Could use some bead rattling for my sister in law (and my S/O and his entire family)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I've posted in the past about my sister in law, who is addicted to oxycontin (and percocet and sleeping pills and who knows what else might be in the mix). We've cut off contact with her for many reasons, it's been so hard on her entire family.

    My mother in law called last night to say my brother in law had phoned her and that my sister in law had a "breakdown" yesterday, so brother in law took her to the ER. All we know is that she was put into a psychiatric bed in the hospital (regular hospital). My S/O tried to get some info out of my mother in law, but she's got a few things going on: 1) She lost her husband at the end of July so her stress level is maxed 2) sister in law stole from mother in law during the time of father in law's passing/funeral 3) mother in law has a head in the sand thing going on in terms of my sister in law. mother in law at times expresses honest fears and a ability to admit how severe sister in law's problems are, and that she feels as we all do, that if sister in law doesn't do something soon, we could be getting a dreaded call one day because sister in law is taking lethal amounts of pills, not to mention the car accidents from this all. Then mother in law reverts to something else entirely and at times (often) can't seem to admit the problem is bad, starts almost glorifying sister in law ("She's such a wonderful person, so together and such a bright life", when reality is even before the addiction to pills, sister in law was a major gambler who bankrupted her family twice, who has left kids to raise themselves and its destroyed her children etc).

    Anyhow, S/O asked how it came to be that sister in law ended up admitted and if she was going to be asking for detox and rehab help. mother in law responded with "So, is it still cool there, or is it starting to warm back up". S/O was unable to get the topic returned to sister in law. So we don't know anything beyond her being in the hospital. Not for how long, not if she's being honest in asking for real help, not what is meant by a "breakdown" (Which can mean many things to many people).

    If you could, would you all rattle some beads? This woman is desperatly in need of some serious help. The entire family has been torn apart, her children are a mess, her husband is a mess, she has burned bridges with all 3 of her siblings and all of her friends other than the ones she uses with or buys from. I can't bring myself to believe it is her bottom, but perhaps it is. Perhaps the right people can be in the right place at the right time to get through to her how desperate her situation is.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    mother in law sounds like she's enabling her, big time. And S/O to a certain extent is also enabling his mother, if he "makes allowances" because she lost her husband recently. It was long enough ago for her to be functioning sufficiently, to be realistic about sister in law in hospital. Grief is one thing; totally ignoring what is going on is something very different.

    When mother in law changed the subject to the weather, S/O should have called her on it; confronted her and said, "Please answer my question. Or tell me you refuse to. Don't just pretend you didn't hear me."

    mother in law has to own acknowledgement, at the very least. Allowing her to slide out of answering at all, is very unhealthy. But it sounds like there has been a lifetime pattern built out of "Don't challenge mother when she's refusing to deal with things."

  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Saying a prayer.

    But yeah, got to agree with Marge. You all deserved more info than that and s/o should've pinned his mom down for it. My Mom is the same as his........but yeah, she knows I don't tolerate her game. Is why I always am the one who knows what the heck is going on. lol

    Hope this is bottom for her.
  4. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Saying many prayers for your sister in law and your family.
    I do agree with Marg that the enabling has to stop, and I hope this is bottom for your sister in law and that she can turn her life around.

  5. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I completely agree with you both re: mother in law. She's a terrific woman, but she does stick her head in the sand to a point that isn't healthy a lot of the times. Especially when it concerns my sister in law. It frustrates me in that most of the family, most of the time, just go with it when mother in law does this type of thing. Its so odd that other times mother in law is open, will spend an hour or more on the telephone with me being completely on board with the what is really going on. Then this ostrich technique comes back into play.

    I was a bit frustrated with S/O when he got off the phone with his mom and hadn't made a bigger effort to get information. I don't know if I was in the right or the wrong here. But I told S/O that from here on out, I either don't want to hear another word about sister in law and her "state", or I want the honest factual information. He was also frustrated with his mother. He attempted several times to get mother in law to explain the situation with sister in law. I guess I wanted to hear him just say "Mom, enough of the burying things. You called to tell us about my sister, so either tell us what exactly is going on, or please don't call us about her situation if you aren't going to tell us what is really going on.". He did tell me he finds it incredibly upsetting to get enough information to have him worrying for his sister, without the full information to understand the picture. I could see his aggravation when he hung up the telephone. I have known him and his brother in the past to try to get more out of mother in law when she does this type of thing, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

    I have decided that if mother in law calls and brings it up when she's on the telephone with me, I'm going to be nice about it but tell her that S/O and I were quite upset last night to get enough to worry us but no real information and that it would make a world of difference to get a call like that if it included the whole story. If she still dodges it all, I think I'm going to say something to the effect of "We all have serious concerns for sister in law. We want her to get well and fix her mess. However it might be easier for US if we didn't hear anything about her at all, seeing as we don't get the true picture of what is going on and without it, we end up upset and aggravated and it seems pretty unfair to be put into that position". Who knows, maybe it'll sink in.

