Moodscope's blog

24

December


How will I respond today – as a child or an adult? Thursday December 24, 2015

I have been reflecting on how we often revert to childhood roles when dealing with our childhood families; take my sister (no, please, take her... as far away from me as possible – and she is not even living in the same country as me!) Even as I typed that last sentence, my heart started pounding...

You see, my sister, Nicky, is an alcoholic, but we were never allowed to talk about this reality. When she is out of action after overindulging, typically at Christmas, we are told that she is 'ill'. If we challenge this, Mum becomes (understandably) very protective and so the myth persists. What I have been struggling with most recently has been the continuation of this myth that Nicky is 'ill'. Also the apparent injustice of being 'told off' by Mum for not being "supportive"...

I know in my head that alcoholism is a dreadful illness. But in my heart I am grieving for my beautiful, talented, caring, witty sister whom I rarely see; and I am raging against the manipulative, scheming, lying, devious, drunk woman who has taken her place and who insists on doing her 'poor me' act, and I am not allowed to say all that. It's not fair! See, I have reverted to being a child...

I have successfully avoided facing up to my feelings for so long that they are buried very deep, which has been fine...sort of... well, it was fine... until earlier this year when they started surfacing. On one notable occasion I completely lost it, shouting and screaming, and throwing (yes, throwing) chairs around the room and a few weeks later I had another melt-down. I have never, ever behaved like that before, so it came as a considerable shock to us all.

For almost 30 years Christmas has been dominated by Nicky, whether present or absent... will she be there? Will she be sober? what crisis will we have to deal with if she is drunk? Our family myth about Christmas is that we have a fantastic time together; the reality for over twenty years has been picking Nicky up off the floor at 9am completely drunk, and sitting round waiting for her to sober up as Mum won't "do" Christmas without her...

We can place too great an importance on maintaining family roles and traditions. We can fall into the trap of clinging onto such traditions. And of course, no-one wants to hurt anyone's feelings, so people (often the mums) pay the price for keeping the show on the road, when that show has passed its sell-by date and no longer brings the joy it once did.

I know rationally that I cannot change the situation, all I can change is my response... so how on earth do I respond as an adult, when my heart is reacting like that of a child?

Any tips very gratefully received!

Frankie
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Poppy Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:27am

I struggle with a similar family plague, only in my version of the story, I am the mother. Fortunately, although my daughter is a functional alcoholic, she rarely overindulges during family get togethers. When she does, she's extraordinarily amiable.

Every year, including this year, we wait to learn if she will grace us with her presence. It's an hour for on being Christmas Eve in my part of the world, and we have heard nothing.

What I struggle with is the pain; I miss her intensely. Missed Christmases, thanksgivings, birthdays, and more are too numerous to count. Sometimes the pain swells inside me so that there is no room for any other feeling. My demeanor, attitude, and behavior affect all the members of my family. This is so unfair to them.

How do I set asides the pain and allow m to be a part of the joy of my family?

Jo Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:35am

Sounds like a heavy drinker not an alcoholic, they are not amiable when drunk!

Victoria Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:20am

I think every person reacts differently and not every alcoholic is abusive and violent. Regardless of the label, the poor behaviour is hurtful and difficult to cope with.

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:04pm

Hello Poppy: Thank-you for this: "Every year, including this year, we wait to learn if she will grace us with her presence" - yes, this is exactly what happens with us! Yes, how to deal with the pain of loss? One of hubby's more irritating phrases used to be "I can't worry about that now" - it used to drive me mad! Now I find it helpful ... when I can apply it ... Good luck for your Christmas and thank-you again. Frankie

Mr A non Sun, Dec 27th 2015 @ 9:49am

Jo @9 35am a heavy drinker IS an alcoholic

Norman Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:37am

Is her drinking worse at Xmas? Are you the successful sister she feels inadequate to by comparison? Has she failed to meet mother's expectations in some way? She obviously can't handle family-at-Xmas without getting blotto. Is she getting treatment or still in denial?

The child responds "It's not fair!" the adult response is to agree with your mother that action is needed and confront your sister together.

