The Letter – I Never Sent

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This is the letter I wrote to Kae and never sent.  In a way I wish she could read it but on the other hand it wouldn’t have changed anything at the time.  She was still in denial of her alcohol abuse and my words would have gone in one ear and out the other – so to speak.

Since she has been home from rehab and in recovery mode she has told me that all the talks and suggestions her Dad and I had with her – all the promises she made to shut us up are typical of a family struggling with addiction.  You know, I knew this all along but what I didn’t know was, what to do.  I did know she had to make the choice on her own to enter rehab and have it be effective.  She tells me she understands we didn’t know what to do or say and that she is blessed to have a family that doesn’t turn their backs on her as so many families do.

In rehab she heard stories of families who refuse to accept their addicts condition or choice to get help.  She shared some of these situations with me and hers is different in regards to the support she will get from her family as she continues in recovery.  She is blessed!

I’ll share this letter with you and maybe someday with her.

Good morning my sweet daughter,

Let me start by saying “I love you more than you can imagine”. Everything I am about to say is because of the deep and infinite love I have for you! Please remember this as you read my letter.

I want you to know that I agree with your statement last night, “all of this is not my fault”. There are certainly many contributing factors that have led you to the mess you now find yourself in. SO much of that was not in your control.

What you do going forward is completely in your control. Your issues with alcohol seem to be situational, yet the situation isn’t changing. So I don’t see how you will get sober if you stay where you are. The first step to getting out of this mess is for you to admit – sincerely that this is the biggest problem. Clearly, choosing alcohol in the manner you have is not working for you, your relationship or your well being! It not only affects you but many of those around you.

Had I not seen the ugliness of what the alcohol does to you I’d question it more – but having seen for myself I can’t question it anymore. It is an issue only you can fix! I have faith in you that you can climb out of this mess but only if you choose that path.

I know you say you feel ambushed! I suppose I might feel the same if I was in your shoes. What I wonder is…do you realize that the people who are stepping forward are doing so out of love and concern for your happiness and health? I wish you could realize it is not for any other reason.

I want to tell you about a phone call I had yesterday. It was with Lenny. He contacted me, as James had called him. He loves you and wants to spend time with you. He wondered if I knew about all that was going on. I told him I do and that we speak pretty much, daily. He went on to say that unless you were able to get sober he would not be able to spend time with you. He told me about a couple of times where you’d passed out at dinner in his home. He told me he won’t allow that to happen in the future. He believes you are in denial of your alcohol issues and refuse to seek help or change your ways. He told me I should share this with you and he would risk your being angry about it in hopes that you will change it! He talked about how beautiful, smart and fun you are yet you are not in a place for those qualities to shine! He, as everyone else doesn’t know what to do.

I am reminded of the times you’ve told me about incidents, how many people told me after Seth’s rehearsal night how drunk you were, the 2 am phone call, our closet confrontation, the night you picked me up from the airport…..Every one of those incidents are contributed to your alcohol use – maybe there were other issues that caused you to choose to drink but it was and is your choice and only your choice. You can’t live your life based on what “everyone” else is doing if it doesn’t work for you. This isn’t working and you need to remove yourself from THIS situation.

This is a crazy situation. You are not yourself, not the girl I know. I know she’s inside you somewhere and I’d really love to see her emerge. You have your whole life ahead of you – I can NOT imagine why you would want to spend it like this. Alcohol is NOT the answer it IS the problem.

When you admit it and choose to take the path to recovering from it your life will be amazing like you. Any chance this is going to happen?

I don’t want lip-service I want to see action! In this case actions definitely speak much louder than words! How can I help? I’d be happy to come to be with you while you figure this out and begin to seek help. I’ll be with you every step of the way.

 

I love you and you’ll always be my daughter,

Mom

 

 

 

To Tell Or Not To Tell

The events that happened in my last two posts were near the holidays.  Thanksgiving was coming followed by Christmas.  It was their year to spend it with his family.  They we’re planning a road trip for Christmas.  W thought it a good idea to tell his family and have them send out a mass text message to get the word out to extended family members who would be present during the holiday festivities.  This outraged Kae, but it was too late the message had gone out to a bunch of family members. It went something like this….

