Keeping Family Together

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by exhausted, May 4, 2012.

  1. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    At FA on Wednesday, we discussed if going places (like out to lunch, golfing, to the zoo etc.) with our actively addicted difficult children was enabling. My husband and I always wonder about that. Should we reward difficult child by having her go along on family outings etc. The group felt like we (the group) should spend time with our difficult children when they are willing and have good family interactions and include them when possible. Several older people mentioned they would give anything if their addicts even wanted to spend a moment with them. One cute granny mentioned that she would do anything to keep her family close and she felt like those family outings were important, she longed for her daughter to want to come. I have been doing my best to have my family together for a few meals a week (hard with our schedules). I want to take difficult child with me when I have to run errands-it was a tradition for years and she was a help-I miss it and she said she did to. We always stopped to get a treat as part of the deal. I stopped because we had decided not to spend any money on her-it seems ridiculous now.

    What about you guys??
  2. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Well I think of a couple of things... in our case our daughter has been rather traumatized by my sons past behavior so I dont want to expose her to him until they have worked some things out and I think he needs to be clean first. So I would not do a family outing with all 4 of us at the moment. However if he was here I would take him to dinner, or do something with him, his dad and I. When he is using though those outings generally end badly.

    But I don't see spending time with your difficult child as enabling unless you are allowing him to actively use in your presence. I don't think you are talking about doing that. I see nothing wrong with gestures that show you love them... in fact I think our addicts need to know we still love them. I think where it turns into enabling is when those outings turn into big time shopping trips, or otherwise ways for them to get money.

    So I say sure take your difficult child to do errands with you, even buy her lunch, but don't let her turn it into a shopping trip where you buy her stuff.

  3. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I don't know, I will be watching the replies on thsi one. None of us really wants to spend time with difficult child right now but I don't know how we will feel months down the road. Actually her 21st birthday in June 6 and I am not buying her anything. I don't even want to take her to dinner because I am not buying her a drink.

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    My parents continued to insist on family meals and events even when they almost inevitable devolved into fights between gfgbro and my parents. I can remember praying desperately to have just one time where there wasn't a fight. I used to go sit and cry and rock and hold my cat for HOURS after a meal like that. By high school I mostly just refused to be home so that I couldn't be forced to have to deal with it. It honestly felt that my parents chose him and his awful behavior over me.

    I have a very vivid memory of being out shopping with my mom and running into a classmate and her mom. The moms talked and commented on how if they didn't have a difficult child (classmate was a difficult child) then life would be really boring because the difficult child was the only thing that kept life interesting. That hurt like you cannot even imagine. I worked so HARD to get good grades, to make good choices, to be educated and to be a good person and daughter. My mom and I did a lot together and I thought we enjoyed doing things together. To hear that she had to have my bro around because I was boring as all get out because I did what my parents asked and expected and because I made good choices? it was a knife in the heart that twisted and left a lot of poison. When I asked my mom she gave some BS about how she only said that to make the other mom feel good. I say it was BS because I could always tell when she was lying. She wasn't lying to the other mom, but she was to me. I could not believe she got offended wehn I asked her questions about this statement. How dare she! WHen I told her that it hurt me, she told me that I was hypersensitive and that it was annoying and boring. gee, and I thought that she didn't mean it that I was boring and my bro HAD to act out to compensate for my boringness. She then got REALLY angry. It was the first time I walked away from ehr while she was chewing me out for something. I just got out of the car at a stoplight and walked away. She never said another word about it, no apology, nothing.

    THIS is how your pcs feel when the difficult children have to be included on all family events. The difficult child gets to act out, to use, to flaunt their defiance of all rules and family standards. for this they get you going out of your way to do things with them. For our rule following we get more responsibility and expectations, less time with you, feelings that we are not good enough no matter what we do, and feelings that difficult child is the only one who really matters or is loved by our parents. Even if your easy child won't tell you these things, they are there. I have been in MANY alanon meetings with siblings of addicts and this is a universal theme that we all seem to feel very strongly. We just don't tell our parents because either it will hurt you or you won't care. We generally don't know which one we fear the most.

    Some family gatherings are okay, but you are fooling yourselves if you think your difficult children are not high. Most who are truly addicts are high every minute or else they are sick. You don't get them well behaved at a gathering when they are sober, not if they are active addicts. Unless they are in recovery, they are NOT sober when they are with you. Generally they feel a lot of guilt and pressure around you, and getting high is how they deal with that. with-o the substance, their bodies cannot function in any way approaching normal. S o if you want them to be 'normal' around you, they ahve to be high. Regardless of waht they tell you, don't lie to yourselves and think they are sober/clean/unhigh when they are at a family meal/gathering/function/spending time with you.
  5. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    And for that very reason Susie, I won't even take difficult child out to dinner for her birthday. She will not be sober even if she hadn't had a drink that day.