Not sure if this is any help as there are many things I don't know abo the situation. Hugs xxx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:14pm

Hello Norman and thank-you for the hugs! Yes, she feels inadequate by comparison with me, yet she has her own unique gifts but can't seem to recognise that. Yes, she is still in denial, as is my mother, sadly, hence the references to her being "ill". Over the years we have spent hours discussing this but my mother rarely confronts her. As she is 85 and not in the best of health herself, I have stopped raising the subject with her as all we do is go round the same circles. I will discuss it if she brings the subject up. In the past if I have tackled my sister, I get into trouble with Mum for doing so ... Thank-you for taking the time to reply - I am taking comfort just from that (and the hugs!) Frankie

Mrs Jul A Non Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 2:20pm

Yes my sister was and is still jealous of me. I felt somehow responsible for her behaviour because of this to the point that I wouldn't dress up to meet her in an attempt to look less attractive than her so she had nothing to feel jealous about.. I downplayed any successes I had or achievements; academic, job,marriage, children, you name it, none was mentioned in our family to protect my sister. Frankie, your amazing honest, heart felt blog has produced some amazing replies and I am going to read them again in peace as soon as I am able to. Please don't feel stressed having to reply. I and we all, know you are there and have taken comfort from our own stories. Love and hugs Julia xx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:08pm

Thank-you Julia! Yes, I downplay all the time ... and thank-you for saying not to stress about having to reply ... that is so lovely of you! Frankie xxxx

Amanda Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 7:15am

Goodness how this rings true. My Mum and Dad spent years 'hiding' from a terrible illness (not alcoholism) neither family nor social workers could help with. Many many regrettable meltdowns on my part in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation.
What helped was a blunt young social worker who saw the good in a desperate situation and also told me I had to be the 'parent' for a bit.
It was terribly painful, but with the help of people to talk to, a practical philosophy course and a care assistant who clicked with my parents, things improved. It was never the 'perfect' way of caring for a dying person, but we finally got to a place where we all acted as adults again, and even reinvented a few Christmas traditions.
It can be done, it hurts like hell, but if me and my family can do it anyone can. Merry Christmas - hope this brings a chink of light for someone x

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:16pm

Hello Amanda - thank-you for sharing this - and for the message of hope you have given me. I will look forward to the time when we all act as adults together ... Frankie

the room above the garage Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 7:44am

Goodness Frankie, no wonder you were struggling yesterday...this is a huge pressure to hold. The sweeping it under the carpet would drive me bonkers...I understand that fully and I'm very open and honest in my parenting as a result. (Don't know if that's good or bad.) Sweeping it under smacks of enablement. I've not had time to think this through but my gut feeling is this...you are playing many roles in here and so it requires many responses. I'd be tempted to get out paper or a computer and write out your reaction/response/experience according to whether you are the sister, the witness, the daughter, the child, the adult, the angry person, the sad one...whatever role you feel you play (and however many) you write your feelings out accordingly. Don't expect to do it in one sitting. It may be you can only respond properly to each one when they arise. You will end up with a pile of feelings on paper/screen but roughly separated into their respective area. The deep anger which produced chair throwing (why not, don't run from the emotion, it must have a vessel) is helpful, tap into that feeling and write all about it, there will be much revealed within it. You may find its enough in that process to gain some distance or you may find it gives you clarity to talk to your mum (I see her beautiful loyalty as a mum but also see her own response being clouded by it). Perhaps your sister could read them all. You may be unable to change her alcoholism but you can change what happens around it. In short answer, I don't think you are quite ready to respond as either child or adult. And at the moment you are only (all) reacting. Your health has to come first...why should her illness infect more victims? You can still love her within that. And you come first in your response.

