Tuesday, November 5, 2013
IF Her Addiction is a Disease
The last month I have watched two important people in my life lose a parent to cancer. Both were care takers, having their parents live with them so they could provide them with love and support every day. They bathed them, changed them, gave them their meds, and in the end they berried them. It has had me fighting with myself and questioning how to handle this unhealthy relationship with my mom. IF her addiction is a "disease" why am I going to meetings to learn how to detach from her. While my friends are bringing their sick parents closer I am learning how to push mine away. If my mom had cancer I would never look at her with such anger, resentment, and frankly at times disgust. I attended one of the funerals with my mom and driving from the church service to the cemetery I could no longer bite my tongue. I was weak and didn't use the tools I have been learning in Al Anon. I said "That was such a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful man. When you go wouldn't you want that. People discussing your accomplishments in family, life, career? People singing your praises and knowing that you did your very best instead of having a dark cloud of addiction over your life? Mom, I want you to want to be better. I want you to want more for your life." Her response was "I think I am doing just fine." I cringed as she reached to hold my hand. I crossed my arms and looked out the window as I continued to explain that I wish she could see that she can be so much more than her addiction. She has zero responsibilities. No Job, recently divorced (to an amazing man who stood by her through years of her abuse), lives in a dirty, over crowded condo in a really bad area purchased buy my grandparents and drives a car that was bought for her, my grandma pays her bills, she just got on government assistance yet she tries to tell me she is clean and sober. No body who is clean and sober would be, or at least should be continent living that life. I just want her to want more. She said she has been looking for a job but no one is hiring which of course I responding with a list of places I have seen who are hiring.... CVS, Rite Aid, Raley's as a courtesy clerk, Starbucks .... she interrupted me "But Charlie I am not going to settle for a job I don't want!" WHAT!?!?! But you will settle for food stamps and your 90 year old mother paying for everything! She said I was being judgmental and mean and that I pick at her like before the funeral service I told her to remove the black from under her eyes and fix her hair which was hanging in her face. I snapped back at her "Mom I wasn't trying to be mean, I was trying to make it so you didn't look like a druggie!" We were going to see friends and some family that we hadn't seen in a while I didn't want them to see her as I see her. I know I have to learn that I am no longer a direct reflection of my mom like I was as a child. She was that mom wearing pjs to pick her kids up from school. She came to school almost everyday to hang out with me and my friends when I was in high school, trying to live through me and I was so embarrassed by her but I also had the overwhelming responsibility to protect her which is when I became an enabler. Protect her at all cost. Allow her to come to my school, hang out with my friends, come on dates with me. I tried to act like it was because she was such a cool mom, she was my best friend and I tried to pretend I wanted her by my side. So going to the funeral I went into protection mode and attempted to clean her up but instead of seeing it as me being helpful she saw it as me being mean. I was/am being judgmental and I'm having a difficult time apologizing for that. If I could see addiction as a disease instead of a weakness maybe it can make me understand her more. I have to say I have tried. When I found out she was an addict at the age of 17, I attended meetings with her regularly. I went to every family day at every recovery center. I wrote her cards to express the pride I had in her sobriety. Her recovery was my recovery. I was in it all the way with her over and over again. I'd attend meetings and tell her how proud I was of her just to discover she was still using and her attending meetings was all on act. Over and over I'd fall for it. Over and over I'd feel broken but too afraid of what would happen if I gave up on her so I remained her cheerleader until she made the ultimate mistake and involved a child. It was 7 years ago and it changed everything for me. Now I am trying to learn how to be me without her WHICH is why it's hard for me to see addiction as a disease. Again, one would never work on detaching someone who is ill. I've tried to see her relapsing and continuing to work her NA/AA program as "at least she is trying" but the more clear my vision gets through this healing process I can not buy what she is selling. She relapses about every 4/5 months, it's hard to see that as trying. Will power and being responsible for your actions is what makes it difficult for me to see her as sick instead of seeing her as weak and selfish. So my current struggle is deciding if I acknowledge that addiction is a disease then what? Stay, go, love, hate, protect, give in.... what am I suppose to do as a daughter of someone who has a "disease" that is so toxic!?! I have been able to detach her physical self from my life for the last month, focusing on the beautiful life I have created, but I struggle with detaching emotionally. The funeral I attended with her, the ride to the cemetery, her nonchalant approach to her not being an active member in society makes my heart ache. I do not believe my mother has a bottom I believe she will continue the sober/relapse/sober/relapse cycle until she passes and that makes me so sad and scared for her. I'm trying to do the "right" thing but struggling to know what the right thing is.