Saturday, September 4, 2010

My 25 year old drinking son

Questioner: Angie

Subject: My 25 year old drinking son

Question: I never thought I would write about this to a stranger online, but I could not sleep and started looking around on the Internet desperate for a glimpse of clarification. I read the entry by the woman from 7/09 whose son is involved with a unhealthy young lady and drinking too much.

The similarities are astounding, although I have nothing to do with her, and she is not involved with our family; I have her blocked through Verizon, as I have at least refused to allow her poison to penetrate me personally, she continues to verbally abuse my son. My son was raised with love and praise. I always believed in stopping what I was doing when he entered a room, and would smile and say his name as if he lit up the room; which he did.

I gave up a career to be home with him during his childhood, and we always laughed and joked around; outsiders envied our small family; my husband, myself and my son. There is drinking in our family history, and my son never saw drinking in our home. Through his early 20's to now, my son's drinking has increased exponentially. It is beyond frightening; I have never, and I mean never, seen a person drink as much as my son can drink in one evening.

The unhealthy young woman he found himself involved with abuses him verbally to the most horrific level. He has been living with roommates for a year now, and we remain close. Thank God for that. He has shown me some of the text messages from her, and they basically state that (this is difficult to write) she wishes he would someday kill himself, that she finds him to be a pathetic human being, that she has never felt physical pleasure from him and goes to other men for her satisfaction, that a monkey could do his job, that he is too stupid to ever have gone to college, etc. etc.......the last text message I had received from her was her telling me, "your baby boy is a f-ing alcoholic and I hope he kills himself, and my eyes tear with joy at the thought of it" ---- what kind of human being says such things? And why in God's name would my son continue participating in this scenario?

It made my physically ill to read the above statements in those text messages. I fear for my son.....he grew up with so much love.....he even tells us that. He tells us what wonderful parents we have always been to him, and how much he loves us, and that we are two of the finest people he has ever known, and that he never ever knew what it felt like to not be loved. WHY would someone grow up knowing they were loved and cherished, then subsequently find themselves in a relationship of such sickness and mental abuse?

I know you have suggested 'letting go' ---- but with all do respect.....letting go and doing nothing is not an option for me. I may not know WHAT to do at present, but the NOTHING is unacceptable. If drinking really is the 'disease' that the 12-step programs claim they are, and they state that 'just as a diabetic has a blood sugar disease that can not be helped, and they require aid and treatment' and those around them would do whatever they needed to do to assist that person, then why is it that loved one's of drinkers with a 'disease' are told to distance themselves? It makes no sense.....it is not in a mother's DNA to walk away from their children, knowing they are walking a fine line of life or death. It is suggested that we find hobbies and other means of distraction? Putting my son's drinking and sick relationship with this female:::::he is a hard working and well respected by his boss and coworkers; intelligent; loving; kind; generous; loved and valued by his friends; handsome and athletic; and the funniest person I have ever known. Why? Why? Why? Why would my son participate in a relationship in which someone is devaluing him?

What is going on inside him that causes him to drink too much? Why does he participate in such a sick cycle with this extremely unhealthy woman? What could possibly be the payoff? If someone responds to this, please do not advise me to distance myself and find hobbies and a source of distraction. Anyone who would or could do that is not a mother or parent.

Dysfunctional people turn away when they see something they do not want to deal with, but not I. I may not know WHAT to do just yet, but reaching out like this and putting myself out here on this site may be a first step towards opening a door in the right direction to save my son. NOTHING is not the answer. My hobbies include: kayaking, bike riding, dancing, spending as much time in Big Bear as possible, etc. Adding another hobby to avoid addressing my son and his obvious illness is NOT the answer. Good luck to other parents; good parents; who have the unfortunate circumstance of having a good kid spiral their lives out of control emotionally.....letting someone convince them they are not enough....letting someone sick into their lives and changing the child you have loved and cherished for so many years........Angie.

 Answer: Dear Angie, You wrote me knowing what I was going to say and then you state very clearly not to tell you exactly what you need to hear! Please get through the whole thing. I could hear your pleas for help even through your resistance!