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:22pm

Hello RATG - yes, enablement all the way ... for years and years ... and thank-you for reminding me that I must put myself first (my medical condition has flared up ... probably as a result of the poor sleep and the anxiety I am currently experiencing). Thank-you for these really clear suggestions - a lifeline for me to cling to at the moment ... I did write a letter to my sister recently (not to send, you understand, simply to help release my feelings). I will do what you suggest ... this is hugely helpful RATG - thank-you! Frankie xxx

Robert Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 7:54am

Helping and supporting (not colluding with) your mother would be an adult action. Maybe she needs someone to step up and set the boundaries with your sister. If your sister works or functions and is generally able to control her drinking behaviour when she needs to then she could observe some boundaries around family. I presume she is self medicating for her own distress and depression. Perhaps you could start spending Christmas somewhere else explaining why to your sister and mother and maybe this would force a needed dialogue between them. Apart from the most damaged and addicted alcoholics (street drinkers etc) most drinkers can contain their behaviour if they need or rather want to, she too has reverted to childishness in a way. Is she good fun until she gets too plastered? Do you all drink with her? I drank very hard for many years and caused my family a great deal of grief and upset more through going missing lack of contact for weeks or months rather than domestic outbursts but it's similar bad behaviour when all is said and done. It took several people who cared enough to really set some strong boundaries and a no nonsense approach with me to make me look at myself. Tell her she is an alcoholic, not in a judgmental way but in a matter of fact way like you might discuss any other illness. Ask her how her alcoholism is and what areas of her life it is damaging. Take your mum away for Christmas without your sister. Sorry, questions and thoughts. Difficult but will probably get worse if not dealt with head on. Millions of others will be facing the same type of issue especially over Christmas when being drunk is socially acceptable so don't feel uniquely dysfunctional. Not too much brandy in the butter!

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:31pm

Hello Robert - yes, I have tried over the years to support my mother without colluding; and yes, this year for the first time Nicky has been told very firmly that we don't like being around her when she is blotto (Milly won't go to Mum's at all over the Christmas period if Nicky is there). All that happened was that Mum got angry with Charlie and Milly for saying this - your comments are helping me articulate (as I type) my feelings of injustice at me (and us) not being heard by Mum - who appears to hear only Nicky ... oh dear, back to the child shouting "it's not fair" ... I like your reminder of telling it how it is in a non-judgemental way ... if I get the chance I will ... I am reluctant to write to Nicky about this as I am fearful of the repercussions (bitter experience talking here ...) Thank-you for sharing your thoughts and experiences which I really value. Frankie

LillyPet Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:12am

Hi Frankie,
I think the frustrating thing for you may not be whether your sister has an illness, but how "ill" is being used as a euphamism and excuse for not taking any action to deal with it. Perhaps you could begin to see if you can distance yourself from it.
I have a jumble of thoughts which may or not be useful!
1. It's your sister's problem not yours so dont take the blame for the situation. Maybe you could take the lead, speak to your mum and tell her something needs to be done to get her the help she needs and that you are not prepared to drift along with it anymore.

2.The others are right about ground rules and boundaries, your mother needs to sign up to them (when to draw the line) as much as your sister ( what is absolutely unacceptable). The ground rules must me managable otherwise theres no point. Maybe a small achievement will give you hope. You all need advice and support from experts in the field.
You need to come to terms with the situation. I know it's hard because it's a loss.

3. Acceptance is key. Maybe think of it like "It is what it is. I am not responsible FOR my sister, but I have a responsibilty TO her to make my position and expectation (of the ground rules being adhered to by all of you) clear. This must me done in a caring but steadfast way, not a blaming or angry way.
Focussing on "shoulds" is pointless. But that doesnt mean that there arent ways forward.

4.The situation is not good for your health so look after you first.
I have stopped going along with the "We must play happy families regardless of the metaphoric elephant in the room." I simply don't go. The family gatherings are big enough with children etc for them to have their fun without me suffering it. The emotional guilt tripping from family backed up by our society is ridiculous. A gentle reality check about this time of year may help them get it into perspective.
5. Like you, burying anger has not been good for me, so it needs to be dealt with properly, so that it doesn't come out in ways that aren't good for you. It is tough, so dont be hard on yourself.
In the short term, putting it in writing like ratg says, or any other practical and healthy way you can express get it out, will let you see it for what it is. It takes the power out of it and helps you to distance yourself from it. The Volcano blog I wrote was just that. I know that I must deal with it with professional help. But from writing it out, I saw that it's separate from me, it exists but it's not who I am. When you can feel good about you (and you can), you will be compassionate towards yourself and understanding about why the anger is there. Focus less on the family politics and more on your wellbeing. You will then be able to see how you can distance yourself enough from the situation to be able to see it from a more adult perspective with compassion and maybe a desire to improve it and not get drawn in.