    In the meantime, I really hope for sister in law's sake and that of everyone around her, that this is a light bulb moment for her. The help is there for the taking. I wonder if the fact that their aunt (S/O's fathers sister) was buried 2 weeks ago has affected sister in law at all. She was 51 years old. She had a accidental overdoes of the same exact medications, that she was much abusing. Nobody knew she had a problem in the family until the call about her passing was made to them all. This is giving mother in law another reason to not want to cope with the reality of sister in law's situation right now I think. It's sad, beyond sad. I just don't get this type of thing. I mean, theoretically I understand addiction. I just can't relate to losing ones entire life over what? Even sister in law openly admits she gets nothing enjoyable out of the pills anymore. If it isn't enjoyable anymore, wouldn't it become something you would want to get help with to quit?
  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I hope, for everyone's sake, that this is her bottom.

    Sending prayers for you all.
  7. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Well, I am starting to wonder why I even care, why I worry, why I even want to know whats going on etc.

    S/O asked me to message his nephew online and ask whats going on, the answer came a little bit ago. "She's in hospital and you two don't need to know anything else".

    I might not be nice, but I emailed a copy of that to my brother in law and added a note saying "We wish your entire family well and truly hope that sister in law gets real about getting help before it is too late. We accept your stance that you don't want us to be told anything. Please see to it that we do not get any information at all, which is better than "some" information geared to worry us but offering nothing more."

    I'm done feeling nice, or tiptoeing around "feelings" of those who are going to hop on board the crazy opiate train (Well, they aren't ON the opiates, I merely mean sister in law's crazy train). The closest I've ever seen sister in law to accepting help was a in your face approach that broke down her wall, a in your face accounting (via me and S/O) about what has happened to her, her husband, her children, her mother, her siblings and extended family, her finances, her body, her friendships, etc. It was "this" close to helping her accept the need to go get help. Then in waltzed a couple of them who molly coddle her, and she melted right into the hands of those who want to tell her how wonderful she is etc.

    If it wouldn't give me a headache, I'd literally bang my head against a wall right now.

    I'm done.
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Good for you.

    As for nephew's response, I'd be tempted to add that I don't really believe that I needed to know she was in the hospital, then, either.
  9. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Argh! Hear hear Shari. I guess that's how I meant my response to brother in law, what I meant it to imply.

    S/O called on his break and to see if there was any response, I filled him in. His response was okay then, when my mom calls I'm going to give her the info that brother in law and sister in law don't want us to know anything and that we don't want to know anything, and ask her to not speak to us about my sisters problems anymore since our hands are tied.". I am glad he is on the same page as me. And even better, I know that mother in law will go along with it once S/O lets her know how he feels.
  10. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'm glad at least SO is on board with you. That helps.

    Its got to be hard, because I know you care. Say a prayer and walk on...

  11. bby31288

    bby31288 Active Member

    Wow, Mattsmom!! sending my prayers. I have been addicted to sleeping pills! Not pleasant trying to get off. We often turn to alcohol to help us "sleep".....ah....not so much!
  12. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    bby, the grapevine told me that she admitted to the er only that she is abusing sleeping pills (taking them all day long apparently??), so she's spending a couple nights in the hospital (they put her in a psychiatric bed) to help her "sleep without the medications". ARGH! She isn't even close to bottom.

    S/O did tell his mom his schpeel tonight and she was good about it. I don't think I want to know anymore :(
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sometimes family don't want others to know because it's sensitive, or embarrassing. Or they don't want people to worry.

    For example - we delayed telling mother in law about easy child 2/difficult child 2's positive cervical HPV results, until we could also reassure her. Also, husband's cousin's husband has testicular cancer but we weren't supposed to know about it; cousin's father (mother in law's brother in law) has been pumping us for information when we knew nothing and couldn't come right out and ask. Cousin finally told us and is now keeping mother in law in the loop, but insists her father is not to be given details. mother in law is telling us but saying, "She doesn't want people to know," so we're not telling our kids. Silly in some ways, but knowing cousin's father, I can understand her trying to keep him out of the loop. So we have to reassure him when he rings.

    I hate knowing, and having to lie about things.

    However, when the problem is "We don't want family to know because this person will be shamed because her problem is her own stupid fault," then the situation is different. Frankly, SO's mother rang you to tell you, then stopped telling you. This is manipulative behaviour. It's "I've got a secret..." playground behaviour. Your job is to pull the information out of her, so she can tell others, "He made me tell...!" Again, abdicating responsibility.

    the solution to this is always openness, honesty and pragmatism. These are the facts as we know them. Please confirm or refute, so we don't have it wrong. No games, no ducking out of responsibility. We won't play games or dump blame either, we just want to know because we are family and we care. if you don't want us to know, don't feed us any information at all. Stop dangling little apples on strings then pulling them away when we come over to take a bite. That is a silly game to play, and where it concerns a family member's health, games are not appropriate. We wish her well, please pass this on. We hope she can use this opportunity to get the help she needs and be able to move beyond this and back to a full, productive life. This is what we would wish for anybody in this situation."

