Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™
FAMILY: Should I Let Mom Live With Me After Her Rehab?
Hello, I was looking for a non-bias opinion about an issue regarding my mother. My mom has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember, I'm 27, and addicted to prescription meds since 2001 after hurting her back. The rest of my family has recently been becoming more aware about what she's been doing; I'd say about the last 2 years. I have tried everything to help my mom over the years. I have been patient with her, encouraged her, yelled at her, cried to her and nothing has motivated her to stop with the drugs and alcohol or get treatment.
My aunts convinced her to go into treatment for 90 days today. During the phone interview, she admitted to the alcohol but she lied to the center and said she's only been taking pain meds for 6 months. She's supposed to actually go after the holidays. I'm worried that she won't take the treatment seriously if she's already being dishonest. My family and I are worried about what's going to follow treatment though because she doesn't have a job or any money and nobody wants her to stay with them because of how many bridges she's burned by hurting us.
My family is now looking to me to take her into my home. I love my mom with all my heart and I want her to get better but this problem has been going since I was a kid and honestly, I'm tired. I lived with her a couple years as an adult and I can't bring myself to offer to go through all of that again. It's stressful, chaotic and she treats everyone badly. My life is peaceful and I enjoy what I have. I know she can change but I don't think she wants to. That's the scenario right now. My question that I would like answered is am I wrong? Am I being a bad daughter? Thank you for your time and any advice is appreciated. -Gabby
The minute I saw your letter come through our queue I knew I had to answer it. Gabby, you are NOT wrong. It is time, more than time, to take care of yourself. My advice, although it might seem harsh, is to NOT take your mother into your home.
It seems to me that you have tried for a long time to help your mother. You have a been a really good daughter. In the correct scheme of things it is the parent who takes care of the child. I have learned, after many years, that there is only so much we can do to help someone else. In the end, they must want to help themselves. We can point them in the right direction and we can be supportive, but they must be willing to do the hard work of helping themselves.
Gabby, your responsibility, now, is to yourself. It is up to you to help yourself also. You need to help yourself to a better life. You need to help yourself to keep the life you have made. One way you can help yourself is to stop helping your mother. Yes, I know, this sounds strange but it is true. It will be difficult for you but it is really necessary. Maybe you should seek out some professional counseling to help you to be strong enough to do what needs to be done. You deserve to have some support also.
I hope, Gabby, that you can find a way to let go of the thought that you are a bad daughter. You have done way more than many others would have. It is time to let go. I hope your mom does get the help she needs and that she is strong enough to change. Realistically I am not sure that will ever happen. She has been an addict for a long time and longer someone stays an addict the more difficult it is to turn your life around. Many addicts say that it was only by hitting absolute bottom that they found the strength to change. It is time for "tough love" as they say. Maybe when your mother finds her support system gone she, also, will find the strength to change. I am not sure, only time will tell.
Go on with your life. Be happy. Even in our own lives we are limited in what we can control. As far as someone else's life we have no control. We can only offer support and encouragement. Possibly you should offer that to your mom by sending her a brief note. We do not want her to drag you down with her.
Gabby, stay strong and take care of yourself. I hope I was able to give you some support today.