Fam­ily should re­unite in small stages

Orlando Sentinel - - LOCAL & STATE -

Dear Amy: I have not seen my mother in four years. She is an al­co­holic, and she had long re­fused to get sober. She has alien­ated the en­tire fam­ily and has never met her 2-year-old grand­son.

Re­cently, I started to com­mu­ni­cate with her via email. I be­lieve that she is sober as a re­sult of some med­i­cal con­di­tions that have forced her to stop drink­ing. They are not ter­mi­nal con­di­tions, but I think that she is fi­nally not drink­ing.

What would be the best way to bring her back into our lives? What do we talk about?

I have lots of re­sent­ment from her ig­nor­ing and blam­ing ev­ery­one for the last seven years, how­ever, I am ready for her to be part of our fam­ily and to fi­nally meet her grand­son. re­quires an em­brace and a daily de­ter­mi­na­tion to live a sober life and ad­dress all the chal­lenges so­bri­ety en­tails, in­clud­ing a will­ing­ness to face some emo­tional con­se­quences, try to re­pair re­la­tion­ships and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for her choices. Your mother needs to be ready and able to try.

If she is not us­ing al­co­hol but hasn’t tried to con­front the fac­tors that led to her addiction, then it will be as if she has just put her drink­ing on hold, and the un­der­ly­ing chal­lenges will still be there.

Re­uni­fi­ca­tion re­quires a de­gree of emo­tional brav­ery from both of you, and you de­serve credit for your will­ing­ness to go there.

Your jour­ney through the mine­field of addiction would be made eas­ier if you (and other fam­ily mem­bers) at­tended AlAnon or other “friends and fam­ily” sup­port meet­ings (al-anon.org). I can­not over­state the im­por­tance of con­nect­ing with oth­ers in this way.

Dear Amy: Re­cently sev­eral sib­lings and their off­spring (and I) cleaned out my dad’s base­ment and garage, with his per­mis­sion. Some helped dur­ing the day, and oth­ers came af­ter work to help. It took us three days. Dad told those of us who helped to take what we wanted.

One sib­ling and off­spring didn’t help (they had to work). A cou­ple of days af­ter we had fin­ished, this sib­ling came to look at the items that were left and started com­plain­ing that ev­ery­thing they wanted was gone. I ex­plained that Dad said those who helped got first pick.

Now the sib­ling is mad be­cause their fam­ily didn’t get the items they wanted.

How should we have han­dled this? Since that per­son didn’t do any of the work, most of us think that sib­ling should have got­ten the last pick of items.

Any ad­vice?

Dear Con­fused: Why are YOU an­gry? Are you an­gry be­cause your sib­ling is belly­ach­ing? If so, get over it.

The rules re­gard­ing this cleanup were clear and easy to un­der­stand. This is a clas­sic snooze-equal­slose sit­u­a­tion. Your sib­ling didn’t hop up to help, so that sib­ling hasn’t had first pick.

If that sib­ling wants to ne­go­ti­ate with other fam­ily mem­bers re­gard­ing spe­cific items they wanted to keep, they could of­fer to barter, trade or buy them.

Dear Amy: The let­ter from “A from Min­nesota” hit me in the gut. Like “A,” I also had lots of dreams about my mother af­ter she died. I didn’t know what to make of them, and I found them to be very up­set­ting. I would wake up in tears.

Even­tu­ally, the dreams seemed to change, and I did what you ad­vised — I let the dreams in. I saw this as my mother try­ing to help me to grieve.

Dear Better: I had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence to yours, which I used to re­spond to “A.”

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