Mom often sidesteps these conversations, but occasionally responds. On this day she says, “Honey, if you’d like to discuss this with a therapist, I’m happy to go with you. But you, my darling, are responsible for the life you make for yourself. I simply don’t have the power you are handing me when you blame me for everything. However, I do want to support your recovery so I am open to a respectful dialogue with a professional who can help me improve my support. Would you like me to arrange that?”
- One of the distinctive characteristics of withdrawal versus detachment is the willingness for a detached person to stay engaged with a person. Withdrawal is an unfortunate by-product of feeling helpless. When a person thinks they have said, done, and tried EVERYTHING, maybe the only thing left they feel they can do is simply protect themselves and get distance from the loved one.
- Suzi’s mom is learning how to have productive, short, conversations. She is learning how to distinguish between a red herring and a legitimate opportunity to add information into the pool of recovery knowledge. Suzi’s mom was unwilling to start fighting over who is at fault but also is willing to throw down a very gentle, loving gauntlet: Okay, Miss, if you think we have a problem let’s go to a therapist and see what we need to change. This was not what Suzi was expecting nor what her disease wants.
- Finally. When a person is in active trouble with an addiction or other disorder, we cannot necessarily expect them to do the heavy lifting of making certain calls or tracking down insurance information. Suzi’s mom is offering up the removal of a barrier to treatment support that is relatively small, but may look insurmountable to Suzi.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at Suzi’s response.