Seeing Addiction In Action

Holy smoke!  If you love a person who suffers from addiction you are familiar with what I am going to talk about today.  If you don’t I’m here to tell you you have no clue.  To call it a nightmare is to put it mildly.

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At one stage in my daughter’s addictive path I spent a few weeks with her.  You know, I went to go “fix” everything.  To “fix” her.  That is a farce.  I knew when I went it was not possible.  She is an adult and even though I am still her mother I truly have no control.  Especially when she is in a drunken state.

I told her not to pick me up from the airport as I’d already experienced her showing up to fetch me once before – drunk!  Way too scary for me.  Speeding down the interstate, swerving a bit, and talking like a mad woman – nope I wasn’t up for that again.

I caught an Uber to her house and arrived long after dark.  She clearly had been drinking during the day but had apparently backed off a bit before I got there as she could carry on a conversation.  When I arrived her house was clean, she had prepared a few of my favorite snacks and had music playing.  She knows I like all of that.  What she didn’t seem to be aware of is the fact that I don’t like spending time with someone who is drunk.  So, yes she was semi-sober but not sober enough.  I had a couple bites of the food and then begged off on any sitting around chatting by claiming exhaustion from the lengthy flight.  She consented to washing our faces and getting in bed.

Ahhhhhh…I was tired and more stressed out than one can imagine.  I’d read a book about setting boundaries for addicts on my cross country flight and had written a bunch of notes and ideas down about what I needed to say the next morning.  I thought after we woke up and had a couple cups of coffee, while she was clear headed, would be the only time to have a conversation.  I think I took something to help me rest – to be prepared for the next day.

The next morning came as I expected.  We did sit and have a long talk about what is happening in her life and what to do about it.  I should have known better but she promised me she’d wean herself off of the alcohol in the next few days.  I questioned the validity of this concept but she swore she’d done it before – honestly I didn’t have a better answer.  I simply said, “ok but if it doesn’t work let’s talk about you going to rehab”.  She didn’t balk at the idea but a few minutes after our talk she got the shakes so bad that she had to pop the top on a beer…9:30 a.m. Knots in my stomach and throat…watching my beautiful daughter destroy her life.

The next few days she did wean off of alcohol…it lasted for about 4 days.  She got past the shakes and the cravings.  We kept ourselves busy with walks and talks and cooking and shopping.  Then it all went to hell in a hand basket.  She ran to the store….alone…..big mistake…but as I told my husband, ” I cannot follow her around 24-7.  I can’t stop her from getting in a car and running an errand.”  I would have liked to have my nose up her backside minute by minute but I needed to see the reality of what would happen if I didn’t.  I knew in my gut it wouldn’t be pretty.

She bought Vodka, I think.  Clear and easily added to a glass of lemonade or water!  Not only did she smell of alcohol but her behavior became what I’d already become familiar with when she was drinking.  Ugliness in her words, glaring eyes, phony laughter, asking me to repeat myself, and a couple of certain phrases that were key to me knowing if she’d been at the bottle.  I felt uneasy in my own skin, with my own child.

This is where it becames impossible to cope.  Questioning her alcohol use only got me a verbal lashing or a bunch of bullshit. “I had one beer”, “You’re imagining things”, “I don’t know why I smell like alcohol – I’m not drinking”.  All unbelievable and a mother begins to question herself and what she needs to do.

I survived a couple of vicious verbal attacks from my daughter and several mini oral attacks.  All followed up with an apology later or the next day.  Those attacks were reminders to me of what she’d dealt with from W.  Did that make it ok?  Of course not…but my heart remained shattered.  I constantly reminded her I love her no matter what, but I like sober Kae not drunk/addicted Kae.

We had a couple of good days and a few more awful ones.  She often reminisced about how we used to be able to go out and have a glass of wine or two together, or how while preparing a meal we’d pour a glass of wine.  She reflected how fun that was and wished we could do that again.  I flat out said, “NO” until I wore thin and said, “ok let’s have one glass”.  I wanted to shoot myself as I couldn’t have made a more harmful decision.  She couldn’t stick to just one…and the next time I said,”no” she ordered for herself anyway.  What the heck is a mother supposed to do in a crowded restaurant?  Make a scene?  I guess I should have – I’ll probably never see those people again, but it goes against my grain.