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Dear family – W has brought it to our attention the Kae may be an alcoholic.  She’s drinking too much and he is trying his best to help her through this.  She won’t be drinking during the holidays.  Don’t be surprised.

It’s no wonder she was furious.  Do you think anyone stepped up and removed alcohol from their plans?  Nope!  On their first night at his parents house his mom showed her where to find the non-alcoholic wine and beer and everyone else proceeded to pour their alcoholic beverage of choice.  Okay providing some non-alcoholic beverages was a nice gesture but really people…what kind of support is that?

The bigger picture here is that his mom and her sisters drink like fish and continued to do so knowing that Kae might be struggling with alcohol use.  Her husband also drank as much as he liked and continued to harass her about how she couldn’t and shouldn’t drink any. Kae was able to make it through most meals or cocktail hours without imbibing, feeling a bit lonely and left out as everyone else poured and poured and poured.  Finally she decided she could handle a glass or two of wine with everyone else and so poured herself some.  At that time she was able to control how much.

That holiday we were able to spend one evening with Kae and W and chose not to serve alcohol nor have it available.  It seemed a bit uncomfortable but that’s because it’s not the norm, but what family wouldn’t be happy to accommodate a loved one who may be struggling with alcoholism?  At this time we weren’t even sure if she was truly an alcoholic or not.

She abstained the majority of that holiday trying to please W but it got her nowhere because as soon as they returned home everything went back to status quo.  So she began to drink in her closet again.

Should W have told his family and allowed them to spread the word like wildfire?  Would it have been better to have a private and personal conversation with his immediate family and let her do the talking?  Just curious if you’ve experienced a situation such as this how did you handle it?

And if you’re thinking that I seem a bit angry with his family you are correct.  Writing about it helps me let go because anger towards them does not serve me in any positive way.  As I tell you more about their behavior with the abuse you may come to understand better why I feel a bit incensed with their response or lack of to this entire situation.

How About Happy Hour?

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This will make your jaw drop!  The incident I am about to tell you about happened almost 3 years ago.  In the beginning throes of drinking too much Kae decided one late fall day to go see a therapist/counselor regarding her marriage and her alcohol use.  At this time W was continually hounding her about her drinking – I can’t say how bad it was since I wasn’t around – (remember we don’t live close).  Back then it wasn’t even a case of drinking during the day but in the evenings when he’d come home from work and play his video game for countless hours.  A time, that in our family is always set aside for together time – sharing about our day and maybe having an alcoholic beverage, together.  Then dinner preparation, table setting, etc…Something done by everyone in the family.  In the case of Kae and W – 2 people.

I would like to take this time to interject that after arriving home from work W also usually did a few hits on a pipe full of marajuana and popped open a beer or two.  Kae would pour a glass of wine and then find herself ignored for the opportunity to play the game.  I suppose we could say, “she could’ve played the game too and then they would be together”.  Well we could say that…but video gaming is not her thing at all!  SO, no biggie until his game playing goes further into the night – well past cooking dinner time and guess what she was doing?  Finishing an entire bottle of wine and throwing something together for dinner – ALONE!  I might add this was a daily occurrence not an occasional one.

Realizing that her alcohol use was getting out of hand and feeling like her marriage was destined to be an unhappy one Kae turned to finding help.  After a little research she found a therapist and made an appointment.  She shared this information with her Dad and me and her husband – who upon finding out she was searching for someone to go to for help immediately laid down the law and forbade her to choose a male therapist.  Whatever – stupid and that should not matter but she chose a woman to keep him happy and headed to her first appointment about mid-afternoon.

We were all looking forward to hear how she felt about her visit and she called W and then me to fill us in on how it went.  Here’s the part where your jaw might fall open….

After W listened to a bit about the session – there’s not so much to tell after only one visit with a therapist – he said to her, “Great!  I’ll be home a little early to pick you up – we’re going to happy hour with Dave and Tim”.  WHAT THE HELL?????