I hope that if any of my ramblings are not helpful that someone with experience will kindly pull me up on it!
Take one day at a time peeps, love light and peace of mind to all. LP xx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:04pm

Hello LillyPet - thank-you for taking the time to share with me: you are so right about "ill" being used as a euphemism and excuse for not taking action - this frustrates me more than anything! Trying to get Mum to face upto the reality of the situation and take action has not been successful for over 15 years now, so I no longer even try, unless she raises the subject. I keep thinking that I have accepted the situation but then something happens (like the meltdown recently) which makes me realise that I haven't. It's my own grief which I keep putting off. Thank-you for your very wise comment about the need to focus on my own well-being and not let myself get drawn in ... I do try! Thank-you LillyPet

Mrs Jul A Non Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:23am

Hello Frankie. You know from previous comments etc that I too have a dysfunctional older sister, who shaped my life and personality while growing up with her as my sole sibling. She began her destructive behaviour when I was 10 and she was 14. Basically I was the one who tried desperately hard to make her better, to hold the peace, to make life better for us all on a daily basis. I failed. Nothing I did worked. I spent years and years and years playing this role. My mother was unable to cope and my father took a backseat unless he was forced to intervene. My sister was not an alcoholic but her problem/ illness was one of control. Eventually I saw her as cruel,self obsessed and manipulative. I still do to this day. However the only way I have managed to cope is to distance myself from her. Up until a few years ago, when my parents were still alive, I use to have to drop everything (work, my children etc) and rush "home" (sometimes involved getting on a plane at short notice) to help my parents deal with yet another emergency. My sister would be say about 55? Yeah! 55! I can deal with her now in short bursts once a year face to face when she comes down to where I live with for a short holiday. I see her for an hour at most even though she might be in the area for a few days. For the rest of the year, we might text once every 2 months. On neutral subjects. She has ruined many lives including her immediate family.
My sister will never change. I have accepted this. So Frankie, even if your sister stops drinking I doubt she will be the nice sibling you always wanted. Maybe try not to focus on the drinking, but on her and see her for what she is. My sister is slightly "better" in one sense but I don't like being around her. I don't like her personality. I can tolerate her in very small doses. I think Frankie, you should go your own way. Don't try to connect with her. It's exhausting. I know you have to this Christmas but make it your last one in her presence. Of course with both my parents dead, my dealings with my sister has been made infinitely easier. I would say you should react like an adult and save your child feelings to when you are on your own but don't dwell on them. Easier said that done.
Love and bon courage Julia xxx

Victoria Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:26am

This is a really helpful response. I have done the same with one of my brothers and it is very hard. But he won't change. The fact that we share DNA does not mean I have to spend my life always in the wrong and scrabbling to make everyone else feel better about him. It is very hard though and you've had courage to be able to do this Julia.

Mrs Jul A Non Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 2:30pm

I am not a courageous person Victoria. What has evolved with my sister has been a long drawn out reactive (as opposed to proactive) process to where I am now with her. I did nothing courageous but just struggled with her until my parents died and I no longer had to visit them. They lived close to my sister. She has never moved away from where we were brought up. I moved as far away as possible as soon as I was old enough to leave home.. because of her. So all it is is physical distance and to an extent a mental detachment from her which was not possible when my elderly mother whom I phoned every day to see if she was alright, would mention my sister. Funnily enough I became almost addicted to my sister's dramas and if my mother one phone call did not mention her, I would ask her almost as if I craved news of yet another trauma. Thank you Victoria for saying you liked my response. I appreciated that.

