Recovering mother wants to help addicted daughter

by Jennifer
(Sydney, Australia)

I have been sober for 7 months, after developing a drinking problem once my children had grown. Although they were never exposed to alcohol or drug abuse in their formative years, I can now see that those years were hard on them. I was a single parent raised in an alcoholic family hence my dislike of alcohol. Even though I was a sober and drug free mum, I had the same crazy thoughts and behaviours of an alcoholic.

I was a tough disciplinarian and emotionally unavailable to my children. My daughter, who was most like me as a teenager, ran away at 15. I fought hard to rescue her but she wanted no part of it. 13 years later she is an alcoholic/substance abuser who had her abused baby removed from her care 4 years ago. She is full of anger and blames me for all of her problems.

I have not seen nor spoken to her for 2 years now. I can not cope with her violent outbursts and verbally abusive tirades. I've been thinking lately about making a photo book for her with photos of happy memories of her childhood and maybe some words or hope and kindness to her so that her only thoughts of me are not all hateful. I want her to remember that there were good times.

I'm still very frightened of her and her associates and have no desire to see her at this stage (I'm still in very early recovery). I'm hoping someone may have some advice or words of encouragement, healing phrases I could use. Any advice would be most appreciated. I'm hoping to plant a positive seed, not open the floodgates.

Hi, thanks for writing in with your question

Your question is a very difficult one to answer. Families and their dynamics are so unique, and I think I would be doing you a disservice if I tried to tell you exactly how to deal with what you are going through and what your daughter is going through.

That being said, I believe that at 7 months, your sobriety and your health needs to be your priority. Without your sobriety, there's not much you can do for anyone, and it sounds like you realize that. I obviously cannot say if it would be a helpful or hurtful thing for you to reach out to your daughter, but if you feel that it's the right thing to do, that's certainly something you can do.

My feeling is that regardless of what you say to
her, she won't react to it well if she is in a place of active addiction. You have said that she blames you for everything which I can certainly relate to. Before I got sober, I blamed everyone else for my problems. Even when someone said something nice to me or did something to try to help me, I wasn't able to see it like that.

I wanted to blame other people so that I didn't have to take responsibility for anything, and generally I blamed and lashed out at the people closest to me. Obviously I don't know if that's how your daughter would react, but that is often how people in active addiction do react.

All I can say is that the best thing you can do right now for yourself AND for your daughter is to focus on your own recovery. If you stay sober and healthy, you will be able to be there for your daughter if she decides that she wants help. I think one of the best things someone can do for an addict who is actively using is to just share your own experiences.

I don't know if you attend 12 step meetings or not, but maybe you could mention meetings to her and see if she has any interest in going to one. I know you said you are afraid of her, so you don't have to offer to go to a meeting with her, but you could tell her about some meetings that are close to her.

As far as making her a scrapbook, again, to me that sounds like a lovely idea. I think it's great - I just don't know how your daughter will react. Maybe she will love it and will remember the good times, or maybe she will throw it back in your face somehow. Just make sure you can deal with whatever she does or says before you engage with her.

The fact that you are 7 months sober is amazing and a true gift, so congratulations! Life isn't always easy just because we get sober, and it certainly sounds like you are aware of that.

I like what you say about planting a positive seed, and it's up to you to use your discretion to decide what will be positive for your daughter. At the end of the day, you know that you are taking care of yourself and that you are doing your best to help your daughter.

Congratulations on 7 months and good luck with everything!


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