My phone rang minutes later and crying into the phone she told me this story.  She begged off saying, “I just went to see someone about not drinking and he wants to take me to happy hour”, “I think he wants me to fail”, “What do I do Mom?”.  Of course my advice was to tell him, “NO” and follow up with that under no circumstance should “happy hour” be a part of their social time if he wanted her to stop drinking!  I urged her to tell him how serious she was about this situation – not only the alcohol use but their marriage too.  I suggested a bike ride, a walk, an alcohol free late afternoon picnic, a movie, anything where alcohol wasn’t the focus.

What do you think happened?  I’ll tell ya’ – he bullied her into going saying,” you can have just one or two glasses of wine”.  I imagine her eyes were red and swollen that evening from all the crying she did.  I hope he enjoyed himself!

I will never until the day I die understand his reasoning here.  Was it all about control?  Did he purposely set her up for failure by bullying her and constantly making plans around events where alcohol was prevalent?  Did he help the situation by not being willing to get alcohol out of the home?  Not drink himself? Oh – how about this one – don’t smoke pot either!

After this do you think she continued to go to her therapy sessions?  For a minute!  Then he started telling her how much more he knew than the therapist.  When she told him the therapist had suggested couples counseling he threw up his hands and infinitely told her he did not need help that she just needed to get well.  If I were guessing that night she popped a cork and downed a bottle of wine – ALONE.

Full of anxiety, fear, guilt and helplessness Kae became sad and lonely…..depressed too!

 

 

The 2 A.M. Phone Call – A True Nightmare

If you are a parent you can relate to this – it’s 2am – you are sound asleep – your phone rings – it’s the ringtone for one of your children – you panic – you answer – you hold your breath – you don’t sleep anymore that night!  If you happen to fall back asleep you might have bad dreams because the phone call was a nightmare.

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Apparently the meme above should apply to our children at all stages of life not just to babies.  The familiar ring woke me up and I quickly grabbed for the phone – my husband was awakened too.  A sobbing Kae on the other end of the line. “Mom? I’m so sorry to call but….” sobbing…harder…Me, “honey what’s wrong?, I can’t understand you – take a deep breath”.

I slide out of bed grab my robe and head down the dark hallway to the living room sofa where I can talk without keeping my husband up.  Kae, “Mom I can’t do this anymore”. Me, “do what?”  By now I am beginning to realize she is pretty plastered.  My heart sinks, again.

She begins the dialogue. “Mom all he wants to do is belittle me and play that f*%king game.  He won’t pay any attention to me.  He won’t come to bed with me.”  Me, ” where are you?” Kae, “in my closet”. Me, “why are you in the closet?”  This is when she clicks me over to FaceTime.  In a way I wish she hadn’t because she looked God awful.  Drunk, red face, swollen eyes, hair looking as if rats lived in it.  It certainly opened my eyes as I’ve never seen her like this – ever!  Even on her worst sick day!  She was in the closet because as it turns out this is where she hid her wine and drank alone.

The conversation never really went anywhere.  It consisted of her saying “mom” a lot and me telling her to take a deep breath and go to bed, that we could talk the next day.  She begged me to stay on the line with her.  We got disconnected…she immediately called back.  We are into about 90 minutes of phone time now.  I answer and tell her not to do FaceTime because it’s dark……it worked for the moment and as I continued to talk to her I switched my phone to text and texted her husband…WHERE ARE YOU?  You need to go check on Kae.

Shortly after that he appears in the closet doorway and she quickly switches back to FaceTime.  So now I can see and hear everything.  He doesn’t seem to care. As he steps into the doorway he says,”What’s going on?” in a sickening sweet voice.  Next he coaxes her to the bed and lays down beside her with his arms crossed across his chest and a look of disgust on his face.  I understand it’s disgusting to see a drunk in action – especially if it’s someone you love.

She stayed on the phone a while longer – fading in and out – until I was able to convince her to hang up and get some sleep.  How do you think I felt?  Helpless, scared, confused for starters.  As I said I’ve never seen this before – not from my daughter or quite honestly anyone else.  This was the phone call that enlightened her Dad and me that what was happening in her life was a serious issue.  Our daughter….our precious daughter….

