Friday, October 05, 2007

My Life, Lately

I haven't felt much like writing lately. I desire to be funny but my humor seems to be buried under more prominent emotions, mostly resentment and anger. My dear friends (thank the Maker for girlfriends) have been excessively patient, listening to my garrulous monologues about the latest antics of my Mother-in-Law. She's an alcoholic, but not self professed or recovering. Until recently, she was a functional alcoholic AND until recently, my DH, his sister and I have all reasoned and rationalized her alcoholic behaviors, just like good co-dependents do.
But in the last year, she spiraled into a dark hole, precipitated by the death of her best friend, really her only friend. We tried to let her ride that wave of depression to the shore, but she remained at sea, clinging to her bottle and cigarettes, drowning in sorrow and loneliness. After months of trying to convince my MIL to get help or move to a home, my sister-in-law, who is dealing with her own substance abuse demons, rescued my MIL and had her admitted to the hospital. My MIL then spent a sober 10 days with us until we could get her into an assisted living close to us, only agreeing to do it because the doctors insisted.
We breathed a collective sigh of relief. She was in a safe place, where her kitty was welcome and she got three balanced meals a day. Unfortunately, they can't stop her from buying or drinking alcohol, and the home takes the residents for a weekly shopping trip to Ingles. She has been twice. And twice, hours after returning to the home, she has been falling down drunk. Literally. We received calls both times. The second time, they reported she had fallen and broken her hip. She's been at the hospital since Tuesday night and I haven't been to see her. I've called her once. I have no sympathy for her, and I feel terrible but its the truth and I can't pretend otherwise. Her marriage to alcohol has affected our family for a long time, but it is deeper than I realized. We have been kidding ourselves.
My boys are asking provocative, appropriate questions about alcohol. We've had some healthy -I hope - conversations. After explaining to my WC that Grandam broke her hip because she had too much to drink, lost her balance and fell, he asked, "Mom has that ever happened to you?" Oh, dear, I thought this conversation was years away, my WC is only 7. But I'm glad he's not afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions. So I told him the truth; yes, I had but it was long ago, and obviously not a good idea. Both of my boys are sensitive about how much I drink, especially if we are out without DH (he doesn't drink). WC is afraid for me to drive after one beer with dinner. Now I'm sensitive to it. Maybe I shouldn't have a drink in front of them anymore but then doesn't that make it taboo? Or maybe I should just give it up altogether for the health of our family.
I'm confused, angry and resentful. Surely my DH, who has lived with this much longer, is ten times worse. I'm going to my first Al-Anon meeting today. Luckily, I have a dear friend who is already going, so I'm not alone. I'm desperately looking for some insight and wisdom. I hope I find some.


Edgy Mama said...

We have legions of alcoholics in my family--both sides, so I've dealt with quite a bit of what you're describing.

The only thing I can tell you with any certainty, and that they'll tell you over and over at Al-Anon, is that you can't force anyone into recovery. The person has to make that choice themselves, although you can nudge them that direction. Then, you have to decide what boundaries you need to set up to protect yourself and your boys if the person refuses to make that choice. Or, like your MIL, makes the choice but then regresses.

Rio said...

Keep hanging in there - so glad you are going to Al-Anon. We'll talk very soon.

restless said...

Thanks girls, for your support and advice. MIL is in a nursing home now, hopefully its just temporary. The Al-Anon meeting was a good start to moving forward and chosing to focus on something more positive.