As for being in the confines of her home…as I said I had no control over her getting into a car and running a few errands.  Each time I knew she was really going out to get alcohol. I was smart enough not to tempt any physical altercation.  Once at home she’d safely hide it somewhere and her many trips to the bathroom or closet were a sure sign – if the smell and behavior weren’t enough.

My poor husband, her daddy, the only person I was willing to discuss any of this with.  Feeling isolated, scared, angry, confused, tearful, sad, and helpless!  Those were the feelings I experienced continually…sometimes all at once other times I was overtaken by just one.  Just one.  Pick one.  If you could pick just one which would be the lesser of all the evils?

I felt our relationship being compromised.  I knew I was going to loose this battle.  I knew it was time to go home.  I felt a wall going up – for me it was for protection.  I suppose she felt the same.  If she constructed a wall of deceit she could convince herself  that her path was ok.  I knew she knew – it wasn’t.

Checking Into Rehab

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2 weeks in.  Kae is two weeks into rehab.  Her first – hopefully her only.  There is no shortage of speculation surrounding a return visit.  My husband, Kae’s dad and I speculate far too often.  It seems impossible not to!

I cried the day she asked me if I thought she should just check herself into a rehab facility.  I couldn’t get the word “YES” out of my mouth quick enough.  Those were tears of joy and fear at the same time.  Before getting around to that most important question she told me about the day before.  It was a nightmare that happened during daylight hours.  She had gotten drunk beyond measure and wasn’t able to drive home from an event she’d attended.  The friend who was kind enough to pick her up and get her home safely told me she’d even peed her pants.  So.Sad.  She hasn’t peed her pants since she was 2.

After her initial question I told her I knew of some facilities she should look into and see if one would take her right away.  An entire afternoon passed with lots of calls and updates.  This one doesn’t have a bed for me today, this one is too far away, this one won’t take insurance…At last she found one about an hour away from her home that would take her that day.  Unfortunately we do not live close to each other.  We are miles apart.  She relied on a friend to help her get to rehab.

She fretted over what to take – I told her to focus on what not to take! We knew at reception that her bags would be gone over with a fine tooth comb.  They even took away her hair products because there is alcohol in them.  I get it.  Upon check-in she did not pass the breathalyzer test – even though she told me all day that she wasn’t drinking. I knew it was a lie.

The fear set in right away when she made a last call to me and informed me that check-in was complete and she would be handing her phone over for an entire week.  Did I understand this process? Sure, but did I like it? Not one bit!  To go from speaking to her multiple times a day to not at all for a week…yikes!  I told her I loved her and hung up on my end knowing that would be the last conversation for a few days.  Should I have been scared? Not really as there was comfort in knowing she was in a safe place, but…..

Now I was full of anxiety.  How will it go?  What WILL they do to her?  Will she decide it’s not for her and try to bail?  How will her dad and I know what to do?  What if W finds out she’s there?  No, he does not know nor does he need to know her whereabouts.  He’d find a way to use it against her.  More on that in another post.

To jump ahead a bit.  Detox and rehab are going well.  She detoxed out in record time and was moved into a cottage with her own room – now free of a 24-7 chaperone.  Well, they did let her use a phone on day 4 to call and share that with me.  She went from taking the meds they offer to alcoholics to assist in detox to only being given vitamins and her b/c pills – by the doc on premises. This place is not fooling around.  I like it – I think she does too.

She is getting daily exercise, eating amazing and healthy food, seeing a counselor, attending groups sessions and learning how to cope.  She is now aware of how many others have addiction and choose to get help.  Some have checked into rehab multiple times, others have a heavy drug addiction, some are addicted to drugs and alcohol.  She has found a remarkable support system.

The hard part for her dad and me is that we live so far away we aren’t able to attend the family sessions where they teach how to support and set boundaries with our daughter.  I know we need this information.  It is so easy to enable or make it easy for an addict to stick to their bad habit.  I. Do. NOT. Want. To. Be. That. Person. Suggestions?  If you are reading and have tips for me please share them in the comment section.