The next day we did talk and I encouraged her to seek help.  She did seek out a therapist.  You won’t believe what happened the first day she went for counseling after this incident.  I’ll tell you all about it in my next post.

Struggling With Lack Of Communication

Ever since Kae went into rehab there has been an enormous lack of communication.  Today we had our first normal conversation in almost a month – it made me cry!

 

girl-crying-pop-art-vintage-comic-was-book-style-gentina-retro-background-51844472She began to tell me about the withdrawal symptoms she is experiencing a few weeks after beginning her detox.  This is normal, it can last for weeks or months.  Her experience has been sleeplessness, night sweats, bizarre dreams and just not feeling great.  Luckily she’s only experienced this for the last couple of days.

She is about to finish her stint in rehab.  Will they address this?  Will she have a helpline in case of severe withdrawal symptoms now? As her mom of course these are concerns for me.  If I lived close I would be getting education from the center she chose and would be able to be with her.  She was planning on finding a counselor and confirming that this is normal and asking for advice on dealing with it.  I am trusting that the rehab center will absolutely address this issue and send her off with the ammunition she needs going forward.

Of course they will!

Our conversation was normal today – after the first week when she was allowed to call me she seemed like herself – sober on the first phone call.  She told me a little about the facility, the other addicts and her counselor.  Since then our conversations have seemed stiff and forced and obligatory.  This is not normal.  Today it was.

I feel hopeful that this will continue!

 

When Did She Become An Alcoholic?

I am baffled.  How was she able to drink responsibly for so long and then BAM – she lost all control? My suspicions tell me her dreary marriage and controlling husband spurred her over the edge.  True or false?

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I ponder this question daily.  I will probably never have a concrete answer.

When I think back over the days since my daughter left for college up to after she got married I see a shift in her drinking pattern.  In college she worked in a bar – in hindsight her Dad and I wish we’d have discouraged that more adamantly – hindsight…always 20/20.  Anyway we didn’t, but it didn’t seem that her alcohol consumption was out of the ordinary.  No waking up and hitting the bottle, no sneaking around to acquire alcohol, no hiding it from her loved ones.

When we did step up and lay down an ultimatum was when we noticed that the nights were too late, the crowd inappropriate and the grades slipping.  Most of the people she met and chose to hang out with were already done with or hadn’t attended college so they could stay up till 4 and not worry about missing an 8am class.  That was not the case for Kae. Her Dad laid down the law and she quit that job.  Things got better and she graduated!  OH HAPPY DAY!

She quickly found a job and began to live life as a young, educated adult.  At this time her future husband and she moved in together.  Both employed and both behaving as any proud parent would anticipate.  What I recall is she never drank alone back then.

What I also recall is that after they were married and even a bit before, the angst I would see in her face when they would come for a visit or when we would spend a weekend with them.  The constant “I’m not happy” face – but how would her family know that this was becoming the norm.  I’d question her about it and she’d give me reasons….He wants to leave early so we can stop by his parents on the way home….( on a side note – his parents lived 45 minutes away from where K & W lived- we lived a few hours away) He doesn’t want to fight traffic, He doesn’t like the way I was putting on makeup this morning…He never wanted her to wear makeup or fix her hair.  I kick myself because these were clear cut signs that he was bullying her.  Again hindsight.

Its obvious now that living under his thumb was taking it’s toll on her.  Slowly and surely she turned to alcohol as an escape.  I remember getting up on the day they would be leaving and finding a few extra beer bottles or a polished off bottle of wine in the recycle.  I also remember asking a couple of times – “did you guys stay up late and drink all that?”  It was never pointed out that it was only her because at that time it wasn’t.  One point I make here is that if he thought she had a problem with alcohol all along why didn’t he tell us?  Why didn’t he get a handle on his own consumption?  More about that in a future post!

What I now see is that the pattern began then….after her marriage began to go south. It only became visible and apparent the last couple of years.  Day drinking was not involved, drinking to the point of passing out wasn’t happening, addiction had not taken hold.

Join me soon as I discuss more about how the story unfolds…….sadly my husband nor I saw it coming until it was too late.

Today I feel blessed that she sought help!

Can I Drink Without Feeling Guilty?

