JC: Great story Janice! I can only imagine the difficulty in having tough love with your daughter because of her drinking problem. With her husband being an alcoholic too, that’s a mixture for difficult times ahead. Here’s the thing though, in the midst of the storms within this situation, I know that God is working. On the surface it always appears as though things will never change, but in many instances “suddenly” things do. You have to be prepared for the suddenly moments. Keep learning all that you can on having tough love with an alcoholic, setting boundaries and detachment from an alcoholic. Your miraculous intervention could be today!
I left my alcoholic husband 33 years ago when my daughter was 3 years old and never looked back. Only looked forward. He was emotionally abusive, telling me that if I left him no one else would have me because I was fat and ugly. I bought into that mentality and stayed and tried to make it work. But, all of our money was going for alcohol. We went from being financially comfortable (I was able to be a stay-at-home mom and loved it) to my having to get a job and a babysitter so that I could pay the bills. I found out that he was messing around (Unfaithful Alcoholic) with other women and also men, and decided that my daughter deserved better even if I didn’t.
My mother graciously offered her home to us (she lived about 200 miles away) so that I could get on my feet and eventually make a home for myself and my daughter – which I did! It was the greatest feeling! It took about a year and a lot of prayer, but I eventually was able to buy a house and make a home. My ex-husband tried to woo me back, but there was no way I would ever go back. He also faked a suicide attempt. I guess that was supposed to scare me into thinking “Oh no – he is going to kill himself. I’d better go back.” Didn’t happen. He later wrecked his company car while driving drunk and ended up in the hospital. Of course, he had his brother call me so that I would be filled with sympathy. That didn’t happen either.
I had a full-time job and a daughter to raise. He was an adult and I couldn’t raise him too. And I didn’t want to. After the divorce, he was supposed to pay child support of $125 per month and never paid a dime. He did have visitation rights and did see our daughter a few times, but soon lost interest in that and finally stopped contacting me altogether. He told people that I would not let him see our daughter, but that is not true (alcoholics tell lies). I would not let him drive her anywhere because of his history of drinking and driving, but I would have taken her to his grandmother’s house or other family member’s houses to see him if he really wanted to see her. He just didn’t care about her but, true to alcoholic form, played the victim. I later married a man who was not an alcoholic, but turned out to be extremely abusive. That marriage lasted 9 months and was horrible! I really thought I loved this man, but he was a Jekyll & Hyde and after the honeymoon, Hyde appeared. So, I dragged my daughter through another mess as I managed to get free from him.
I had to plot and plan and rat-hole money in order to get away from him, but get away we did!
Finally, FINALLY, after swearing off romantic relationships forever because obviously I had a serious flaw when it came to choosing a husband, I accidentally met someone who is my best friend, my soul mate, and the love of my life and we have now been married 26 years. He had custody of his children from a previous marriage and so we were a real-life version of the Brady Bunch. Our home wasn’t perfect, but there was a lot of love, laughter, school activities, church activities and just regular things that families do.
Today, my daughter is a full-blown alcoholic. She is married to an alcoholic. She has a daughter from a previous marriage and two children with her current husband. She exhibits a lot of behaviors that I dealt with from her biological father. She is very detached from her children, she is irresponsible with money, she thinks nothing of drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car, is sexually promiscuous and is extremely critical of anyone who doesn’t endorse her behavior. She is very passive-aggressive towards me, though. She says very ugly things to and about me, but always as a Facebook post or an e-mail or a text. She doesn’t want to say anything to my face. Her comments are all-inclusive, irrational, and mostly just lies. I used to cry my heart out, then apologize to her for what must have been my shortcomings as a mother and we would “make up” until she had her next meltdown. Well, for some reason, her last meltdown was the last straw for me. I have only touched on the tip of the iceberg.
There are hundreds (not exaggerating) of times in the past that my husband and I have pulled her out of the muck and she expressed gratitude at the time, but it was soon forgotten when I didn’t jump through the next hoop to her liking. She faked a suicide attempt to try to get her alcoholic husband to pay attention to her, but all she did was alienate herself from her oldest daughter (who was 15 years old at the time). Her daughter was extremely hurt, confused, and felt abandoned. She was also very angry because she couldn’t believe that her mother would do something like that without even thinking about how it would affect her children. The suicide attempt was what really brought the truth of my daughter’s alcoholism to my face. Since we do not have an Al-Anon group in my community, my husband and I sought Christian counseling and it was the best thing we ever did for her because we are leaning how to help her without enabling her. I also ordered the CDs on how to deal with alcoholics from this website, and listened to them in the car. The last nasty e-mail I received from her was, I decided, going to be the last. I responded by telling her that if I really was such a horrible mother, then she should find comfort in the fact that she had repaid me exponentially. I ended my response with “It’s over. I’m done. Have a nice life.” I then changed my e-mail settings so that future e-mails from her will be deleted before I ever see them (how to set boundaries with an alcoholic). She unfriended me and blocked me on Facebook right after she sent her last nasty e-mail, so I didn’t have to do that. I went through a period that was very much like grieving the death of a loved one. It was horrible, but I did get through it with the help of my husband and a lot of Christian friends & family who were praying for us.
I see my grandchildren by visiting them at school. They are always happy to see me and the hugs and kisses I get from them helps more than anything else. My husband thinks there is still going to be a big confrontation between us and my daughter in the future and he may be right. I don’t know. I just know that alcoholics and addicts are users. They will use alcohol, drugs, family, other people – whatever it takes – for their own self-gratification. Some people have told me that alcoholism is a disease just as cancer is a disease. I beg to differ. People don’t make the choice to get cancer. Alcoholics choose to drink. Alcoholism is 100% curable. Cancer is not.