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What's next? Death?

Old 01-21-2012, 03:57 AM
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What's next? Death?

Hi all,

Basic tale is my 13 year old stepdaughter lives with me and her dad, her half sibling (brother, 7) lives with his dad. Their mother is alcoholic. This has always been the case, well for the past 15 years anyway, but over recent years it has become a lot worse. Their mum got involved last year with a very violent man, who in fact was the cause of my stepdaughter finally making the break from her mum and deciding for herself to live with us. Social Services then got involved as they were concerned for the boy, and he was removed from mum last November. The violent boyfriend has also gone, after he beat mum up very badly (he was actually sentenced to 18 months in prison yesterday).

Since my stepdaughter came to live with us last July, mum has been to see her 4 times, despite numerous promises to visit, most of which she have failed to uphold. We expected that as 'normal' behaviour of an alcoholic. However, we really believed that losing both her kids would be the 'kick' up the backside she needed to try and get some help. We couldn't be more wrong.

Over the past few months we have been hearing that she is sinking further into the bottle, and last night had it confirmed that she is now drinking 2 bottles of vodka a day!! Her skin is yellowing, and she has lost so much weight she looks like an anorexic on a bad day. Obviously this is self destruct, but she puts her 'condition' onto her daughter, and last time she came to see my stepdaughter (2 weeks ago), she told her she cannot eat because she's so depressed at my stepdaughter leaving her. Blame shifting of course, we understand that, but it's very difficult for a 13 year old to understand (she is having support by the way).

From what we understand about alcoholism, it sounds as if mum's liver is packing up. Mum won't listen to anyone, denies she has a drink problem, so she's nowhere near accepting she has alcoholism, let alone seeking the help she needs for it.

We are just wondering how long she may have left if she carries on like this?
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Old 01-21-2012, 07:35 AM
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(((NikNox))) - I'm so sorry for what you and your family are going through. I was once a nurse, but even I can't tell you how long she has if she keeps it up. It does sound like the alcohol is taking it's toll on her liver and rest of her body and death is a very real possibility if she keeps it up. I've seen people with liver failure have a prolonged and pretty agonizing death, others I've seen go fairly quickly. Most get seriously confused and agitated, as toxins build up, so it might get to the point where your stepdaughter doesn't need to be around her, IF she shows up for a visit.

I'm glad your stepdaughter has you and is receiving support. I'm also glad you're here, as this has to be hard on you and we are here for experience, strength and hope.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-21-2012, 08:26 AM
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Hi, my wife is a transplant nurse and I asked her your question, she agrees with Amy, she said the only sure sign she has seen is when a person turns orange, you hit orange and the train is close to the station.

Pleas egive your stepdaugter an extra hug for me, that poor young lady, she will need lots of help trying to apcka all that guilt around.

If there is any way you can make it happen, I think getting her involved in ala-teen would be very good for her.

Best of luck,

Bill
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:14 AM
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Thank you both. We have chatted to her about Ala-Teen, but she says 'not right now'. She has joined a forum called COAP (Children of Addicted Parents) and that helps we think. We also talk to her openly about her mother's addiction, reiterating to her time and time again that none of it is her fault. At the moment, she is disengaging emotionally from her mum, self-preservation I guess, as she finds the constant let downs and broken promises very hard to deal with. Up until she left her mum, she was basically her carer, the one who made sure mum got up in the morning, that mum ate more than a lettuce leaf and a grilled tomatoe each day, so she feels a huge amount of responsibility for this failing human being. Its been very difficult to sit back and watch mum destroy what was left of their relationship by being useless and unreliable (she's always been unreliable, but my stepdaughter didn't 'see' it so much when she was living there), but despite our best efforts to try to encourage mum to arrange contact through us, so as to only make the child aware if mum actually turns up to try and lessen the disappointment of the constant no-shows, mum refuses to adhere to any suggestions or ground rules we try to establish. She says we are 'harassing' her, and accuses us of stepping in the way of her contact with her daughter. But, she will never view things from a selfless point of view because she is incapable of being selfless. So, we have resigned ourselves now to the fact that we have no choice but to let mum destroy her relationship with her daughter, and that goes against everything we feel as normal, loving parents (I have 2 boys of my own).

