Full Plate

Posted on September 20, 2010. Filed under: addiction, Addiction Resources/Support, AlAnon, Parent of an Addict, Treatment Centers | Tags: , , , , , , |

I’ve been MIA from the blogging world for the last few weeks – busy with finishing up my house remodeling project, other necessary house repairs/expenses that sprang up as a result, spending time with my grandchildren and 93 yo mother, community projects (author Patti Digh, of 37days blog and Life is a Verb fame, is coming  here in November for a Hospice fundraiser, and I’m in charge!), trying to find a home for my beloved golden retriever, Abby (due to a dog-biting incident with my neighbor’s dog), dealing with constant problems with my new car that appears to be a “lemon”, yadyadayada.  My plate is full. I’m barely able to keep up with my own life, let alone worry about/monitor my daughter in recovery.  I guess that’s good.  But if she lets things “fall through the cracks”, she’ll go to jail.

As most of you know, my heroin addict daughter, Hayley, has been in California since May 8th:  in medical detox for 12 days, then a patient at a 90 day residential treatment center for women (Safe Harbor).  For the first couple of months, she didn’t have a phone or computer and wrote a lot of letters and notes –  to me, other family members, and any one who wrote her.  She received a ton of mail from all sorts of people, cheering her on.  It really made her feel loved and supported. But now, most communication has dropped off.  Hayley has now  been sober now for 135 days – that’s 4 ½ months.  However, she doesn’t call or write much anymore, and I find myself reverting back to my familiar ‘expect-the-worst’ mode.  It’s a bad habit, but is what I know, and has been authentically built on hard evidence from the past.  Hayley may just be busy working her program, making friends, going to meetings, going to the beach, and is snipping the tether.  (Well – certainly NOT the financial tether.  She still doesn’t have a job, and is being completely supported by her father.  He is paying for her after-care treatment program, sober living rent and fees, and monthly expenses.  Why should she get a job?)  I really don’t know what’s up.

Sarcasm and cynicism aside:  of course, Hayley still needs help – probably more than ever.  I do think that her “post-treatment” out patient program is essential.  She’s never learned or developed the skills necessary to live as an independent, productive adult.  However, after getting sober and being the stellar student in her rehab program, I thought for sure she’d move on to the next logical step of getting a part time job and begin to manage her own life. I’m realizing, and trying to accept, that she is not doing that.  My fear is that she’s depressed, overwhelmed, and/or somewhat aimless.  She has never been willing to just “sing in the chorus” and gradually work her way up to the solo.  She’s always wanted to start at the top, whether or not she had the experience or deserved it.  “Entitlement” is the working term here.  She appears to want a ‘career-building’ job with a good salary and benefits, or none at all.  Both her sponsor and I feel that right now, she needs a ‘get well’, part time job with a low stress level, within walking/biking distance of her sober living house, and the flexibility to enable her to stay active in recovery as well as the time to gradually learn and practice time/money management skills.  She’s posting her puffed up resume on Monster.com, and waiting for potential employers to call her. This just won’t work in this economy – – – and, the reality is, Hayley has no car or driver’s license, and really needs a job within her neighborhood or on the bus route.

Hayley has now been living in a sober living house for a month.  She says she likes it and is getting along well with the 6 other women.  However, the fact that she hasn’t found a job yet, makes me a bit suspicious.  Is she ardently pounding the pavement to find employment? Will she be capable of holding a job as well as working her recovery program, at the same time?

I appeared in court for Hayley on August 27th to address her probation violation and failure-to-appear charges.  I had spent way too much time making sure Hayley’s treatment center in California sent an official progress report to her Probation Officer and court-appointed attorney.  I drafted a letter for Hayley to sign and send to her court-appointed attorney with important questions about and details of her case.  AND, I told Hayley that I was now officially handing over the responsibility of her legal issues – – – that she was in charge of making all the phone calls and correspondence necessary to keep herself out of jail.