1st. I am so sorry you are going through this with your Adult son. I know that being a mom is a heroic challenge on the best of days and that watching your son kill himself with alcohol and other poor choices is gut wrenching heart break. If you haven't cried recently please let yourself do so now. It's the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself to allow the grief process to begin as I am sure this is not what your expected for your son. There is nothing that feels so powerless as watching someone you dearly love, someone you gave birth destroy the very life that you were a participant in giving to them.

2nd. Now, you state very clearly, "There is drinking in our family history, and my son never saw drinking in our home," as if this were a vaccination for alcoholism. I commend you for raising him in a home without drinking as an example and as you have found out against all odds he has still contracted the disease of alcoholism.

3rd. You have a choice to make and it is the hardest choice any parent has to make. Keep focusing on your powerlessness over this situation (which is the equivalent to doing nothing) or focus on your own recovery first. I say this because whether or not you like this statement doesn't detract from the facts, alcoholism is a family disease. GET to an alanon meeting today! There are alanon meeting all around the world and now they can be found 24/7 online through many chat groups and via http://www.stepchat.com/.

4th. You have a relationship with your son. He has not thrown you out of his life. Start with what is working. Focus on the positive. He admits he had a good childhood and there is no excuse for his drinking. This is a huge POSITIVE.

5th. The WHY, why, why you keep asking...is that working for you? Are you getting the answers you want or will you continue to devalue what others are telling you and keep doing what you are doing even though it has not brought you one moment closer to stopping your son from drinking. He drinks like all all people suffering from alcoholism do, because he drinks.

6th. Positives you are doing, a. keeping the lines of communication open between yourself and your son. b. keeping up with your own life as you state you have hobbies and a life outside of your son. c. writing to me even though you knew you didn't want to hear what I had to say! :)

7th. No one says you have to not care, not love your son. As I and other parents have discovered sometimes our love becomes part of the disease! Would you continue doing what you are doing if you really truly believed your love in the form that it is coming would kill him? I don't think so. It is not that anything is wrong with LOVE, it is that for people suffering from addiction it gets in the way if it is not detached and allows them the room they need to get better.

So here is what needs to happen.

Stop focusing on this crazy girlfriend. It goes without saying she is toxic! Done deal. He admits, you know it. Stop fussing and focusing on her.

Do spend your time with your son talking about other things. Ask him about his life (outside of the drinking) remember build upon what works. When you spend time with him stop letting it be about the drinking. Even an terminally ill patient will tell you they do not want to spend all of their quality time talking about death and their illness!

Lastly, drop the self pity. The why is part of self pity. You are not a horribly person you are in PAIN however, this pain is not all about you. Your son is causing himself way more heartache than he can describe to you about your pain. YOU need to start to heal. As you heal (here is the magic) he will notice you healing, it inspires others to heal.

Remember when you get on an airplane they tell you to put your air mask on first so you can stay alert enough to put it on your child (would you argue with them too?) You son needs you to get your emotional mask on. This is the hardest part of parenting. Teaching him to let go! He can't even let go of his abusive girlfriend. He needs someone to model the letting go! You can do this. You see even with all of your resistance to what you have heard I believe, I have FAITH that you picked me to write to! I know these programs work as I work these programs myself. Was it easy, no! Did I believe the could work, heck no!

The true magic is just like God doesn't need us to believe in him to exist, neither do these 12 step groups need me to believe they could work. All I did at first was show up and nothing anyone said made any sense to me. Eventually they did. Is my life perfect? Well I have 7 amazing grandchildren. Are my Adult Children's lives perfect? No. However, one day at a time life is beautiful and the change in me was I learned more gratitude which gave my adult children more room to grow without smothering them with my mommy love.

You see I was use to fixing everything with a hug, a kiss it better but adult issues cannot be fixed by mommy. I had to figure out that I had to let them learn to listen to their own inner voice and that I couldn't be the voice in their head. The hardest thing I heard someone say to me is, "Kay I know only 2 things for certain. There is a God and your not it! Your children have a relationship of their own with God/Higher Power." I realized (after I got over the angry response) they couldn't hear God because mom was to quick with the responses of what was best for them.

This is where alcoholism is a family disease. We don't know when to stop doing what we are doing even when it is not working! I feel your pain, your frustration, your heartbreak. You need to be with other people who have been there so you can see how to make this work. Remember start with what is working and work from there.

Your son is lucky to have you for a mom!

I know you can do this!

Much Love,

M Kay Keller