What worries us the most is that should mum die, my stepdaughter will feel it is her fault. Mum makes sure she lays guilt on her, by telling her she doesn't eat because she left, stuff like that, and how the hell will the poor kid deal with that if/when it happens?

In some respects we feel that no contact at all would be the better option for this kid, but don't feel, at the moment, that we have the right to impose it. There is a temptation to say to mum 'you cannot see her until you are better, sober, in a better place', but mum won't even accept she has a problem, so that's not going to work. Not that we're trying to push her into recovery, we know we can't do that, but it's like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and we just want what's best for the child. In all honesty I don't think it will be too long before my stepdaughter decides for herself that she no longer wants to see her mother, but that in itself could tip mum over the edge. We have been told she's very 'fragile' at the moment, losing both her kids and her man (albeit a violent man) within the space of 7 months. It is so very very hard, and we don't want to feel responsible either, if she should drink herself into the grave.

She used to be a heroin addict, and replaced heroin with alcohol, and she's been 'addicted' for the whole of her adult life, starting on heroin at 14 and she is now 36, so she doesn't know any different. There are rumours that she is back on the heroin, but we have no proof of that although it wouldn't surprise us. After all, it's cheaper than alcohol and she is surviving on benefits.

We want to wrap this child in cotton wool and protect her, but we know we can't, and that is unbearable.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:25 AM
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Bless you for the way you are handling this difficult situation. From what you have posted, it sounds like you and your husband are saying and doing all the right things. This is a horrible situation for everyone involved.

My dad was an alcoholic and eventually died of cirrhosis of the liver. He was sick for a couple of years and the last year he was bedridden, yellow, swollen and unable to keep much of anything down. He still drank beer though. Unbelievable, but, I guess at that point, there wasn't much reason to deny him his alcohol. It was clear he was dying.

Addiction is so horrible and affects the entire family, especially the kids. She sounds like a pretty smart girl, and it's good that she has joined COAP. She will find some good support there.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:39 AM
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Thank you for your kind words. But, it's a case of having to deal with it isn't it? God knows I wish we didn't have to, it's been awful, and we have fought so hard for that child via Social Services for nearly 10 years, mostly to no avail. That woman has been the bain of our lives for a decade, she has caused no end of trouble and has treated her children in the most appalling ways. If I'm completely honest, truly honest, if she died tomorrow I would feel huge relief. But, that would be awful for her kids, of course. But, what kind of a mother is she to them? Not a very good one, so they would most probably be better off without her. These are just my thoughts and feelings, none of them are ever conveyed to my stepdaughter, but we have had enough of it, my husband and I.

I work for the National Health Service in the UK, for a GP Practice, and see alcoholics regularly. They are all the same, all destructive and seem hell bent on sucking out the life of those around them. In all of them I see an element of Borderline Personality Disorder too, in itself destructive and painful to others. I also worked for 2 years at a local Rehab centre, before I had my own children, so I know the depths to which an alcoholic will sink, and even then some of them still don't accept they have a problem.

However my stepdaughter's mother chooses to live her life (if you can call it that), is up to her, but we don't want her taking her kids down with her.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:41 AM
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As far as "tipping her over the edge", that would be HER choice. She's already lost a lot and continues to drink. I'm sure you already "get" this, but just wanted to emphasize that she is responsible for her own actions. When I was using (I'm a recovering addict), I would use ANY excuse to use - good day, bad day, sun was shining, someone hurt my feelings. It was never anything but an excuse. I could have just as easily used those things to choose recovery (and eventually did).

