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Struggling - are we doing the right thing?

Old 01-13-2013, 01:11 PM
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Struggling - are we doing the right thing?

Hi guys,

Any of you who know our story will know that before Christmas we told SD's alcoholic mum that any further contact between her and her daughter would only commence if mum came to our home to discuss things, following her lying about having cancer and then we found out she had alcoholic liver disease and (possibly) only a year to live if she didn't quit drinking. She came over, we talked, she denied she only had a year to live but did admit to ALD, and frankly looked awful. She's very very very skinny but her face is swollen and yellow. I'm no expert, but I'd say she's well into ALD, possibly entering the final stages (cirrhosis).

Anyway, mum failed to contact her daughter on Christmas Day, which led to anger and frustration, although not surprising. Anyway, on the Friday after Christmas we had to visit mum's home town to see my in-laws, and called round to see SD's mum too. She was welcoming, but stank of booze, house was filthy (can't have been cleaned for weeks), but it was relatively okay. SD didn't go near her mum but stayed close to me and her dad (she's 14 on Friday). We told mum about SD's parent's evening at school, which was last Wednesday, and asked if she'd like to come along. She said she would. So, on Monday I text her and reminded her about it, she text back and said she would love to be there. She came, and was on time, which was a real surprise. But, she stank of booze again and clearly struggled with walking around the school. SD was obviously embarassed and we felt awful for SD. Then after parent's evening we went back to our home. Mum was trying to hug SD, but SD was having none of it, and was actually quite distant from her mum, pushing her away etc. We didn't say anything, but after mum left SD admitted she'd been embarassed by her mum at the school, although all of her teachers know she's an alcoholic. SD was embarassed by how mum looks, and was angry she stank of booze.

Anyway, it's SD's birthday on Friday, and we invited mum over to see SD, which she has accepted, but SD doesn't appear to be too happy about it.

You see, the reason why we're doing this, after 10 years of battling with this ridiculous woman, is because we honestly don't believe she's got long left to live. Seriously. And we think that the only way to get mother and daughter to spend some time together in a safe environment (ie one where mum can't be caught drinking) is at our home. If mum died and SD hadn't seen her for a while, she would never forgive herself. But, it's so hard. It's hard for us having mum in our home, and it's even harder seeing SD push her mother away.

Are we doing the right thing? Another thing that kind of worries us is that all this could make mum more complacent as regards her drinking. I know only she can decide to become sober, and not seeing her daughter, losing her daughter and her son hasn't been enough to give her the kick up the bum she needs, but what if she thinks we accept her the way she is, therefore in some twisted way she can think to herself 'it's okay, I don't need to stop drinking because they're ok with me and I can see my daughter'. Does that make sense?
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:16 PM
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Yes, it makes sense, but...You make the decisions regarding your daughter and it doesn't matter if her alcoholic mom thinks you are okay with her drinking. As you say, if she wants to drink, she will drink. Actually, from what you have written these past months, it sounds like she is past having any choice in the matter and she will probably die from drinking.

I suggest you not concern yourself over what alcoholic mom thinks and continue to do what is best for your daughter. She is the most important person in this whole situation.
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:18 PM
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You said SD is almost 14 years old, have you talked to any therapists (children's) as to what action is best. Also, at the age of 14 I believe she's expressed some feelings, yes?

While I see your point in that YOU SEE that mum may not have long to live, does SD even know that this is a possibility?

I lost a friend of mine who had a 9 year old son because of his alcoholism. I visited him in the hospital and he told me how bad he felt about neglecting his son Jake the way he had because of his drinking, he was dead in a month and Jake had no dad. However, Jake also had his mom walk him through it, and he visited his dad before he died.

I know if my friend knew that was going to be the outcome he would have done something about his drinking, he didn't want to die. It was so sad.

Has anyone talked to mum about this possibility?

I haven't read any of your other posts, but my concern is for the daughter who may not be aware that her mom may be dying and that alcoholic mum doesn't realize that it's do or die.

I'm so sorry, I know this has got to be so rough on you.
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Old 01-13-2013, 02:26 PM
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I think you guys are doing the best you can in this situation.

This is such a tragic story, and one day when your daughter is an adult she will truly understand the measures you took on her behalf.

Have you thought of counseling for her during this difficult time? Clergy and youth ministers could also be of benefit to her and your whole family.

Perhaps her school may know of additional resources available in your area.

Large medical centers have social workers, and they may be able to help guide you, and offer some age appropriate tools.

What about Hospice? They are trained in death and dying, and helping families cope, ( do they have hospice in the United Kingdom?) They may have available resources......

Sending you support.
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Old 01-13-2013, 03:50 PM
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Thanks everyone. SD knows her mum could die, but she has no sympathy for her (outwardly). She just says mum has brought it on herself. Mum knows too, of course, she gave that informationbut at the time SD hadn't been speaking to her, so we thought it could be emotional blackmail. But, mum reckons, & told us this, that her doctor has told her she doesn't have to stop drinking. I work in the medical profession & know for a fact that anyone diagnosed with ALD is told to quit. I challenged her on this, but she chose not to respond.

