Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 900-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 30th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hearing from a Mother

The last blog I wrote was about the blessings of sobriety. And I wrote that blog because I was truly grateful for my daughter's sobriety and the fact that she had the previous day given birth to her fourth child – a baby girl. And she would have never had the children she had – and I the grandchildren that I have – if she hadn't gotten clean and sober many years ago.

And while I never expect a response from any of these blogs that I write, because I write them for myself primarily, I received two responses. One was from my daughter who had been the subject of the blog. The other was from a lady who lives in a Midwestern city, a woman I've been communicating with for many years – a communication that started when she ran across my blog on the Internet.

Many years ago, maybe nine, she started writing to me about her son who is a homeless alcoholic who has lived on the streets for many years. He mostly stays around the Midwestern city she lives in. But for a period of time he went to Washington DC, attempting to get an interview with the president about the government's denial of his disability claims 20 years ago.

When she first started writing to me she was doing a lot of things for him. Such as helping him with his laundry. Taking him food and cigarettes. And giving him a little money for whatever he needed, which he probably spent on booze.

When she asked for my opinion, I immediately suggested that she take a hard stance with him.  I told her that by helping him continue drinking by taking him food and cigarettes and giving him money she was just prolonging his alcoholism.  Now I knew this would sound kind of harsh to a loving mother, but I didn't get sober until my family completely exiled me from their lives because they had given up hope that I would ever quit using drugs or alcohol.  And by doing that, they saved my life.

At first I thought they were very cruel and unfair. But eventually I realized that they no longer supported my lifestyle.  And eventually I sunk so low that I sought help on my own.  Now this woman that I'm talking about is a very loving mother, but she did take some steps that allowed her to quit enabling him.

She does help him out once in a while but not like she was before we started communicating. One of the steps she took was to start going to 12 step meetings that deal with relatives and friends of addicts and alcoholics.  She gained strength from reaching out to others who had similar problems and learned that she could distance herself from him most of the time. 

She today gives him minimal help – only occasionally giving into the urge to help him.  One of the things that she did do to insulate herself from him was to move into a senior community, where she is not allowed to have anyone living with her permanently.  That way he's not going to be living on her couch while continuing to drink and bring unneeded drama and pain into her life.

Her story, and the measures she has taken to not enable him, as a lesson for anyone in her situation who is dealing with a loved one who is addicted.  I wish her the strength to continue.

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