  6. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    And that is why we will not put our easy child daughter through trying to include my son in family events. When he was home she may have felt as you did, he got all the attention negative though it was....and our home was chaotic. I really believe that getting him out of the house made things much better for her....and she knows it. It also has made her realize that being the responsible one is a good thing as she has many more benefits than he does. Although i do worry about and think about him a lot, i dont do that with her....and since he does not live here it is not in her or our face all the time. So yes i would see him but i will not make her see him.

  7. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    When difficult child was clean and sober and not full of drama we included him. Then my daughters didn't want him around their kids and I was fine with that we would have difficult child over for breakfast or take him to a diner on a weekend close to the holiday and have the family dinner on the regular holiday//birthdayweekend as planned. That is how we will continue when he gets out this month. difficult child knows he has to be clean and sober for a good long time before we will expose the grandchildren to him again. -RM
  8. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    I sure can see that if your kid is using drugs that you would not want them around-esp. when their behavior is so horrid. Suzie, I agree that our pcs are hurt by this-all the attention revolving around the difficult child. I am really sorry that you had to hear that conversation with your mom and the other mom. How any mom could love the drama a difficult child brings is beyond me-and then to say that in front of her easy child daughter-not sensitive or thoughtful at all! My easy child voices his concerns and I am glad. I can act on those. This family has had so much treatment over the last 3 years- I am glad he tells us what he wants.

    My kid's addiction (not diagnosed, but what we believe) is sexually acting out so she isnt high-though she has used marijuana. It's not a visable addiction, very complicated and tricky. It's every bit as harrowing as any addiction and even harder to find evidence for-can't drug test it, can't see it in her eyes, hard to see in her behavior (though we do have some cues). We don't want easy child affected anymore-which is why the question. Luckly difficult child works on Mother's Day-so we don't have to deal with her then! She is usually pleasant on these occations as well. She enjoys them. Our family issue is more that everyone goes their own way as many families with older children do, and there is little chance to be together and to have any positive interaction as a family and yes, she has caused some of this. We don't know if difficult child is in recovery or not. She says she is-but she isn't going to meetings or reading, or seeing a counselor. She is working, playing ball 2X a week and goes with her friends once or twice a week (which is where she could be acting out??). She has court coming up so we think she is trying to hold it together (which she can't do for too long). It's tricky.
  9. Elsieshaye

    Elsieshaye Member

    For me, it's behavior based. If I'm having either positive or at least neutral interactions with-difficult child, I'm more likely to do nice things for him or include him in things. But if the interaction turns sour, I pull back until he initiates the next interaction. I did basically the same thing when he was living with me, but I was more likely to include him in things like getting take-out just because it felt weirder to me not to include him than it felt like I was being used if I -did- include him. It also puts the ball in his court, because it's based on what HE does. I just have to accept that, right now, I'm not likely to hear from him unless he wants something from me, and then decide as each request comes in whether I'm going to participate in it or not. He lives 300 miles away, so including him in day-to-day things is kind of moot now.
  10. notsureeither

    notsureeither New Member

    Susie, as I read your post about sharing your feelings about your mom regarding your sibling, it reminded me so much of my childhood, with the exception that I was invisible. Rather than "exciting," my two siblings made my mom's life hell with crisis after crisis. On top of that, my dad was drinking out of control. My parents always wanted us to eat dinner together at night and I remember how I hated it. My dad glazed out of his mind and my siblings arguing and acting out. What really made me so angry is that my mom would talk to others and "group" us all together. She's say things like "all my kids are crazy or all my kids cause trouble." It was incredulous as I literally was invisible, got decent grades and stayed under the radar. Right now with my own kids, I don't even want to be around them. More often than not, the two olders argue, use profanity and just scream at each other constantly. It drives my husband and I nuts. Even our youngest watches and gets involved after a while, trying to shut them up. On my birthday or Mother's Day, I want to be alone with my pets and husband literally.
  11. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I think family outings with our difficult child's are a good thing provided they are not "high" at the time. Being a part of the group, bonding, sharing with family is important. It is an emotional safety net and a reminder in my humble opinion when times are not so good for them...and us. They always need to know they are loved and that we desire to have them in our lives...Just not using us or using sub's at the time we're with them.

  12. exhausted

    exhausted Active Member

    LMS, that is exactly how I feel. Thank you
  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    It's a bit of a catch-22. So, only you can know what is right for your situation.
    Grew up with a GFGbro... not as bad as Susiestar's, though.

    IF there is any thread of healthy relationship left at all, I'd be feeding that somehow. Because... healthy relationships are necessary for many SAs to turn themselves around. And I don't consider relationship-building to be enabling.

    BUT... if it means destroying one relationship to possibly build another? That's just lose-lose.

    We tried to include GFGbro - he just didn't show up. Almost never... when he did? He was polite, respectful, entered into the conversations... he added to the event IF he showed up, so, he was welcome to come. It kept some thread of connection alive, that proved useful many years later.