    Game-playing only serves to keep sister in law broken and damaged, it serves to keep her dysfunctional and not havi g to be accountable. Secrecy removes the shame and frankly, some shame is needed in order to shock her into getting help. If sister in law is being shielded form shame, then she is not likely to be getting proper help; the focus is too much on "We have to keep this secret, what will people think?" instead of "We've got to help her get clean."

    The trouble is, the longer someone has been dysfunctional, the more difficult it is to ever conceive of them changing. As a result, people conspire to keep the person dysfunctional because, frankly, it is all they expect. So damage control becomes the focus.

    While the family is focussing on damage control, you need to know she is unlikely to get better.

  14. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Marg, you're completely correct in explaining the behaviour and rationale behind the partial information etc. Its a two part thing as well. First, mother in law is doing exactly as you are describing. Second, sister in law is the one behind it all. It isn't about shame either. She (along with brother in law) is the one who told mother in law to tell us nothing. Turns out that her own kids were told to tell us nothing, and her daughter is the oldest, just turned 18 and has moved back to my town about 6 weeks ago to do her last year of high school while living with some other family. She has always turned to S/O and I and we are her only family in town. Her parents are 6 hours away. She was told to tell us nothing and to NOT come visit or call, because they know she'll open up to us for her OWN sake and need for support and family love etc. sister in law knows where S/O and I stand about her getting some help. She burned this bridge and she knows it. She doesn't like it. She wants to be able to manipulate us and keep us in her web. But we've stopped letting her. She is hoping that by having us know she is in hospital but nobody telling us anything, we'll go directly to her. She wants us in her life and she wants us to play the role of enabler that others play. It's always been that way, and its always been S/O and I who hold her to task, call her on her "stuff" and refuse to pretend she isn't destroying her life. Part of her even likes that we are the ones who WILL hold her to task (which she openly admits often, and quite frankly, is a role that is a burden when she's just using us when she needs assistance with checking back into the reality of her world, or needs help holding HERSELF to task). So, we have sister in law playing that game, and using mother in law to keep it going, knowing exactly how mother in law will handle it. I think mother in law was a bit relieved actually to have S/O tell her we don't want to discuss anything about sister in law anymore. She cant' tell sister in law on her own to stop this game. But us stopping it? She is off the hook.
  15. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Sending good thoughts. I guess all you can do is keep her in your prayers. Better than worrying sick every time you get 2 bits of information.
  16. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    sister in law's daughter has to know that she cannot be held to ransom by a drug addict. What would happen if you contacted your niece and invited her to dinner? Make it clear that any discussion of her mother will not come up, this is just for her to have some sanity and family life at the moment. Your niece is an adult and can make her own choices. Trouble is, after a lifetime of being manipulated in this way, the girl won't know any better.

  17. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Marg, niece is a smart cookie ;). She already knows that any kind of serious talks can be initiated by her, or not. But that our home is a sort of refuge for her. She knows she is always welcome and that there is zero pressure on her to speak of things she doesn't want to speak about of her own accord. She also knows that we keep her visits to ourselves unless she says otherwise. Likewise she knows that S/O and I keep anything she does talk about with us, to ourselves.

    I facebook messaged her yesterday asking how she is settling in with this other family and how school is going so far. She responded that school is great but that she is having a very hard time adjusting otherwise to being back here (she was only gone for 2 months but this is her first move "out of the nest"). I replied back to her that it is understandable to be having to adjust and it doesn't happen overnight. Then I reminded her that we love her to bits and that she is welcome to come by or call anytime, and that we would love for her to at least come for dinner and a visit soon. I do think she'll try to honor what her mother asked her to a degree, in terms perhaps of not telling us stuff. But I find it unlikely that she will not come by to visit and spend some time with family. I have no problem not mentioning her visits to anybody in the family for the sake of her not being subject to her mother being upset and taking it out on her.

    Niece is very realistic about her home life, her parents marriage state (not good), her brothers serious issues (which made her gleeful to leave home because it is truly unbearable), her moms addictions and so on. I've witnessed her take her mothers car keys (before she totalled her car and brother in law refused to buy her a new one) and tell her bluntly that she is "Higher than a freaking kite and NOT driving the car. Period". I've also seen niece tell her mother to get her act together because it was getting old very quickly to be forced to act as a parent to her brother while mom is strung out, not to mention having to parent her own parent. She told her mother she no longer looks like her mother. That when she looks at her mother now she sees a spaced out, strung out drug addict going nowhere and destroying her own life and everyone around her's lives. And I've heard her , when her mother was going on about how she'd gone cold turkey, was off the stuff, blah blah blah ... tell her mother point blank "you are such a liar mom. you are high RIGHT now and we ALL know it. You might want to try to con yourself to make yourself feel better somehow but you aren't fooling any of us so don't treat us like fools".

    It is sad that at just turned 18 years old, niece has to deal with all of this. But I sure admire this girls spunk and gumption.
  18. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Sending prayers and angels - (and a bag of sense and sensability)

    Hugs & Love