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:16pm

Thank-you Julia; I really appreciate this and yes, I know you empathise - I still use your "grey scarf" image which helps. I think that I am really feeling the pain of loss and sadness and anger, of grief in fact ... I don't want to say that my sister will never change; I always hold onto the hope that she will have better times; maybe that is where I am going wrong ... Frankie xxx

Claire Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:25am

My brother is an alcoholic but is on the road to recovery. I have Aspergers and have found it difficult to understand my brother and like you have acted like a child. I felt my mum and step dad were softer with my brother than they were with me which I know isn't the case. I read up on alcoholics and how it affects them to get a better understanding of the illness which is an addiction and alcohol is harder to come off than heroine apparently. He did 6 months in 24 hour supported rehab but didn't take therapy seriously and started drinkong again as soon as he came out in January. He's now in another place that has staff but not 24 hours and they're allowed out unlike at the other place. He went in in October for 12 months the most you can go in for so he's been off the drink for about 2/3 months now. He has also been put on antidepressants as he was depressed and having thoughts and was drinking to cover it up. He had to be off the drink for so long before he could be assessed and given medication. He was also frightened in his flat and didn't feel safe so drank to cope with that. He was so frightened as there was all sorts going on so he couldn't sleep. I hope that helps and I hope your sister gets well. I fully understand how you feel. xxx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:02pm

Hello Claire; thank-you for sharing your story and for your understanding - it's rotten isn't it when going through it; but good to hear that your brother is on the road to recovery; it gives me hope for my sister. Frankie x

Kim Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:34am

Hello Frankie. I just wanted to say I feel for you. It's hard when the attention in a family ends up being centered around one person. My guess is there is a lot of anxiety and fear around the situation and it is very difficult for most people to relax under such tensions. So don't be too hard on yourself or the rest of the family for getting into this pattern with your sister. And your feelings are totally natural, resentment, sadness and grief are difficult to suppress for long periods. The chair throwing must have been all that stuff bubbling up. I think in society we are meant to have the stoic, stiff upper lip lid on our emotions. Totally unnatural and unrealistic. Those emotions leak out and personally as awful as I feel when my emotions leak out when I don't want them to, or it seems inappropriate, I remind myself I'm not a robot. Here's to not being a robot! I hope that you can find some peace. When someone tries to change the system or role in the family it rocks the family boat. Unconsciously people don't like change so they want maintain the status quo. So I reckon you just be yourself and so what if you have an outburst. We are all entitled to our feelings and not required to contantly adjust for one person. As an aside, maybe you could just say to your mum that you know she (your mum),is doing the best that she can. I say this because I am a mum and I blame myself for the things that go wrong with my son even if he is an adult and I know it's not true. Guilt is a parent's middle name, and never doubt that your mum probably feels guilty for all that goes on over the xmas disruptions and deals with it the only way she knows how to deal with the situation. I wish you all the very best for xmas and please know you are a good person in case your emotions are telling you otherwise. God bless Frankie xx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:10pm

Thank-you Kim; yes, the family boat is definitely being rocked as we (me, my brother and younger sister)try to state things as they are, which is why my sister is reacting so badly. Yes, trying to reassure my mother is a really good idea. Thank-you. Frankie xx

Jonas Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:53am

Very helpful reading all this I have a very dysfunctional background, family with lots of undiagnosed mental illness, manipulation, anger...so a very painful time of year as well, great to focus on looking after ones self as another person said thanks for that and good luck everyone

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:06pm

Hello Jonas - glad it has helped - and good luck to you too, in focussing on yourself. Frankie