When I did go to court in August, neither the judge nor the prosecuting attorney had the letters in hand.  Luckily, I had brought copies of the letters, but the judge was annoyed.  He was ready to issue a warrant for Hayley’s arrest, when the Prosecuting Attorney piped up to say that that wasn’t really what they wanted – that they just wanted better communication.  The PA said that Hayley’s Probation Officer was supposed to forward any treatment program reports to their office, which the PO, when questioned later, said that that wasn’t her responsibility.  What’s the deal?  What is the procedure? Please,  just tell us, what goes to whom and when, and we’ll do it.

I’m realizing that Hayley still does not feel she has a personal stake in these legal proceedings, that she doesn’t have a good organizational system, and is not being as proactive as she needs to be – that if I had not appeared in court for her with copies of the treatment program’s progress report, the judge would have issued a warrant for Hayley’s arrest.  I just recently acquired a sponsor in Al-Anon to help me work the 12 steps myself.  She said, “Well – maybe Hayley needs to learn that lesson herself.”  Really?  Have her go to jail to learn that she needs to pay closer attention to the obscure details of how the convoluted court system works?  And risk relapse?  I’m not sure that I can let that happen.  But then again, maybe I need to.

I’m flying Hayley up to Washington State on October 2nd.  We’ll spend two nights with my son and his family, then go visit my mother for her 93rd birthday, about 3 hours away.  My plan was to NOT go to our home town, at all.  So now, here are the concerns that I need to try to let go of:  Hayley does not have any current, government-issued photo ID.  Will she even be able to pass security and get on the plane?  I, of course, advised her to get a California photo ID card months ago.  She didn’t do it, and has assured me that she can get on the plane with her xeroxed copy of her expired/suspended Washington Driver’s License.  Huh!  Are you kidding me?  My Al-Anon sponsor also told me that maybe this is a lesson I need to learn – that I can’t make some one do anything.  And so, if that worst-case scenario plays out, I’ll be the one to pay the consequences – I’ll be out $300, and my 93 yo mother may never get a chance to see her granddaughter again.  (it’s been 1 ½ years since their last visit)  That hardly seems fair.

OK, I know I’m a bit on a rant – so, I’ll let it all out.  Why can’t my sober daughter give me a call once in a while, just to find out how I’m doing, and coping, or not?  In the  meantime, please pass the mashed potatoes – – – AND, gravy.


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27 Responses to “Full Plate”

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I love you dearly, Peg, and I believe that Helga and Renee are right. Let it go. This is Hayley’s hula hoop….you need to swing your own. I can barely imagine how frightening and discouraging it must be, to have watched Hayley make good progress and then feel that she is now just stuck. But, I doubt that you or anyone else can un-stick her. Now is the time to talk to your sponsor, do your step work, go to meetings, read literature. Do it all to help yourself not be stuck. That is the only person you can budge. Oh, and call your alanon friends…do that a lot. See you soon, my dear.

Not an expert here but I think now is the time you just have to let it go. You put her in a place for help and she has to do the rest. Take care of yourself right now. I am praying for the best.

It’s good to hear from you…
Hayley is self-absorbed….My wife reminded me a few weeks ago that I (Imagine That) am still self-absorbed. Self-Centeredness is at the core of addiction. Addicts are and continue to be selfish people. Time, step work, and sound experience from a sponsor will have change this over the course of recovery. I believe Hayley still is looking for someone to take care of her, to ‘fix things’, because she has an inability to do them for herself. It’s odd, addicts can be incredible ego-maniacs with low self-esteem….An oxymoron right.
I am glad that you are taking care of you, Hayley is headed in the right direction, it’s time to take the training wheels off.
With much Love and Respect…..Bob D.

Thanks for this, Bob. I’m a little frantic right now – haven’t heard from Hayley since last Saturday (it’s Thursday night here now) – and last Saturday, she was calling me back only after I had tried to reach her for two days prior. Our conversation was quite brief – – it felt strained. She was at the beach with someone. I wonder if she has a boyfriend or something? Whatever it is, she isn’t sharing. She sounded annoyed when I asked her to please take my phone number off her resume that she had posted on Monster.com eons ago. I’ve been getting phone calls from potential employers and it’s crazy for me to even bother with them. She has her own phone now. I also get a variety of phone calls from creditors looking for her. I hate those. They’re all reminders of how she still hasn’t gotten her shit together. I get so worn down by all of this. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. WAAHHH – – obviously, I’m on a self-pity and angry rant – but it’s really a cover-up for the anxiety and fear that’s bubbling just under the surface. Has she relapsed? Will she always be such a worry and ‘problem’? When will she take charge of her own life? I think I’m done with doing things for her. If she needs to fly home for a court hearing, or wants to come home for Xmas, she’ll need to find her own way. It seems to me that she could have found at least a minimum wage job by now and could be saving some $, since all her other expenses are currently being taken care of. Should I call her case manager and find out what’s going on?

