Sunday, May 16, 2010

How I explain that missing family member....

Madyson007 posted about the difficulties we all encounter when we have to go to some sort of family or work "event" and we get asked how our addict is....

Family members might or might not know about the addiction (depending on just how close they are to you), and may or may not be privy to all the gory details. Work picnics/awards events might include folks who've been used to seeing your family include one more person in past years....

For instances like these, where I'm not THAT close to the person asking the question, I've gotten better at choking out "oh, she's FINE!! just BUSY!! (give a big grin) You know how hard it is to get everyone's work schedules coordinated.... You must be so proud of (insert celebrated family member's name)... Didn't he/she look GREAT up there taking that diploma/award/etc????"

Within one paragraph, I endeavor to turn the attention back to the other person. Because sometimes, I just don't want to go into details, or run the risk of ruining my mascara.

It gets easier to pull off, with time, I promise! I've even told a couple of busybodies at church that I don't get along with "oh she's fine! She's living and working out of the area right now! How is your (insert another successful family member's name here) doing? How are your roses? Have you planted your vegetables yet?" WHATEVER.

(and yes, she is working at the prison in Chowchilla to reduce her time - not a complete lie! No lightning will strike!)

Just turn the tables and questions back to them. Most people are so glad that you are interested in THEM that they don't realize you may have skillfully deflected the conversation away from a sore point.

I go to any event now, even a quilting bee, prepared to be on stage. Paste on a smile. ACT AS IF!! Pretty soon, I am having the fun time I wanted to have!!

My quilting group is actually a "safe place" for me, as my dear friends know my situation and I know about a lot of their dirty laundry too.... but, sometimes there are a few guests, so I always ACT AS IF. If it's "just us chickens", I can be a little more forthcoming and share my heart's concerns or pain which is helpful to my soul, but if not, I still have a GRAND TIME!

Hope this helps! Seriously, try rehearsing before you go...stand in front of the mirror and casually toss off the question and come up with a question for the other person to answer and PRACTICE until it feels more natural!

(it's okay, I know I'm weird, but this is what gets me through situations where I just don't want to give out a lot of details or talk about yet another relapse, so if it's helpful - cool..... Take what you like and leave the rest!) Have a great day everyone!


  1. Thanks for the survival strategies. This is a situation that we all face.

  2. oh gosh!! LOL. I just look em straight in the eye and say..

    well, she's a heroin addict and I don't really have much contact with her anymore. How are YOU doing?"

    they usually just stammer, and walk away. OR..they know, my (son, daughter, niece, cousin, neighbor's child....) is an addict too....and they hug me. It's always one or the other.

  3. I'm weird too :)

    I have done both: spit out the blunt truth or kind of left out the details, "he's doing pretty good....".

  4. I have done both also, but find I don't hurt as much if I just ACT AS IF. I like turning the question back on them though, great idea that I will put into practice.

  5. Thanks for this post. It reasonates so true. I have done both. As Dawn said - reactions are extreme but Ive been more surprised in a good way than not. People often have a link to addiction somewhere in their lives. Not necessarily to heroin like us but they can sympathise.

    I think its important to be honest but sometimes its just not worth it - some people can't handle it, some people will never understand it and sometimes Im just not in the mood to go into it!

  6. If anyone aks me about my daughter I tell them that she is a drug adddict and that I have not talked to her in over 2 years. In the meantime, these questions appear less and less...

  7. I think that being rigorously honest is important in situations where people understand. If you get to Al-Anon meetings, you can feel free to tell the truth. By the way saying that I am FINE means that I am fucked up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional. So if she is that then you are being honest!

  8. Thanks for the wisdom! I'm preparing to go out of town in a couple days for a wedding with my mom's whole side of the family (up in Ohio)... They "know" she was "on drugs"... so I can't just say fine/busy - BUT - I so appreciate your suggestions to REHEARSE AND to turn the focus back on them. I've already started with the anxiety of the questions, so your post (and Madyson007's) are very helpful to me. Though - I wish none of us had to face this stuff...
    God bless & Thanks!

  9. Just posted a comment about this post, but it may have gotten lost. I'll check later to see if it appears. I think you're handling things amazingly well. Your attitude is healthy and positive - as positive as it could be. You should be very proud of your self for weathering this storm. Your daughter has a chance of changing her life, I believe. And who would have thought that prison could be the best place for that? Hang in there. Peggy

  10. Wow, Syd. I'm going to be using that one: I'm or she's FINE: fucked up, insecure, nerotic, and emotional. Outstanding!

  11. I have done both as well. Depending on who is asking and my own emotional state at the time. Lol. I love the FINE Syd, I'm going to remember that! Life is what it is and it makes me soooo angry that people can be so judgmental that we feel that we can't tell the truth.

  12. Ugh don't you hate the questions??? Glad you found a way that works for you! It is hard!

  13. I hate lying. I hate pretending. and I hate the truth. Leave me few options. This gives me another strategy. Thanks.

  14. GReat post and strategy to get us through those difficult events. I am going to try it. Thanks.