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Impurrfect View Post
As far as "tipping her over the edge", that would be HER choice. She's already lost a lot and continues to drink. I'm sure you already "get" this, but just wanted to emphasize that she is responsible for her own actions. When I was using (I'm a recovering addict), I would use ANY excuse to use - good day, bad day, sun was shining, someone hurt my feelings. It was never anything but an excuse. I could have just as easily used those things to choose recovery (and eventually did).

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
Thanks, I know it would be her choice and hers alone, but it's what she would leave behind, the guilt those kids could suffer with for the rest of their lives. That's not the sort of legacy to leave children, and it's that we worry about, so very much. We know she will blame anything and everything for drinking, and at the moment it's because she has lost her children, or rather has had her children 'taken away unfairly' (that's how she perceives it), and she threatened the father of her son that if he kept the boy she would hang herself. His response to that was 'well make sure you tie the rope properly then' because he too has had enough. I don't like the way it makes us feel, the resentment, anger, sheer bloody frustration!! I wish we could feel pity, but we just don't, well not towards her anyway.

If only there were a magic button ....
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Old 01-21-2012, 10:11 AM
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I've gotten to know a few people, here, who are raising children because the child lost a parent to addiction. Yes, it is tough on all involved, but I've seen several kids work through the grief and thrive because they are in a safer place, loved, and have support (which you have provided for your stepdaughter).

No, it's not what you would wish on anyone, especially a child, but I really do think you're doing a really awesome job with helping your stepdaughter through this.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-21-2012, 04:13 PM
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Oh, I am so glad you came back to update us.
I am actually thrilled your stepdaughter got out of the house.
There is no excuse for the bio mom to say such horrible things to her children, but you could tell them the reason she says such outlandish things is because her brain is damaged. (age appropriate of course).
I wish she did not have to watch her mom in the end phase, it is so awful.
My father died from cirrhosis, and I was grown up (over 30).

These hugs are for you, your husband, stepdaughter and her brother:

:ghug3 :ghug3 :ghug3 :ghug3

and this one is for the alcoholic in your life who still suffers:

:ghug3 (i am in recovery too.)

Beth
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Old 01-21-2012, 06:05 PM
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So sorry for your troubles.

I would get her and yourself to Alateen and Alanon. I know she doesn't want to go, but with my kids, when they didn't want to do something (join a team or something) I told them they had to go 5 times and if they didn't want to go anymore, then at least they would know what they were saying "no" to. They ALWAYS stayed for the duration, but didn't feel "committed" if they didn't like it.

I think if she attended some meetings, she would REALLY benefit. She would learn that she has choices and doesn't have to accept calls from her mum, if she so chooses. She would learn she didn't cause it, she can't control it and she can't cure it. And, she will meet other kids that are dealing with the same thing, which is such a gift for her at this point.
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Old 01-21-2012, 09:12 PM
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It doesn't sound good with two bottles of vodka a day, losing weight, and skin discoloration. Sounds like she is in end stage alcoholism. My XABF recently died from alcoholism after being sick for about two years. He had drank most of his life except for brief periods of sobriety after detoxes. Health wise he seemed to do fine for many years until all of a sudden he got very ill. The deterioration was very quick. I'm sorry you have to deal with this with your step daughter. If she won't attend alateen meetings maybe you could supply her with books and reading material. It sounds like you're doing a good job on educating her about this disease. She's fortunate to have you.
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:05 AM
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Originally Posted by wicked View Post
Oh, I am so glad you came back to update us.
I am actually thrilled your stepdaughter got out of the house.
There is no excuse for the bio mom to say such horrible things to her children, but you could tell them the reason she says such outlandish things is because her brain is damaged. (age appropriate of course).
I wish she did not have to watch her mom in the end phase, it is so awful.
My father died from cirrhosis, and I was grown up (over 30).