NO, NO, NO, no calling the case worker. It does not have your name on it!

I have been thinking of you, was just going to email you and see how you are. I am glad you posted.

I can’t add much more than the all the other comments. And, I completely understand how you feel. Emily is close to being in the same boat, no job, no license, no motivation, etc.. and it’s very hard to “watch”, but I am trying.
Sounds like you have found a good sponsor! Even if she always say or suggest things you are not comfortable with… but I can tell she has your best interests at heart.

Good luck with your fundraiser and congrats to Haley for all her sober days!
Thinking of you..

Here is an idea. I used to be just as if not more intimidated by my daughter and my dad. Well, not anymore. This is a feeling I have ditched, because it did nothing to improve my well being. My suggestions is this: If Hayley cannot get to your mom’s, then ask her to call your mom and explain and if she won’t then give your mom Hayley’s phone number and ask her to call Hayley to find out why she is not there. I refuse to be the middle man (woman) between my parents and my adult children. I am not responsible anymore for their actions. If you can adopt this philosophy, it may free you from these feelings of being intimidated. It takes some time to get used to, but it worked for me. Good luck.

Thanks, Helga. My 93 yo mom has been so judgmental her entire life, that I tend to “filter” things regarding my kids – just for self-protection – or else I pay the price. And now, I feel she’s so close to the end of life, that I don’t want to upset her any more than she already is about Hayley. Your suggestion of telling Hayley to call her grandmother if the plans change, is a good one. I don’t know if she would – or, if my mother would remember she called! OY. It’s a full time job these days, just reminding my mom of what she’s been told and what’s going on in the family. It’s really not Alzheimer’s – but more along the lines of “selective listening” and selective memory. She’s quite narcissistic, and doesn’t pay attention to details she doesn’t like or agree with. And, she turns every thing back to herself. She’s actually operated this way her entire life. Stay tuned for the next dramatic episode.

um. okay, that was blunt. but honestly, you guys are really doing what others will call ‘standing up to the plate and taking responsibility’ which is what WE learned to do as adults.

now think that through. has hayley learned that lesson? is she ever going to as long as the adults in her life allow her to not learn it?

sometimes, the hardest thing to do is absolutely nothing. nada.

one of the things that got me through tough spots like this is Viktor Frankl.

You cannot control things that happen to you in this world, what you CAN control is how you react to them, what you do with them.

hang in there. every step you take is one toward YOU being a better person, and ultimately, will help hayley to do the same.


Dawn – you know I always value your input and perspective. Plus, I so respect and admire you for raising your addict daughter’s children. YOU are definitely in-the-trenches. Everything you say is true – and the ideal. It’s just so difficult to implement. Believe it or not, however, I AM working towards detaching more – and letting Hayley experience the consequences of her choices. I am fully prepared, and expecting, that she will not be able to get on the plane to fly here on October 2nd. I will be out ~ $300 – and, I will have learned an important lesson. Maybe she will too. The hard part will be explaining it all to my 93 yo mother. I welcome any suggestions for what to say to both Hayley AND my mother – the two women in my life that I’m most intimidated by!

intimidated? i did NOT just read that!!!!

Keeping you and your daughter in my prayers.

Peggy, it is good to hear from you…you’ve been busy…with LIFE and that is great. I can only say that working with your Alanon sponsor and working on yourself will be the key to let go of the resentment and anger; and when you get better, it will open a door for Hayley to get better. Codependency, as I’ve found with Bryan, is problematic as well.

