Main­tain­ing so­bri­ety life­time work

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ENTERTAINMENT - El­lie Tesher

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?

Fam­ily Over­val­ued

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.

Dis­traught Fa­ther

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.

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