Here’s a big question – can I enjoy a glass of wine or a cold beer without feeling guilty?  How does this work?  I am not the one with an addiction. It’s not a question of not drinking when I’m with my daughter, that seems like the logical and loving road to take when we are together.

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For me, I have this knot about drinking when I am not with her.  I feel a bit guilty but I don’t know why?  I guess it’s from memories of way back when – when she didn’t have a problem.  When we could have one glass of wine with lunch and move on.  ONE!  When we took a cooler of beer to the beach and it lasted all day among several adults.  When we celebrated a birthday with a few of glasses of bubbly and nobody got drunk.  Remembering those joyful and fun times…I honestly think having fun at all – alcohol or not makes me feel guilty.  SO.  Maybe I just answered my own question – I need to move beyond being so engaged with her life and remember that I have no reason not to enjoy mine.

Have you traveled this road?  Do you have experience with a loved one who has a problem with alcohol?  Do you drink in front of them?  Do you avoid it like the plague?  Does the alcoholic ever reach a stage where they simply don’t have any desire to take a sip of alcohol and don’t have a problem being around those who do drink?

I have so many questions but these seem so pressing..

When Kae comes to visit do we hide every bottle of alcohol in the house?  It seems so tempting to just dangle that carrot out there in front of her…like setting her up to fail.  No loving parent would do that on purpose.

How do we handle the “family”.   Not our immediate one but the extended aunts, uncles, cousins?  I know it is her choice to divulge her stint in rehab or not.  If she chooses not to share then they are not given the opportunity to choose abstinence  – if she fesses up I think most would be fine not indulging when with her.

I’d love feedback if you’ve been down this road!

 

What Happened Next

I last wrote about the final opportunity W was given to physically abuse Kae.  He spent the next 10 days away due to a restraining order which he broke by contacting her via a friends phone.  He now faces a felony domestic violence charge.  This scenario drums up another emotional rollercoaster for the fam.

Now it’s a big mess with a District Attorney, a defense attorney, a witness (who by the way was not at the scene), a police report, subpoenas, and a judge and jury.  Yep, no plea bargaining for W – he’s going for the jury trial.  This crap could drag on for a while or if we’re fortunate it will happen on the first jury trial date that has been scheduled.

Am I pissed off that he hurt her? You damn right I am.  Do I want to see him go to prison – not necessarily, but since he continues to chalk up his actions as an accident, maybe I do. I definitely think the consequences need to speak to him and help him understand there is not one thing about choosing to throw something at your wife that is accidental.  It was a conscious decision.

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Maybe sitting behind bars would cause him to take a deeper look inside.  You see, all along he has blamed everything that’s gone wrong on Kae.  We all know that it takes two people to screw up a marriage.  Even his family calls it an accident.  More than likely he stands to loose his job.  That is sad.  Job vs. life?  Well consider this scenario.  If the fork or knife had impaled a different body part Kae could’ve lost her life – what about that?  I know that isn’t what happened but who would’ve thought the fork would impale her hand?

If her drinking was taking a toll before this all happened I can assure you this exacerbated her alcohol intake.  After his 10 days away, (restraining order) he came back and played Mr. Nice guy for about 2 days.  Then it started all over again – she was angry now.  Probably spewing plenty of not nice words and threats about what would happen if he touched her again.  He moved out.  Of course he’s too chicken shit to discuss this idea with her – he waited until she was away from the house to pack a bag and go.

This act started Kae on a giant rollercoaster ride of do I, or do I not want a divorce.  He stayed in constant contact via text messages or phone calls, always telling her how much he loves her and how they need some time apart.  W also claimed that he couldn’t be around her without another person as it wasn’t safe for him.  That is laughable!  Well his initial idea that a couple of months apart has turned into several months apart.  Early on she was holding her own – not overdoing the alcohol.  But it took it’s toll….the alcohol took over and thank God she took herself to rehab.

Oh, he’d love to know she’s in rehab.  That would play right into his attorney’s hands in court.  Blasting her for being an alcoholic, telling the jury how she can’t think straight, how stupid she is and how she’s out of control, has no memory of anything that ever happened.  Trying to place the blame anywhere but on W.  He will not know she’s there – do you think he should be privy to this info?

