Maintaining sobriety lifetime work
Q- There was alcoholism on both sides of my parents’ families.
I got sober 25 years ago, affecting my relationships with family members. We maintained contact while my parents were alive.
They passed on years ago, and I’ve since become estranged from all family, including my brother, who I believe has a drinking problem.
His son’s getting married and I have no inclination to renew any family connections.
They’ve never been supportive of my sober status and may even think I should toast the bride and groom!
I don’t need these types of family members in my life and have come to be okay with a busy job and supportive friends.
What do I do with this mailed invitation requesting an RSVP to my nephew’s upcoming wedding?
A - Sobriety is a lifetime work for recovering alcoholics and I congratulate you on your successful efforts and determination.
Having family be unsupportive is very disappointing, but this isn’t a new story in your life.
You’ve learned how to manage so far. A busy job and supportive friends have apparently been enough.
Yet your nephew’s wedding invitation has you questioning — what? Whether the younger generation of relatives is innocent of this background? Whether you still have a role among these people?
Certainly, you should send him your best wishes and a wedding gift — that’s not difficult.
You can also congratulate your brother through a phone call. (His drinking problem doesn’t negate this possibility.)
As for attending the wedding, that’s a decision only you can make because itís based on your knowledge of yourself.
If you feel you’ll be vulnerable when around those family members, do not risk it, not after 25 years of investment in your well being.
Q - My son, 30, is our eldest child (the others are still in school).
He got a scholarship to university but dropped out after one year, to “study at home.” However, he mostly slept.
After two years, he went to another university but missed classes, slept a lot, and then dropped out.
He worked for two years until he got injured on the job and quit.
We persuaded him to further his education in a practical field, but he dropped out after one year. Now he’s at home doing nothing. He doesn’t help with chores. He’s frequently angry with me, sometimes aggressive, and argues with family members.
He’s unkempt and never leaves the house. He’s never seen a doctor about this or been diagnosed with a mental sickness. He pays for nothing and gets no social assistance.
A couple of social workers in family support groups suggest he’s depressed.
For my wife, it’s a stigma and she doesn’t want to talk to anybody about our son’s problems.
A - You’re not alone. Sadly, it’s a too-common story of a “lost” young adult. While your son may have an undiagnosed mental health problem, he urgently needs a physical health check to start, in case there’s a treatable cause.
Tell him this, that it’s not his “fault.” He may be relieved enough to see a doctor.
You, as parents, need to learn what services exist in your community (family support groups were a good start).
Get informed about mental health programs, what crisis hotlines exist, which hospitals have mental health clinics, etc.
Tell your wife her attitude is as unhealthy as her son’s. Your family needs help.