Lately I have been reflecting on when my mom last admitted she was powerless over her addictions, which was a few months before she landed in permanent nursing home care. This was in 2009. By then, she had 24 hour at home care for 3 years already. She called me late one night, about 10:30, which she often did when she was drunk.
She started with the usual niceties and small talk, asking about our day and the kids. Then, I gently confronted her, as I often did when she was in that state. She almost always denied that she was drinking, and would get defensive and angry, sometimes causing her to hang up on me.
For some reason, this phone call was different. Perhaps I was more gentle in my approach than usual (it was always a struggle), or maybe she had just finally had enough with it all. She began telling how she wanted to be done with this life, and how painful it all was. My dad had left, not able to cope with her addictive behaviors and the constant lies and game playing.
She had been dealing with hydrocephalus, memory loss, and various aches and pains related to her chemical abuse for a few years . In her stupor, she finally confessed that she was in real big trouble this time, “I think I am in big trouble with it, this time. I think I may need to do something about it. I might need help again.” It was one of the only times in 20 years that I heard her so clearly admit that she needed real help. The other times were when she was about to go into rehab, in rehab, or after she had just gotten out of rehab.
Looking back, I know I did all that I was expected to do, and more. Sometimes, you can do everything in your power to help those in trouble, and they still won’t choose it.
My mom was and is one of the best people I will ever know. She is smart, sweet, kind, funny, beautiful, charismatic, affectionate, and loving. The one thing she could never be enough was honest with herself. She had deep fears and insecurities that she tightly held on to, and probably will until the very end.
I suppose that is why I have such strong convictions, and why I have deeply committed myself to always be honest about who I am, and to keep striving to do so in my life. It isn’t always easy. Addictions can have all shapes and sizes, and almost always start innocently enough.
The key, I have found, is to try to always be mindful of keeping a healthy balance of everything good in my life. If a certain activity or situation starts to consume me or I am obsessing over, then I need to back off a little, and give my time to other things. With prayer, and the help of those around me, I can then push through those heavy feelings of loss, dread and stress. I always take it “one day at a time”, and try to never listen to the negative self talk that creeps into my head from time to time.
I get stuck sometimes…in my anger, in my resentment, in the sadness of it all. Dealing with dementia in a loved one is hard, yet it is harder still, when THEY DID IT TO THEMSELVES.
I am reading the book “Codependent No More”. It’s a great one (one of the BEST) for knowing your boundaries of loving those with addictions and those with dysfunctional patterns of behavior. It is basically about how to take responsibility for your own reactions to people and situations. It’s about knowing that it’s OK to let go of the guilt and anger of those who consistently try to drag you into their drama and patterns of dysfunction.
It’s important to try to not let their drama and chaos rob you of your peace and joy. It is about living in the moment, and attempting to detach from the tendencies to control people and situations, which were habits learned after years of living in uncontrollable situations.
I have had this blog for about 4 years now, and I feel like I’m almost ready to let it go. I started it as a way to help myself, and hopefully I helped a few people. I know what I need to do to be healthy and I have lots of tools to help me create the happiness I have always yearned for in my family. I will continue to rely on my deep faith to help me get there.