 

An Abusive Marriage

It’s crazy but about a year after Kae and W tied the knot in a visually beautiful outdoor ceremony she confided in me that on the day of her wedding she knew it was destined to be an unhappy one – for her anyway.  This news came as a surprise to me – sort of…..

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A marriage blown’ in the wind and it hadn’t even begun.  WTF? I went through a slew of emotions in that moment…sadness, anger, curiosity, compassion, and lots of questions began to go through my head.

Me: Why didn’t you say something?  Her: I thought it would get better.  Me: What would get better?   Her: He’d be happy that I was his wife.  Me: Why are you unhappy?  Her: He says awful things to me, he tries to control me, he puts me down.  Me: He treats everyone that way I didn’t realize it was so serious.  Her: It’s okay mom it’ll get better.

Needless to say I left that conversation feeling empty and worried.  What hadn’t she shared with me?  At that time she shared most of what was happening with his verbal abuse which translates to emotional abuse.  She didn’t share about the time he threw a margarita glass at her which luckily missed her head and shattered into the wall behind her.  Didn’t mention the time he walked out in a rage, got in his truck and bumped into her body with said truck, as she tried to stop him from leaving. Alerting neighbors who were quickly dismissed – calling it a misunderstanding – an accident.  She didn’t tell me about the times he told her to “get the hell out of the room” so he could concentrate on his video games.  Her drinking was just beginning then…..

Fast forward about 2 years.  Bottom line  – while throwing a temper tantrum W threw a plate of food along with his knife and fork at Kae.  Remarkably the fork impaled her hand.  I don’t imagine that W expected that exact scenario but that’s what he got.  Kae called for help – finally.

Feeling Guilty Yes Or No?

When a loved one is suffering I find it hard to feel 100% joyful.  You know if they’re under the weather, suffering a loss, had a breakup, lost a job.  I have been having a severely hard time feeling happy knowing where my daughter has been.  And by where she has been I mean, for the last couple of years she has been in a bad place.  A place of self-destruction, pain, falseness and fear.  Tell me how in the world a mother can feel joy knowing her daughter is in that place?  I feel guilty feeling fantastic when my precious daughter is passed out at 2 in the afternoon from the effects of too much booze.

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After I read the book about setting boundaries I begin to take a look at myself and question whether or not it’s ok to laugh, to take pleasure in an event, to take a trip and have fun.  I decided then that I had no choice but to do those things and do them freely.  After all I am not the addict and I do not make her choices for her.  I get to choose myself what I want to do and how I feel, how I react to what ever life hands me.

That is when I started taking long walks daily and enjoying those moments.  Stopping to smell the roses, literally, laughing at kids playing on a playground, petting someones’s friendly dog – if only for an hour a day I was finding some joy!  It felt good – kind of…

Since then I’ve said to my husband on more than one occasion that I refuse to let her choices affect every waking moment of my day.  My husband and I have an active and adventurous lifestyle.  Meeting friends for a cold beer, hosting a dinner party or hitting the local bike trails, we take pleasure in life.  Now does this mean I don’t think about her or wonder how her day is going…do I fret over when the next frantic or plastered phone call will come…Well yes, I do but I’ve made a conscious decision not to allow myself to be addicted to her anymore.

I do not feel guilty…I do feel sad when her day is miserable…it’s her choice.  I mourn it and move on.  I may mourn it more than once throughout the day but it’s not consuming my entire life.  That is one reason I decided to record this journey.  In hopes that it will lighten my load, take if off my chest and allow me to carry on with joy.  So for now I am throwing my guilt out the freakin’ window!

It’ll continue to be a learning process to stay in this mind set.  I know I am not the only one who is living this  – this life of loving a daughter who is an addict.  You know, that’s still really hard to say and I’m not too keen on saying that to just anybody but I did just say it to the entire universe!

I’ll be sharing more about Kae’s failed marriage and how all that came to be, soon.  What happened to trigger her need or desire to drink, then to drink too much and so on.  From the outside in it’s not that hard to visualize how it all came to be  –  in hindsight.

Always My Daughter