I am considering visiting a local rehab facility to see if somehow I can find a class or session there to find out what happens next……

A Glorious Day

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This photo depicts what I would call a “glorious day”. Wouldn’t you?  Yesterday amid some struggles and heartbreak a good thing happened.  I look for any tiny glimmer of hope to label it a glorious day!

In the midst of my daughter and her addiction are the beginning stages of a divorce.  Is the divorce due to her use of alcohol?  Maybe…is the alcohol use attributed to a lousy marriage? Maybe…There was abuse in this union they call marriage.  It is sad that commitments are so easily broken when everyone settles into a marriage.  Everything is peachy before “I do” is spoken.  What happens after is another story completely.

My daughter and her husband, W are not trashy people.  They are an educated, white collar couple.  What goes on behind closed doors is appalling. Generally we don’t suspect that abuse goes on in a home such as this.  But boy does it!

One fall day my daughter, Kae called and told me this story. She said, ” I was getting ready to run to the grocery store and I threw on some jeans, a sweater and my new boots. I just love these new boots and haven’t had much chance to wear them.  When I went through the house to grab my purse and keys, W said, “you don’t need to wear those expensive boots just to go to the grocery store!”.  Now mind you these weren’t sexy stiletto heeled boots or anything – more like a riding boot.  She responded with, ” I know they’re expensive, but they won’t get ruined at the grocery store, and I don’t get to wear them much”.  Bottom line is he bullied her to the point she took off the boots, threw on some tennis shoes and went about her business.  W was pleased as punch – my daughter not so much. Don’t love you the way he knows what shoes she needs to wear to the store?

She felt depressed, unworthy and angry at her decision to take off the boots.  BUT…when you live with an abuser you do anything to keep down the chance of more bullying or verbal bullshit.  So off came those boots. Now W’s form of abuse is not the black eye -bloody nose kind.  NO – it’s the verbal and emotional kind – for the most part.   I speculate she picked up a couple bottles of wine while grocery shopping.

Deciding to move forward with a divorce is a messy and difficult subject.  I am sharing this story a little out of order but it’ll all make sense as the stories unfold.  I am claiming yesterday as a glorious one because Kae was finally able to take a big step toward separating herself from W.  She set up her own, individual bank and phone accounts.  She claimed it felt good but weird – weird but good.  “My first step toward an official separation”, she told me with a strong sense of worth in her voice.  One I haven’t heard for a long, long time.

A Daughter’s Addiction ~ A Mother’s Journey

I am on a journey.  My daughter has an addiction.  These are not easy words.  This is painful.  It’s called a disease – this addiction.  Where does this disease come from?  What caused it to surface? The experts have answers but as a mother it’s impossible to understand the answers.

My beautiful, talented, funny, intelligent adult daughter is addicted to alcohol.  Who in the family passed this gene on to her?  I question this daily.  There is no apparent culprit.  I wish there was someone I could point my finger at and blame them.

As my story progresses there are situations which seemingly brought on this addiction.  Was it lurking in her newborn body only to surface as a young adult?  How did we make it through childhood, being a teenager, college without knowing?  We did…but when I look back I think there were signs.  I didn’t know this at the time.  Who would?

Signs like depression, bulimia, lying and anxiety.  When my daughter was in college one day she shared with me her struggle with depression and bulimia.  We sought help.  She beat the bulimia at the time…whew… good for her!  Did she drink back then?  Yes she did – did it seem excessive?  Not for a college girl.

The depression seemed to go away with a new relationship.  A steady boyfriend with a seemingly normal family.  Friends to enjoy sports with.  Cookouts and parties.  Vacation.  Family get togethers.

When you live miles apart it is hard to recognize issues going on in our children’s lives.  My daughter and I have a close relationship and she shared with me.  She also hid things from me – to keep me from worrying!

SO there I’ve said it.  I’ve put it out into the world – my daughter is an addict.  This is the first post of many.  I am hoping by writing and sharing about my journey I will more easily deal with this mess and maybe even help another, maybe you.  I know I am not the only mother who is on this path.  Are you on a similar pilgrimage?  Can I help you – can you help me?