A few months ago, my husband sent me a text saying he knew our family’s problems wouldn’t go away anytime soon. He’d be there as he could. He left me in charge. I’m accustomed to being left in charge, and yet resented for it. I call it ‘being between a rock and hard spot’. I’m not saint or hero. Don’t lots of people feel like that and do just what I do? I just happen to want to write about it. I don’t think I’m unique in this world. Well, of course I’m unique as everyone is unique; but we are not unique in every characteristic. We share characteristics with other human beings. It’s just how it’s all put together into my package that makes me unique. Those things we share connect us. That’s what I observe and look for—the things that connect us and the things that divide us. Those things that divide us are foreign to me (I don’t use this word in the ethnic sense, but in the sense of not understanding). That’s what I want to understand. Why does someone act like they do? What makes them tick? Some people hate that. They say, “Don’t analyze me.” I don’t do it for them; I do it for me. Understanding them can help me deal with who they are, that foreigner.
Yesterday I began reading a recommended book called The New Codependency because I want to set boundaries for my daughter. I shared some of my concerns about Cary with my therapist last week. She said my daughter’s emotional growth stopped when she became involved with drugs. I hadn’t considered that before. It made sense though and explained my concerns. When my daughter and I talked about that last night, I used age 20 as the stopping point for emotional maturity. She said, “Earlier.”
“How early?” I asked.
“What are you asking about?” She meant alcohol? pills? other drugs?
“OK, then. How about alcohol?”
“Where did you get it?” Roy and I may have some alcohol in the house, but we had never been more than social drinkers. When she gave me a name, I still didn’t know how that person got it because she was the same age as Cary. She had an older boyfriend, but he was still underage. We talked about that boyfriend’s parent who had a drinking problem. I know people with a family member who has problems with alcohol and drugs, and that life with the substance abuser makes one kid turn away in disgust and another kid jump right in to join the parent in the life. Go figure. Why is that so? So knowing all this doesn’t change anything that happened to Cary and us, but it helps me understand. That’s the foreign to me.
So now I am in charge of our family’s problems. That’s a problem and lonely and demoralizing. I didn’t want it; it feels thrust upon me. But what can I do as a responsible adult and parent? Isn’t that what I am supposed to do? I thought about that statement that suggests that the problems will eventually go away. They are never going away. Cary will always be an addict unless medical science comes up with some cure instead of palliative measures and just plain determination to fight it. Hopefully she will be an addict in recovery for the rest of her life. But I just read something about relapse around year seven, like the 7-year itch of marital cheating. Now I will be vigilant when seven years clean and sober rolls around. But Cary’s problem is just like any chronic and potentially fatal disease you learn to live with. She doesn’t get to walk away from it. As for Jacob, who knows how long his legal problems will take to resolve, or if ever. We cannot even know if this appeal will give him a new trial or what may happen from there. We know if this step is not successful, we look to the next one and the next one and the next one until there is nothing left. But even then, the memories and experience will stick with him. He lives it; he never gets to forget.
And will these problems be our last? No, they’ll just keep coming. They come for everyone. You can never escape, though I guess maybe you can pick and choose. So, I’m not walking away. I’m going to learn to set boundaries. I want things too. It’s not that I deserve it. I hate saying I deserve something now. Why would I deserve it? You look around and see that people get bad things they don’t seem to deserve and never get good things you think they do deserve. So no. I don’t deserve the life I want. I just want it; I’m willing to work for it and wait for it. I want to have it without walking on other people. I want to walk through them holding hands as I pass through to what I want. Maybe what I want will even change. OK. This all sounds a little hokey.
Just let me say, “I’ll be here for family and friends, but I’m going to learn to set boundaries for everyone in my life.”
So, problems? Can I just make them go away and leave me alone to have fun and enjoy myself? I have the solution for problems—death. That will solve everything. It is the final walk-away. It is the final problem-solver. But I’m not ready. I know it’s coming for me, ready or not. So I guess I’ll stick around doing my best and waiting for that final problem-solver to take care of any lingering pain and depression that accompanies problems. In the meantime….
Beattie, Melody. The New Codependency. Simon and Schuster Paperbacks. 2009.