The Gardener Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 9:56am

Oh Frankie, poor you. Yes, alcoholism is an illness but it is self-inflicted (often arises out of depression) and there IS a way out - with good will and treatment as in AA or medical. But why should they wreck the family feast? One of our sons (still suffering depression) suffered extreme alcoholism - wrecked marriage, business - children survived and have done well by mass family support (and their own inherent determination). When we stayed with our son I suffered as all mothers do (I think men, though hating what may be happening to a child) still have an in-built 'macho' idea that getting drunk is 'being a man'. I knew this son would have had several pints down the pub (probably at lunch time as well) we'd have quite a lot of wine at dinner, then I'd say, hopefully 'are you going to bed?) (He got up very early for his business). 'No, I just want to watch TV'. And he carried on drinking - I was guilty of examining the bin next morning - he never tried to hide what he drank - and I'd be terrified (still am, he's been 'dry' for years, but will depression push him 'off the rails' again?) We will spend Christmas with one of our oldest friends here. I am sorry to admit that I'd spend Christmas in a leper colony rather than be alone with Mr TG for the day. But the odd woman there (lives with one of the men, married to the other) is seriously weird. She claims to be an outspoken Lancashire lass, she's just plain rude. She's bone idle, claiming a bad back (been claiming acute arthritis for the last 15 years). Advice to arthritics is to have very limited alcohol - this woman just swigs it - drinks very quickly - will have three glasses to others one (and it's obvious that she's already started). So the outspoken-ness is probably alcoholic, together with worsened arthritis (which she does not bear stoically). So bear up, Frankie - your mother would seem to have that mis-placed love? which allows a very naughty/disruptive child to have their own way even if they upset the rest of the family. You can't treat alcoholics like children - 'go to your room and come back when you're better'. I will light a ring of flower candles in my shop window to flame this night for all those who will have to bite their tongues tomorrow. Hugs and thanks for the blog, Frankie, takes some writing, exposing the family skeletons. And for the whole of our community - from me, grateful thanks for the support during my awful year - peace, and joy for Christmas.

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:16pm

Thank-you dear Gardener; especially for the flower candles. Yes, mis-placed love is a good phrase, though my mother is so frail these days that I can't really blame her. In fact, I end up being the parent with her ... Yes, this blog has taken some time to write as I have been avoiding my feelings about this for some months - the two recent meltdowns made me realise that I have to face up to my grief. Wishing you and Mr. G. as peaceful Christmas as possible. Franke

susan Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 10:17am

You've had such amazingly thoughtful and helpful comments here today. I am unable to help you as the only experience I have with alcoholism is my husband's mother. She made the lives of her family miserable; we escaped most of it being in another country. I do have a wonderful friend who has attended Al-Anon for years even though her husband has been dry for 25 years. She now sponsors the more complicated members. Could you and your mom possibly go to Al-Anon together? Might or might not work, but it could be worth a try....and it might create a united front. All the best with this, Frankie. So difficult but you will find a way through. xx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:19pm

Thank-you susan; yes, I have been to Al-Anon in the past, but felt a bit of an intruder as everyone there was living with much, much worse than I do ... Thank-you for reminding me that often in the darkest hours we find the strength we need to carry on, which gives me hope for next year. Frankie xx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 10:48am

Dear everyone - thank-you so much for all your wise words and lovely comments - loads for me to think about and I will reply individually a bit later on when I have had a chance to reflect; I am feeling very supported and UNDERSTOOD - which is the best of all so THANK-YOU! Bye for now Frankie

Catherine Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:06am

Hi Frankie When my mother was alive one of my elder sisters and her family were always a worry for my mother and in turn for me as mum was so distressed that I tried to help my sister for Mum's sake. The final straw for me was after my Mum died and my sister was using my Mum's credit card, at that point I distanced myself and haven't seen her for years. We still talk but years on and the latest conversation she revealed she is in debt. When my first child was born I was running around trying to maintain contact for my great niece with the her family, there was always a crisis. As Lillypet suggests distance helps a lot, if you can't manage that now maybe you can look forward to that. What you could perhaps do is find one thing i.e. A good book, a favorite piece of music to take refuge in whilst dealing with it or punching a cushion! Your meltdown sounds like it was well overdue. Could you take your Mum out for a treat before Christmas next year and tell her that you and her are having a early treat where you just enjoy the season without worrying about your sister a pantomime perhaps so you both have a good laugh or just good comedy on the Telly.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:19pm

Oh Catherine what a wonderful idea - taking Mum out for our pre-Christmas treat - sounds brilliant, thank-you! Focus on enjoying ourselves and agree that we won't mention Nicky at all - I love it! Thank-you for sharing. Frankie xxx

Sue Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:21am

So sad to read this. Why does Christmas become such a nightmare? Why do people insist on trying to force a family to be together when they don't want to? For a depressive, it's terrifying. I do my best to be well away, or just insist on staying home alone. It's an excuse for over-eating, over-drinking and excessive spending. How anyone can look at our poor world with all its sufferings and still think they are celebrating the birth of Christ by these actions, is beyond me...

