Monday, October 19, 2009


More than one of us has likened living with an addict in the family, with living with a spinning storm. Sometimes the spinning starts off with a bit of a breeze, before it builds to a full-fledged tornado. Sometimes it seems like it comes out of nowhere. Category 5, from the get-go.

I never know when it is going to hit. None of us do. And for all my efforts to NOT focus on my addict, and to focus instead on my own life, my own growth, my own work and my own interests……

I still get sucked up into the chaos.

Things had been going fairly well. She had worked her way up to paying her own rent, and we were all rebuilding healthy relationships. I was keeping my two-cents worth of opinions out of the conversations and telling her frequently, that I had faith in both her ability to continue to do well and grow, and that I had faith that God would help her and guide her on her own journey. She moved in with the friend whose husband was supposedly off at rehab out of state and when the idea surfaced that he might not stay at rehab and might return home after detox, I shushed the codependent voices in my head, went on my merry way, and dealt with My Stuff. The front yard work that continues. My daily employment, running my company, etc.

We had an utterly peaceful weekend while she visited the boyfriend’s grandma for her 80th birthday – everyone apparently (including grandma) went to the casino and tried to see how long they could play on $20.00. She actually won some money, and called us to gleefully announce she stopped after winning and held onto the win. I thought that was prudent, since she has rent due….And her new job is …. to put it as positively as possible…. “iffy.”

Her prudence may have only lasted until she saw “some of the cutest clothes.”

Not my problem.

I was working today when she called out of the blue demanding to move home.

Seems the husband is back. And the husband is loaded (heroin). And he has told my daughter this, but not his wife.

She was frantically telling me how she can’t tell the wife, she can’t be around the husband, she can’t go back to her sober home (oh, and by the way Mom, four girls relapsed there last week), and she can’t find a new sober home with a bed. I had to ask her to repeat herself a couple times, because she was speaking so darn fast.

(The codependent yahoos in my head were laughing maniacally at me by this time.)

I don’t understand why she can’t tell the wife. I don’t understand why she can’t have someone anonymously call the sober home owner and ask that everyone be tested (so she could go back). I don’t understand anything…..but then, I’m not supposed to. It’s not my business.

For the next hour or two, we had various conversations and various periods of time between conversations, where she begged, pleaded, spewed venom, and finally informed me she was never going to ask us for anything ever again. Because all she gets for her efforts is “no”.

Let’s see, Dearest Daughter #2: In the last seven or so months, we’ve paid a month of sober home charges while you fought your case, lost and went back to jail. You did your time, and then we paid another month while you again job searched, landed a job, and waited the two weeks it takes to actually receive the first check. We’ve bought groceries, and later as you became more independent, shared the occasional treat we picked up while we were out shopping for ourselves. We’ve driven you around town on job hunts at least four separate days in the last seven months. So yeah…. Probably $1,800+ and lots of time and encouragement cheerfully given over two 4-6 week periods, on either side of a 120 day jail term. But all we ever say is “no.”

Just shoot me now. I held my ground. She is not coming home. I don’t think her boyfriend understands (though that is not his business, I guess) but he did accept what we were saying and was trying to encourage her, that “everything will be okay and everything will work out. It will just be a lot harder, is all.”

(Hearing him say THAT to her while he was also talking to me on the phone made me feel shitty.)

We’re not her answer. I know that. We are enforcing our healthy boundary. I know that. Bringing her home would only end in disaster, she would not grow, we would be enabling her to not have to learn how to do this on her own, she has stolen from us repeatedly while she relapsed repeatedly here (probably in part due to the frustration of trying to live with us)….. yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it.

It all still sucks. I miss my daughter….. the one hidden in there amongst the addiction and the bipolar mania and the struggle to stay clean. Knowing we held to our boundaries is not much of a comfort.

The storm passed as quickly as it came. The calls stopped after she called one last time to tell me she had a promising interview for yet another job, if this current one indeed is not going to work out…. She gave me her address so I can forward a few letters, and told me she loved me, and then silence. As if nothing was wrong. As if she had not shredded my heart for the past two hours. The mania had shifted… She was calmer.