These hugs are for you, your husband, stepdaughter and her brother:

:ghug3 :ghug3 :ghug3 :ghug3

and this one is for the alcoholic in your life who still suffers:

:ghug3 (i am in recovery too.)

Beth
Thanks Beth, very much. We too wish she didn't have to see her mum like this, but she does say she doesn't want to see her mum. However, because mum visits so rarely, she relents and goes to meet with her in town. We would never ever stop that, but if my stepdaughter got to the stage where she was adamant she didn't want to meet her mother, then we would support that and uphold it, and take the tongue-lashing and accusations from mum. As I'm sure everyone here is aware, it's never their fault. It's always someone elses, and she is no different. She says we forced her daughter to stay with us, prevented her from leaving, blah blah blah (I'm sure you've all heard similar, time and time again!), but we know the truth, my stepdaughter knows the truth and that's all that matters. We do enlighten my stepdaughter if mum blatantly lies to her, which happens very frequently. When she was beaten by the boyfriend she told her daughter she had a brain haemorrhage on one side of her brain, and swelling with fluid on the other, yet she was at home!! Stepdaughter was beside herself with worry, but we assured her that if her mum did have these severe brain injuries she would be in hospital, in intensive care and would be very very poorly indeed, so told stepdaughter that her mum was lying to her. Mum also told her that she 'promises' her that this year she will learn to drive, pass her test and buy a car so she can visit more easily (we live 20 miles away, and mum can only visit on public transport). A non starter of course, not just because of the alcoholism, but also because she is epileptic (alcohol induced) and fits most days. She also doesn't have a licence, and won't be able to get one just because of the epilepsy. However, she is apparently taking driving lessons from a friend in a 4x4, and even brought stepdaughter a photo of her sitting in it as 'proof'. We told stepdaughter there is no way her mum will pass a driving test, or buy a car, or even get a licence. We don't see how glossing over things will help the child, she needs to know the truth, and our advice to her is that when her mum is rattling on about all the things she's going to do with her daughter (take her to the sales, take her on holiday, spend loads of money on her) that she mustn't interrupt her mum, but just think to herself 'it won't happen', then that way she's not disappointed when it doesn't and doesn't expect anything from her mum.

Sometimes we feel like ogres telling this child that basically everything that comes out of mum's mouth is a load of bull (we don't put it like that of course, and we do explain it's the illness), but beating around the bush isn't an option either. She has already stopped answering her own phone to her mum, not that she calls regularly, once a week at most, so that in the end mum has to try my husband's phone and then stepdaughter will speak to her. More often than not she cuts mum off after a couple of minutes with 'gotta go, dinner's ready', and it's sad, sad to think that this woman is losing her daughter, slowly but surely.
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Old 01-22-2012, 12:54 PM
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Sometimes we feel like ogres telling this child that basically everything that comes out of mum's mouth is a load of bull (we don't put it like that of course, and we do explain it's the illness), but beating around the bush isn't an option either.
Nope, trying to protect her by skirting the awful truth is the worst way to go in my opinion.
I wish someone would have explained to me about my father (when I was younger) so I could try to understand it wasn't personal. He was drinking and that is what alcoholics do.
Instead, I grew up with a paralyzing fear of abandonment. I am working on these issues, and by being aware, I can accept the truth of it, and act in my best interest.

Beth
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:11 PM
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I agree that it doesn't feel good having to tell a child that their bio-parent is lying, but it is the right thing to do. I didn't tell my niece of all the stuff that we'd gone through to keep her..the really bad things her bio-dad and his parents put us through, until she was about 13. She was livid, but not at us.

She and I have our differences, argue at times, but the one thing she's learned about me is I will tell her the truth..don't ask me anything you don't really want an answer to When her bio-dad was in the ER, his stepmom called and told my niece "he's DYING! You need to get here NOW..but come by yourself" - WTF? She knew I would find out his condition (used to be a nurse at the ER he worked at, knew how to get an answer without breaking privacy rules). He wasn't dying, he had OD'd but was fine.