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:33pm

Hello Sue; sorry to make you sad too ... that was not the idea at all ... yes, Christmas can be, and for me often has been, a nightmare as you say. I try to look beyond the "advert" Christmas and focus on kids and hubby - he always says that the best present we can give our kids for Christmas is relaxed parents, which helps. I hope you have a peaceful Christmas, Sue; Frankie

Cyndi Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:34am

Your are right. Alcoholism is a disease - one that affects not just the Alcoholic. It is like there is a pink elephant in the room that rarely gets to be spoken about. Have you tried Alanon? A support group to deal with the pink elephant in the room will be helpful. I have been sober, in AA, for 20 + years. I had to learn about how this effected others and how my parents drinking effected me. I had to learn "I am responsible" for my actions, but not those of the others. You can not control them. But you can learn how to respond effectively to their "isms", with it minimally effecting your inner peace. It takes work, but you are worth it.

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:42pm

Thank-you Cyndi for sharing; yes, I have tried Alanon in the past; at the moment I can't face going but thank-you for the reminder; I am lucky to have made friends through a similar group and they are really helpful; this is about me facing up to my own feelings of grief ... and only I can do that ... thank-you for saying I am worth it! I often tell my friends they are worth it so it is time I listened to my own advice! Frankie

Victoria Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:36am

Hi Frankie
I want to say that it is important to recognise that your feelings are yours and perfectly reasonable. My sister is undergoing treatment for cancer at the moment and the whole world revolves around her. The same way the world revolved around my brother when he was at his worst with drinking and abuse. I'm am painfully coming to the realisation that I don't like these people and "family" is not a good enough reason to have to deal with their behaviour. I feel so bad for feeling childish and upset whilst my sister and brother are 'ill', but illness does not excuse their behaviour and it's ok to say that. My brother's physical and mental abuse was always brushed over. My mother is so scared for my sister's mental health she puts up with her behaviour.
And the child in me recently keeps shouting "nobody helped me when I was ill, the world doesn't revolve around me!". I'm working with my counsellor to accept those feelings and try to move on from them.

I guess what I'm saying is, that you are ok and allowed to feel hurt and childish and angry and fed up. Other people feel that way too. Be kind to yourself and distance yourself as much as you can for your own wellbeing. Support your mum but see that she accepts your sister's behaviour to an extent and it is not your job to fix the world for her. I say this to someone else :-), but it is much harder for me to accept! I'm working on it.

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 5:51pm

Hello Victoria - thank-you for sharing - and good luck with the counselling; counselling has been very helpful for me in the past; and thank-you for the very wise reminder that it is not my job to fix the world for her ... yes, tough to accept, I agree! Frankie

The Gardener Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 11:49am

All this talk of the real horror and life-wrecking capabilities of alcohol drives me to the keyboard. There will have to be an Association for people like me to limit my time at the keyboard! I'e done chores, there's a terrifying gale - Mr TG seems particularly lost today, can't, of course, go out. I mentioned further up that I'd rather spend Christmas in a leper colony than alone with my poor husband. Actually, it's not derogatory. When we were in Pondicherry (India) I mistakenly mentioned to the Cluny sisters (our hosts) that I'd like to see more of their work. They treated it as a challenge - whirled around in rick-shaws - and a terrifying drive in an ambulance with AIDS patients in the back. We went to the leper hospice. The sister in charge - so elegant in a cinnamon sari - asked me if I was courageous enough to meet Marius. A challenge, of course. Marius was born when Pondicherry was a French colony, and had been educated in French. His greatest treat was to speak French. He had lost the ends of all his limbs, his nose, and was blind. His pals carted him about, and had got him a radio. I sat for 20 minutes with this human wreck, talking and joking in French. Before our first visit to India a German (in Bali) said you will possibly run screaming (many do) anyway, you'll never be the same again. I really try to be rational - but, after 5 christmases with the down and outs (did Crisis at Christmas as well) I have to be terribly careful not to be over-critical - even scornful - of tomorrow - there will be so much unhappiness, spending, over-eating, over-drinking. To all of you with difficult rellies - treat them like a parrot - stick them in a corner and throw a blanket over them! Candles shine on my mantelpiece - the cat has an extra blanket (meant for me to curl up under, but she got there first.) Again - whatever means you have to keep calm under the chaos (and, I hope for many, the joy) use it to the full.

