Tending Dandelions- Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 4

Image of Sandy Swenson journaling when she made significant changes

Kirsten Haglund of Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope conducted an interview with Sandy Swenson about her experience with a son struggling with addiction, the significant changes she made during his treatment, and the resulting book she wrote Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children. Kirsten interviews guests that are experts in their field such as leading doctors, clinicians, experts, advocates, and people with their own recovery experiences, offering their insight and sharing their wisdom.


What were the biggest lessons that you feel like you learned?


Probably one of the most significant changes was, I had become a stalker. I stalked my son at his place, Facebook, Googling all over for arrest records.

My husband would stand right at the door of the den when I was doing my Google work. He wouldn’t come in; he would just say “this is so unhealthy…but what’s happening?” So, he could remove himself a little bit, but I couldn’t remove myself.

This kept on until once when my son was in treatment. I had to fess up to the counselors that I knew something about my son and that the way I knew was that I still had his password for e-mail and everything.

That was the point where I realized. I’m sick, and I have to stop being so involved in all of his business.

I stopped all of those things because it wasn’t healthy for me. It wasn’t healthy for my family. It wasn’t right for my son.

That was really hard to adjust to, to not know and to have to tell people, “don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. I just don’t want to know anymore because I can’t do anything about it.”

Even my worry and fear had to be adjusted. I had to redirect them because it would pull down my whole family.

That was one of the most significant changes, the redirecting. I had to do something with all of this. That was when I started to help other moms.


It is an incredible thing. I know so many mothers who, like yourself or my mom, have been incredible advocates because of what they have been through.

Moms are just these incredible forces for good, especially when their family has been touched by something. They have this amazing ability to turn it around and to help other people, which is precisely what you have done.

How did writing and publishing these books help you to heal?


Guy looking at the shy and thinking about the significant changes in lifeWell, it started because I couldn’t sleep at night. I would be up roaming the house fearing for my son’s life.

A friend suggested I start a journal and write down all my thoughts and feelings and that helped so much. Before, I had to hang on to everything and remember everything because I felt I had to worry about it.

Once I put it in writing, I really could let it go because, if I needed to go back to it, it was there. I didn’t need to keep stewing on all of it.

It also helped me to think things through. Instead of having knee-jerk reactions, I got to think things through, and it helped me to see things in a much more profound and meaningful way.

This conversation will continue in Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 5

Please See:

Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 1
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 2
Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children – Part 3


Weekly Hope Conversation with Sandy Swenson on March 12, 2019.

Please visit the Weekly Hope with Kirsten Haglund page for other presentations.

About the Author: 

Sandy Swenson ImageSandy Swenson is the mother of two sons—one of whom struggles with addiction. Author of The Joey Song: A Mother’s Story of Her Son’s Addiction {Central Recovery Press], Tending Dandelions: Honest Meditations for Mothers with Addicted Children [Hazelden Publishing], and Readings for Moms of Addicts App [Hazelden Publishing], Sandy lives in the place where love and addiction meet—a place where help enables and hope hurts. Sandy is a voice for parents of children suffering from the disease of addiction, putting their thoughts and feeling into words.

Sandy lives in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota. When she isn’t writing or traveling to speak with other parents coping with the disease of addiction in their family, Sandy enjoys gardening, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

About the Interviewer:

Kirsten Haglund HeadshotKirsten Haglund is an international speaker, mental health advocate, and digital media strategist. Through her media and communications company, En Pointe, she works with a diverse group of clients in both the profit and non-profit sectors increasing social engagement and scalability, social listening, communications training, spokesperson work increasing brand awareness.

Kirsten serves as a media spokesperson, speaker, and Director of Global Business Development and Digital Media for Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. She is also Community Relations Specialist for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center and is Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation.

She also does political analysis across television news networks and radio, including on MSNBC, CNN International, Fox Business Network, and Fox News Channel. Her Op-Eds on politics, culture and non-profit advocacy have appeared in the New York Daily News, Forbes.com, Huff Post and in industry journals.

She served as Miss America 2008 and Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Kirsten graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Political Science and is currently based in Zürich, Switzerland.

About the Transcript Editor:

Margot Rittenhouse photoMargot Rittenhouse, MS, NCC, PLPC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on April 23, 2019
Reviewed & Approved by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 23, 2019
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.