I offered to take her to see him, if she wanted to go. She chose not to, but did tell me "if I did go, I'd want you there..we don't always get along, but I know YOU have my back and you wouldn't let anyone run all over me".

I think you are doing a fantabulous job with your stepdaughter. I know it's hard on you, but I'm really glad you're here for support for YOU! The only reason I have the relationship I have with my niece is because I learned from all the people here.

Hugs and prayers,

Amy
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Old 01-22-2012, 03:13 PM
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Aww thanks guys. It's difficult to know if you're doing the right thing with kids who have got non-addicted parents who don't lie and put them first, let alone a child in my SD's position! I am an ardent believer in the truth, even if it hurts because if you have truth you have fact, and then its up to you how you handle it. Addiction is always painful, it cannot be viewed through rose coloured glasses, so now she is 13 she deserves the truth. Besides she can see for herself just by looking at her mum that mum is very sick, and if mum decides to tell her she weighs 84lbs at 5ft 3, knowing I work in medicine, then she must surely expect that SD will turn to me for answers. If an anorexic was that weight, we would be looking to admitting them to hospital, and so mum cannot even hide behind her lies.

It's a road I so wish we weren't travelling, but I have to say this site is helping, tremendously, so ......



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Old 01-22-2012, 03:47 PM
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Okay, NikNox, I had this vision of the bio mom riding around the cobble-stoned streets of your village (you know, being in the UK) in a huge Humvee and the IV bag merrily swinging from the roll bars. Waving like a parade princess.
Sigh....I know, sick humor. "Look, I am driving!"

You and your husband are doing an excellent job in a terrible situation.
When she is ready, she will come to you for the real deal because she can TRUST you, I cannot begin to tell you how much this means for a teen in her position.
Having a trustworthy parent, what a dream come true.

Beth
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Old 01-22-2012, 04:00 PM
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Oh how I would love to be living in a village! Sadly not. Over the past 7 months, since she's been with us permanently, she's told me so many times I am the mum she never had. Makes my heart sing, and I tell her I don't parent her any differently to how I parent my boys. She said I was normal, but she was only just learning what 'normal' was. She truly believed, right through her childhood, that all mothers drank beer for breakfast! If all that comes out of this, with her into her adulthood, is her knowing and feeling she's had a good few years of normality, then as we say here in the UK, 'job's a good un'
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Old 01-22-2012, 05:35 PM
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Your stepdaughter is a lucky girl to have you and your husband. Thank you for doing right by her.

I adopted two children from foster care at ages 8 and 9. Their mother was severely mentally ill and they took care of her. They worried so much that she would die without them being there. They were what we call very "parentified." My daughter had been managing the family's finances since the age of 6!!!

We just kept repeating to them that adults are there to care for children and not the other way around. And we often had to stop them from doing something parental (worrying about whether we had enough groceries, whether the power bill was paid up, weird stuff) by repeating over and over "I am the parent. My job is to take care of YOU" or "It's my job to worry about that stuff --- your job is to be a kid!"

I think it's so great that you and your husband are being honest and straightforward with her. She needs information and constant reinforcement that none of this is her fault and she has zero control over her mum.

Counseling with a therapist who has experience with addiction and attachment issues would be a great idea for your daughter.

My now teens are dealing with their adoptive parents separating due to my husband's alcoholism. I have repeated the 3 C's to them often (you didn't cause it, you can't control it, you can't cure it). They say them back to me when they are having a hard time, and it really seems to help them frame their situation in a way they can understand.

Hugs to you and bless you for being such a good mom.
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Old 01-23-2012, 04:27 AM
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Oh I know what you mean about them being the parent! My SD has only just started to step out of that role, and its taken a long time. We just reiterate to her, over and over, that she is the kid and has no responsibility. Now she looks better, like the weight has been lifted, a weught that should never even have been there!
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