Sami Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:11pm

Hi Frankie, I think that it is very brave of you to post about this subject and I can so imagine your frustration regarding your sister. Apart from your frustration I truly believe that part of healing is acknowledging the situation, so the way I see it: you are trying to help your family heal by pointing out the situation to them. Which is such a blessing!! Apart from that you mention that old feelings and emotions come up. I would like to let you know that I have been working for about two years with the Emotion Code and that this is a very effective way to let go of old emotions and blocks. So I would really recommend using it to help yourself heal. The great thing about it is that you don't need anybody to help you, the self-helpbook is clear. If you want help using this method though, it is available. The Emotion Code was developed by Bradley Nelson and you can find out more on this website: www.drbradleynelson.com and a preview of the book is found at: https://www.free-ebooks.net/ebook/The-Emotion-Code-How-to-Release-Your-Trapped-Emotions-for-Abundant-Health-Love-and-Happiness. Hope this will help you in any way. It has helped me and other people incredibly in healing. Good luck to you, merry Christmas and a wonderful new year for you!!!

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:22pm

Thank-you for your kind words Sami; yes, I do feel that this blog has started something for me; and thank-you for pointing me in the direction of the Emotion Code. I will definitely look at this. Happy Christmas and Happy New Year to you to Sami. Frankie

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 1:39pm

Dear everyone - I will continue replying later - thank-you again for taking the time to support and advise me - I really appreciate it and feel that it is helping ... things are moving after many months, possibly years, of being stuck ... Frankie

patricia Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 6:30pm

Dear Frankie
I feel if you don't go and see Your mother and sister you will feel guilty, which will ruin your day because you will mull over it and say I should have gone etc.
So go round and if you sense an atmosphere as "soon" as you arrive (your sister is drunk etc) say I'm sorry mum but I'm feeling rotten, feel I'm sickening for something, my head is banging do you mind if I go home, so sorry thought it would go away, I just want to go home and lie down.
Because if you didn't go and by some miracle your sister has sorted herself out, you would have wished you'd gone.
Go home and enjoy your day, you've not upset anyone by not going, most of all you've not upset "yourself" by hating being there, getting more and more upset, then saying something you wished you hadn't.
Deal with it later, when you feel stronger not ruin yours and your family Christmas.
As for your sister she has some issues that need help but as we all know the only person who can help her is herself when she really wants to start leading a normal life (whatever normal is) We've all been in a very dark place it's hell, we never think we will get out of it, frightening, she's obviously in very deep but she can turn it around.
A very Happy Christmas
and Good Health for 2016

Frankie Thu, Dec 24th 2015 @ 7:17pm

Hi Patricia Many thanks for this; yes, you are right; if I don't go I could live to regret it if she is sober; and as you say, I can always take myself off if she is drunk; thank-you for taking the time to reply and all the best to you too for Christmas and 2016. Frankie

Mj Sat, Dec 26th 2015 @ 4:04pm

Thanks Anna. That put things in perspective nicely. In the same vein, my psychologist says I should get away for at least 4 days. I could go anywhere but just don't take 4days off and stay home. He says because we just think about the same things. If we are in new surroundings it take 4days to completely change you whole physiology. You're a whole new you!!
Here's to a whole new moodscope community in 2016!!

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