You will never stop loving her and that is to be expected; but we all have to stop fixing everything in their lives and eliminating their ability to learn to be self-sufficient and productive and healthy.

I’m so sorry for your pain…and understand it well. I will say one thing….there’s no way they’ll let her on that plane with a copy of anything or something that’s expired. I’ve just been on several flights in various cities in the U.S.,..and forget it,..not happening without proper current I.D.. Stay strong…it’s very hard, I know.

I thought so, too. However, believe it or not, last May she was able to get on a plane with such expired, photo-copied ID. I was amazed. Ironically, at the airport, they would not accept this ID in the bar when she wanted to buy a beer. (this was on her way to treatment in California.) Hard to figure. I’m trying to let this go and just see what happens.

When I help someone in an honest, healthy way, I have no expectations of the outcome.

When I take care of someone in a codependent way, I’m invested in the outcome and a build a resentment into the structure of my “help.” Also, my actions are not sober. They’re as drunk and deluded on the high of expectations and illusions as they ever were when I was using an actual drug.

There’s information that’s lacking here, notably what exactly Hayley is doing with her time. So a lot of assumptions are being made.. However correct they might be, in other words, a lot of time is being invested into What Hayley Is Doing/Not Doing, how she’s Progressing/Not Progressing.

I don’t think there’s any way I can “force” or “make” someone grow up, take care of themselves, pay bills, get work, not use. What my actions do, first and foremost, is take care of myself. This is the lesson I didn’t learn soon enough with my own mother: that my life was worth taking care of over and above hers, just because I was in charge of mine. That I was in fact in charge of my own life! SHE wanted to be in charge of it. So, I let her, in my mind, all day, because she was so aggressive about it and because I was afraid of making a mistake. And I became ever so passive.

(Perhaps Hayley might be “looking” for a career job to meet the expectations that have been set by others for her “success”… if she gets the career job, or shows herself to be looking for one, she gets to “appear successful” in others’ eyes… where it matters most to a codependent. It wouldn’t be the first time a recovering addict has made this mistake)

And I made mistakes anyhow, because I’m human, and because nobody else can be in charge of my life but me.

It took me a long time to accept that my mother didn’t know what was best for me. I’m still learning this. My mother’s voice is loud even in death. (check out what I wrote about buying an iPhone the other day)

How it will work out with my kid, I don’t know. We give our kids life, but then we have to release them and let them do with that life what they will.

You are learning boundaries… Glad you got a sponsor. much respect, –G

Peggy – Its great to see you back online and good to know that you have been busy with so much to do with your own life. Huge congratulations to Hayley – in Hannah’s case she has always been at her most vulnerable right after the 90 day mark so its great to see Hayley get a month on top of that! I sympathise with your frustrations – my mother feels the same way about Hannah and I have, in the past, always said that she shouldnt expect too much and just be grateful Hannah is getting up in the morning. .But I think you are right – starting something gentle and soon would be the best thing for her recovery. It keeps the process in motion. When nothing happens via Monster (you are right about this economy) she will have to think of alternatives and tap the local network. I guess there isnt much you can do about that..
As for the ID – pew, thats a tough one. Both you and your mother stand to lose out if she doesnt get it sorted but can all our friends above be wrong? The message from them is clear but I would find it incredibly tough too…
Thinking of you and glad that you have found a sponsor for support.

My heart goes out to you with all that you have on your plate. Your courage, determination and suffering to help Hayley in everyway for such a long time is courageous and admirable. However, I must agree with the others who have commented so far that now is the time to “let go” and,in effect, not only allow Hayley to grow up but to demand that she do so…for her own good. This is long overdue! As difficult as it is, sometimes “tough love” is absolutely necessary in order to make someone stand up on their own two feet and help themselves instead of always expecting and demanding that others come to their rescue. Constantly satisfying this expectation and demand greatly reduces the chance that the person will make the effort to really help themselves unassisted. It is just too easy to have others do this for them with little effort on their own behalf. It is time to take away the “crutches” and not only “allow” but to “force” Hayley to stand up and walk on her own two feet as a responsible adult at long last. If not “now” then “when”? Believe me, I know how difficult it is to “let go”. It is gut-wrenching and will surely cause you more pain and anxiety than continuing to come to Hayley’s aid all the time. But, in the long run, doing this is probably the best thing that you could ever do for Hayley. She must be learn to stand on her own and become a responsible adult….now. You can stay in touch with words of support and encouragement but leave the actions up to her.
Easier said than done, I know! Sigh!
Love to you, my friend! Joy

