn’t mean I resign myself, it doesn’t mean I don’t try … it just means you look at what you’re willing to do, what’s reasonable, and then you let go. (Maureen Towns)

You need to accept that you cannot control every aspect of life, because it is not possible for us to control another person’s life in totality and still believe that we are helping them, because we are not.

By letting go of the urge to control everything we enable ourselves to truly commit to doing what we can – realistically – and work to find a long-term solution, instead of pretending that we alone can stop the storm.

At no time is Maureen giving up on her daughter or her sons, at no time. It might sound like that because this is something completely foreign to you, however, this is also a part of the process: it has to be a part of the process because if not then the problem stays there. (Veronica Cisneros)

Connect to the feeling

My daughter has got a lot of feelings which she doesn’t know how to handle and so do I and so I need to start to notice them. I need to start to label those feelings, I need to be honest about them and own them … I need to learn how to validate her feelings … it’s a skill because I’m a problem solver, I want to fix the facts in the story … rather than connect to the feeling behind the story. (Maureen Towns)

So often people fixate on the problem than looking at the emotions behind it because focusing on the problem feels like it spares us from having to deal with the emotional side but in actuality, it is worsening the problem.

When we connect to the feeling and spend time with it, validate it and make it feel seen, it instantly becomes so much easier than constantly pushing back against it, denying it, pretending not to see it.

By practicing empathy and spending time with someone in that difficult space – without trying to always fix or save them – so much progress is made because through that investment of time into our loved ones we show them that we support them, and that gives them so much strength to fight their own battles because it is not possible for us to fight those battles for them.

“What do you wish you could’ve known?”

Overall, I wish that I had known that I wasn’t alone and that I shouldn’t try and do it alone. I need to find my people, I need to find my people and people who understand this and find that is possible and let them walk with me through the process. (Maureen Towns)

An important lesson was learning that as a mother you do not need to be – and you should not be – your child’s therapist, and case manager. It is neither possible nor necessary for you to stretch yourself so thin across so many plates.

It was also important to learn that as a mother – even though it is difficult to do – to take a step back, work on yourself, and take care of yourself so that you can show up and step forward and hold the space for your children when they need you to and when they ask you to.

Contact the Lifeline Network: 1800 273 8255

If you need a therapist and you’re in California, contact 1888 263 7124

Useful links:

Meet Veronica Cisneros

Veronica Cisneros | Empowered And Unapologetic PodcastI’m a licensed therapist and women walk into my office every day stressed and disconnected. As a mom of three daughters, I want my girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future. I can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life.

So I started  Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before she ever needs to see a therapist.

Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook communityjoin the VIP community, or attend our annual retreat,  you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!

Thanks for listening!

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Empowered and Unapologetic is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Beta Male Revolution, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.