The aftermath of the storm for us is deafening silence. I sat there trying to eat dinner…numb, almost shell-shocked. I had made a recipe especially for my husband…. I’m trying to work on strengthening my relationship with him too, and I had planned on spending time with him over this special dinner all day…

We ate. Silently. The spinning leaves almost a vacuum when it stops.

I am so tired. My brain hurts.

But dammit, I am going to end this day being grateful.

I’m grateful that DH and I agree on the boundary and support each other in enforcing it. That’s a huge improvement for us.

I’m grateful that the storm passed and DD2 is for the moment focused on taking a few more positive steps on her journey, under her own steam.

I’m grateful I didn’t burn the parmesan chicken in the middle of all of the chaos. (DH is grateful for that also…. He loves that recipe.)

I’m extremely grateful that, for sure and certain, I’m winning the fight on this cold/flu thing…. I should be back to “normal” in another day or two. (and under their breath my family says “whatever that is!”)



  1. So sorry for your spinning day :( You are doing all the right things but unfortunately that doesn't guarantee it will be "easy". I hope D2 remains calm and has some positive things happen this week. I hope you feel like your normal self again soon (normal is just a setting on a washing machine right? are any of us normal?)

  2. For all the spinning you had going on today, you held strong. You kept your boundaries in place, lived your life the best you could and followed through with your plan for the day. The interrupting chaos is so different as time passes, it becomes so exhausting and reaction time is much slower. I really think any one with an addicted loved one must have some type of post traumatic stress disorder! You did good today, give yourself a hug;)

  3. When two people agree on boundaries and stand firm, it's a beautiful thing for those two people. I see giving my daughter her own life back without playing the role of her personal assistant as a gift to her and to me. However she wants to live, she gets to decide. She gets to find out the decision wan't that great. She gets to figure out what to do now. I recommend a ton of support groups. And pray. God has a way of leading hurting, seeking people to higher ground. When I used to jump in, try to solve, clean up, flip out, pay for stuff, drive around, listen, counsel and cry - absolutely nothing changed. So, having been there, I support your boundaries. Have some wonderful evenings with your husband. Unplug the phone. :)

  4. I used your blog the other day, by excerpting some of the discussion about how well your daughter was doing and emailed it to my son to say, "See, others have it much more difficult than you do, but they are moving forward" and then I had a codependent melt-down, thinking that I was pushing my son away when his focus right now is sober and clean. Yes, my codependent tendencies ofter rear their ugly heads when I'm not looking.

    You are doing the right thing, although not easy. I'm amazed at your focus and your strength. Hang in there and D2 will come around. She's proven before that she can find her "center" when she wants to. You are great, and I bet the chicken was yummy! :)

  5. Of course, you don't understand why she does this.. or doesn't do that. There is nothing to is NOT understandable. It is complete and total nonsense, and you should not be trying to figure it out. Anything with drugs and the people who use them makes NO sense. We waste sooo much time, just to find out later that their convulated thinking has already moved on to something else. Like it did in this case.

    Andrew is not coming home either. I just can't live that way anymore. If they want to make it they will, if not..they won't. It has nothing to do with us.

    Now check back with me in 44 days, and see if I'm still so strong (when he gets out)..sigh..

  6. I know that spinning feeling so well but hey! You are doing so well....I'm so pleased you and your husband support each other in this, so often family members have conflicting feelings on how to deal with things. Take care of yourselves.

  7. This may end up being the kindest, most loving thing you could ever do for her. I am really proud of you for keeping your boundaries. The lesson to your daughter is that you say what you mean and mean what you say. Trust that God has her back, and she'll be able to find her way with His help. Sending you a big hug!

  8. I'm really glad that you and your husband are working on your relationship. That is what addiction/alcoholism takes away. There really is nothing that anyone can do to make your daughter stop her behavior. She has to want to get better. It's good to give her up to God's care.