Thanks for checking in here, Joy. My head agrees, and I now just need to get my heart moving in the same direction. I AM letting go of the photo ID issue – and we’ll see if she can even get on the plane on October 2nd. AND, I’ve almost let go completely of the court hearing stuff. The next thing I need to find out is if I’ll be responsible for the $3,000 bail bond I signed for when I sent her to treatment, if she doesn’t show up for her next court hearing. Guess that’s another expensive lesson in my column.

You know I have been where you are. My daughter is 8 1/2 months clean and this is what she sent me as a text last night on the day of my 30th wedding anniversary and yes we have weathered this storm and stayed positive as a couple. Thought I might share as I am hoping someday Hayley will get to this point also. Quote from my daughter “I wish you the sweetest of dreams until the sunshine of the new day greets you warmly melting all your troubles away. You are beautiful and I love you <3.
Obviously I slept well last night. Just thought I would share. Hope you dont mind and hugs to you!

Renee – Thanks for passing on those sweet words from your daughter. My daughter is capable of sending me loving messages, too. I’m not sure why it often doesn’t seem enough. I know I have a lot of buried anger and resentment for all she’s put me (us) through – that she doesn’t really have a clue. I’m hoping that Hayley finds her way – and I know it will be on her own time table, not mine. I truly appreciate the encouragement and hope sent my way. It helps a lot. Peggy

I am glad it helped but my daughter only got there after I totally cut her off and made her responsible for herself and her actions. I didnt even give her coffee money, mcdonalds, etc. Harsh, yes but it is the only way we could make her understand this was on her and she has to make her own way. You know what the right thing is and just continue to work on yourself, that is the only person you can help in this situation. Hugs to you!

I am with you. Sorry you have so much on your plate. My daughter wasnt working at 4 months sober either. It will all work out if Hayley wants it to. I am praying for the best.

Don’t know why it won’t let me reply to Dawn’s comment – but here it is – – – OUCH!

Oh Peggy, why should she do anything if everything is done for her? You are describing what I have experienced myself. I have not seen my daughter in over 2 years, never met her kids, my 87 year old dad in Germany, who entertained her every summer while she was growing up, has not heard from her in years. I don’t know how many rehabs, apartments, cars, furniture, etc. we paid for. We just had to let it go. Been there, bought a t-shirt, burned it and learned a hard lesson. The grass is really greener on the other side. You cannot control her, only yourself. You cannot will her into the responsible adult you want her to be. My daughter has more debts than hair on her head. Do you think for a minute, that she cares? I could not sleep at night. She does not give a damn. So why should I? The financial investments her dad and I made in her were the worst ones even in this economy. Lesson learned the hard way. If you don’t cut her lose, you will go crazy and she will never change. If your mother will never see her again should not be a problem that you take on. It is what it is. I don’t make excuses for my daughter anymore like I used to. It did no good.

I know you’re probably right, Helga. It’s just such a hard pill to swallow. There always seems to be a very good reason to help her, “just one more time”. Believe it or not, I AM pulling back some, and am closer to having her assume her responsibilities – and consequences of her life choices. And if she needs to go to jail, then I guess she needs to go to jail. I had a feeling this recovery period would be even harder than what I imagined her crack house days to be – at least on me. The stakes seem incredibly high – and it’s hard not to impose certain expectations. Thanks for your comments. It does help to know someone else has walked this road.

why should she do anything at all? between her dad and you, everything is still being taken care of for her, which is nice for you to feel good about doing, but actually is gonna hurt her recovery badly, perhaps even sabotage it.

hayley needs to take care of all this stuff without any assistance. taking care of the fallout is a MAJOR PART of an addict’s recovery, and you guys are denying her that opportunity.

so she is not growing and progressing and you are surprised how?

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