Confused and need advice
This is a long story so will try to keep it condensed as much as possible.
My mother is an addict (mostly narcotics). This has been an on again/off again thing for years. I am one of 3, now adult children who has been basically picking up the pieces of her life for the past 20+ years. It has been *hard*.....really *hard* on us.
We have never turned our backs on her, ever. We have supported her financially and emotionally through it all. She has treated us pretty poorly but we have always put her behavior into perspective.
She has never really made any solid ammends to us. We sort of feel cheated in a way but guilty at the same time for expecting her to give us what she clearly cant.
Last year she slipped into a very dark place with the use of a very strong narcotic. It was a pretty hard year for her. We actually thought we were going to lose her.
She came out of it and told us that she was clean and feeling great etc. We were relieved and as always, just accepted that and moved on like nothing ever happened.
My younger brother was planning a trip home to visit her, excited that she was on the road to recovery. He has 2 small children and isnt an easy trip traveling 15 + air miles but he thought it would be worth it for her to see her grandchildren and sort of celebrate her sobriety.
Over the past few weeks we have seen some red flags that she could be using again...sending emails and forgetting, talking about things that happened almost 2 years ago and thinking it was 3 weeks ago etc.
My brother had no choice but to call her and ask her about this as he was very concerned about going back with his kids and her not being sober. Was this OK for him to do that? He just asked her for a guarantee that she would be sober and she completely went off the deep end. Was it OK for him to do this? She would not give him a guarantee and he got angry. He felt that he deserved that much etc. Then he gets a blasting in an email.
We are both feeling pretty confused. She is sending emails saying that we are abusing her and we are way off base to question her about anything etc. Are we? I dont get it...I dont get this at all. She said that she wants nothing more to do with us if we cannot accept her unconditionally. We have...but does that mean that we have to be silent?
I am probably the most confused person on the face of the earth right now. I have no idea how to treat her. I am very affected by her disease. I feel like it is making me physically ill.
I hate this!!!!!
If she was really sober would this question be a big deal? Thanks for writing in,
First of all, I'm very sorry for everything you are having to deal with. Trying to figure out how to help someone with an addiction can be incredibly difficult. I can certainly understand why you feel cheated and why you expect more from her, but just keep in mind that right now there's really no reason for her to give you more. If you and your brother continue to support her in every way possible, I don't see a reason for her to change or stay sober.
I used drugs and drank until the people in my life decided they weren't going to put up with it anymore. I didn't have much of a choice except to go to treatment. Sure, I could have refused to go and ended up on the streets with no money and etc, but that didn't really seem like an option for me. I am in no way telling you how to deal with your mom, but I think it's important for everyone in the family to look at their role in the situation.
said - I absolutely do not think you are in the wrong for asking her about her sobriety. You can love your mother unconditionally, but that doesn't mean you have to walk on egg shells around her. You can love her and decide that you cannot continue to support her in every way she wants if she isn't remaining abstinent. Is it possible for her to give you and your brother a guarantee that she will be sober? Probably not. It's not always that simple. I can tell you that I hope to be clean and sober for the rest of my life, but the truth is, all I can guarantee is that I am not going to use right now.
When I was very early in my recovery, my husband and my parents often asked me if I was using. If I was tired or had a head ache, or if I was in a bad mood - sometimes they would think it was because I was using again. I had to realize that I had put them all through years of agony, so it wasn't that unreasonable for them to be worried and ask about my sobriety.
Was it a little bit annoying? Yes. I was clean and I wanted everyone to trust me within weeks and I just wanted my life to go on like nothing had ever happened - like I had never hurt them or lied to them and etc. But I absolutely understood where they were coming from and was willing to do anything to prove to them that I was clean.
For me, it just meant continuing to stay clean and doing the right thing, because that's really all I can do. Eventually, they started to trust me again. I also offered to do an at-home drug screen (you can get them in a pharmacy over the counter) pretty much any time my husband was concerned about my using. If I could do something to make him believe me and start to trust me again, I did it. That doesn't mean that I was always thrilled to be doing it - but I did it.
Everyone reacts differently though. Maybe she is clean and she is just offended that she is not trusted. But it takes time, and people need to earn trust, especially when it's been shattered so many times.
I think you and your brother have every right to be concerned and to voice your opinions. She also has the right, though, to feel how she is feeling. I don't think lashing out at you and your brother is the best way for her to handle it obviously, but if that's how she chooses to handle the situation, there isn't much you can do. All you can control is how you act and react, and you can decide how much you invest into the relationship with your mom.
So - of course I cannot tell you if she is sober or not. I can't say that she only reacted this way because she was using again. All I can really share with you are my experiences, and I know that would have done anything (and did do everything I could) to gain trust back. There were times when I was angry and I lashed out too - but I usually felt that in these moments, I was in the wrong.
Realistically, you will never know for sure if your mom is sober or not. You can't be with her every minute and you can't drug test her every day. At some point, you will have to take her word for it. That doesn't mean you have to take her word for it now, though. If you're concerned, you certainly have the right to address it with her and to try to get her help. Again, though, she has the right to make her own decisions as well, even if that means going against what you and your brother want for her.
I hope I could help. Feel free to write back in with any questions or comments! Good luck with everything.