SD has weekly counselling at school. It's so damned hard.
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Old 01-13-2013, 04:36 PM
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I agree with suki
At this point it doesnt matter what the alcoholic mother believes you accept or dont accept.
She is going to continue to drink regardless and die from it.
What matters is what can be done for your sd before and after the fact.
Keep holding strong for her. She isnt going to understand until she is older
But when she does she will be grateful to have had the support from the both of you
Regardless in her feelings towards her mother.
Remember she is a teenager . She has alot of learning to do..she may be distant about her mother now but she may feel strongly for her later. In the end what matters is that she was given the opportunity
To see her . That yall were there and that she has guidance to deal with the emotions.
I know it is hard to have an alcoholic in your home (boy do we all get that!) And it must be equally as difficult to see your sd's reaction to her mother but just remember shes a teen. Shes a teen of an alcoholic. Shes your teen and sometimes the best things for us arent the easiest and sometimes we dont know what is good for us either . This doesnt mean that you should tolerate certain behaviour. .if the mother is being unruly or too much. Cut the day or evening short.
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:09 AM
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Thanks everyone. I guess that if SD was showing signs that she was happy to have this contact with her mum we wouldn't be questioning our actions so much. I forgot to mention that since we've allowed mum to be in her life and our lives she's begun to play up a bit at school. Nothing serious, but still a change in behaviour. I guess that's normal though, because she's having contact with her mother who every time she sees her stinks of booze, which just reminds her of the problem.

This situation (not the alcoholism, having mum in our home) is so alien to us I think it's just upset the balance of things and we need to adjust. We will tolerate mum for as long as we need to, because we do need to give SD the opportunity to see her mum before the inevitable happens.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:44 AM
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NikNox,

Is Alateen an option in the UK? Being with kids in similar situations might help her out.

Vicki
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:39 PM
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While I respect that you're trying to arrange time for your SD to see her AM, it doens't sound like your SD's feelings are being respected. She's 14, old enough to have a say. She is telling you she was embarrassed at her school, she is trying to distance herself but AM keeps getting invited back into her life.
I understand your motives, and they are good. But I think if she keeps getting pushed, she's going to push back. She needs to feel safe in your home. So if she needs to set some boundaries for herself, I would give her that respect. I would also get her to Alateen.
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Old 01-14-2013, 01:50 PM
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Lots of good thoughts here--sorry you are having such difficulty trying to do the right thing, Nik. I think it's wonderful that you have such compassion not only for your stepdaughter but also for her mom.

I agree that your stepdaughter should have the choice whether to see her mom at this point, but also that that decision should be made after full disclosure of her mom's condition and with the help of a therapist who can help her to deal with any guilt feelings that might otherwise come up. Fourteen is old enough for everyone to be honest with her, but if she is forced to be in her company (especially in public), she is likely to feel guilty about the shame and embarrassment and the way she responds to her once her mom is gone. Maybe she would prefer to deal with her in private only, so she can leave or scream or cry if she wants to, without everyone watching and feeling like others are judging her. Lots of possibilities, but there is going to be emotional fallout from this situation one way or another, and having some competent professional help sure couldn't hurt.
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Old 01-15-2013, 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Recovering2 View Post
While I respect that you're trying to arrange time for your SD to see her AM, it doens't sound like your SD's feelings are being respected. She's 14, old enough to have a say. She is telling you she was embarrassed at her school, she is trying to distance herself but AM keeps getting invited back into her life.
I understand your motives, and they are good. But I think if she keeps getting pushed, she's going to push back. She needs to feel safe in your home. So if she needs to set some boundaries for herself, I would give her that respect. I would also get her to Alateen.
Thank you, I see what you're saying. However, SD has said she would prefer to see her mum with us there, for the moment anyway. The last time she spent time with mum on her own, back last September, it was a disaster and led to her not speaking to her mum for two months (which was fine and respected), and then mum made sure we found out that she'd been diagnosed with ALD and had been told she only had a year to live unless she quit drinking, which at the time we thought could be emotional blackmail as she'd used cancer previously to get SD speaking to her again. SD said at the time that she wanted to see her mum but that she was worried about seeing her on her own, hence our intervention, something we'd not done before. I can understand wholly why SD is embarassed of her mum, but we did ask her before Parents Evening if she was sure she wanted her mum to come, which she said she did. So, we are being guided by SD - if she turned around tomorrow and said she didn't want to see mum again then that would be it. Equally, if she said she wanted to see mum on her own, that would be organised. We have to go with what she wants, but at the same time realise that this is all so difficult, for all of us, which is why we're wondering if we are in fact doing the right thing. It's very very difficult, and I guess we can't expect SD to just sail through this, however the situation is. But, as the adults in her life being guided by her, it sometimes feels like it's all wrong. I hope that makes sense?

As for Alateen, there is no Alateen in our area. Sadly. We took her to Al-Anon, which she was okay with but it wasn't really suitable for her and she didn't want to go again, which was fair enough.
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