Milliemouse has written in to update us after a long break. Anxiety is riding high as her adult son continues to act recklessly and demand she give him money that "rightfully" belongs to him.
"Hello everyone. I have been off the AIR site for quite sometime but was lead back here and now reading the comments below from mothers with LO's struggling in recovery I realize that I am definitely not alone in the journey of my son's addiction/recovery.
It's been almost 2 years since he entered rehab for cocaine abuse and the longest period sober was 6 months. Since April 2019 it's been a roller-coaster with brief periods of sobriety. My son moved into his own apartment September last year and started dating an older woman. The relationship was on and off because his erratic behavior when he was drinking or using would lead to them fighting and he always ended it. Then a few weeks later he would ask her to take him back – he told me she was always the one who wanted him to come back but I have since discovered it was the other way around….
My question is – do I meet his request and go back to transferring money weekly or do I completely LET GO and let him have it all and see where that leads. I am an active member of Alanon and my sponsor told me to give it to him all but the fear he will end up in the same position as last time overwhelms me!!!
My anxiety is out of control over these last few months. I have lost 10 lbs and I am on anti anxiety meds. Every time I see a message or call from him on my phone my heart races. I know I am trying to control his drug use by controlling his money but the truth is I know I cant! …." read Milliemouse's full comment here
You are concerned about your son's financial situation, and money continues to be a very prickly topic between you. His relationships have become a cause for concern. Your health has taken a turn for the worse. Your head spins constantly with what you should or shouldn't do for him, what he should or shouldn't be doing at this age/stage of life. You feel sorry for him and keep inviting him over or taking him out, so he won't be so isolated. In a way, you might feel you're the one carrying his recovery.
We're so focused on our Loved Ones' well-being that we let our own health deteriorate until we're a terrible mess, too!
What I hear loud and clear in your comment is that your own health is deteriorating and it's feeling more and more worrisome (you've lost weight, you're on medication, you go into panic mode when you get a message from him…). These are all signs that putting the focus back on your Self, your own Needs, your own Peace of mind and your own Health has become urgent — perhaps more urgent than watching over your son.
As you've been off the site for a while, we would strongly encourage you to take an hour or two (over the course of a week or so) to watch all 8 modules once again. Review your answers to the Key Observations. Many of those details may have changed.
Slip back into the bath of CRAFT – studied, designed and proven to improve the family member's wellbeing and of course, that of your struggling Loved One as well. Browse through the blog topics that feel the most pertinent to you (list of blue links on the sidebar to your right) and read what some of the other families are asking/experiencing.
Module 7 on handling difficult emotions is going to be essential for you to regain some stability and peace. Removing the power you've inadvertently given your son over your own mental state, and little by little putting it back in your own hands … will be KEY.
But as we've said so many times, the resources on this site can only get you so far. Only you can know if the time has come to seek professional support for yourself, to give you a real jump start in your own recovery.
So, Milliemouse, you've heard us say this before but we are really, really hoping you can feel the urgency of it today: SELF-CARE is your savior. It must happen for the rest of the show to move forward, and to truly heal. This is a huge part of what is within your control and has simply become urgent to do.
"I admit, I'm trying to control his drug use through money"
You're being honest with yourself and we commend you for the reflections you shared with us. So many families find themselves in the same boat as you.
Just as a small child who wants to provoke a reaction from her parents is relegated to the realms of food, potty training and sleep, an adult child will often use the sticky, laden realm of money to play tug-of-war with her parents (not to mention their romantic relationships…)!
Money is a huge sticking point when your Loved One is struggling with addiction. It can bring up so many triggers—
— purchasing drugs or alcohol;
— trust between you and them;
— the "should's" (he's 32, he shouldn't need me to dole out his money…); along with
— our own wishes for our Loved One: what we wish their current life looked like (independent, happy, healthy, earning money, not squandering it), vs. the present reality.
I'd venture to say that there is no "right" or "wrong" in the dilemma around money that is haunting you. Whether or not you withhold his savings, there is no guarantee of what he will do with that money. What seems certain to me is that fretting over it is not worth the sacrifice of your health.
Everyone here can relate to trying to control our Loved Ones at some point
Trying to control our Loved Ones' actions is something all of us on this site can relate to. It's not because we're bad people, it's because, at times, we let the concern, worry, and feelings of impotency win out over the knowledge that we can not actually make up their minds for them. We can not carry their recovery single-handedly. We can't (ever) get any guarantees as to how they will act, whether they will use, or how long they will stay abstinent.
It can feel excruciating, I know. We feel we can see the way out and we're just dying to guide them towards it. And yet, in a way, this situation (where we simply can't control our Loved Ones, as hard as we try) is like a microcosm of the rest of existence. There are so many factors in this life that we can not control, but how we surf the waves, the up's and down's, the surprises, the joys and the lowest of lows, is something we can work on, be more conscious of, get more artful at. And the more centered and whole we become, the more those around us are inspired to do the same.
A recovery payment card: something concrete you can do in the money realm
Have you ever heard of bank/debit cards that support people in recovery? They can not be used to take out cash, nor to purchase alcohol.
Here's how one site summarizes the idea:
The primary account holder of the Next Step card is the parent or caregiver. The person in recovery receives a companion card, which can be used to make purchases. The card cannot be used at an ATM machine, or to get cash back at a store. It is not accepted at bars, casinos or liquor stores. “The truth is, if someone wants to buy drugs they will find a way,” Dresdale told the newspaper. “But we act as a hurdle from achieving that goal.”
Though the MasterCard version of this card no longer seems to be available, you can look into the Visa equivalent, called TrueLink.
Consider putting down your arms for a moment — it doesn't mean addiction will win!
We are rooting for you, Milliemouse. We hope that you will consider taking a real break from the fretting that isn't actually helping you or him. In our battles, we sometimes convince ourselves that we can not afford to put down our burden, or our weapons, not even for a moment, for fear the dark forces will win out. This is mistaken thinking, and will only produce exhaustion and hopelessness. Consider putting it all down for a spell. Trusting that you can afford to take time for yourself, to direct kindness, compassion and gratitude towards your own self, before you go into the next battle.